Colonialism began with renewable energy. Wind to sail across the world, solar to grow cash crops, and human blood, sweat, and tears to grow them. For the violent and resource-poor tribes of Europe, ‘blood for oil’ began as ‘blood for sun’. Vile companies like the VoC (the first multinational) technically had zero emissions. By this logic, you could say that early colonialism was ‘sustainable’ but it obviously wasn’t. Because the problem isn’t the energy source, it’s what you use that energy for.
Colonialism actively destroyed natural ecosystems to plant cash mono-crops. They brutally hunted land cousins for their skin and ocean cousins for their bodily oils, bringing many species to the brink of extinction, and quite a few over it. To accomplish this all without energy slaves, they trafficked human slaves across the world, leaving millions at the bottom of the ocean. Colonialism both actively and passively spread disease across the world, leading to genocidal levels of depopulation. Then of course there was the outright killing, raping, and stealing. Most perniciously, they framed this all as ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’, which is still the frame we live in. We call this ongoing process ‘capitalism’ or ‘development’ now, but it’s the same thing. Destroying the natural world to make artificial profits. The truth is that colonialism never ended. We’re still in it, just with different branding.
Colonialism was simply a process of creating artificial beings (called corporations) and feeding the natural world to them. Not only do these beings consume energy voraciously, they consume resources in general. Humans, species, land, air, water, whatever. A few capitalists got to ride these beasts and many people got intoxicated by their waste products (manufactured goods) but in the end we all live on the planet and the planet is what’s getting eaten. In the long run, all that gets left behind waste heat and a bunch of garbage. And the long run is where we are now.
People blame colonialism on countries and individuals (and fuck them) but the truth is that colonialism was directly perpetrated by these artificial beings. From the first IPO (of the VoC) we have been…