NEXT in The Rockford PapersnThe West and the Restnby Alan J. LevinenIt is widely believed that in some way the Western worldncaused the poverty of the backward countries of Asia andnAfrica, that the West’s prosperity was built at their expense.nThe colonial empires of the Western European countries,nit is alleged, were vast instruments of economic exploitationnwhich extracted enormousnwealth from Africa and Asia andnconferred few if any benefits in return.nThis view has become housendogma at the United Nations, whichnhas officially endorsed the claim thatnthe end of colonial rule was necessarynfor economic development tonbegin. As the empires fade into thenpast they seem to evoke more andnmore hostility. Empire has become andirty word.nThe disintegration of morale thatnhas occurred in the Western democraciesnover the last generation hasnmade such notions a potent factor innthe world situation as well as in thenformation of Western policies. Annexamination of these ideas and thenreality they purport to describe isntherefore vital. It is worth notingnthat, although they claim to summarizenthe history of several centuriesnof the West’s relations with Africa and Asia, theynwere formulated only gradually during this century. Then’Victorians thought quite differently, and it may be thatntheir ideas were closer to the truth than those popularntoday.nAt the turn of the century, most of the Western worldnapproved of imperialism. Even the United States had acquiredna small empire, despite fierce opposition by manynwho considered imperialism contrary to democracy and tonour national traditions. The future of the world, it wasnwidely thought, lay in the growth and development of thenEuropean and Japanese empires. Most people saw Europeannrule as a good thing, a force to promote progress and benefitnhumanity. Even socialists were not very hostile to imperialism;nlike Marx, they regarded it as a progressive development.nThose untouched by the influence of humanitarianismnwere still more complacent, for the belief in the in­nnnherent superiority of the white race was only just beginningnto fade. There was very little criticism even in the colonialncountries; Indian nationalists, the strongest nationalistngroup in any colony, felt that British rule was a good thingnand that independence lay far in the future.nWestern rule was the enteringnwedge for modern ideas and institutions,nscience and technology, education,nbusiness methods and politicalnideas (if not practices) to bentransmitted into non-Western areas.nIn Africa, basic literacy reached vastnareas for the first time. Western rulenusually introduced the prerequisitesnand sometimes provided the actualnbeginning (as in India and southernnRhodesia) of industrialization. Transportationnsystems, some technicalntraining and modern economic organizationnwere introduced everywherenthe Europeans went. Exceptnfor Japan — which already resemblednthe West in many ways — the countriesnof Africa and Asia which remainednindependent lagged behindnformer colonies economically andnpolitically. The bloodiest, most tyrannicalnand hysterically nationalist regimesnin underdeveloped countries have arisen in countriesnnever under colonial rule: China, Ethiopia and Iran allnprovide cases in point. The cruelties committed by Westernnempires were, in fact, neither new nor extensive. Thenprogress they generated was.nThe days of empires — Western empires, at any rate —nmay be done, but so is the idea of total and sacred nationalnindependence. This has been recognized for more than angeneration in Europe. It will have to be recognized for Asianand Africa as well.nThe above excerpt is from the November issue of The RockfordnPapers.nTo subscribe to The Rockford Papers, fill out and mail the attachednbusiness reply card.n