Thursday, 15 September 2022

"The idea that the Europeans stole some land which had belonged in perpetuity to any one tribe is ludicrous."

"The idea that the Europeans stole some land which had belonged in perpetuity to any one tribe is therefore ludicrous. The situation in most of North America was similar to northern Europe on the eve of the Germanic migrations, or western Europe as the Celts were moving across the landscape. Precisely to whom the land belonged in any given century at these periods in history was anyone’s guess. The very notion of property is a Graeco-Roman invention which most cultures found foreign until quite recently. But Europeans of the time had little chance of grasping this difference. What the Europeans did in the New World was insert themselves into a fluid power struggle which had been ongoing for millennia. Many Native American chiefs were ready to pledge allegiance to the Great ‘Chief of the English’, as a political expedient, just as various English colonies sided with this or that Native American ‘Great Chief’. Despite a few sensational cases of duplicity, most of the time, Europeans tried to buy land from Indians, just like they would buy an acre of land in England. If the local chief assented to this and liked the price, where then was the crime? Many individual Europeans believed that according to the norms of both parties, they had legal usufruct to the land they were working. To judge this as theft is therefore anachronistic...
    "During the Cold War and the Gulf Wars, liberal historians called out excessive nationalism and jingoism, based on the legitimate fear that military types might start a war for no good reason... So there is always a place for liberal critique within history. But on this issue, it’s more difficult to see the value of Pilgrim-bashing to today’s Native Americans, apart from making them bitter and resentful, and everyone else feel guilty and ashamed.
    "​The real reason to perpetuate such a disastrously one-sided view, it seems, is if one is in a tiny minority of activists who has ‘drunk the kool-aid’ of Cultural Marxism — an ideology bent on bringing maximum embarrassment to Capitalism, Democracy, Western Civilisation and Europeans in general, in the vain hope that this will somehow bring about a sort of… what? Revolution? Really? Let’s not be naive. The only reason to be this consistently, this unreasonably angry about things which happened centuries ago, is if one sees the entirety of experience through the lens of perpetual racism and victimisation, and crucially, if one does not believe in the power of democracy to correct these wrongs....
    "It is high time that historians spoke out against the dangerous misuse of history which supports the zealotry and iconoclasm currently emanating from our educational systems. This has become far too culturally dominant, far too damaging to global society, for us to ignore it any further. In the name of science, fairness, level-headedness, humanity, and democracy itself."
~ Historian Jeff Fynn-Paul, from his article  'The myth of the ‘stolen country’ '

1 comment:

MarkT said...

Very well said. Applies equally, if not more so to most of the criticism of colonialism in NZ too.