Do You Miss Colonialism?

I know I do! Which is why I was thrilled to find out about a new computer game that lets you relive that amazing period of history as the glorious nations that helped to shape the world into the great success that it is today.

prideofnation2_0.jpg

Pride of Nations is a turn-based historical strategy game set in the colonial era of the 19th century, where the player takes control of a country and guides it through industrialization, military conquest, and colonization. This upcoming release from AGEOD follows such successful historical strategy games as Birth of America, American Civil War, Napoleon’s Campaigns, and Wars in America [linkocricy].

What? What’s that I hear you say, friend? You feel slightly more ill now than you’d otherwise feel on a Monday morning because there’s about a 0.0001% chance that Pride of Nations in any way addresses the awful things these countries did to colonies and their people? Well rest assured!

Fight against a strong AI through a number of new game mechanisms

Yes! Strong AI will represent your ancestors and their struggle for freedom!

35 thoughts on “Do You Miss Colonialism?

  1. I’m glad India was colonized and thank Dinesh D’Souza for expressing so eloquently what I’ve always felt about colonialism. :) And yeah, I will buy this game – strong AI is always fun :)

  2. As a schoolboy, we were all taught that colonialism was bad. But as an adult, I want to know the precise nature that it was bad. Here are some points:

    (1) Did natives really lose money?

    (2) If the answer to Question (1) is yes, how bad was the loss? Could we compare it to some of the non-British kings who ruled India?

    (3) Did the British exploit our natural resources better than we did? Is the problem that they refused to share the resulting profits with us?

    (4) The British are sometimes accused of mismanaging famines in India. But did our own kings do better? According to Amartya Sen, democratically elected leaders are forced to respond to famines. By this thesis, our own kings—no democrats themselves—perhaps did not do a good job?

    The questions I have asked thus far have an underlying theme: Are we judging the British by one set of values, by one set of yardsticks? And are we judging our own kings by another?

    I have one more question, and this is to do with the profession of history itself. Here it is: (5) Niall Ferguson believes that empire was good. He has been a professor of history. Should we consider his opinion as scholarly? If he were to write a history textbook, could that textbook be prescribed for school children in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, … ? Could that textbook be prescribed for UK, Canada, Austrialia, US, New Zealand—the homelands of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant diaspora.

    • nnn,

      There’s a Harvard University paper you should probably read, titled “India’s Deindustrialization in the 18th and 19th Centuries” — http://www.tcd.ie/Economics/staff/orourkek/Istanbul/JGWGEHNIndianDeind.pdf — It analyzes the causes of the deindustrialization and tries to quantify the impact of British colonial policies toward it.

      Have you heard of tariffs? Throughout the world, it’s a government policy tool to encourage local consumption by increasing the cost of certain foreign goods. Even with free-trade agreements, the WTO allows tariffs on foreign goods in the event the foreign supplier is considered “dumping” – a formal term defined by the WTO. The British applied stiff tariffs, but on LOCAL goods sold in India. That is, made-in-India goods sold in India were heavily taxed by the British Crown whilst made-in-England goods sold in India were not. This was an economic policy to make India wholly subsistent on England, prop up England’s factories with large consumer demand, and cause a massive trade deficit for India that siphoned money out into England. Just as “Buy American” slogans fall on deaf ears here, consumers everywhere, including in India, buy the cheapest good without heed for nationality. A tariff on local goods, often nearly a 100% tariff, meant Indian suppliers could not compete. Could they compete in a free market? Who knows, perhaps you can make the argument England’s goods were better and consumers would choose them anyways, but a non-free market that doubled the cost of Indian products certainly made competition nearly impossible. This was an instigation for Gandhi’s “salt march” of 1930, a protest against the unfair tariffs. (Gandhi was not opposed to tariffs, but only the unfair penalization of local Indian goods using tariffs as an instrument. In fact, Gandhi’s salt march wanted to add tariffs on foreign textiles so local Indian suppliers could compete fairly: “On March 2, 1930 Gandhi wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin, offering to stop the march if Irwin met eleven demands, including reduction of land revenue assessments, cutting military spending, imposing a tariff on foreign cloth, and abolishing the salt tax” — Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_Satyagraha).

      I know, I know, macro-economics is boring. Okay, so let’s try to pick something that addresses the heart. Here’s an internal debate in England over whether to siphon food from famine-struck India to feed the Greek allies: “Apparently it is more important to save the Greeks and liberated countries than the Indians and there is reluctance either to provide shipping or to reduce stocks in this country,” writes Sir Wavell in his account of the meetings. Mr Amery is more direct. “Winston may be right in saying that the starvation of anyhow under-fed Bengalis is less serious than sturdy Greeks, but he makes no sufficient allowance for the sense of Empire responsibility in this country,” he writes. In the end, Churchill favored a fellow European country over his own Imperial territory in South Asia. This led to mass starvation in what would be considered genocidal proportions today. See: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2031992,00.html — “In 1943, some 3 million brown-skinned subjects of the Raj died in the Bengal famine, one of history’s worst. Mukerjee delves into official documents and oral accounts of survivors to paint a horrifying portrait of how Churchill, as part of the Western war effort, ordered the diversion of food from starving Indians to already well-supplied British soldiers and stockpiles in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, including Greece and Yugoslavia. And he did so with a churlishness that cannot be excused on grounds of policy: Churchill’s only response to a telegram from the government in Delhi about people perishing in the famine was to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.”

      So there’s some macro-economics and a heart-wrenching anecdote. Wasn’t colonialism awesome? Now, if the bar is whether England treated India any worse than Stalin or Mao treated their own people, that’s a fairly low bar and one may argue England comes out ahead in those comparisons. But that’s a little bit like justifying the jim-crow laws against African-Americans by pointing to atrocities occurring in Africa. India isn’t Russia, it isn’t China, so comparing them is as sound as comparing India to Japan which heavily modernized in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s always hard to ask “what-if” questions — what-if India were not colonized, where would it be? Who knows. What is easier is pointing out awful colonial policies that concretely and pointedly hampered India sending it into decline. That isn’t a relativist statement. It isn’t saying India would have done better if it were not colonized, and it isn’t saying India would have done worse. Chaos theory tells us the what-if game is folly — the world a thousand years from now may be better had Hitler won. The ends do not justify the means. If you’re a time traveler who rapes a woman so that the future is rosy, no one cares; if you rape a woman, you go to jail. Colonialism raped India. Did that make India better or worse? Not a relevant question. One thing is for sure, if India wound up better for it, it was never the intention.

      • “Now, if the bar is whether England treated India any worse than Stalin or Mao treated their own people, that’s a fairly low bar …”

        So the bar is different for England from what it is for our own kings. Why is the bar different?

        Is it because England was already a democracy, already in the age of enlightenment, human rights, at home, and yet they were despots abroad?

        Or is it because England is still a powerful country, and we still have to do business with it? Are we using colonialism as a tool of modern foreign policy?

      • Thoreaulylazy Wrote: “thoreaulylazy replied to comment from nnn | June 13, 2011 2:29 PM | Reply “In 1943, some 3 million brown-skinned subjects of the Raj died in the Bengal famine, one of history’s worst. Mukerjee delves into official documents and oral accounts of survivors to paint a horrifying portrait of how Churchill, as part of the Western war effort, ordered the diversion of food from starving Indians to already well-supplied British soldiers and stockpiles in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, including Greece and Yugoslavia. And he did so with a churlishness that cannot be excused on grounds of policy: Churchill’s only response to a telegram from the government in Delhi about people perishing in the famine was to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.”

        I was familiar with this one. It’s very sad and this is pure racism and genocide.

        what-if India were not colonized, where would it be?

        I personally think that the geographic expression that we call as India would be about a dozen or so kingdoms, kind of like a SE Asia. The states would be split on religious and then linguistic lines.

        Who knows. What is easier is pointing out awful colonial policies that concretely and pointedly hampered India sending it into decline. That isn’t a relativist statement. It isn’t saying India would have done better if it were not colonized, and it isn’t saying India would have done worse. –

        India has historically contributed to 20%-25% of global GDP. However, I’m unsure if the economists regarded only the modern-day Indian borders or if he included Bangladesh and Pakistan and Nepal and Sri Lanka? All I know is that India was a very rich nation, but the people fought amongst themselves too much, and moreover, they were colonized by many different warlords and they didn’t embrace modernism and industrialization. So, the Europeans came over. They did a lot of bad (in the case of the ’43 famines), but also good (have you ever been to Victoria Terminus?). Oh yes…we’re not communicating in Orissan or Punjabi, but in a different beautiful language.

        Chaos theory tells us the what-if game is folly — the world a thousand years from now may be better had Hitler won. The ends do not justify the means. If you’re a time traveler who rapes a woman so that the future is rosy, no one cares; if you rape a woman, you go to jail. Colonialism raped India. Did that make India better or worse? Not a relevant question. One thing is for sure, if India wound up better for it, it was never the intention.

        India is just now waking up from the dreariness of colonization. I hope that Pakistan sooner or later wakes up and posts 8% GDP growth. Moreover, I hope that india continues its 8% growth. Something tells me that this won’t last for another 10 years. Brazil also had very fast growth in the past and then stagnation and then growth.

  3. It’s a GAME. Chillax. People these days walk around just WAITING to be offended somehow.

  4. Yeah I’m glad India was colonized too. The best thing that ever happened to India. Except of course Independence. Why was everyone so worked up about that Independence thing anyway?

    I say Indians should invite them back and really make them feel welcome this time!

    So should all the colonies – it was clearly great for Africa too – no problems there, right?

    Colonization part two – I think I can see the ships coming now…

  5. People. If you must engage in conquest you buy Empire: Total War and you play as the Maratha Confederacy. Why you would go with any other second rate strategy game is beyond me.

  6. Yes, Vivek, the world would be a much better place if we could all indulge in such sophomoric counterfactuals. Speaking as an probable descendant of many Tamil kings who bravely ran away, offered up their relatives as hostages, slayed thousands of their own people and then attained maha-learned helplessness in the face of superior technology, I can’t say I regret the three colonial masters of Sri Lanka, no matter how greedy, cruel and enthused with spreading the Gospel they were.

  7. Those of you who worship at the altar of colonialism should read Wendell Berry’s “The Unsettling of America”. It will tell you what IS wrong with it. Though, judging by your intellectual heroes, you probably wouldn’t be able to understand the prose/book.

    • The reviews say that The Unsettling of America is about the disconnect between modern human life and the land. I seem to have missed the connection with colonialism. For the lazy reader, would you mind writing four or five sentences

      • For the lazy reader, would you mind writing four or five sentences

        No. If it could be said in four or five sentences, he wouldn’t write a book. And he writes beautifully, choosing his words with care. Read the book, and think more about colonialism.

  8. According to Amartya Sen, democratically elected leaders are forced to respond to famines. By this thesis, our own kings—no democrats themselves—perhaps did not do a good job?

    Sen’s conclusion is valid only for the period he studied. What are your assumptions in extending this to periods earlier?

    • My assumptions are as follows: Sen got a Nobel Prize. Therefore his thesis must have broad scope. Therefore it should apply to earlier and later periods. If Sen’s thesis has narrow scope—if all it does is make Chinese communists look bad in comparison with India’s democratically elected leaders—then it probably does not deserve a Nobel Prize.

  9. Yes, Vivek, the world would be a much better place if we could all indulge in such sophomoric counterfactuals.

    please make an exception for well thought out alternate history! some of us are fans of the genre.

    • ok, i’ll admit it, i liked X-Men: First Class and i did read “rice and salt.” I’m a juvenile.

  10. speaking of alternate history, some readers might find kim stanley robinson’s years of rice & salt of interest.

  11. IMO, historically accurate games have a lot of educational value. They help you get inside the mind of the protagonist, no matter how reprehensible he might be. I had played as the campaigns in Age Of Empires, and in one of the campaigns, you play as Genghis Khan. That campaign was particularly enjoyable because it took you step by step through Genghis Khan’s rise, from a leader of a band of nomads beset by enemies on all sides, to a world conqueror

    There are many ways to get a war game set during colonial times wrong, but there are very few ways to get it right. It would be interesting to see if they got it right.

  12. While western colonialism is not quite finished yet, it has cleverly mutated into the more insidious and more easily disguisable neocolonialism. It is enforced through a mix of political, economic and military interventions through treaties and networks that seek to perpetuate the dominance; economic, strategic and cultural, of America and the Eurosphere.

    However, this is also a very important century, as the civilizational cycle relentlessly turns, and Asia is on the ascent. This inevitability is not lost on the citizens of the formerly dominant societies, and I have the not-so-scientific, but still quite reliable evidence of conversations with dozens of patrons at my local English pub to corroborate the hypothesis. Therefore, it is quite natural that a computer game like this would have been created – There is a definite market for people longing for the romance and nostalgia of a golden period now forever lost. It is harmless mental stimulation too- none of the players are future civil servants waiting to be shipped off to the far corners of the globe to rule the natives. If anything they are equally likely to be citizens of the former colonies indulging in some colonial fantasies of their own. I look forward to the game- it would be absolutely fantastic to sit at home on a rainy day, matching wits with the powerful AI, accomplishing the creation of artificial famines, engineering civil wars and unnatural partitions, wiping out native populations and seizing their land, and in general earning pride and glory for the motherland. Splendid!

  13. to perpetuate the dominance; economic, strategic and cultural, of America and the Eurosphere.

    Of certain sections living in this area. This is why you should read Wendell Berry.

  14. We aren’t discussing if Sen deserves the Nobel, if at all we are are discussing anything seriously.

    Thoreaulylazy,

    Madhushree Mukherjee has driven a spike into the heart of that vampire called Churchill Hagiography. While the myth of Winnie’s military genius was shredded a few years back, the hagiographers still held on to some hope in his alleged talent for administration. Even that is now in ruins. Churchill has turned out one of the lesser mass murderers of the 20th century, at best a sanctimonious knave.

    While the savagery of Stalin and Hitler ended with WW2 the colonialists’ slaughter carried on several years thence. The Mau Mau genocide overseen by UK put the Japanese WW2 slaughter to shame. Not to forget the removal of residents of Diego Garcia.

  15. nnn,

    Did you know that ancient India had democracies long before the British arrived? Here’s a quote from Arrian, a Greek historian who wrote about Alexander the Great’s campaigns in India:

    From Dionysus to Sandracottus the Indians counted a hundred and fifty-three kings, over six thousand and forty-two years, and during this time thrice [Movements were made] for liberty . . . this for three hundred years; the other for a hundred and twenty years;

    The quote is from book 8 of the Indica.

  16. the Franks are Red Indians – the kalay peelay don’t like clothes: WE LOVE CLOTHES AND GO. i’ve pondered long and hard on what is the ultimate sin: EXPROPRIATION OF BEAUTY IS THE ULTIMATE SIN – the only hair that is the most desirable is the one on your own head. Keep piling on the makeup keep piling on the mascara simulataneously keep piling on selftanner and blusher you can straighten and curl in futile attempt to get that “oh you’re hairs so nice” waviness where every strand is different and vibrating with life keep using different toxic hair dyes – my hair looks better when i get out of bed – how’s that? – only liars assume other’s lie -

    we are creating an isthann no one will ever even dare think of messing with – life is a camping trip – we neither desire nor need your worthless appliances and technology – if you are not in favour of Khalistan damn well don’t dare call yourself a Sikh – defa ho – even when there are no borders WE will have borders – how’s that all you Rakshasas?

    oh yeah what is the punjabi word for strange and strength what letter does it begin and end in keep your trashy art – borat is so funny haha whatever – nonvegetarians are the worst scum of the earth a plague population – maintaing your body at the expense of another – you all have lice – UK UNO USA – the words of saint always come true Vaho vaho Jarnail Singh – - neocolonialism will end one day – odin avai. this site is SEWAGE MUTINY – sepia comes from dead insects – long live the langar hall plastic surgery is a SIN – it’s like begging to be ugly in your next form -

  17. rupeenews.com is pretty good – but no amount of money can make up for cruelty – no amount – keep your crap don’t you dare tell me to sterilize my dog ever again “humane society” – the planet needs more puppies and kittens not less – by law reds blacks and yellows must be prohited from caring for jaanvers (yes there is life in all) – sometimes the caste system makes a lot of sense… i always thought a concentration camp was a meditation center – devil worshipers rahu worshipers morons it is waheguru not rahowa – even if it is all india we will have our Khalistan with the Correct BOrders where we will not take any crap from anyone ever again justice is not blind mental midgets and we will avenge the loss of OUR daughters and sisters.

  18. that’s reds blacks yellows and whites must be prohibited from contact with non-human jaanvers – don’t you dare tell me i have eurotrash or kaleypeelay blood in my veins – i know what’s in me – not you -

  19. Before you dismiss Japanese atrocities, I’d suggest checking out “Men Behind the Sun” by a Chinese director about the Japanese Unit 731. They didn’t kill as many, but it was not for lack of trying, as countless Chinese, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, and a few American flyboys, would tell if they were still around. So many atrocities, so little time.

    Yet Mao and Stalin killed more of their own people than did the Japanese or Germans. Strange what civilized, controlled types of people get up to when they go to war. Then when it’s all over they just go back to doing what they were doing. I am leaning toward an “engineered” concept of war. This carnage simply cannot be spontaneous. People who have no personal grievance at each others’ throats? Absurd.

    Personally I’d give the Brits a few points for trying to ban suttee, child marriage and infanticide (a friend of mine said they were probably the Celtic element as the Anglo-Saxon element was evil, but she’s Irish and i don’t want to tell her that her religionists could be pretty bad to their own) . I don’t know how much the famines were mismanaged or “engineered” (my irish friend again), but if there were deaths caused by colonialism, there must also be a few Indians now alive that owe their existence to a few Christian do-gooders. India’s weakness has been the fatalism encouraged by the religions. I’m not an atheist, but let’s face it, the secular among us are more progressive. Whatever qualities the British of the past possessed, fatalism was not prominent among them.

    British “Colonization” was almost entirely economic and linguistic, product of the East Indian Company,and emanating from the City of London–which is not London. The number of English in India was so miniscule that most villagers never knew they had ever been there, when they left in the 40s. I still don’t understand how they stayed so long, except that a cruicial number of the “natives” benefited directly. Continued resistance such as that of the ’57 Mutiny, would have driven them out.

    These “games” are only fun if you are one of the “empires” rather than the colonized.

  20. Yes, happa dappa. And the Turks should have conquered all of Christendom to stomp out the inquisition and institutionalized witch burning cause Europeans couldn’t do it themselves. In the process, the Ottomans would have then “invented” europe since the europeans couldn’t unite on their own…

    And please, don’t invent reasons for India’s history over the past few centuries if you’ve barely studied it. There has always been intense resistance to invasions in India as Alexander, Huns, Arabs, Turks, Afghans, and Europeans all discovered. There’s a reason why Alex didn’t make it to the Ganga, why the Huns were eventually crushed and exiled, why the Arab Caliph gave up any project of conquering India after numerous attempts, why Ghauri lost the first battle of Tarain, why the Afghans were defeated and driven out by the Sikhs, and why the British had to fight 4 wars with Mysore (they lost 1 of those), 3 with the Marathas, and 2 with the Sikhs (oh and just so my remarks don’t seem too “saffron”–Aurangzeb beat the crap out of the British in Child’s War).

    History is always written by the victors, and they will always make it seem like a cakewalk to depress further resistance from the masses. India’s education system still reflects this mental colonialism, which is why every Indian only knows to recite invasions and knows few if any of the numerous victories. Whatever reasons are behind British rule of India (Oxford military history credits British mastery of subcontinental politics not technology, since congreve rockets were developed from Tipu’s own arsenal), fatalism wasn’t one of them. Spare us the pop history.

  21. Unfortunately much of history is bunk, because it is only recently that we have begun to rely more on evidence based methods. Many histories remain to be written. For instance you may have heard of those magnificent 75 led by Pizzaro who defeated an Incan army of 15,000. Well that is bunk. Pizzaro and his troops landed in the midst of a civil war and happened to back the side that won!

  22. S. Wry,

    Not to forget the Rajput dynasties many of which continue to this day, especially that one clan of the Sisodias of Mewar. And as for fighting formations the Indian warrior clans are the only ones to continue to this day as intact fighting traditions. Every infantry regiment of the Indian Army upholds a unique warfighting tradition stretching back centuries. The Maravar of yester’century who wielded the sword and shield is the ancestor of the Maravar of today who is a weapons officer on board an Indian Navy submarine. And the oldest ship of the Royal Navy a sailing ship that fought at Trafalgar was wrighted in the docks of Bombay.

  23. British rule in India produced a class of Indians who use Western arguments against colonialism in the English language. Is that good or bad?

  24. British rule in India produced a class of Indians who use Western arguments against colonialism in the English language. Is that good or bad?

    Well, it is a good example of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.

  25. the legacy of colonialism is how freedom was obtained. is a coutry was ‘freed’ by the opressor like India was, then the society suffered self esteem problems for years after. if they won their freedom through fighting such as america they didn’t have as much of a problem. that lack of self esteem still has a big affect on society in india today.

  26. Are we judging the British by one set of values, by one set of yardsticks? And are we judging our own kings by another?

    Good question.

    The British took much of the loot back to their little island while the native hindu rajahs hoarded the loot in temples, which anti-national practice only served as a honey pot to attract swarms of afghans and turks. The british built schools and colleges, roads and railways; what did the Maharajahs build other than shabby temples and palaces?

    It is funny to see the same pseudo-nationalist types who rant against British colonialism and Mughal rule going giddy with pride at the recent discovery of the billions of dollars worth of treasure recently discovered hidden at a temple in Travancore. The Maharajahs of Travancore are being lauded by these RSS types for their piety! Apparently it is a pious act to hoard wealth in temples from which most citizens of the kingdom are barred, instead of using the wealth for their welfare. This same Kingdom of Travancore was called a lunatic asylum of casteism by Swami Vivekananda a century ago and it wasn’t until 1932 that sudras were even allowed to enter this temple in which the treasure was found. Even Tamil Brahmins were considered sudras by the Brahmins of Travancore.

  27. it wasn’t until 1932 that sudras were even allowed to enter this temple

    Correction: it was in 1936 that the Temple Entry proclamation was passed, and it was not just this temple but all temples that barred low caste Hindus from entry.

    Amusingly, the Maharajahs of Travancore were themselves low caste sudras and the only way they could enter this temple was by bribing thousands of nambudri Brahmins with hefty donations, called mahadhanams, of gold, cows and slaves. The pious royal sudras were fooled into believing that this would deceive the deity installed in the temple into thinking they were upper caste Kshatriyas and thus eligible to enter it’s presence for darshan. But after 6 years the god would wise up to the deception and realize they were actually sudras…..so the Brahmins had to be bribed again and again every 6 years! :)

    This extortion racket was finally forced to an end, at least overtly, by the British in the mid-19th century when they learned of this colossal waste of the Kingdom’s revenues and threatened to annex Travancore if the Maharajah did not stop wasting the Kingdom’s tax revenues so foolishly.

    Somewhat similarly, Shivaji the low caste founder of the Mahratta Empire had to find a Brahmin from far away Varanasi who was willing (in exchange for how much we don’t know) to concoct a fanciful ancient kshatriya lineage for him and anoint him a legitimate Hindu king, when the local Brahmins refused to do so knowing he was not a kshatriya but a low caste mahratta.

    It is so obvious that the hereditary caste system is stupid and farcical and that it belongs in the dustbin of history.