In his fascinating book, Long Trek South, Tasmanian historian Barry Brimfield chronicles the history of human settlement in Tasmania as consisting of waves of different language groups, over thousands and tens of thousands of years. Only a die-hard romanticist would imagine that these waves of settlement were entirely peaceable affairs. In that respect, the arrival of Europeans after an interregnum of some five to eight thousand years can be seen as merely that most recent “invasion”.
Indeed, the entire history of the world has been one of successive waves of invasion and conquest of almost every people on earth, by everyone else, over tens of thousands of years. European colonialism was only one of the last, albeit most successful, of this global history of conquest and colonisation (at the same time, the fate of the Moriori people shows that Europeans were far from the last people to think that colonisation and genocide were just fine).
So, if we’re going to start demanding “reparations” for people whose ancestors were colonised, almost everyone better be ready to write checks for everyone else.
As Niall Ferguson showed, in his book Empire, Britain’s colonisation of India was far from, say, the rapacious smash’n’grab of the Belgian Congo. Britain invested vast sums in India, as it had in America, leaving its former colony with an enduring legacy of governance, education institutions and railways.
But still, what have the Romans ever given us? The “victims” of colonialism are still holding their hands out.
If we’re going to pursue this mania of visiting historical guilt on whole peoples, then we could do worse than start with Britain’s Norman ruling class, and the great injustice visited on the Anglo-Saxon peoples in 1066.
As The Spectator recently observed:
By any standard, the effect on indigenous English society was enduring devastation. Through war, invasion and genocide, the Anglo-Saxon ruling class was almost entirely replaced, control of the church and state surrendered to foreign adversaries, English replaced by Norman French as the language of government, and England’s entire political, social and cultural orientation shifted from Northern Europe to the continent for the next thousand years.
Britain’s universities have become sufficiently “woke” that the beneficiaries of the Rhodes scholarship now feel emboldened to demand the unpersoning of Rhodes himself, in the form of his statue at Oxford. Yet the Oxbridge ruling class are still overwhelmingly drawn from the descendants of the Norman conquerors.
These descendants of colonisers are still reaping the privilege of money and privilege, over their Anglo-Saxon subjects. The Oxbridge class stand to earn, according to one estimate, £400,000 more during their lifetimes than graduates from other UK universities.
The descendants of the Norman invaders, who not only robbed the native population, but committed a genocide in the north of the country, are lording undeserving money and privilege. Surely they must owe reparations, then?
But, why stop there?
Once the Anglo-Saxons have been paid their due, they must also pass on reparations to the Ancient Britons, previously displaced by the Angles and Saxons. The Welsh will no doubt welcome the money.
And those smug Scandinavians better be ready to atone for the rape and pillage of their Viking ancestors.
Similarly, if we’re going to pay reparations to Aboriginal Australians displaced by European settlers, there better be some sweet, sweet compo coming the way of those such as myself, whose Irish and Scots ancestors were dispossessed of their homelands at almost the same time as the Aborigines.