Exterminate All the Brutes

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“EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES”

Sven Lindqvist’s “Exterminate all the Brutes” explores the idea that genocides have been deeply rooted in European thinking over the last century. It is written in the form of a travel dairy and a historical examination of European racism over the past two centuries. Lindqvist argues that the harrowing racism that led to the Holocaust in the twentieth century had its roots in European colonial policy of the preceding century. The act of genocide itself is not a new one. When we think of genocide today we think Rwanda and the Holocaust. Genocides have been validated by the idea of racial superiority, colonial expansion and imperialism. The most civilized of men are capable of the most brutal acts. The British were able to conquer 1/3 of the world through their impeccable military strength. The British were masters of the sea; steam boats were used all over the world to carry arms up rivers effectively (pg.48). The British were able to go up into the heart of a continent in search for raw materials or indigenous populations to enslave. The British had the largest colonial conquests ever experienced. The atrocities committed in the name of colonial expansion and imperialism was often justified by superiority military and biologically. With the race of colonial conquest developed the race of arms. The British built and changed the paper cartridge of bullets to brass, making the bullet faster and go further (pg.49). Each European colonial empire had their own gun which would kill accurately and effectively any opponent of the third world. Eventually guns were perfected and early into the colonial era they had developed automatic weapons (pg.49). Theoretically they could subject anyone to their rule, backed by fire power. The indigenous nations did not have such technological advancements therefore didn’t stand a chance against the steel and firepower of the European empires. The Empires felt that this lack of technology was a lack of intelligence and ability to modernize themselves. Sven Lindqvist depicts the genocide in the Congo. The genocide in Congo began to take place during the late 1800’s in frantic need for rubber. Rubber consumption had increased with the invention of the rubber tire (pg.24). Colonial empire of Belgium needed a work force to harvest rubber in mass quantities. The enslavement of blacks native to the Congo area was a result; people were forced into collecting rubber for free. If they refused their villages would be burned to the ground or the children killed (pg.21). Those who did not produce enough rubber would have their hands cut off or be killed by Europeans (pg.21). All of the profits would go to the colonial empire to build monuments or buildings such as the “Chateau d’Ardennes”, “Palais de Laeken” (pg.24). He speaks of brutalities against the blacks by the Belgium white. He speaks of accounts written by Sjoblom and Glave on flogging which is a method of punishment by a raw-hippopotamus hide whip (pg.21). The brutality was condoned by King Leopold the II when he signed a decree in 1891 allowing his representatives in the Congo a monopoly on rubber and ivory (pg.24). Children were taken from their homes boys which were 8-10 years old forced onto slavery for the state with no care, no clothes to wear, no shelter, no medical attention and no education (pg.23). There was a case of Captain Rom who decorated his flower beds with the decapitated heads of 21 native people (pg.29). After the accounts of Glave and Sjoblom were published about the atrocities in the Congo, no attention was brought to stop the acts. The other colonial powers were too busy with their own affairs closer to home to pay any attention with what was occurring in an entirely different continent. The British committed brutalities and forced subjection of Deverish army. The British killed more than 11,000 Sudanese with their military power (pg.46). The Deverish army of 15,000 never stood a chance...
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