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Today, the Pacific islands reflect the best and worst in western society. On the one hand are the bravery and persistence of early European navigators, missionaries, and government officers; the early, well-meaning efforts by many westerners to help the islanders become ‘civilized’; the assistance readily given in times of natural disasters; and the grants and concessional loans to help Pacific countries develop into independent economic entities, to name but a few. On the other hand are the persistence in demolishing the islanders’ tropical culture and turning them into unwilling citizens or dependents of temperate countries, like puppets; the arrogance of assuming that modern western democracy and societal norms, which date back but a few generations, must replace the islanders’ far longer-standing societies; and the continuation of all these efforts to westernize them and their countries in the face of growing awareness in those Pacific countries of the value of their own well tried-and-tested lifestyles—to name but a few.
What if history had gone another way? What if the Pacific islanders had taken over Europe instead? That would have been impossible, of course, or would it?