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The continuum of history plays an important role in human thought. History and Colonialism, to
the superficial thinker, is a collection of individual actions, social change, periods, regions,
civilizations and other events that are long gone. However, as Prof. Montrose points out, history
is not just about the past. All that happened in the past was happening in the present at that time.
We are living in our present which will be the past in the future. The history of colonialism is
being written every moment that we live, and the attached articles aptly illustrate the fact. Events
that molded the colonial past are interwoven in the present and are shaping the future.
The commonality and diversity of causal forces and human reactions with regard to colonialism,
over time is remarkable. The struggle between a dominant and suppressed culture is a common
thread. The clash could be between distant cultures, such as the Europeans and Africans or
somewhat similar cultures, such as the British and Irish. This can be loosely labelled as external
and internal colonialism respectively. External colonialism has declined and changed character in
today's world of connectivity and interdependence. Nations now do not directly or outright rule
other less powerful nations. Instead, they take a more subtle approach, influencing the political
class and deriving their benefits. This has even been called neo-colonialism, such as being
practiced by China in present-day Africa. Internal colonialism or “hidden colonialism” has taken
prominence in current times as dominant communities try to exert influence at the expense of the
less powerful. An example is that of the Israelis colonizing the Bedouins. The underlying goal,
for the most part, is economic gain. This could be in the form of cheap labor or land grabbing.
The end result is impoverished societies which, even when left alone, find it difficult to make a
start due to the negative balance that colonialism has left them with. This is particularly true of
nations where slavery was previously rampant.
The underlying desire of the suppressed class in each of these broad categories is an aching for
freedom and to be left alone to their own devices. However, the social and political context at the
time determines the reaction of the suppressed class. In colonial Burma, the natives were poor
and unarmed, resulting in a covertly aggressive hatred. However, in Ireland and more recently in
Kenya, the protesters were armed and able, resulting in violent clashes. In countries that
currently practice internal colonialism such as North Korea and China, the fierce and brutal
policing of their own people mute their voices suppressing dissent. In this age of globalization,
the Bedouins are taking the path of advocacy and international support gathering. The United
Nations intervenes in matters of international concern altering the course of colonial progression
in the present time.
The concept of colonialism and its validity is viewed differently by the masters or the oppressors.
Deep in the hearts of the masters, often the subjugation is “brutal, mercenary and inhumane from
the beginning to its end' as stated by William Hague and is also evident in the protagonists’
feelings in the early part of 'Shooting an Elephant'. However, they choose to continue their brutal
actions believing that they “will pave a path to a better future” for the subjects or just to “avoid
looking like a fool” and “do what is morally right”. The colonialists also view their actions as
being legally justified. As Roger O'Keefe, an international jurist points out, slavery was “not
internationally unlawful at the time the colonial powers engaged in them”. In “Shooting the
Elephant”, the protagonist knew that he was “legally in the right”. The protagonist in “Shooting
an Elephant” feels the pressure of his subjects to do something dramatic and is “forced” to take

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The continuum of history plays an important role in human thought. History and Colonialism, to the superficial thinker, is a collection of individual actions, social change, periods, regions, civilizations and other events that are long gone. However, as Prof. Montrose points out, history is not just about the past. All that happened in the past was happening in the present at that time. We are living in our present which will be the past in the future. The history of colonialism is being written every moment that we live, and the attached articles aptly illustrate the fact. Events that mol ...
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