European colonialism now and then: Libya conference in Berlin - SELÇUK TÜRKYILMAZ

European colonialism now and then: Libya conference in Berlin

In the 19th century, the dominance of European states over the rest of the world reached its peak. Except for the Ottoman geography, almost the whole world came under European hegemony.

The most cruel of interventions in terms of invasion, occupation and colonization of Africa were committed in the same century.

The fact that European states convened in Berlin in 1884-85 to reach a consensus on how to carve up Africa, was also of interest to the Ottomans, who also attended the conference. After long negotiations, European states agreed on sharing.

One of the most important aspects of the Berlin Conference was the emergence of the idea that the domination on the ground would achieve legal status through actual occupation. This has accelerated inter-state competition.

Despite being a small state, Belgium easily conquered Congo, thinking that it would not be a rival imperialist state. The most horrific brutalities that history has ever witnessed also took place in Congo.

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is an important novel dealing with the subject of colonialism. Although it is a controversial book for various reasons, it sheds light on the brutality that was perpetrated in Congo.

The speech author Chinua Achebe made about the book and an article by Professor Jean-Luc Vellut titled “Belgium: The Single-Colony Empire,” are both eye-opening when it comes to this subject.

British historian Robert J. Young talks about the similarity between Roger Casement and the “Kurtz” character in the novel, which depicts the horrors of the colonial government model implemented by Belgium in Congo. In his article published in the The Age of Empire, Jean-Luc-Vellut mentions the cosmopolitan structure of the first colonial belt in the history of Congo, consisting of all European nations.

Kurtz, in the Heart of Darkness, perhaps was born out of the adventures of the first colonial generation in Congo, and in a sense is similar to Casement. It is important to note that that Casement acts on behalf of England. However, attention must be paid to C. Achebe's racism charge against novelist Joseph Conrad since one of the issues dealt with in the Heart of Darkness is the “mission of civilization” and this is the legitimizing tool of the new imperialist period for the West.

It is impossible to understand the history of colonialism without splitting it into periods. When we take it as a whole, meaning becomes obscure. Liberal law is built on exactly this ambiguity. The civilization mission states that a new era has begun in the history of colonialism.

It is no coincidence that this concept emerged after America, Australia and New Zealand came under the absolute domination of Europeans. The mission of civilization was not even required for the natives of these three continents. They were a kind that needed to be eradicated.

Europeans settled the division of Africa with a compromise at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference, but it has only intensified the feud between imperial states. The fuse of the chain of events that would lead to the First World War was lit.

In this period, missionaries worked very hard to stop the spread of Islam in Africa. There is a direct link between the missionary projects and the halting of Islam's advance into Central Africa.

One hundred and thirty-five years later, we need to recall the past as another African issue is being discussed in Berlin. Since the issue in Africa was completely settled, they turned their sights to the influence spheres of the Ottoman Empire that tried to prevent the invasion, occupation and colonization of Africa.

The Ottomans, which held more weight, especially in North and East Africa, had mounted serious resistance until the First World War. Works that can explain this period with fresh eyes should be published.

The last period of the Ottoman Empire was pigeonholed into the context of "modernization, reforms, and Westernization."

Either you are a fan or an enemy. I have no doubt that this is a vicious discussion.

Today, the Berlin Conference is being held again and the subject is North Africa. But this time, we cannot say that our hand is weak in Berlin. Islamic geography is experiencing a new era of imperialist attacks that started in the 1990s.

For thirty years this geography has been reduced to a “terror threat” on several different occasions. We are talking about a geography that has not collapsed even though it has been subjected to severe interventions for thirty years. America, Russia, France, England and Israel were behind all types of terrorism, but the dust has not yet settled in our geography.

Turkey did make a return to the region once again as the "Sword of Justice". It is noteworthy that any objection to that first comes from within and that an accusation claiming “we are the fault of backwardness” is put forward.

Godspeed, Turkey!


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