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What are the implications of colonialism for a theory of global justice today? What does rectificatory justice mean in the light of colonialism? What does global rectificatory justice require in practice? The author seeks to answer these questions covering a significant gap in the literature on global justice.



1. Introduction

The discussion on global justice is vibrant and expanding. The discussion has mainly focused on one aspect of justice, namely distributive justice. But as Aristotle showed, there are also other “… species of the just …,” among them rectificatory justice (Aristotle, 1980: 114). In this book I argue for global rectificatory justice. The present global order (the global economy as well as global governance) mirrors colonialism in many respects. Hence we live in a post-colonial era and our understanding of global justice should reflect the legacy of colonialism. As a point of departure I will show how this history still stamps our world.
Göran Collste

2. The Discussion on Global Justice: A Missing Premise

During the last few decades we have witnessed a significant increase in the literature on global justice. Scholars in philosophy, political science, international relations, and other disciplines are turning their attention to global relations and in particular the implications of globalization on ethics and international politics.
Göran Collste

3. Colonialism

A discussion on rectification after colonialism must be based on an account of what happened during this period of history and of its longterm effects. This chapter gives a general introduction to colonialism and imperialism: How European hegemony was established, “the Scramble for Africa,” when Africa was divided between European colonial powers at the Berlin West Africa Conference 1884–1885, the colonization of Asia, and the United States’ dominance over Latin America from the middle of 19th century onwards. This general overview is based on historical accounts of colonialism. Obviously, history is not an exact science and I run the risk of uncritically accepting controversial claims. I have tried to mitigate this risk by choosing authors with different outlooks, like for example, neoconservative British historian Niall Ferguson and Adu Boahen, writing colonial history from an African perspective.1
Göran Collste

4. Five Cases of Colonialism

After the general overview of colonial history in Chapter 3, I will in this chapter introduce and discuss five examples of the practice of colonialism. The examples illustrate different aspects of this period of history: Uganda of a rather peaceful but nevertheless in the long run destructive colonial reign, Congo of a vicious quest for minerals and other raw materials which undermined the future of the subjected peoples, Namibia of a genocide that left enduring traces, Kenya of a war of liberation that was violently suppressed, and finally India of how colonies and pseudo-colonies were integrated in the world market with problematic consequences for the countries’ own economic development. After giving a brief account of the five cases I will in the final part of this chapter demonstrate how they represent different problematic aspects of the legacy of colonialism.
Göran Collste

5. The Legacy of Colonialism

In the previous chapter, some significant and morally challenging implications of colonial rule were presented. The point of departure of this chapter is the question of how colonialism and imperialism shaped the present global structure. The primary question is: How were the present poor former colonies affected by the fact that they were colonized by foreign powers for hundreds of years? Did it accelerate their development or was it an obstacle to their progress? The secondary questions are: How did the exploitation of the colonies affect development in the now wealthy nations? Were colonialism and imperialism important for their development or did they play only a minor role? Both these questions are highly controversial and, needless to say, experts in the field are far from unanimous. Hence, my aim is to review some of their answers and discuss the implications for my main question in this book: Is there is a valid argument for rectificatory justice after colonialism and imperialism?
Göran Collste

6. Restoring the Epistemic Framework

Colonialism had not only economic and political consequences but also intellectual and cultural consequences. Colonial relations had the character of master-servant relations and these relations ran parallel with race and ethnicity; the white person was the master, the non-white the servant.
Göran Collste

7. Rectification for Slavery

The aim of this chapter is to analyze arguments for rectification for the slave trade. I start with excerpts from the Abuja and Durban Declarations that highlight the need for remembrance of slavery and the slave trade. In contrast to the Durban Declaration, the Abuja Declaration asks for rectification, including compensation, to Africa. Then I give a short overview of the history of slavery in Africa and the slave trade, and finally I discuss whether present-day African nations should be compensated for the harmful economic impact of the slave trade.
Göran Collste

8. Claims for Justice after Colonialism

Colonialism lasted for almost 500 years. During this period European nations occupied countries in other continents, massacred large numbers of the indigenous peoples, and dominated those who survived, using many of them as slaves or as forced labor. The economies of the occupied territories were adjusted in the interests of the colonizers. One could expect that this lengthy period should have resulted in massive demands for rectification when it finally ended in the 1960s and 1970s. However, this did not happen. As we will see in this chapter, victims of colonialism have indeed claimed compensation, and there are examples of apologies from former perpetrators, but the numbers are far less than might be expected.
Göran Collste

9. The Meaning of Rectificatory Justice after Colonialism

In this chapter I discuss the meaning of rectificatory justice and how it applies to rectification for colonial harms. I will first clarify the conceptual question, that is, the question of which term is the most appropriate to use. Then I will sketch a theory of rectificatory justice. When the theory of rectification is applied to the history of colonialism a number of questions need to be answered.
Göran Collste

10. Rectificatory Justice — Philosophical Challenges

Demands for affirmative action to compensate black Americans, the abolition of apartheid and the initiation of the truth and reconciliation process in South Africa, the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the restoration of democracies in Latin America have triggered interest in how to handle past injustices. Philosophers have contributed to the discussion and some have criticized the idea of rectificatory justice.
Göran Collste

11. Ways Forward: Rectification, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

In this book I argue for global rectificatory justice. Colonialism has in different ways shaped the present global order and the legacy of colonialism requires both rectification for past injustices and forward-looking remedies. How should the relations between former colonies and former colonial powers be shaped in the future? Do demands for rectification for past wrongs merely open wounds that have already healed? Perhaps forgiveness and reconciliation are better alternatives than rectification?
Göran Collste

12. Is a Generous Immigration Policy a Way to Rectify Colonial Injustices?

Migration from former colonies to former colonial powers represents a large portion of 20th-century migration. This migration has been facilitated by generous laws regarding immigration and citizenship. For example, after World War II Britain granted citizenship to hundreds of millions of colonial subjects. Every person born in the British Empire was, according to common law, a British subject and Commonwealth citizen. As a consequence many Indians, Pakistanis, and people from the Caribbean migrated to the United Kingdom and the non-white population grew from around 30,000 in the 1940s to 3 million at the end of the century (Hansen, 2000).
Göran Collste

13. Changing the Global Order: The Case of TRIPS

In Chapter 2 I argued that the present global order to a large extent mirrors the colonial structure. However, the dominance of the former colonial powers — plus the United States, which from the 19th century developed into a leading neo-colonial power — is currently being challenged. There are new competitors on the global scene, primarily the former semi-colony China, South East Asian nations, and India. Even within some of the established global institutions, the power structure is gradually shifting.
Göran Collste

14. Conclusions and Implications

The idea of rectificatory justice connects the past to the present and the future. States and peoples stand in continuing relations to each other, and what was done in the past has enduring implications for present and future relations. Historical injustices against peoples and individuals generate rights among the victims and duties among the former perpetrators. There is an unpaid debt as long as rectification is pending.
Göran Collste


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