Our common colonial experience
Today's debates about globalization recall our experience against
colonialism. We are all familiar with the latter. The dates may have
varied; the colonizing country may have been different; but the main
features of our common colonial experience were basically the same:
Using superior military might, the colonizing power forcibly
imposed its rule over our peoples, at great cost to us in terms of human
lives and suffering and in terms of human and natural ecology.
Military conquest was very often preceded -- and most
certainly followed -- by the imposition of new religions and cultures,
which facilitated subjugation by dulling the impulse to resist or
diluting the desire to free ourselves from colonial clutches. The
effects of such cultural implantation on our minds have lingered and
continued to do their damage, keeping us in mental bondage long after
the last colonizing soldier has left our soil. Soon, the colonial mind
started to take for real the masks worn by the colonizers and the words
they used to deceive their victims, such as "we bring you Christianity";
"we bring you civilization"; "we will teach you democracy"; etc.
As soon as resistance was quelled, the colonizing power set
up a colonial administration, run at lower levels by people culled from
local elites, many of whom decided to work hand-in-hand with their
colonial masters to preserve their wealth and privileges.
The colonial bureaucracy then began the process of drawing
out our wealth. Over the centuries, the colonizing powers enriched
themselves immensely by drawing human and natural resources from our
lands -- human slaves, indentured labor, tributes, precious metals and
other minerals, logs and lumber, colonial crops cultivated on seized
indigenous lands, and so on. At the very foundations of the richest
countries of today, are the broken remains of our own ancestors and the
wealth plundered from their communities.
The colonizers brought with them the practices of plantation
agriculture, large-scale logging, large-scale mining, and other
powerfully destructive technologies, which were meant for plunder and
for maximizing exploitation and profits. These unsustainable practices
replaced the sustainable indigenous practices our pre-colonial peoples
had relied on for centuries.
The impact on the people and their communities was grievous.
We lost our right to self-determination, our freedoms and our wealth.
Our best lands were seized for colonial tillage. Indigenous communities
lost their rights to their lands. The impact on nature was equally
disastrous. Colonial occupation was invariably marked with plunder of
our natural resources and the introduction of monoculture in direct
contrast to the much more sustainable and ecological practices of our
During this period, the colonial powers that took over the
globe were mercantilist and, later, early industrial powers. Often
operating their own State monopoly corporations, they scoured the globe
in search of slaves, tradeable goods or raw materials, and bases for
their colonial operations.