Colonialism and imperialism were two of the most destructive institutions in history. The West now faces the consequence of that choice to dominate every continent on earth.
By Greg Lepore
Aug 22, 2015
In this year alone over 250,000 migrants have arrived at the gates to Europe exhausted, aching, and in need of assistance. Those who arrive have scaled mountains, traversed deserts, sailed across treacherous seas in deteriorating rafts or endured hundreds of miles of darkness strapped inside the engine compartment of a tractor-trailer. Many die during the journey or are forced to abandon their efforts. Those that survive ask primarily for one thing: the promise of a brighter future.
The current migration crisis strikes Europe at a time when the stability of the region is in question. Regardless, migrants continue to come. They come because as unstable as Europe is, it remains exponentially more stable than the regions from which they are fleeing, regions afflicted with extreme poverty, inequality, violence and war.
The tasks involved in dealing with the current migration crisis are enormous, and nations across Europe are struggling to provide relief to those that end up on their shores. In fact, the tasks have proven so enormous that we have begun to see much of Europe turn its back on migration relief efforts. Some states argue for a migrant quota. Some argue for military action against smugglers and traffickers. Some argue for shutting down their country’s borders completely. Very few argue for increased relief efforts.
Karma is often described as something spiritual, but in practice it refers to cause and effect. A choice produces a consequence, a good choice a good consequence and a bad choice a bad consequence. In both cases, the consequence cannot be reversed. The former European powers, namely the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Belgium, made a collective choice at the beginning of the 16th century to dominate every continent on the planet. Now they are realizing the consequence of that choice.
Colonialism was one of the most destructive institutions in history from the point of view of the colonized. Strong ethnic groups were torn apart and opposing ethnic groups forced together. Entire societies were taught through observation that exploitation was necessary to acquire wealth. A social hierarchy was instituted in which one was either very rich or very poor, never in-between. A military presence was constant, and social upheaval was dealt with through violence. European colonizers created and upheld a culture of brutality, oppressiveness and dysfunction in an effort to retain complete control. When colonialism began to fade, this ruthless culture remained.
The colonized became convinced through targeted propaganda that their cultures were inferior and that Europe was and always would be the promised land. Entire societies adopted European languages and customs. They learned European history, ate European food, and adopted European dress, forever merging their ancient cultures with the cultures of their European colonizers.
Imperialism was an extension of colonialism, the only difference that the European powers retained control of their colonies from afar rather than from within. Retaining control from afar was difficult, especially once former colonies gained their “independence”. In order to keep control, newly freed countries continued to be exploited through economic manipulation, and political processes were hijacked to institute leaders who were pro-European puppets. Countries who attempted to break ties with Europe were often invaded either directly or covertly. Most new nations were never able to establish themselves as strong, independent and stable states.
The former European powers, responsible for both colonialism and imperialism, are directly responsible for the failures of many modern nations in Africa and the Middle East, the two regions from which most migrants escape to Europe today. To refuse entry to those migrants whose countries were repeatedly ravaged by Europe is a vehement example of hypocrisy. To engrain a culture of brutality in a society and then ignore that society’s pleas for help, to repeatedly meddle in the political and economic affairs of a nation and then claim no responsibility for that nation’s shortcomings, to teach a man to be European and then refuse him entry to Europe, these are all vehement examples of hypocrisy.
We must not forget also a history that thus far has been overlooked in the migrant debate: the role of the United States. The imperial legacy of this modern power remains by far the strongest still felt today by those in the Middle East. Heavily supporting the creation of Israel, the overthrow of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq are just three of the most well-known instances of America manipulating, and destabilizing, the Middle East. History will show though that the US in one way or another has had a hand in nearly every major Middle East crisis since the beginning of the Cold War.
This begs the question: how involved should the US be in the search for a solution to the migrant crisis? To those who contend that America already has its hands tied with the South American migrant crisis, one must ask: how involved should Spain and Portugal be in the search for a solution to the United States’ migrant crisis?
Europe has a tremendous responsibility to accept into its borders the thousands of desperate migrants that arrive everyday. More than acceptance, though, these migrants deserve the chance at a brighter future, something they never had access to in their old countries, something that was ripped away from them hundreds of years ago when the first Europeans showed up in their backyards. Europe has no choice but to expand its migrant relief efforts, and just like Spain and Portugal must play a part in resolving the United States’ migrant crisis, the US must lend a hand in resolving Europe’s migrant crisis. The West made a collective choice to dominate the world by any means necessary. Now it must face the consequence of that choice.