Three Cheers for Imperialism

It stands to reason that any academic who stands up for old fashioned imperialism is asking for it. Last week, Third World Quarterly (does that just sound like the best name ever?) published “The Case for Colonialism,” by Prof. Bruce Gilley of Portland State University.

Now, I’m thinking that the good Prof. Gilley must go around in disguise in Portland, or perhaps he is punking everybody. Just take in the abstract and you’ll see what I mean:

For the last 100 years, Western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy. Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts. The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it. Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places. Colonialism can be recovered by weak and fragile states today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance; by recolonising some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch.

Naturally the campus left is in an uproar, and is demanding that Third World Quarterly retract the article. There’s a petition at Change.org, with more than 3,800 signers as of this point. One part of the petition reads:

We will close by asserting that this article is not only offensive but damaging. It is an active attack on BIPOC scholars, thinkers, and people, as well as on the project of decolonization. In our current political context, the lives and safety of BIPOC,* refugees, and allies are being threatened by radicalized white supremacist groups. These kinds of ideas are not simply abstract provocations, but have real, material consequences for those who Prof. Gilley seeks to dominate and objectify. Regardless of its intention, and we are already suspicious of those intentions given Professor Gilley’s publication history and fields of inquiry, this article is harmful and poorly executed pseudo-“scholarship” and should be retracted immediately.

* BIPOC stands for “black & indigenous people of color.” In case you are wondering.

Wait till they get a load of Harry Crocker, executive editor at Regnery Books, on this subject for Prager University, just posted on Monday of this week:

Harry tells me he’s hoping to get on the top ten list for the most hated people on the internet, and I’d say he has a good shot at it.

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