Whenever some pro-Hamas ignoramus starts jabbering about Israel, they inevitably screech “zionism”. So, I challenge them to define zionism. Most can’t: they’re simply parroting a buzzword, and, as Orwell once wrote, “the average human being never bothers to examine catchwords”.

They’re also too cowardly to say what they really mean by the catchword. The Jews. “Zionism” is to the left what the ridiculous “echo quotes” (i.e., “(((them)))”) were to the alt-right.

If they said what they really mean, of course, the whole jig would be up.

Hiding behind catchwords is an old trick of ideologues, of course, and few ideologues do it better than the left. Spouting catchwords also saves thinking. Why bother constructing a rational argument, when you can just screech “fascist!”? Shouting “fascist!” was, as you’ll probably remember, the characteristic of parody student leftist “Rick” (Rik Mayall) in the 80s comedy, The Young Ones. Forty years later, the left have become a parody of themselves.

And they’re hiding behind catchwords more than ever.

The word ‘colonialism’ has become (at least for some people) a ‘snarl word’ – something that is always bad, and a label used to denigrate whatever you’re pointing at when you say it. The strangest example comes from John Keane, who teaches political science at Sydney University. The Executive Council of Australian Jewry alleged that Keane engaged in ‘doxing’ (an abbreviation of ‘document dropping’) – the malicious release of a person’s information without their consent – by publishing an internal email from a group of mostly Jewish academics on social media. Professor Keane said he did not welcome the university’s direction to ‘be tolerant’. He concluded that the word ‘tolerance’ is a ‘form of colonialism’.

Which sounds like any random tweet from a Greens or Te Paati Maori politician.

And is every bit as devoid of substance.

There it is – using ‘colonialism’ as a ‘snarl word’ to snap back at critics. But what does this word ‘colonialism’ mean? And is it always a negative word (as some seem to believe)? Let’s take this back to the source concept ‘colony’.

Like “zionism” (the belief that the Jewish people are entitled to live in their ancient homelands), scrape off the leftist spittle, and you’re left with an entirely innocuous word.

That word comes from a Latin source, and the notion goes back to Roman times, where a ‘colony’ is a ‘territory administered by a foreign ruler’. So, ‘colonialism’ logically means the consequences of a territory being administered by a foreign ruler. For those who use ‘colonialism’ as a snarl word the unexamined assumption is that this must always be a bad thing.

It might also be asked if international bodies such as the International Criminal Court are a “form of colonialism”. After all, such bodies make the citizens of nation states subject to a foreign power.

In fact, some dictionaries build this unexamined assumption into their definitions, and by so doing turn their definitions into moral judgements.

For example, colonialism is defined as, ‘the practice by which a powerful country directly controls less powerful countries and uses their resources to increase its own power and wealth’ (Collins Dictionary). Really? All the time?

When you look at the flourishing democracy in India (or Fiji or New Zealand) is that really what British colonialism did? Or did the Collins allow the token Marxist on their staff to write that particular definition?

As historian Jeff Fynn-Paul shows, in his book Not Stolen, the Americas were mostly not “stolen” from their indigenous inhabitants. Excepting a brief few decades in the latter 19th century, most indigenous land in the Americas was perfectly legitimately traded on the real estate market. Nor were Native Americans largely duped by unscrupulous Europeans.

The cover of Fynn-Paul’s book is an illustrative example, depicting the sale of Manhattan island by local inhabitants. Modern leftists try to depict this as a classic case of European greed “cheating” naive indigenes. In fact, the “trinkets” the Europeans provided were incredibly valuable trade goods for the Indians, while the island itself was a mosquito-infested swamp on which they placed little value. For the Europeans, of course, it was a valuable trade outpost.

So, both sides got a good deal, and if Manhattan is even more valuable today, it’s because Europeans built one of the world’s greatest cities on it.

This pattern was repeated, over and over: largely empty plains where the hunter-gatherer indigenes rarely inhabited or utilised a tiny parcel of land at any given time, were turned into more productive and valuable farms and ranches.

And what about Australia? What is our ‘colonialist’ heritage? According to some activists it is a total disaster. But if we look around, surely our colonialist heritage is a mixture of good and bad – and, on the whole, much more good than bad.

It is from British colonialism that Australia (an independent, self-governing nation) has been given (gratis, free and for nothing) such benefits as: engineering, metalworking, productive agriculture, a written language, democracy, the rule of law, trial by jury, the presumption of innocence, universal education, a hospital system, bridges, roads, architecture, science, machinery, mass media… and, of course, the list could go on for pages.

What was lost (tribal ownership of hunter-gatherer lands) is surely very small by comparison. Just ask any of the tens of thousands of successful indigenous Australians working in the professions today.

Spectator Australia

Even the concepts of “tolerance” and “human rights” are entirely Western concepts. Let alone welfare and cheap, abundant fast food. Notably, too, not one “indigenous” activist ever chooses to live an authentically pre-colonisation lifestyle.

As Sir Bob Jones once suggested, to howls of outrage, perhaps instead of the endless whining of paleface activists, the descendants of indigenous populations might want to show a little gratitude now and then for the abundance of benefits of colonisation.

They aren’t giving up the fruits of colonialism. The BFD. Photoshop by Lushington Brady.

Punk rock philosopher. Liberalist contrarian. Grumpy old bastard. I grew up in a generational-Labor-voting family. I kept the faith long after the political left had abandoned it. In the last decade...