The West is dismantling the foundations of its own success - by Professor Robert Tombs 30.08.22

Updated: Sep 1

Far from broadening and deepening our understanding of the modern world, the cult of ‘decolonisation’ does the exact opposite, argues Professor Robert Tombs in an article for the Telegraph, and the West will pay a terrible price if the pervading orthodoxy which has gripped our public institutions is not vigorously challenged.


Examples abound:


“Removing Shakespeare, Austen and Chaucer from curricula. Relating our history as unbroken violence and exploitation. Demeaning Mozart and Beethoven as products of the age of slavery. Dismissing “Enlightenment” ideas as racist.


Labelling the contents of museums as “loot”, however innocently acquired. Asserting that science, mathematics and medicine – even cricket, gardening and golf! – are reflections of imperialist oppression.”


But why here and why now?


“One cause is the real or perceived “decline of the West”. Since 1989, when Francis Fukuyama famously announced the triumph of Western values and the “end of history”, Western states have committed some catastrophic errors and their ascendency appears to be waning.


Meanwhile, the apocalyptic pessimism of the radical Green movement, the political and psychological successor of Marxism, fundamentally undermines belief in economic, social and political progress, facilitating the “decolonisation” of science as a form of exploitation. Such attacks on Western civilisation would have seemed eccentric in 1989.”


But professor Tombs sees no virtue in travelling down this nihilistic route least because those states which have been decolonised


“have not since independence equalled the achievements of Western liberal democracy, however, and many have disappointed the hopes of their founding fathers. “Decolonisation”, drawing on nationalist mythology, puts the blame on empires. The Indian politician Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire is the textbook example.


It cannot be admitted that some advantages were conferred by the Empire as that would leave post-colonial states responsible for their own failures. So everything is blamed on colonisation, and pre-colonial and post-colonial oppression is passed over in silence.”


As in so many other areas, higher education too has been captured by a vocal minority, in this case


“by a cohort of academics and students that is frequently highly activist though not evidently representative – it is hard to believe that many overseas students pay large sums to come to British universities if they reject British culture, history and science.


Furthermore, in a country whose next government will include senior figures born in or with family links to former colonies, the “decolonisers” seem a disaffected fringe exploiting fake victimhood. Provocative activism offers them notoriety and major career advantages.


One example among many was the seminar absurdly slandering Churchill organised in Churchill College, Cambridge by Prof Priyamvada Gopal, and featuring Dr Onyeka Nubia, Dr Madhusree Mukerjee and Prof Kehinde Andrews.


Many academics fear they cannot oppose or ignore such voices without being accused of racism. University and museum administrators act like commercial corporations protecting their marketing image by appeasing protesters.”


Beneath the trivia of individual examples lurks a deeper and more sinister development:


“The West – those diverse societies that try to practise “Enlightenment” values of individual liberty, rationalism, the rule of law and democracy – are more vulnerable than at any time since the 1930s.


The Ukraine invasion, the threat to Taiwan, the Iranian nuclear menace and the energy crisis show that we have been masking our relative decline with wishful thinking, again in a way not seen since the 1930s. As Emmanuel Macron recently warned, the “age of abundance” is over, and there is far more at stake than just our fuel bills.”


Urgent action is required if this spiral of decline is to be arrested:


If we are to face up to the dangers, a first step is to stop encouraging the undermining of our culture and history by people who apparently loathe them. We must strengthen the teaching of history by schools and other institutions. Too many people are ignorant of the past and hence easy prey to noisy propaganda. Shame and guilt will not scare away the gathering vultures.”


The full article can be read below with a link to the original here.



Article by Professor Robert Tombs - The decadent West is dismantling the foundations of it
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CREDIT: Horniman Museum









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