10 I Aime Cesaire
What is serious is that "Europe" is morally, spiritually
And today the indictment is brought against it not by
the European masses alone, but on a world scale, by tens
and tens of millions of men who, from the depths of slav-
ery, set themselves up as judges.
The colonialists may kill in Indochina, torture in Mada-
gascar, imprison in Black Africa, crack down in the West
Indies. Henceforth the colonized know that they have an
advantage over them. They know that their temporary
"masters" are lying.
Therefore that their masters are weak.
And since I have been asked to speak about coloniza-
tion and civilization, let us go straight to the principal lie
which is the source of all the others.
Colonization and civilization?
In dealing with this subject, the commonest curse is to
be the dupe in good faith of a collective hypocrisy that
cleverly misrepresents problems, the better to legitimize
the hateful solutions provided for them.
In other words, the essential thing here is to see
clearly, to think clearly—that is, dangerously—and to an-
swer clearly the innocent first question: what, fundamen-
tally, is colonization? To agree on what it is not: neither
evangelization, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a de-
sire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and
tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of
God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law. To admit
once for all, without flinching at the consequences, that
the decisive actors here are the adventurer and the pi-
rate, the wholesale grocer and the ship owner, the gold
digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind
them, the baleful projected shadow of a form of civiliza-
Discourse on Colonialism I 11
tion which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself
obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale
the competition of its antagonistic economies.
Pursuing my analysis, I find that hypocrisy is of recent