05 June 2008

As I Would Not Be A Slave, I Would Not Be A Master

Wouldn't have made a blog entry here, except for that have become in a debate in the comments section of a YouTube video on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict about, of all things, the Algerian War of Independence and the roles of the Algerian FLN(Front de Liberation Nationale, the main Algerian Arab independence organisation), the OAS(Organsation Armee Secrete, the main Algerian European anti-independence organsation)and the French.

Won't go into the details involving the Algerian War of Independence. If you wish to find out about it, please consult books like Alastair Horne's "A Savage War Of Peace"(which I have here at home, and which has been my main guide to this conflict for around twenty years now), or the various on-line resources about that war.

That said, I just want to say this; no nation or people has the right to dominate another, for any reason.

This goes for the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the Russians in Chechnya, the Chinese in Tibet and Xinjiang, the Indonesians in West Irian, and so on and so forth.

This also goes for the Pashtuns in Afghanistan and Pakistan who make up the bulk of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters and supporters, the Arabs in the Sudan and Mauritania, and any other peoples that seek to, by weight of numbers or force of arms, impose their beliefs, customs, business practises, and other ways of living upon their neighbours.

When a nation or people engage in such activities, it doesn't reflect the best aspects of their societies and cultures, but the very worst.

It's one thing to trade with, have cultural exchanges and diplomatic relations, and to interact with other peoples in various peaceful, non-invasive manners.

It's quite another to try and shove those same exchanges down another's throat, and call it progress.

The Soviets attempted it in Afghanistan, as they did throughout Eastern Europe, and, in the end, it back-fired badly on them.

The Egyptians, Assyrians, Hittites, Macedonians, Romans, British, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Germans, Italians and Japanese, among many others, tried it at various times in their histories.

For a time, sometimes a quite lengthy one, such powers have been able to dominate and hold onto large territories and control large numbers of subject peoples.

But, in the end, whether through external assault or internal pressures and weaknesses, those empires fell apart.

Mind you, they have often left long-standing cultural influences behind in their former territories.
But, their political, social and economic control of those territories is either finished, or, as in the case of the former British and French colonies, considerably diminished from what it once was, although the French continue to maintain a close relationship with many of their ex-colonies, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Either way, the domination of one people by another, while it may bring some benefits at various points to the subject population, is about the systematic control and exploitation of that people, and, more importantly, of the territory in which they live, and the resources it has.

It is also, in my opinion, an incredible waste of time, talent, resources, energy and lives that could have been better employed in making their own lands far better places to live.

Call me naive here, but this is what I believe, and I also believe that human history would be a generally happier one if more peoples had decided to either peacefully interact with their neighbours, or, if not so inclined, stayed at home and lived within their own means.

But, they didn't, and it is the consequences of those decisions, some made only a few months or years ago, others centuries or even millennia ago, that we are living with to-day.

However, we can, and do, have the choice not to repeat the same mistakes, or at least the same KIND of mistakes, as our forbears in future.

It seems to me that it is either that, or remain locked in at least one of the various cycles of domination, exploitation, and eventual reaction to, and overthrow of, that domination, with the next cycle afterwards being started by one of the formerly dominated peoples.

Everyone has their excuses for engaging in such acts, but none of them, particularly when compared with their actions, holds up very well at all.

Am unsure if this is an exact quote from Abraham Lincoln, but will leave you with this anyway, "As I would not be a slave, I would not be a master."

Be seeing you.

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