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Exterminate All The Brutes by Sven Lindqvist and The European Dark History in Africa

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The book “Exterminate All the Brutes” by Sven Lindqvist is a profound investigation of European “dark history” in the African continent, as well as the roots of genocide. Addressing the book “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, Sven Lindqvist starts moving from his conception and explores through the colonial history. He traces the activities of European missionaries, explorers, officials, and historians in African continent from the end of the eighteenth century. Also, the author researches on the origins of genocide through his personal travel over the Saharan desert. As Lindqvist demonstrates, the concepts of white superiority and the actual destructions following fulfilled Europeans’ colonialism and racist concept that finally resulted in their local Holocaust.

To start with, the issues discussed in Lindqvist’s work were firstly raised by Joseph Conrad. The outline of his book “Heart of Darkness”was sketched over his service in a boat in the Belgian Congo in 1890, which provided him a great experience. This work is one of the most profound research of African continent that creates a connection between Victorian values and modernist concepts. In the context of the epoch, the essays were ground on traditional conceptions of heroism, which faced the new ideals in a changing world. At that period, females served as arbiters of morality and nepotism but were not still reflected in the work. Like the rest of worthy modernist literature created in the first decades of the twentieth century, Conrad’book is as much about confusion, alienation, and deep hesitances concerning imperialism. By the time of its creation, the majority of “dark places” globally had been under the European supremacy. Thus, the European authorities were forced to allocate their officials for protecting extensive empires. As a result, gaps were starting to emerge in the system: local wars, riots, and collisions all threatened the Europeans inhabiting all territories of empires. In both Europe and Africa, the geopolitical situation was clearly unstable. In the book “Heart of Darkness”, it is represented as the natural outcome when people operated outside a social system of balances and control.

Following this idea, Lindqvist investigates on the development of racism in Europe and the outcomes it has on other continents. At the very beginning, the concept of racism was shaped in the framework of science; to prove it, the author provides the particular plan of one of the British scholarly institutions: “Under European rule, the Africans will dig the ditches and water the deserts. It will be hard work and the Africans themselves will probably become extinct. We must learn to look at this result with composure.” Lindqvist also notes that such official declarations were spread over the nineteenth century. Their impact on the further development of colonialism resulted in the demises of millions, as well as the economic robberies of the whole continents. European conquerors were armed with advanced weapons and thus could claim their rule over native habitants to an unlimited extend. Lindqvist provides the examples of large-scale destruction and violence, with which natives and their culture have faced. In this context, they can be explained by the complete justification related both the metropolises’ state ideology and religion. Europeans who came to new territories had no moral restraint and thus were easily involved into a “scorched-earth” activity over the continents, which promoted millions of demises behind them. The conquerors were merciless as they believed in themselves selected by God to dominate over the globe; with this belief, they took with no permission and killed even those locals who tried to cooperate with them. Apart the religious justification, Europeans were armed with the economic idea of “opening up markets.”

In the context of racism ideology, the concept of “genocide” was also shaped. Lindqvist notes that in 1900 this phenomenon was regarded in a different way than today. Europeans succeeded in creating an appropriate explanation and justification of mass killings they had performed on the conquered territories. They applied Charles Darwin’ evolution theory, particularly that part, which claimed that superior species should supplant inferior ones. Correspondingly, it became common for Europeans to believe that white race was the higher over others; moreover, many highlighted it while addressing to them who were gradually being killed. According to Lindqvist, even Darwin confirmed this statement, although he expressed anxiety concerning the medication of local South Americans by the Spanish. The research of Lindqvist is especially interesting to referring his comparison between the African genocide and Holocaust over Europe. He defines a range of obvious connections between these historical events; in particular, he considers Holocaust as the climax of the Europeans’ activity related outsiders. He explained that Hitler’s anti-Semitism policy was originated by the vision that the Jews may interrupt his ambitions for the extension. Thus, they needed to be decimated, as the Aborigines, Africans or Native Americans did over the previous centuries. Lindqvist concludes that “Auschwitz was the modern industrial application of a policy of extermination on which European world domination had long since rested.” The main distinction was the way how Europeans treated it being applied to other races and Europeans and here is the pure hypocrisy of the civilized humanity revealed. When the Europeans want to view the Holocaust as an original phenomenon, in fact, they tried to avoid the realness of their national history of colonialism through other continents: “Western people in his childhood breathed was soaked in the conviction that imperialism is a biologically necessary process… which had already cost millions of human lives before Hitler provided his highly personal application.”

It must be noted that Lindqvist’s analysis remains relevant for today’s reality, as little has altered in the world. At the very end of his research, the author refers educated Europeans of modern times, which continue operate in a military, violent way in such countries, as Vietnam, Algeria, or Afghanistan. The so-called “auxiliaries” continue their activities in the world; while the kids inhabiting those territories keep dying as a result of this international policy. It is obvious that the educated and civilized public was always aware of what brutal things have been performed and are being performed in the name of human development, civilization, democracy, market and other recognized values. This tendency is actual today and such research as Lindqvist and Conrad have performed do not loose their value. These authors encourage people to observe their global policy from the entirely different point of view and thus to change it.

To come up with a conclusion, the problem of colonialism has deep roots in the European history and its consequences shape the global policy till nowadays. Lindqvist attempts to present the term of genocide as one of the manifestations on this policy over the European continent, and this approach gives the more profound vision of human history in general. What is more, his research is relevant in today’s reality, when the educated public’s thinking is still full of biases towards to marginalized territories of the globe.

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Exterminate All the Brutes by Sven Lindqvist and the European Dark History in Africa. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 26, 2023, from
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