Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Sunday, March 07, 2004

What were the causes of colonization of territories by Western countries in the late 18th and 19th century?
I think I remember that I learned at schools that first came the religious westerners (the priests) who thought it was their duty to civilize “savage” “indigenes”.
Then came the merchants who understood that these territories had valuables natural and primary resources and that they could buy (or barter) goods well bellow their market value in Western cities.
What brought a military expedition against local authorities? I don’t know for sure but it might well be because of property rights.
Westerners developed a sophisticated rule of property laws that made possible the development and use of technologies and therefore growing wealth.
Probably, non-Western civilization didn’t have such rules and didn’t apply them to their new Western customers/employers. Many cultural clashes probably took place at that time.
In any case, a Mercantilist economic philosophy would have justified taking over vast territories in order to control more and more natural resources. These forms of biased trade relations could only bring colonial wars.
Indeed, if such states of mind were common, many current critics of the Bush (US) administration may wonder if it is a common worry for oil dependency and the related “national” US interest that were the true motives of the Iraq war.
Off-course, mercantilism has long be proved to be wrong as a country like Japan became a major industrialized country with virtually no natural resources. The Japanese just import what they don’t produce and export finished goods thanks to raw materials they have imported. It may also help understand Japanese military past in their lack of trust for trade to achieve national prosperity. These ways of thinking would have led them to justify colonizing Asia with a national sense of being a “master’s race” somewhat similar to Western “civilizing” duties.


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