Are countries to blame for their problems?

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Seattle, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    It seems that oftentimes countries that are always a mess tend to blame European/U.S. colonizers for their current situations.

    Is that a fair assessment of the situation or is it largely irrelevant? Counties tend to need to defend themselves so it's hard to argue that a country was doing well until they were colonized. If they were doing well they would have been able to resist colonization.

    The U.S. and European nations were under attack at various times and had to defend themselves. Other countries were attacked, colonized, later resisted and are now doing well.

    Is the colonial history of a country that has never done well since the end of the colonial period really a large factor for their current situation?

    Venezuela has oil and is a mess. Argentina, which is a great country (potentially) is always a mess. Mexico never really improves its situation. Most of Central America is a mess. Actually, most of the world is a mess.
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  3. Capracus Valued Senior Member

    Canada needs to expand its borders west to the Bering Strait, and south to the Panama Canal.
    sideshowbob likes this.
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  5. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    And the wine!

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  7. Musika Last in Space Valued Senior Member


    The situation is a way more complex, since a big part of "doing well" is integrating with global trade while protecting domestic industries/production. As such, those who scored early brownie points through the employment of political subjugation and/or technology are certainly positioned at an advantage.

    In one sense, any sort of governance is simply the most efficient model of organized crime, so those who live by the sword are bound to die by the sword. The constant posturing of "might makes right" guarantees that even the greatest civilization will become a shooting star.
  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    There is a vital question missing: What is a country?
    It's an artificial construct: borders are drawn and redrawn arbitrarily, after war, every skirmish and every conflict between two empires. Most of the borders that exist today were different a hundred years ago. Many, if not most of the people living in many, if not most, modern countries do not have ancestral roots in that geographical region or blood-ties in their present community, or history under the present form of government.
    When you say "a country" does something, do you mean the people or the present government, or merely the present head of government. They're not always synonymous or even in accord.
    And when you talk about colonization, you have to remember that it didn't last from one date to another date and then end: colonization wiped out entire populations and relocated others, re-assigned territory, changed borders, altered the landscape, eradicated species and types of agriculture, rerouted waterways and disturbed ecosystems. Its effects didn't move out when the last British civil servant packed up his typewriter. White planters, mine-owners and industrialists remained behind and went on controlling the economy. Now they same people or their descendants are doing it long-distance, through trade, loans, aid and arms supplies.

    The questions missed here: Relative size. Relative aggression level. Weapons technology.
    You're essentially saying that if Belgium had been prosperous, it wouldn't have fallen to Germany in 1914 and the Sioux should have been able to stand against attack after attack by the US army for 50 years.

    The US was never attacked. It attacked others, and suffered only a couple of small, ineffective retaliatory strikes, except for Pearl Harbour, and they goaded Japan into that action by blockading its fuel supplies in '43. Europe was last occupied by Muslim empires c. 1500. All its other wars were internecine, over matters of succession, territorial expansion, resources, alliances and religion. Those wars didn't change the ethnic makeup or economic capability of modern European nations.

    That's not under the population's control. The one that got the river in the final treaty is doing better than the one who was given the arid highland; the one whose railways and bridges were blown up needed a loan and is now in thrall to an arms-dealer; the one whose colonists poisoned the river with gold-mine tailings is worse off than the one whose forest were were burned off for the coffee plantations. Colonists may go away (though a lot of them stay and hold on to the loot: see South Africa) but their damage remains.

    Is history a factor in the present state of affairs?

    Jillionnaires are good at making messes.
    World-dominating political and military powers are good at making messes.'s complicated.
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Book: "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond.

    Colonization by fortuitously superior military power has been the fate of everyone's ancestors, at one time or another. It's called "luck".

    In the beginning of the modern industrial age, which may have changed things qualitatively by expanding the scale of the older pattern, the Europeans had a quick jump in military technology, and caught a couple of places (Mexico, China) in down cycles.

    If China had fronted on a smaller ocean (or Australia been a richer continent), then leveraged its technological lead during Europe's Theocratic Ages (say via some kind of Chinese Renaissance) , you'd be speaking Mandarin - and likely pulling a rickshaw or digging turnips for the local landowner in some European protectorate.

    Uh, yes, would be the answer.

    When exactly did the "colonial period" end, in your estimation? Most formerly colonized regions, even "countries", have made some recovery during some stretch of time since emerging from formal subjugation to a European power, had at least a few years of general improvement before getting hammered again.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  10. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Hawaii was a colony, at the time.
    The British burning the Capitol in the War of 1812?
  11. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    The former was an attempt to diminish US naval power in the Pacific.
    The latter was a British retaliation for US attack on British colonies in Canada. The whole 1812 episode no more than an installment of the protracted revolutionary war. England didn't "attack" its own colonies; it merely levied taxes that the American colonists didn't like.
    Hostilities began with property damage, escalated to open revolution, and didn't cease with the Treaty of Paris: there were all those frontier contentions and loyalist resistance to hammer out on the heads of poor conscripts.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2018
  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Yes, of course, it's complicated.

    Belgium was invaded, yet it's doing well today. Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, etc...some have size, some don't but they never do well and it's mostly self-inflicted.
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Belgium had been a colonial power accumulating wealth for generations, and had much of its more authoritarian politics, as well as its dominating industrial concerns (inc. deadweight, outdated, as in Germany) destroyed by military force in essentially one blow (the two World Wars). Its ecology, agricultural base (soil, water, etc), educational investment (aside from the dead), economic and legal infrastructure, and similar resource pools, remained. And it had no overwhelmingly dominant resource whose monopoly control was worth more to somebody with an army than the rest of the country together. After WWII, it received Marshall Plan aid and political cooperation from the wealthy Western powers.

    The others you name had been colonial subjects, not powers, and of the Latin European powers, not the Viking etc, until the US takeover. So they had no generations of accumulated wealth to build on. Their resource bases were destroyed, depleted, or monopolized for private gain, over hundreds of years, by foreigners. At the end of WWII their ecology and agricultural base was severely damaged, their educational investment all but non-existent, their political, economic, and legal infrastructure designed to abet colonial and US domination damaged and fragile and largely useless, and so forth. The legacy of European colonization and US enforced exploitation had been local ruination and stagnation, socially and politically as well as economically, and they had only just begun to recover. (You can find photos of Cubans plowing with horn-yolked oxen into modern times
    After WWII, into modern days, they have been targeted by powerful ideological authoritarians and racially bigoted capitalist exploitation - they received no political cooperation, but instead were subjected to political manipulation and enforced debt peonage by the wealthy Western powers (especially the US). In addition, several (such as Venezuela) had resource concentrations worth very big money to foreigners with armies - these came in for special attention and abuse (they were prevented from - say - choosing their own governments or controlling the exploitation of their own resources).

    And this you term "self-inflicted"?

    The banking and financial systems of Mexico, the drug trade and agricultural economy of Mexico, the resource degradation and land ownership issues of Mexico, are none of them simply "self-inflicted". For example.
  14. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    It was never colonized. The German occupation was repelled and expelled within a few years, leaving no social damage.
    Define self-inflicted, in light of the foreign meddling I cited earlier.

    PS I thought I'd posted this earlier.
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    A quick snapshot comparison of the banking industries of Canada and Mexico:

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