Dirty South Bureau

October 13, 2010

Breaking down what is meant by colonialism

Filed under: Uncategorized — christian @ 10:38 am

Its funny how some times situations in your personal life interact with larger phenomenon in the world. In my case, I’ve been observing a lot of what went on in Post-Katrina New Orleans, particularly the influx of well-meaning outsiders (like myself, though I lived here before the storm), many of them from the Northeast (not like myself) to the region. I’ve also noted how a lot of people just don’t seem to be able to grasp certain power dynamics and their consequences – particularly those in a position of relative privilege or power.

Which intersects with the work that I am doing on Longite Petro-Populism. My co-author Brian Marks and I argue that the formation of the state’s economy around mineral extraction results in under-development. But all of these terms and concepts around under-development and colonialism seem to be simply more intellectual gobbledy-gook to most people.

This morning I tried to sit down and sketch out the basic tenets of this system. I left the framework general, but feel free to substitute specific terms, like North and South, whether we are talking about the United States North and South, or the global North and South.

1. Why is it that not only classes of people, but some regions of the world are wealthy and others are poor?

2. Could it be because some regions physically remove the wealth from other regions?

3. Could it be that this removal of wealth, and the formation of an economy and a society around the export of wealth, results in long-term retardation of the economic and societal development of these regions?

4. Could it be that this removal of wealth is accompanied by attitudes on behalf of the extractors, a certain paternalism, and an attitude of intellectual and moral superiority?

5. Could it be that the residents of these extracting regions are also divided by classes of exploiters and exploited? Could it be that even the exploited in the privileged regions benefit from the wealth of the regions that have been exploited? Could it be that the exploited in the privileged regions also identify with their region, and carry the attitudes of their exploiters?

6. Could it be that later, when residents of the extracting regions arrive in the under-developed regions, believing that they are assisting with those regions’ development, that the residents of the privileged regions carry with them the same attitudes? Could it be that this is why such “assistance” rarely results in meaningful improvement for the residents of the under-developed regions?

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