Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee for 2016, has something in common with Donald Trump: Sinophobia.
During a 2011 visit to Zambia, she warned about “a new colonialism in Africa.” This time, the Chinese were to blame. As Clinton sees it, the Chinese are extracting wealth from the continent by buying its raw materials. “We saw that during colonial times it [was] easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” she griped.
Clinton was adamant. She did not want to see a European-style colonial redux in Africa.
Certainly Chinese state capitalism is not free-market capitalism. But is Chinese mercantilism not preferable to American militarism, an example of which is Libya, a north-African recipient of madam secretary’s largess? Not according to Mrs. Clinton.
As Clinton sees it (as do, no doubt, the Paul-Ryan Republicans and the Bernie Sanders socialists), the “old colonialism” saw underdeveloped nations “bilked by rich capitalist countries,” a phrase used by Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington in Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress.
According to these highly politicized, socialist, zero-sum formulations regarding colonialism, class warfare and “income inequality,” one person’s plenty is another’s poverty. The corresponding antidote invariably involves taking from one and giving to the other—from rich to poor; from North to South.
The notion, however, of a preexisting income pie from which the greedy appropriate an unfair share is itself pie-in-the-sky. Wealth, earned or “unearned,” as egalitarians term inheritance, doesn’t exist outside the individuals who create it; it is a return for desirable services, skills and resources they render to others. Labor productivity is the main determinant of wages—and wealth. People in the West produce or purchase what they consume—and much more; they don’t remove, or steal it from Third Worlders. Wrote the greatest development economist, Lord Peter Bauer, in Equality, the Third World, and Economic Delusion: “Incomes, including those of the relatively prosperous or the owners of property, are not taken from other people. Normally they are produced by their recipient and the resources they own.”
Not unlike Obama’s Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, who “dramatically increased U.S. foreign aid” (as reported approvingly in Foreign Affairs magazine); Mrs. Clinton also committed more funds to the Agency for International Development during her tenure as secretary of state.
When it comes to Africa, it’s worth noting, however, that four or five decades since decolonization; colonialism, dependency and racism no longer cut it as explanations for Africa’s persistent and pervasive underdevelopment. “Pseudo-scholars such as [the late] Edward Said and legions of liberal intellectuals have made careers out of blaming the West for problems that were endemic to many societies both before and after their experiences as European colonies,” noted Australian historian Keith Windschuttle, in a 2002 issue of American Outlook.
The truth is that colonization constituted the least tumultuous period in African history. This is fact; its enunciation is not to condone colonialism or similar, undeniably coercive, forays, only to venture, as did George Eliot in Daniel Deronda, that “to object to colonization absolutely is to object to history itself. To ask whether colonization in itself is good or bad is the same as asking whether history is a good or bad thing.” …