Is there a correlation between the colonial power and the stability/success of the post colonial state?

Was put on hold "primarily opinion-based":

Absolutely incorrect. This can certainly be demonstrated by clear statistical analysis. No opinion or speculation required.

This question was asked yesterday: Were East Germans more acquiescent to Soviet domination than the rest of Eastern Europe and if so, why?.

How can any answer to this question be anything but "almost entirely based on opinions" - there is no way to approach this question empirically - it is an open plea for speculative opinions. Is someone going to go and measure the amount of submissiveness the East Germans had as opposed to the Czechs? How does one even quantify such a thing?

  • 2
    "Why are the moderators so intent on closing any question not relevant to a single fact and has one clear and definite answer." Because that's the point of the site. History.SE is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum. Not everything that relates to history has a place here.
    – yannis
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 2:46
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    The full name of the site is History Stack Exchange. Stack Exchange sites are laser sharp focused Q&A sites, fine-tuned towards specific questions. History Stack Exchange is no exception.
    – yannis
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 2:56
  • That's... nonsense. Please take some time to read the site's help articles to get a better understanding of what it's about, and what questions we welcome.
    – yannis
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 3:16
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    @Vector - Your comments are starting to get out of hand and are not going to continue to be tolerated. Take the time to read the site's FAQ before making any more comments. If you don't agree with or approve of the site's premise and format, then I strongly suggest you go elsewhere. And for the record, this IS a Stack Exchange site and therefore follows and adheres to the exact same principles. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 4:19
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    @StevenDrennon While I don't agree with much of what Vector writes, I am not bothered by his comments. Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 4:30
  • @YannisRizos - "fine-tuned towards specific questions": the question in question is quite specific and can be well answered with statistical analysis.
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 5:44
  • @StevenDrennon - history.stackexchange.com/questions/9785/…. How can this question be anything but - "almost entirely based on opinions" - there is no way to approach this question empirically - it is simply asking for speculative opinions. Is someone going to go and measure the amount of submissiveness the East German had as opposed to the Czechs?
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 8:26
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    @Vector That question has 2 pending close votes (well, 3 now).
    – yannis
    Commented Aug 5, 2013 at 9:52
  • @StevenDrennon - If you want to spend less time chasing my flags, I suggest you warn commentators who insist on resorting to ridicule, personal attacks, etc. Remove such comments and warn the perps, and then I will not have to flag them. :-) Some respondents and commentators have been quite helpful and mature - but some, not so much... note that in my responses to taunters, I have done my best to stick to 'the facts' and not resort to insults in retribution.
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 8:41
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    @Vector - I don't thin k you understand the role of moderator. We don't "warn" people about how to behave. We trust them to read and understand the sites policies and then we expect them to adhere to them. When they fail to do that, we have to step in and remind them or take other action. I don't mind your use of flags. My previous admonishment was about your comments, which for the most part have been much improved, so thank you for that! Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 22:57
  • @StevenDrennon - you and Yannis made it clear what the goals of the site were, that's all. Since I enjoy the site, I try to play by the rules. I'm asking about the moderators' role because you can flag comments and give a reason and sometimes comments do disappear - I assumed this was because moderators do intervence. As for warning - you warned me! :-)
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 23:08
  • @StevenDrennon: on the question about LBJ, one poster claimed expertise in US politics and then went on to spout some stuff I disagree with, which I promptly rebutted. Why are both his comments and mine deleted, after the question was blocked? I had a very specific reason for countering his contentions, because I got upset with the phrasing some of his posts used, and I wanted to make that known, for the benefit of one and all. That segment should not have been deleted.
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 11:11
  • @Vector - I don't remember if I was the one who deleted the comments or not, but any time two or more people devolve into a discussion in the comments section, we generally will delete all the comments that are involved. If you guys want to debate, take it to the chat room. Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 22:27
  • @StevenDrennon : OK - whatever. Thanks.
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 14, 2013 at 22:36
  • @StevenDrennon - I suggest you take notice of a recent spurt of unexplained and/or entirely unwarranted down-votes on several of my posts... you will find that I never down-vote without an explanation, nor have EVER engaged in down-voting for personal reasons - I always provide a clear and cogent reason.
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 5:49

1 Answer 1


@Vector has raised two questions that I think are very good. I think however that the ... presentation ... of those questions has been distracting.

I was one of the downvoters for the "colonial masters" questions, and I confess that after I hit the downvote and close the question stayed in my mind. I realized that in fact the question wasn't subjective; that I have read references to scholarly articles that made precisely this claim. I had a knee jerk reaction to phrases like "colonial masters" that are not infrequently used irresponsibly.

I'm not going to agree with @Vector's tone or presentation, nor defend use of flags, etc. I am most explictly not going to argue against @Steven Drennon's response, which I think is correct and useful.

I do think that there is an issue we should examine. History is a subtle subject, full of complexity, contradiction and unreliable reporters. Historians frequently disagree with one another; there are many many historical subjects for which there is no single best answer. (and the answers change; when I was growing up, Whig History was popular. When I was in college, Marxist development distory was the One True Faith. Today we have different trends).

SE has a different aesthetic/culture/preference. SE arises from more technical environments where there is more likely to be a single best answer.

Each SE site can and does differentiate from the core principles. However I think that if we are to be successful at departing from the core principles, we need to clearly document how, why and what the limits are.

  1. Subjective vs Objective. I do not think there is a simple answer to this question. History is going to be more subjective than (for example) security.stackexchange.com. We need to develop and continuously refine our own definition of good subjective and counterproductive subjective. I suspect that H:SE's interpretation of good subjective includes answers based on phrases like "success of the resulting state is a subjective term, but if we allow GDP to stand in as a measure for success, then...." If you'll permit me to abuse my own example, then I'll quickly point out that such answers lead inevitably to disagreement, and Lists.
  2. Lists. (I'll move this to that question if it is deemed more productive). History is an ongoing discussion of multiple correct answers. I do not have an answer as to how we can reconcile the practice of history with SE preference for single best answers. I believe it is worth examining the problem, developing and continuously refining an answer.
  3. Respect. Respectful language, respectful comments, respectful questions. We need to be very careful to be civil and respectful to one another, and to those affected by the questions. I now admit that I was unjust to "knee jerk" in response to "colonial masters", but I'd just read another question that bordered on racial profiling. NOTE WITH EMPHASIS I recognize that many participants on H:SE are either (a) not native English speakers, and therefore not aware of the subtle implications of some phrases - "poofy pants" comes to mind as an example of a phrase that wasn't intended to offend or amuse, but which has a different meaning in different cultures. We have to live with that reality (b) some of the participants are new to history and aren't aware of some of the groundwork. I made those same erroneous assumptions when I was just starting to study history. We have to be respectful when we point out that the world is more complicated. (c) legitimate differences of opinion. @Samuel Russell & I come from very different assumption sets; it would be very difficult for us to hold a conversation on many historical topics because we don't agree on the fundamentals. (Once he used the term "valorization", I realized that we simply wouldn't bridge the gap.) I don't think he's wrong, I just think he applies a different set of assumptions and methods to analyze history. I prefer my assumptions and methodologies. Fortunately we've been very respectful of one another, and I'd be happy to buy him a beer and discuss any non-economic issue. I'll upvote his answers in many cases because they are well researched, well thought through, and well written. Sometimes I'll upvote his, and then add my own answer because although I respect his opinion, I simply come from a different place. (Aside: that makes it very difficult for H:SE to identify "one best answer").

I'm not going to pretend that I have any of the answers, but I do think that we should ponder @Vector's question. Personally, I find the tone to be a bit more provocative than I find useful, but if I read past that, I think there is an important question.

  • The correct response when people use inflammatory language to the point of offence, even if English is a second language, is to flag the post for hate speech. Commented Aug 6, 2013 at 22:21
  • "Personally, I find the tone to be a bit more provocative than I find useful" - purely subjective. I am a native English speaker, but I grew up before the era of political correctness. I have not changed my way of expressing myself simply because someone arbitrarily decided it's offensive and the term "colonial masters" is entirely accurate. I did not even know that it was objectionable to anyone - I don't keep up to date on such fashions... If there is a list somewhere of inappropriate terms for SE, please show it to me. In fact, the title was edited, and I didn't even know why!
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 8:49
  • @Vector - I'm really sorry if the subjective nature of our community standards confuses you. However, I don't believe anybody here is likely to have the time (or ability) to sit down and write you a comprehensive list of all phrases that our joint community of moderators might ever end up objecting to. You're going to have to learn to keep behavior and language acceptable within this community's standards. There are unmoderated websites to hang out in for those who want to just let their freak flag fly, but this isn't one of them.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 13:59
  • Actually, I wasn't referencing "colonial masters", I was referring to the tone of @Vector's question above. You've raised a valuable question, but the question reads as though you're indignant and angry. That indignance is what I termed "provocative", but I think it is peripheral to the real issue under discussion.
    – MCW Mod
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 14:28
  • @T.E.D. : " let their freak flag fly" - History: that is a Jimi Hendrix lyric - did you know that? It's on the album "Axis Bold as Love" track "If 6 Was 9", released in December 1967.
    – user2590
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 16:31

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