Colonizing, De-Colonizing, and Greed!

So this is how it works…’s all about money, and power. Aw shucks! I thought it was about what was good for people and their countries :(

In today’s  excerpt – in the 17th through the 19th centuries, an astonishing thing happened: the countries from the tiny continent of Europe took over almost the entire rest of the world and ran those lands as colonies. All of Africa save Ethiopia became colonies; all of the Americas, almost all of Asia (save China, which became a de facto colony after the opium wars). And while this was portrayed as an effort to lift up these savage countries (“the white man’s burden”), it retarded the natural development of leadership within these countries and instead became an opportunity for daring entrepreneurs like Cecil Rhodes to build fortunes.

The benefits to the European governments that did the colonizing was far less evident though, and the colonies became a financial burden, which led to the unraveling of the British, French and other empires in the aftermath of two world wars. However, the great mineral wealth of these countries was too much for the businesses and entrepreneurs to leave behind, so as these countries were being “de-colonized”, the sponsoring countries attempted to leave behind “friendly” leadership, even if the result was to continued to retard the development of organic leadership and democracy within those countries. Such was the case with the African nation of Gabon and the “Elf affair” which splashed across European headlines in the mid-1990s. One of the most fascinating aspects of this – which is relevant in understanding the selection of post-colonial dictators in numerous other countries – is that the French chose a dictator from a minority tribe to increase that dictator’s dependency on French support:

“The so-called Elf affair scandal began in 1994 when U.S.-based Fairchild Corp. opened a commer­cial dispute with a French industrialist, triggering a stock exchange inquiry.
Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens
by Nicholas Shaxson by Palgrave Macmillan
Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2011-04-12

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Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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