No European colonialism

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by GeckoSerpent23, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. GeckoSerpent23 Well-Known Member

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    In an alternate timeline, Europe never colonizes the world. Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas never get colonized. What would society and culture be like? Would the world be a better place? You can use any POD you want.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  2. procrastinating2much Well-Known Member

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    There are 3 stages to European colonialism used generally by historiography although it's a little vague and IMO doesn't really tackle the scope of colonialism.
    First Wave - Colonisation of America by Spain and Portugal (technically the Ottomans fall under this category)
    Second Wave - British involvement in Asia with the East India Company
    Third Wave - Scramble for Africa

    The First Wave begins technically as early as 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta by Portugal, so a POD would need to occur before then.

    The impact of not having Europe colonise parts of the world would have a such large impact on culture that it's literally impossible to write it all in a thread. Overall, world culture would be more diverse. Christianity wouldn't be the biggest religion, but multiple traditional religions would flourish in Africa and Asia. Africa especially would be significantly richer overall. The diseases introduced and the genocide committed by Europe (and by extension, European colonial successors) in the Americas would not have occurred, so Native American culture and language would continue. With no imperial force demanding absolute authority, cultures would not have to Westernise, so even countries that weren't directly ruled by Europe in OTL would be significantly different. Even in Siberia, we would see much greater diversity in culture and language. Capitalism would not grow to be as dominant outside of Europe as it did in OTL, and other ideologies that our world never had the chance to develop would certainly develop in this world. Slavery on an industrial scale such as in the Americas would not have occurred. Most countries in OTL would not exist ITTL.

    Furthermore, the world has a largely western-centric view of countries in history. The Peace of Westphalia established this European notion of a state which was spread to other parts of the world through colonialism. Without this, the world map would be a lot harder to define, as many cultures didn't have a concept of physically owning parts of land, for example.

    A lot of the POD's I see in this site are typically negative and visualize a world where something bad happens as a result of something bad. This concept is a lot more positive and would definitely lead to a better world in the long run! I like the idea of a world where all cultures were able to grow equally compared to our post-colonial world where countries suffer from the long term impact of European imperialism to this day. Overall, the world would be a better place for most people. Obviously, the points I've made above are vague and are very general, talking about the history of the entire world.
     
  3. Lalli Well-Known Member

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    I doubt that there is way avoid any colonialism. You might get not so much of colonisation but Europe is going colonize quiet much. It has chances and European nations too need resources. American colonisation might not be so extensive as in OTL and India and Indochina might avoid that but Africa is going to be mostly colonised and hard to see how Pacific could avoid that.
     
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  4. Lusitania Donor

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    Let’s look at history of colonialism for it starts with Rome or Carthage who conquered territory and sent their citizens, language, culture and religion to the new territories.

    We have Islamic people bringing language, religion and culture to Europe, North Africa and Middle East.

    Then we have the Vikings who settled the northern islands north of Scotland plus Iceland, Greenland and Vinland. The last two bring failed colonies.

    Sorry but it was human nature to either expand at the expense of your neighbors or at expense of weaker nations. Colonialism was not something the Europeans started but something they continued. For the only way they not colonize new world or rest of world is for the Europeans to be screwed up such as continue in the Middle Ages for longer period of time. But a weaker Europe would mean Islamic colonialism and conquest in Europe. Which would then lead to Islamic colonialism in new world, Africa and Asia.
     
  5. Tonifranz Well-Known Member

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    Does this include the Greek colonization of places like Cyrene, Crimea, Asia Minor? Because what they did is technically colonization.
     
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  6. procrastinating2much Well-Known Member

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    Yeah colonisation is such a vague term. I thought the original post referred to the post-medieval colonial ideology by European powers rather than the autonomous colonies created by Europeans such as in the ancient Mediterranean etc, called colonisation. Colonialism doesn’t not mean colonisation. Colonisation refers to the ideology surrounding creating colonies that developed from the 15th century onwards. Sure Rome and other states around and after this time colonised, but they never participated in colonising to the same extent as colonial governments of the early modern and modern periods.

    Honestly, this POD needs to be a lot more specific. There’s not really a good way to just say “what if there was no conlialism” as it’s a little vague. It could work, however, as a thought experiment instead, like hypothetically what if Europe didn’t set out to exert absolute control over other cultures. Or, what if the cultural aspect of European colonialism was handled differently, such as Europe does not participate in the deliberate attempt to spread their culture across their empire and was content with just holding trading posts in Africa and India.
     
  7. Clandango Disestablishmentarianist

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    Can we still have independent settler colonialism and for their to be massive trading companies?
     
  8. procrastinating2much Well-Known Member

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    Independent settler colonialism? Do you mean like Greeks or Celtic or Nordic settlement in rural lands? If so, that doesn't qualify as colonialism, which is an ideology. Massive trading companies don't qualify as colonialism either, unless they in any way set out to control of influence another country through settlers for economic gain.
     
  9. GeckoSerpent23 Well-Known Member

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    What I meant is that Europe never colonizes the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania from 1492 onwards.
     
  10. GeckoSerpent23 Well-Known Member

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    No, I meant colonialism from the 15th century onwards. Africa, Americas, and everywhere else never get colonized by Europe.
     
  11. GeckoSerpent23 Well-Known Member

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    No. I meant no european imperialism from 1492 and beyond. Maybe I should be more specific.
     
  12. Workable Goblin Spacepony

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    I think you're being a little too idealistic in your assessment of how a lack of colonialism would change the world. For one thing, the challenge could very well be accomplished if, say, China undergoes an Industrial Revolution under the Song and forestalls European colonization; but clearly this would most likely end up with merely a replacement of European imperialism with Chinese imperialism. While that might be different in the details the experience of Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, not to mention Mongolia, Manchuria, and Tibet suggests that you would still see heavy adoption of Chinese models, at the very least, including culturally and religiously. There's no obvious reason to suppose that Sinicization is better than Westernization, unless you're a massive Sinophile and Europhobe, so this scenario would both fulfill the OP's request and completely fail to fulfill your predictions.

    For another, I think you're underestimating the effect that peaceful, non-colonial contact and trade can have on cultures, languages, religions, and society in general. To continue with the China analogy, Japan was obviously never colonized by the Chinese, unlike Korea and Vietnam, but still adopted many aspects of Chinese culture due to the intensive contacts that took place between Japanese and Chinese society. Although Japanese culture remained distinct from Chinese culture, it was still clearly Sinicized in many significant ways. Similarly, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam spread and displaced indigenous religions in Southeast Asia without them being colonized, due again to intensive contacts with Indian and Arabic peoples who brought those religions and associated cultural aspects into the region, where they were then adopted by local peoples. Assuming that "no-colonialism" doesn't mean "no contact" or "no trade" or generally speaking no intercourse between peoples that were historically colonized and Europe (or Eurasia more generally), I think you'll see significant cultural adjustments and borrowings from European or Eurasian models that you could reasonably describe as "Westernization," and likely a significant spread of Christianity in many regions of the world.

    Finally, I think you're underestimating the effect that internal imperialism would have on the cultures and societies of the Americas, Africa, and other places that were colonized by Europeans. I already cited the effects of Chinese influence in East Asia, but one could similarly look to the Inca in South America or the Caliphates of early to medieval Islam to see forces that attempted or succeeded in inducing substantial cultural homogenization over large swathes of land. While a lack of European colonization probably does mean that there are fewer European-derived states and cultures in European-colonized areas, and it surely alters how those cultures evolve, I think it's naive in the extreme to suppose that there won't be other native empires that either consciously attempt to and unconsciously cause the spread and adoption of a relatively uniform culture, religion, and language over large regions. I am not sure that you will necessarily see (much) more diversity so much as different diversity; fewer European-derived cultures, as I mentioned above, and more native cultures, but still mostly imperial cultures from post-contact states.

    Also, diseases were probably inevitable in the Americas and Oceania, unless we're supposing a "no-colonialism" world means a world where sailing techniques and technologies outside of the Polynesians never grew sophisticated enough to cross the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, which seems rather different than what the OP intended. To take an example from where I live, Hawaii was demonstrably struck by multiple plagues after making contact with Europeans, despite maintaining its independence for over a century afterwards and being questionably colonized during much of the time that the plagues were most serious.
     
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  13. procrastinating2much Well-Known Member

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    I agree with your first point; if the conditions for another state to develop colonialism as an ideology before Europe then you have a reverse OTL. A good example of this would be The Years of Rice and Salt, where there is no European colonialism due to a bigger plague, but Muslim, Chinese and Indian colonial ideas replace it and the world becomes a reversed version of OTL. I was under the impression that the POD assumed European colonialism would not develop anywhere else in the world either.

    You're absolutely correct about the second point. Cultures can change for a variety of reasons: trade links, wars, religion, language, migration etc. However, this wouldn't occur on such a vast scale. Using your point about Chinese influence on Japan, Chinese culture did not significantly affect the culture of nations across the globe, although it did have a significant affect on the cultures surrounding it and those cultures China was in contact with. Similarly, if European colonialism wasn't to exist, the culture of colonial powers would still spread to nations immediately surrounding them, but would not affect the cultures that were not surrounding them. For example, in OTL colonialism led to North America (mostly) adopting the language of Britain (+ France and Spain) due to colonisation. ITTL, North America would have it's own language/languages. Sure, this language/languages would probably be influenced by societies the nations of North America would be in contact with, but it would be to the extent Japanese was influenced by China and would still be distinct. While I do agree Christianity wouldn't be limited to just Europe (especially since there were pre-European colonialism Christian states in Africa already), I don't think it would spread to the same extent, as colonialism forced Christianity upon many of the cultures it took over. In the Arab conquests, Islam was not forced on the population for most of the many caliphates' histories. Most people in North Africa and the Middle East didn't convert to Islam until the 13th-14th century, around 700 years after the conquest took place, and even then it was the non-Muslim aristocracy converting before the people. By contrast, Christianity was actively encouraged in the Americas, and forced conversion of Native Americas definitely occurred on a much greater scale.

    For your point about internal colonisation, I do not doubt that that empires and states would rise and fall the same way they did in North Africa and the Middle East with the Arab Caliphates of the early medieval period and South America with the Inca. However, this still is a more diverse world, as the cultures of the Inca would still exist instead of being replaced by Spanish colonial culture.

    Diseases probably were inevitable to the Americas unfortunately, but hypothetically wouldn't be nearly as deadly if it was introduced slowly. In OTL, diseases were horrific due to European colonialism settling in large numbers to actively found a colony. ITTL (again, assuming another continent doesn't take Europe's place), contact would probably would be limited to trade and trading posts on the coast. Because of this, I think maybe disease would be introduced much more slowly, and wouldn't be combined with war and genocide to cause such a loss of life as in OTL. Islands such as Hawaii may fall to other powers, though, although I'm not an expert on any of this so please take everything I say with a pinch of salt.

    It's also probably worth mentioning that Europe discovered the Americas due to the incentive of finding a new route to India. If European colonialism didn't exist, no other nation in the Old World would have an incentive to travel that far around the world, so discovery of America would occur much later than OTL.

    Again, most of what I've said here I'm not an expert on. And I still think the POD is a little vague, as even the word 'colonialism' is hard to define, with 'European colonialism' being even harder to define than that. And obviously, I'm still speaking extremely vaguely because I'm trying to talk about the history of the world since the 13th century :p
     
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  14. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

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    I think a much more easily accomplished world is one where the core regions of Asia that for much of their history kept parity and often were more advanced than Europe retains this state and the divergence between Europe, the Islamic world, the Confucian world and India is prevented. Much harder to prevent, in my opinion is people from one of these places migrating, genociding and dominating people in places like sub Saharan Africa, the Americas or Oceania, as this I think would require technology in all of these places to be set back at least a millenium or so, which looks very ASB
     
  15. Janprimus Well-Known Member

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    That's IMHO way too Anglo-centric, since French and Dutch colonialism also started in this period and the latter certainly had an interest in Asia with the VOC* (United* East-india** Company), and the French certainly had a presence there, as did the Spanish and Portuguese. *= the Dutch Republic intervened to unite all the smaller Dutch companies, which had previous been active in Asia. (**= West-india naturally was the Americas)
     
  16. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    I think this part is mistaken. Both Islam and Christianity were already present in Africa long before European colonisation. It is entirely possible that the whole of Africa ends up Islamic in this alternate scenario. On the other hand, Ethiopia was Christian so it's also possible that pockets of African Christianity continue, or even expand southward. Some regions may remain to their traditional animist beliefs for some centuries. But i still see the monotheistic faiths of "the book" eventually coming to dominate Africa, Europeans or not. Most likely Africa ends up mostly Muslim due to the proximity of centres of Islamic scholarship such as Timbuktu and the Arab trading ports along the East Africa coast.
     
  17. Byzantine fanatic Scholar of the West and East

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    It's a good point. Without the Great Divergence, which took place roughly from 1750 onwards and accelerated with the Industrial Revolution, the world looks drastically different. Europe, the Ottoman Empire, Persia and the Mughals in India form a single world system, balanced in equilibrium, all at a similar level of advancement and technology.

    Beyond that, the rest of the world is way behind. The Aztecs were a Neolithic civilisation that had not yet entered the Bronze Age.
     
  18. SeaCambrian Well-Known Member

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    The Aztecs were more advanced in some ways and less advanced in others. Yes they lacked metalworking for most of their history but they also had other aspects of a complex society. In some ways they were more advanced in urban planning. Because everything across the world was made by craft production back then, it is difficult to call one non-industrial society more advanced than another non-industrial society in aggregate, only in a specific field or one specific technology. "Technological thinking" was rare in that time, anyway.
     
  19. Workable Goblin Spacepony

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    I'm not sure about that. While American and sub-Saharan African civilizations had military issues relative to the rest of the world, in both cases there are examples of prolonged resistance to colonization whether advertant (e.g., in the case of the Maya) or inadvertent (in the case of much of sub-Saharan Africa, due to its disease burden). I think it's quite conceivable in both cases that trade could have led those civilizations to gaining tools and techniques that made them impractical to conquer or take control of. In other words, instead of a Great Divergence a Great Convergence between Eurasia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Americas. It would be interesting to imagine such a world, although hard to figure out a good PoD.

    Meanwhile, Oceania is an interesting case, because despite being on the face of it one of the most unpromising centers of resistance to colonization, in practice many Oceanian peoples (with the notable exception of the aborigines of Australia, admittedly) turned out to be relatively successful in preserving themselves through colonial exploitation, perhaps because most of Oceania never really had all that much that the outside world wanted. Tonga, for example, never completely lost its independence, while Hawaii retained its for over a century after first contact with Europeans. In a world where colonialism in general looks more like planting trade outposts and less like conquering and ruling, perhaps most of Oceania is left alone to develop more or less as it will instead of being conquered and taken over.
     
  20. manitobot Well-Known Member

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    If Europe doesn't colonize the world, what are the chances another region would?