Leon Louw Columnist

Colonialism has benefits. There, I said it. I was not struck by lightning, but I might suffer eternal damnation at the behest of racists consumed by the real or fabricated racism of others. Does stating the obvious constitute racism? Will I lose my job? Nelson Mandela, without mentioning race, observed that "much of what we have to build on [is] the result of what we could gain from [colonial] interaction and engagement with Britain". Racism is often a paranoid delusion, the state of mind for those who accuse others of racism, an excuse for thought control. That is why racism is imputed to people who say colonialism has benefits.When or where colonialism has net benefits for either side is unclear. Even where negatives exceed positives, both sides will benefit. The greatest economics insight is that "there is no such thing as a free lunch" — benefits have costs. Correspondingly, there is no such thing as a benefitless lunch — costs have benefits. Even at its horrific worst, colonial...

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