[The European Conservative] Empire's Moral Ledger
A new book by ethicist Nigel Biggar argues that post-colonial guilt has been blown out of proportion.
Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning. By Nigel Biggar. William Collins; 480 pages; $29.99.
Well over 80 episodes and countless outtakes into my side gig as a podcast host, one remark made on our waves strikes me as having propelled our show to peak explanatory power. Back in October 2020, we hosted the late scholar György Schöpflin, by then retired and in the twilight of his life, for a conversation about the nationalist and euro-skeptic populism practiced by Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán, in whose party Schöpflin had served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). The interview had surveyed Orbán’s every controversial initiative when the retired academic and former MEP screeched to a lucid observation about what, at bottom, set his native Hungary apart from his adoptive Great Britain. “Hungary has no post-colonial guilt”, intoned Schöpflin point-blank. Rather than having colonized other territories, his thinking went, Hungary had fallen under the successive dominion of foreign powers, be it Austria or the Soviet Union. Reborn as an independent country upon the latter’s downfall in 1991, Hungary had nothing to apologize to the world for. Unlike the UK, it reentered the concert of nations unencumbered by the guilt of having wronged others.
Continue reading the entire book review at The European Conservative here.