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  What’s Wrongwith Colonialism LEA YPI I There is no question mark at the end of my title. I ask you to grant that something  is wrong with colonialism. That in itself is no meagre conces-sion; the history of liberalism is replete with apologies for colonialism as wellascondemnationsofit.Ifyouthinkthatcolonialismisjustified,youare unlikely to find my arguments attractive. But if you agree that some-thing must be wrong with colonialism, you might want to know moreabout what exactly the nature of the wrong is.It is tempting to answer the question by following one of two promi-nent strategies for showing the wrong of colonialism: an argument fromnationalism and an argument from territorial rights. This article defendsanalternativeaccount.Itarguesthatthewrongofcolonialismconsistsinthe creation and upholding of a political association that denies itsmembers equal and reciprocal terms of cooperation. To see the natureof that wrong, no commitment to either nationalism or territorialrights is needed.Let me nevertheless begin with a few words on each. Nationalism isfamiliar to most people. The idea that cultural groups have a primafacie claim to self-determination and that the wrong of colonialism is This article was written with the support of the Australian Research CouncilDP 110100175 , for which I am grateful. Earlier versions were presented at Bristol, Princeton,San Diego, Uppsala, Dublin, Sheffield, LSE, ANU, Darmstadt, Copenhagen, Melbourne,and Queen’s University at Kingston. I am grateful to participants at these events andespecially to Chris Armstrong, Anne Barron, Chris Bertram, Garrett Brown, Dan Butt, Amandine Catala, Paige Digeser, Chris Essert, Graham Finlay, Katrin Flikschuh, BobGoodin, Leigh Jenco, Catherine Lu, David Miller, Margaret Moore, Avia Pasternak, NicSouthwood, Tim Waligore, and Jonathan White for very helpful conversations and com-ments. I am particularly indebted to Annie Stilz for reading several drafts and to the editorand reviewers of  Philosophy  & Public Affairs  for helping me prepare the final version.© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Philosophy  & Public Affairs  41 , no. 2  explained by the violation of such claims has a long-standing traditionboth in political theory and in political discourse. “The power,” Gandhideclared in his famous “Quit India” speech of  1942 , “will belong to thepeople of India, and it will be for them to decide to whom it placed inthe entrusted.” 1 “Whether we like it or not, this growth of nationalconsciousness is a political fact” and “we must all accept it as a fact,”British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan emphasized in his equally famous “Wind of Change” address to the South African parliament. 2  Although few normative theorists would take Macmillan’s words at facevalue, the aim of this article is not to discuss potential objections to theview.Manyreaderswillcontinuetofindnationalismattractive.Butevenmoremaybeinterestedinacritiqueofcolonialismthatdoesnotrequirecommitment to some version of it, whether declared or disguised, whether of an ethnic or of a civic kind.Theargumentfromterritorialrightshasreceivedagreatdealofatten-tion in the recent literature. 3 The claims of indigenous groups are oftenconsidered related to territory in some normatively important way, asclaims to particular land, particular resources, and the use of geographi-cal space belonging to a particular group of people. 4 To take oneexample, the United Nations’ “Declaration on the Granting of Indepen-dence to Colonial Countries and Peoples” of  1960 states that “all peopleshave an inalienable right to complete freedom, the exercise of their 1 . MahatmaGandhi,“QuitIndia,”in TheBroadviewAnthologyofBritishLiterature:The Twentieth Century and Beyond  , ed. Joseph Laurence Black (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 2008 ), pp. 784 – 86 . 2 . See Harold Macmillan, “Winds of Change,” in I Have a Dream: The Speeches That Changed the World  , ed. Ferdie Addis (London: Michael O’Mara, 2011 ), p. 122 . 3 . My definition of territorial rights follows the recent literature in distinguishing between three different elements: (a) a right to jurisdiction; (b) a right to control and usethe resources that are available in the territory; and (c) a right to control the movementof goods and people across the borders of the territory. For a review and critique of themain positions, see Lea Ypi, “Territorial Rights and Exclusion,” Philosophy Compass  8 ( 2013 ): 241 – 53 . 4 . For discussions of territorial rights that relate to the critique of colonialism, see LeaBrilmayer,“SecessionandSelf-Determination:ATerritorialInterpretation,” YaleJournalof InternationalLaw  16 ( 1991 ): 177 – 202 ; Allen Buchanan, “Boundaries: What Liberalism Has toSay,” in States,Nations,andBorders:TheEthicsofMakingBoundaries  , ed. Allen Buchananand Margaret Moore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003 ), pp. 231 – 61 ; MargaretMoore,“TheTerritorialDimensionofSelf-Determination,”in  NationalSelf-Determinationand Secession , ed. Margaret Moore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998 ), pp. 134 – 57 ; and A. J. Simmons, “Historical Rights and Fair Shares,” Law and Philosophy  14 ( 1995 ): 149 – 84 . 159 What’s Wrong with Colonialism  sovereigntyandtheintegrityoftheirnationalterritory.” 5 Totakeanotherexample, the principle of “permanent sovereignty over naturalresources” asserted in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII)of  1962 emergedpartlyinresponsetothequestionofwhetherdecolonized states could be considered free to reject contracts and con-cessions signed by their colonial masters and to ignore the torts of apredecessor state. 6 Finally, the defense of territorial rights might alsoappear crucial for our understanding of restitution claims. Indigenouspeoples’ arguments concerning the use of land and resources seem togain their strength from an appeal to the territorial entitlements of theirancestors. Even in cases where we might be prepared to concede thatchanges in circumstances imply the supersession of past colonial wrongs, the claims of descendants of colonized groups to the territory belonging to their ancestors are rarely challenged. 7 Thearticleproceedsasfollows.SectionIIintroducessomedefinitionsand clarifications. Sections III and IV disentangle the critique of colo-nialism from the defense of territorial rights. Sections V, VI, and VIIdevelop a different analysis of colonialism, one that sees it not as aviolation of territorial claims but as the embodiment of an objectionableform of political relation. Sections VIII and IX examine a number of objections. Section X lays out some implications of the argument.Section XI concludes. II. PRELIMINARY REMARKS In its first, Latin use, the verb “to colonize” derived from “colon,” whichmeant “farmer, tiller, or planter.” It referred to the Roman practice of settlinginahostileornewlyconqueredcountrybycitizenswhoretainedtheir rights of srcinal citizenship, while working on land bestowed tothem by the occupying authorities. 8 This understanding of colonialism,linked to the settlement claims of particular groups and their useof specific geographical areas, remained central in sixteenth- and 5 . Resolution 1514 (XV): see < http://www.un.org/en/decolonization/history.shtml > ,accessed February  29 , 2012 . 6 . See, on this issue, Matthew Craven, The Decolonization of International Law: State Succession and the Law of Treaties  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007 ), pp. 85 – 86 . 7 . See, e.g., Jeremy Waldron, “Superseding Historic Injustice,” Ethics  103 ( 1992 ): 4 – 28 ,at p. 4 . 8 . See Oxford English Dictionary  , < http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/ 36547 > . 160 Philosophy  & Public Affairs   seventeenth-centuryaccountsoftheoccupationoftheNewWorld.Heretheterm“colonies”wasdeployedtorefertotheterritoryusedbysettlers who created new communities for themselves and their descendants while remaining dependent on the mother country in politicaland economic matters. 9 But settler colonialism is only one historical manifestation of colonialrelations. In some cases, indigenous populations were exterminatedrather than subjugated to a common political authority: the Europeanconquests of Tasmania, of some of the Caribbean islands, and of vastareas in America, Australia, and Canada are all relevant cases. In othercases, very little settlement took place. Colonized territories servedmainly as a provider of vital natural resources: the kinds of commercialcolonialism practiced by the Dutch, English, and Portuguese in placeslike China, Japan, and the East Indies are the most familiar examples of thiskind.Duringthelatenineteenthcenturyandearlytwentiethcentury,thepurposeofcolonialrulewasdeclaredtobethe“civilizingmission”of theWesttoeducatebarbarianpeoples:FrenchpoliciesinAlgeria,French West Africa, and Indochina and Portuguese rule in Angola, Guinea,Mozambique,andTimorweredesignedtoreflectpreciselythisprinciple.My critique of territorial rights and the analysis of the wrong of colonial-ism as a practice grounded in the denial of equal and reciprocal terms of political association applies to all these phenomena (settler colonialism,commercial colonialism, and civilizing colonialism).Beforeproceedingwiththeargument,afewclarificationsareinorder.This article examines what is wrong with colonialism. It is not about whether some colonial masters are better than others. It is not about what we should make of cases where domestically oppressed groupscouldhaveendedtheiroppressionthroughbenigncolonialrule.Anditisnot about the legitimacy of humanitarian intervention. All these areimportant questions. But here I am not interested in the degree of  wrongdoing that colonialism exhibits compared to other oppressiverelations, domestic or otherwise. Nor am I interested in the question of how to end such oppressive relations. I am interested in what makescolonialism, even benign colonialism, wrong as such. And I am inter-ested in defeating one powerful argument that claims to identify that wrong: the argument from territorial rights. 9 . Ibid. 161 What’s Wrong with Colonialism
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