Why Colonialist?


Robert Hart

Robert Hart (1777 – 1867), argued as having been the first English-speaking South African – a direct ancestor.

Why, since inception, have I deliberately used a blog identity which has become increasingly controversial and in some (ignorant) circles is regarded as being akin to ‘racist’?

I do it out of pride in my background.

Note that the meanings I ascribe to ‘colonist’ and ‘colonialist’ are the simple and clear-cut ones – the former denotes one of the original group or individuals who colonise a country, while the latter is a colonial resident and/or a proponent of colonists and colonialism.

My ancestors go back to any number of colonists and colonialists both, almost to the days of the first Dutch arrivals. In historical perspective, the actions of colonists in moving to countries like Africa, America or Australia were an inevitable part of the development of all of these places. With the benefit of modern thinking, one may well condemn many of the methods used to subdue and subjugate local populations; however if all of those now wailing in horror at the thought of it were to be translated back in time and circumstances they would behave no differently.

What I choose to admire and celebrate is the wealth of achievement of this group of people, no less my own direct ancestors. Often arriving with hardly any possessions, and faced with primitive conditions and incredible hardships, they used courage, enterprise and hard work to carve out a place for themselves, their descendants, and all inhabitants. Everyone living in former colonies who now enjoys the benefits of modern living, whatever race, colour, creed or persuasion they may be, undoubtedly owes a debt of gratitude to such ‘settlers’ and their offspring. Empty and populist rhetoric would have it otherwise, but such talk is aimed at those who allow emotion and myth to override logical thought.

P.S. Settling a bit of Extra Perspective:

This WP blog was opened to run concurrently with my first one, started in 2007 with 24.Com which became Letterdash, after the writing on the wall showed that the first platform was terminally ill (RIP).  That blog was titled ‘Settler’s Perspective’ and ‘Colonialist’ was my avatar.  My meerkat picture was carried over from that, and I have never felt the urge to change it.

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© May 2016 Colonialist (WordPress)
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About colonialist

Active septic geranium who plays with words writing fantasy novels and professionally editing, with notes writing classical music, and with riding a mountain bike, horses and dinghies.
This entry was posted in Africa, Colonialist, History, Personal Journal and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Why Colonialist?

  1. jonnyzhivago says:

    no offense, but why would you be proud of your ancestors being agents of imperialism?

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    • colonialist says:

      Um … I thought I’d just explained that above? ‘Imperialism’ is another of the emotive catch-phrases with imposed connotations, just as is ‘Communism’. Seen in full historical context, and with proper understanding of underlying philosophies, these labels do not automatically have a negative quality.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jonnyzhivago says:

        imperialism has strong negative connotations because the basis of empire and the basis of colonialism is rooted in economic exploitation and the expansion of the state—as a small-c communist neither of those appeal, as a descendant of formerly colonised people I find it distasteful that you’d consider imperial rule to have equal positive and negative attributes when it is rooted in power imbalance. I have to wonder why you wish to embrace your specific heritage as a colonist whose ancestors most likely participated in overt violence against indigenous people or whose settlement was part of a wider violence against said people–that’s not meant to be a personal attack, by the by. In any case, this seems to be important to you for some reason.

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        • colonialist says:

          Historical perspective is important, here, and any claim that no benefits accrued to countries occupied by other powers has to be ludicrous; whereas communists tend to believe that everybody should become communists so they become Communists.
          Empires come and go. Some of my own forefathers were subjected to Roman and Norman colonialism. In the case of the former, at least, lasting benefits accrued. Are great Romans to be devalued because of the underlying dreams of empire? They conquered because they were superior. In due course, their standards lapsed and the conquered nations rose in stature, buoyed up by the legacy left, and supplanted them. Those standards would not have come into being without them, though.
          Admittedly, those examples were direct invasion with aggression. More modern colonialism/imperialism, however, had roots in a mindset that it was to the advantage of the backward countries to be settled. Resistance was, of course, repelled, but there was not quite the same intention from the outset to take by force. Once again, the culture of the settlers was superior. Had it not been so, they would not have succeeded. Benefits of that culture were instilled as their lasting legacy.
          Other than in respect of the usual quota of militant or immoral individuals — of which there were usually some on both sides — the intention was simply to make a better life, with participation by the indigenous peoples if they so wished. Much of the settlement was by negotiation, where a complicating factor was the fact that in many cases the indigenous people and the settlers turned out to be not quite on the same wavelength when it came to land ownership.
          In short, however, I celebrate these ancestors and their ideals because of (a) an understanding (though not approval) of where they were coming from in their thinking; and, more importantly, (b) because of their outstanding achievements under often overwhelming difficulties.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Reminded me of a Pommy mate with whom I once shared a flat ,whenever an Australian called him a Pom he corrected them with ” I’m not a Pom, dear boy, I’m a colonial administrator?”
    Naturally., though a Cockney like me, he’d been educated at Charterhouse and spoke real posh. Would you believe it, he actually left said Aussies dumbfounded, they could never think of a response!

    Like

  3. libraschild says:

    Intriguing. I never thought to question your blog name but fascinating to learn how we all pick our names on wordpress and how you chose yours

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bravo, Les. This thoughtful post deserves a wider readership – why not submit it to eg Spectator, or one of the National Sunday colour supplements in UK and specially US – where so many of their ancesters were colonists!
    V

    Like

  5. Het nog altyd jou skuilnaam so verstaan – Natal is immers “the last outpost”…

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  6. Stephanie Haahjem says:

    I agree absolutely!

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  7. Honestly! I wish we would all learn to settle down and be gentler and kinder in the expression of our thoughts and understanding of things.

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  8. toutparmoi says:

    Humanity is forever on the move; it’s in the nature of our species. Nowadays I just wish that there weren’t quite so many of us. I fear for the long-term survival of those species that prefer to stay put.

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  9. What happened is what happened. History should be viewed in the context of the times. That was then. This is now.
    As you say not to admire the struggles and the resulting benefits of their sacrifices and efforts is foolish and misguided.

    Liked by 1 person

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