Uncomfortable colonial legacy

Like most of my fellow Zimbabweans, I am able to have the following two thoughts at the same time.

1. Since the current, wholly unjust land distribution in Zimbabwe is an inheritance of the colonial era, Britain, as the former colonial power, has a responsibility to help remedy this injustice.

2. Robert Mugabe, now held in general contempt by his people, is trying to use the land issue to hang on to power.

Why does Martin Shaw (Letters, 15 May) find it so hard to have both these simple and mutually consistent thoughts? The answer, I think, is that it is inconvenient for apologists of the new "humanitarian" imperialism to be reminded that past colonial despoliation and exploitation continue to have effects in the present.

Professor Alex Callinicos
Department of Politics
University of York