In its most recent issue, the academic journal Third World Quarterly (TWQ), published an article title, “The Case for Colonialism” by who else? A political scientist named Bruce Gilley of Portland State University. The article is in the finest tradition of excremental scholarship, sadly more pervasive than we academic would like to acknowledge. Most of my colleagues are surprised at the ignorance, arrogance and sloppiness of the article. But they are more surprised by the fact that it has been published in TWQ, which has been at the forefront of publishing critical literature on post-colonial theory and developmentalism, for almost forty years. Yet here is an article arguing that Colonialism was an unmitigated blessing for the colonised, and the post-colonial world’s salvation lies in embracing its legacy. In fact, the third world should offer itself for recolonisation for its own good, otherwise the Europeans may proceed to recolonise them anyway, Bruce Gilley opines. The journal is almost certain to get a barrage of rebuttal articles and critique for even publishing such nonsense in the first place. The TWQ has in fact, published a brief response, spinelessly hiding behind academic freedom, and the rigour of the review process as the justifications for publishing the article. But publishing in a journal of TWQs stature is not a right, it is a privileged acknowledging the evidentiary rigor of the scholarship and its engagement with the literature in the field. The ‘Case for Colonialism’ article does not even begin to come close to anything that could called scholastic or even deals with 99 percent of the scholarship on the topic. The smug argument of academic freedom does not stand in this case, just as it won’t stand for any, so called, scholarship, trying to establish; the flatness of the Earth, the legitimacy of race or racism, or that Imran Khan is an alien from Uranus. It is a dirty little secret of our society that colonialism despite the customary nationalist chest thumping is often spoken of approvingly by the uncle and aunty brigade in the drawing rooms of Pakistan I am not even going to bother to write a rebuttal here, being that many of my colleagues in academia will do a more competent job of it, and are doing it as we speak. Also, so cartoonesque is the argument that one doesn’t even know where to begin. I will however, offer three propositions to consider when confronted with this precolonial nonsense. First, Western colonialism was an inherently racist project in its very genus. It was qualitatively different from the earlier routine of empires and conquest, in that it didn’t have loot plunder, or the glorification of the empire as its prime objective. It’s not that European colonisers were not interested in loot and plunder — they were very fond of it, but it was not their prime objective. European colonialism was different insofar as it was predicated on a supposedly universalist claim to natural privilege based upon skin colour. Biology has established beyond a shadow of scientific doubt that there is no such thing as race despite differences in skin colour. If you believe that skin colour can be the basis of privilege then by all means wish for colonialism. Second, colonialism was specifically targeted not only towards appropriation of the productive capital of the colonised society, but also towards systematic undermining of its cultural memory, pride and sense of history. In this colonialism succeeded beyond its intent. It succeeded in making entire civilisations feel like lesser human beings and to look upon their own selves with either contempt, or to reinvent new mythologies in the modernist idiom to catastrophic ends. The present day stories of militant nationalism or religion, I have argued elsewhere, are cases in point. Thirdly, colonialism may have ended politically and directly but indirectly it is quite alive, from the madaris of Banori Town, to leafy Aitchison College, to Karachi Stock Exchange to Peshawar Cantonment. Our whole idiom of understanding ourselves, our spirituality and our world is deeply colonial, as are our visions of development, and our relation to the global political economy through which, we hope to achieve those visions. It is a dirty little secret of our society that colonialism despite the customary nationalist chest thumping is often spoken of approvingly by the Uncle and Aunty brigade in the drawing rooms of Pakistan. Such thinking is also quite common, particularly in the political science, economics and sociology departments in the West. So in a manner of speaking Bruce Gilley has really articulated what is stewing in the intellectual cesspool of popular and academic, neo-colonial imaginaries. So ignorant is Gilley that he is calling for the return of something that never left. So stupid is he that he deems colonial rule to be superior to the rule by the post-colonial elites — which are incidentally the most enduring legacy of colonialism. I suspect Bruce Gilley studied Homeopathy in Princeton and Oxford. Having more of what afflicts you will set you right! The writer is a reader in Politics and Environment at the Department of Geography, King’s College, London. His research includes water resources, hazards and development geography. He also publishes and teaches on critical geographies of violence and terror Published in Daily Times, September 21st 2017.