Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Salt Water Fallacy

During and after the Second World War, the British were often annoyed that the U.S.A. seemed all too much to favour dismantling the British Empire, even though Great Britain was their ally.  The British did not see in this merely an altruistic desire to spread the blessings of liberty - and after all, these blessings in Africa and elsewhere have proved rather elusive ever since decolonization was brought in ahead of time - but a desire to profit from such a break-up, while committing all the time the "salt water fallacy": that territories separated by sea from the metropolis are somehow less legitimately part of a nation's dominions than contiguous lands, such as the then "republics" that made up the Soviet Union...

We see the same fallacy in play to-day in the Chinese Empire (and yes, that should be its proper name), as regards two of its "autonomous regions", or should that be contiguous colonies: Tibet and East Turkestan - known by their Han Chinese names of Xizang and Xinjiang, which significantly enough mean "Western Treasure House" (how exploitative!) and "New Territory".  (Note also that the modern province of Xizang only includes about half of historic Tibet.)  

How surprising, not, is it that in recent years the natives of both regions (Tibetans and Uyghurs) have rioted against the demographic deluge of Han immigrants that threatens to make them dispossessed minorities, rather than majorities in their own lands...  It would seem to me only just that these nations have their independence, and China be composed of China proper (plus the former Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, since both those formerly non-Chinese regions are now overwhelmingly ethnically Chinese).  And of course, I pray for a China happy and free, delivered from one-party rule, corruption, militarism and repression, where the blessings of true liberty are available - above all, that the Church militant be delivered from persecution, so that the Gospel may bring blessings to souls - but part of freedom is recognizing injustices inflicted on others, that they too may be set free.

Of course, as an Australian of Anglo-Celtic descent I cannot shamelessly criticize the establishment of settler colonies across the globe: Australia, New Zealand, Canada (once unblushingly called "the White Dominions") plus the United States (Britannia's revolting offspring!) all owe their main origins to settlement from the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales...); for these, together with Ireland (a nation with a fraught relationship to the larger island next door), form the centre of the Anglosphere, the modern nations whose common tongue is English, whose main ethnic origins stem from two small outliers of Europe (joined then and now with many others), whose system of common law stems from the jurisprudence of England, and which for better or worse have had and continue to have a great deal of influence on the history of the world.

Nonetheless, "imperialism" and "colonization" are no longer in vogue: except, it appears, in the Middle Kingdom.  Does this bode well?  It is excellent that the material prosperity of China is daily increasing for the benefit of her people, but a nationalistic and expansionist State will not contribute to the peace of the world, whereas history has shewn that first the Pax Britannica and now the Pax Americana has, overall, been for the greater good (whatever enormities have been unjustly committed all unworthily), not least in defeating other, evil, Empires - the Nazi in World War II, the Communist in the Cold War...

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