In the comments on yesterday’s post by Fjordman, the discussion turned — as it so often does — to Israeli settlements within “Palestinian” territory and whether such activities constitute an unlawful displacement of the rightful owners.
Commenter EileenOCnnr said:
There is NO Law of Nature that says that if a people live or lived in a certain territory that that territory is then theirs for the duration. Life, with a big “L”, just doesn’t work like that.
Humans, like most other animals, are territorial, that is obvious. And how it works is: Defend it or lose it. You don’t get to go claiming it back 20 or 200 or 2000 years later just ’cause your ancestors came from there.
Some of my ancestors lost the territory (parts of Ulster) that our people had lived in for who-knows-how-long. They lost it ’cause they weren’t as smart or capable or united as the invaders/settlers/planters/whatever-you-want-to-call-them. We screwed up. We didn’t manage. Even in modern times with the IRA and what not, we didn’t manage to get it back. We lost.
And that’s Life. We can’t go claiming it back 400 or so years later by using some rationalization that those were our ancestors’ lands or that (if it were true) our gods promised that land would always be ours.
This sort of calculus arises frequently in modern discussions about colonialism, at least as the word applies to Europeans. The concept of rightful territorial ownership is one of the ideological fruits of twentieth-century liberalism, especially the metastasized version known as Political Correctness. Prior to 1900, EileenOCnnr’s view was the dominant one: the land belonged to those who were strong enough to hold it, and there was no Universal Court of Human Rights to return land to any unfortunate victims who had been “unlawfully displaced”.
The Indians of North America certainly lived by the same ancient tenet. Our modern trope holds that the Evil White Man stole the land from the Noble Natives, but there is no evidence that the Indians themselves viewed the situation that way. They used violence and slaughter to take land from one another, and regarded the victor of such struggles as having rightful title to the territory thus obtained.
If we plan to take land away from the “usurpers” and return it to its rightful owners, then the Indians themselves will have to be sent back to Siberia, because they in their turn supplanted the earlier inhabitants. The first human settlers in North America were a genetically and culturally distinct group that arrived between 30,000 and 11,000 years ago, as represented by Clovis points and other archeological evidence unearthed in the Southwest. They are the rightful owners of North America; the Indians are parvenus.
Or, choosing another example at random, consider London. If the immigrants are strong enough to hold it, London will soon belong to them, for they have taken it from the Anglo-Saxons — or rather, the Anglo-Saxons have ceded it to them, and are gradually withdrawing. Within twenty years it will rightly belong to Pakistanis and the Jamaicans, and the two groups can then fight it out among themselves to determine who will become the new undisputed masters of the Thames Valley.
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However, as we all know, the Anglo-Saxons in their turn stole London from the Britons, who are now more commonly known as the Welsh. But the Britons didn’t hold the original title — they were part of the wave of Iron Age Celts who arrived on the island sometime in the first millennium B.C. They supplanted one of the earlier Neolithic groups, which had displaced an even earlier group, and so on back through the dim mists of prehistory to the first group that crossed the land bridge to Albion after the ice sheets receded.
Returning all the world’s land to its “rightful” owners will be a difficult task. Even if we can determine who had first dibs — and that is a major task, given the ten or thirty or fifty millennia that have elapsed since the first humans arrived in any given place — most of those aboriginal groups are extinct or have been genetically and culturally absorbed into other populations. The Australian Aborigines, the Negritos of the Philippines, the inhabitants of some of the islands of the South Pacific, and possibly the Inuit: only a few surviving claimants to first ownership can reasonably be identified.
Human beings migrated out of Africa between sixty and one hundred millennia ago. By ten thousand years ago at the very latest, with the exception of Antarctica, homo sapiens had filled its modern habitat. Human beings at that point ranged from Baffin Island to Tierra del Fuego and from Kamchatka to Tasmania. Since then we have fought, invaded, exterminated, and supplanted each other, over and over, so that by now almost every hectare has changed hands innumerable times.
Virtually no place that is occupied by modern human beings actually “belongs” to them. All six billion usurpers should be forcibly repatriated to Antarctica or the asteroid belt, leaving the rest of the Earth’s surface to its rightful owners.