Populorum Progressio 7: Effects Of Colonialism

7. Though insufficient for the immensity and urgency of the task, the means inherited from the past are not totally useless. It is true that colonizing nations were sometimes concerned with nothing save their own interests, their own power and their own prestige; their departure left the economy of these countries in precarious imbalance—the one-crop economy, for example, which is at the mercy of sudden, wide-ranging fluctuations in market prices. Certain types of colonialism surely caused harm and paved the way for further troubles.

It’s not just the Third World that suffers from the shortsightedness of the 1%. Today, Iowa grows corn and soy even though lots of other crops grow better there. Colonial America was not all that diverse either.

On the other hand, we must also reserve a word of praise for those colonizers whose skills and technical know-how brought benefits to many untamed lands, and whose work survives to this day. The structural machinery they introduced was not fully developed or perfected, but it did help to reduce ignorance and disease, to promote communication, and to improve living conditions.

Maybe just a word, but not much more. What is lacking here is the collaboration between workers and upper crust. (Slaves and masters if you will.) Colonizers did a fraction of the work compared to those who were forced into labor. Reduce disease? Not in every era.

This encyclical letter is © Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and can be found in its entirety at this linkCC BY 2.5, The image is of Lady Justice at the Central Criminal Court of London.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Populorum Progressio, social justice. Bookmark the permalink.

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