Imperialism, as defined by the Dictionary of Human Geography, is "an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another." It is often considered in a negative light, as merely the exploitation of native people in order to enrich a small handful.
- I turn green in bed at midnight if I think of the horror of a year's warfare in the Philippines ... We must slaughter a million or two foolish Malays in order to give them the comforts of flannel petticoats and electric railways.
- Henry Adams, quoted in Little Brown Brother: How the United States Purchased and Pacified the Philippine Islands at the Century's Turn by Leon Wolff, p. 195
- Let them take the debate which had recently been carried on with so much vivacity on the subject of Imperial expansion. There was a process of expansion which was as normal, as necessary, as inseparable, and unmistakable a sign of vitality in a nation as the corresponding processes in the growing human body. We might control and direct it by oversight and by means adapted to the end, but we could not arrest it. ... [I]t was not part of the most illustrious apostles and disciples of Liberalism to condemn expansion in the sense which he had described it.
- H. H. Asquith, speech in Darwen, Lancashire (27 January 1899), quoted in The Times (28 January 1899), p. 8
- The alarm must be sounded because it is the economic and social system of capitalism and imperialism that prevents the urgently needed full mobilization of the potential economic surplus and the attainment of rates of economic advancement that can be secured with its help.
- Paul A. Baran, The Political Economy Of Growth (1957) Chapter Seven, Towards A Morphology Of Backwardness, II, p. 244.
- There was a time when people of the rich nations of the world regarded poverty as a "natural condition" for those living in the poor nations of the world. ... Today we have largely been stripped of this pseudo-innocence. We know that the poor are so poor because the rich are so rich, that the causes of poverty can be traced to deliberate decisions and deliberate economic and political policies designed to benefit the rich and powerful. We know that poverty and unemployment are not just accidents of history but deliberate, even indispensable, components of capitalism as an economic system.
- Allan Boesak, Comfort and Protest (1987), p. 67
For my part, I make a systematic defense of the non-European civilizations.
Every day that passes, every denial of justice, every beating by the police, every demand of the workers that is drowned in blood, every scandal that is hushed tip, every punitive expedition, every police van, every gendarme and every militiaman, brings home to us the value of our old societies.
They were communal societies, never societies of the many for the few.
They were societies that were not only ante-capitalist, as has been said, but also anti-capitalist.
They were democratic societies, always.
They were cooperative societies, fraternal societies.
I make a systematic defense of the societies destroyed by imperialism.
- Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (1955)
- There's one white powder which is by far the most lethal known. It's called sugar. If you look at the history of imperialism, a lot of it has to do with that. A lot of the imperial conquest, say in the Caribbean, set up a kind of a network... The Caribbean back in the 18th century was a soft drug producer: sugar, rum, tobacco, chocolate. And in order to do it, they had to enslave Africans, and it was done largely to pacify working people in England who were being driven into awful circumstances by the early industrial revolution. That's why so many wars took place around the Caribbean.
- Our inhabitants are especially free to promote their own welfare. They are unburdened by militarism. They are not called upon to support any imperialistic designs. Every mother can rest in the assurance that her children will find here a land of devotion, prosperity and peace. The tall shaft near which we are gathered and yonder stately memorial remind us that our standards of manhood are revealed in the adoration which we pay to Washington and Lincoln. They are unrivaled and unsurpassed. Above all else, they are Americans.
- The American forces are distinctly the forces of peace. They are the guaranties of that order and tranquility in this part of the world, which is alike beneficial to us and all the other nations. Everyone knows that we covet no territory, we entertain no imperialistic designs, we harbor no enmity toward any other people. We seek no revenge, we nurse no grievances, we have inflicted no injuries, and we fear no enemies. Our ways are the ways of peace.
- Radio ... is now the chief agent of imperialism. It does not purify the spirit of man, does not, like the book, bring him back to the sanctuary of solitude, but throws him to the lions, subtly preparing his mind for the blood and chains of public sacrifice.
- Georges Duhamel, In Defense of Letters (1937), E. Bozman, trans. (1939), p. 42.
- Viewed in retrospect, the last thirty years of the nineteenth century... almost the whole continent of Africa, considerable parts of Asia, and even the islands of the Pacific Ocean were being swiftly annexed to the empires of rival European powers. That they did not fight among themselves over the spoil may be attributed to the consideration that, broadly speaking, there was enough for all comers. That wars against resisting natives were of altogether minor importance is due chiefly to technological progress, as a single example may show. In the 4 ½-hour battle of Omdurman in 1898, Kitchener was fighting a brave and desperate enemy, who had twice his number of men. Yet he won the Sudan at a cost of 48 killed, whereas over 11,000 Dervish corpses were counted: he had at his disposal 44 pieces of field artillery, 20 Maxim machine-guns, and a flotilla of gun-boats firing a high explosive (lyddite) never seen in action before.
- T. K. Derry & Trevor I. Williams, A Short History of Technology: From the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900 (1960) Ch.10 Historical Survey (1750-1900)
- To remain a great nation or to become one, you must colonise.
- Léon Gambetta, Quoted in James Joll, Europe since 1870: an International History (London, Penguin, 1990), p. 81.
- My ambition is much higher than independence. Through the deliverance of India, I seek to deliver the so-called weaker races of the Earth from the crushing heels of Western exploitation in which England is the greatest partner.
- Mohandas Gandhi, Young India, 12 January 1928. Quoted in The Essential Writings of Gandhi, edited by Judith Brown. Oxford University Press, 2008, (p. 153).
- We have communal quarrels-not that they are peculiar to us. England had also its Wars of the Roses, and today British Imperialism is the enemy of the world.
- Mohandas Gandhi, Harijan, 30 October 1937. Quoted in The Essential Writings of Gandhi, edited by Judith Brown. Oxford University Press, 2008, (p. 306).
- Only at first does it seem paradoxical that the anti-internationalism of conservatism is so frequently associated with imperialism. But the more a person dislikes the strange and thinks his own ways superior, the more he tends to regard it as his mission to "civilize" other — not by the voluntary and unhampered intercourse which the liberal favors, but by bringing them the blessings of efficient government. It is significant that here again we frequently find the conservatives joining hands with the socialists against the liberals.
- Friedrich Hayek, "Why I am not a Conservative", in The Constitution of Liberty, (1960).
- Islamic revival sought the reunification of the spiritual with the social-political, and of contemporary life with cultural traditions, against the western imperialism that was forcing their separation.
- Richard A. Horsley, Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit (2003), p. 52
- Imperialism is challenged from two sides. On the one hand, there is a rising tide of nationalism within the various empires, entailing demands for self-government and independence. On the other hand, there is an increasing realization that the whole idea of the exclusive empire belongs to an age that is past; and that the backward regions of the world, both in respect of economic development and cultural advance, should be regarded as a responsibility resting upon the international community as a whole.
- Aldous Huxley, "Imperialism and Colonies", in An Encyclopedia of Pacifism,1937, (p.45).
- The religions whose theology is least preoccupied with events in time and most concerned with eternity, have been consistently less violent and more humane in political practice. Unlike early Judaism, Christianity and Mohammedanism (all obsessed with time) Hinduism and Buddhism have never been persecuting faiths, have preached almost no holy wars and have refrained from that proselytizing religious imperialism which has gone hand in hand with political and economic oppression of colored people.
- Aldous Huxley, The Perennial philosophy
- The race question is subsidiary to the class question in politics, and to think of imperialism in terms of race is disastrous. But to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental.
- C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins, 2nd Ed., Vintage Books 1963 pp. 283.
- A British vessel, stopping on the way back from India at the Comoro Islands in the Mozambique Channel, finds the native inhabitants in revolt against their Arab masters; and when they ask why they have taken arms, are told, "America is free, could not we be?"
- Gijsbert Karel, Count van Hogendorp, in 1784, quoted in "The age of the democratic revolution: a political history of Europe and America, 1760-1860" by Robert Roswell Palmer (1969)
- Take up the White Man's burden-
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need.
- Rudyard Kipling, "The White Man's Burden", Stanza 1, 1899.
- The conquest of foreign peoples is often described in terms of breaking animals to harness. The verbs domare, perdomare, subigere, frangere, coercere—all regularly used of taming animals—are widespread in accounts of Roman expansion.
- Myles Lavan, Slaves to Rome: Paradigms of Empire in Roman Culture (Cambridge University Press: 2013), p. 83
- In his writing on U.S. imperial wars against American Indian nations, scholar Philip J. Deloria described the logic of “defensive conquest” at the heart of U.S. imperialism. According to the U.S., it uses violence only in response to the violence of others... These arguments are disingenuous, but they have been deployed to justify wars against Indigenous nations, Mexico, Spain, Vietnam, Iraq, and countless others.
We must be careful to avoid the narratives that have supported U.S. imperialism for centuries. By refusing to debate these issues on the terms of the bipartisan imperialist consensus, we can argue for democracy and socialism in explicitly anti-imperialist terms.
- Jacob F. Lee: Venezuela and the Long History of U.S. Imperialism, CounterPunch (4 March 2019)
- Admirers of the ‘purified’ Nietzsche have been hard put to unite his sanctioning of barbarity with an often subtle and rarefied cultural critique. But we can easily dispose of this dichotomy. In the first place, the union of ultra-refinement and brutality was by no means a personal quirk requiring psychological elucidation, but a universal, psychical-moral distinguishing mark of imperialist decadence.
- György Lukács, The Destruction of Reason, Chapter 3, “Nietzsche as Founder of Irrationalism in the Imperialist Period” § 3
- What caused the war? The greed of the Italian money bags and capitalists, who need new markets and new achievements for Italian imperialism. What kind of war was it? A perfected, civilised blood bath, the massacre of Arabs with the help of the “latest” weapons.
- Vladimir Lenin "The End of the Italo-Turkish War" in Pravda, No. 129 (28 September 1912); Collected Works, Vol. 18.
- The struggles waged by the different peoples against U.S. imperialism reinforce each other and merge into a torrential worldwide tide of opposition to U.S. imperialism…. It can be split up and defeated. The peoples of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and other regions can destroy it piece by piece, some striking at its head and others at its feet. That is why the greatest fear of U.S. imperialism is that people's wars will be launched in different parts of the world … and why it regards people's war as a mortal danger.
- Lin Biao, minister of defense, People's Republic of China; text released September 2, 1965; reported in Samuel B. Griffith, Peking and People's Wars (1966), p. 102.
- There probably has been no imperialism like that of Islam and the Arabs. The Gauls, after five hundreds years of Roman rule, could recover their old gods and reverences; those beliefs hadn’t died; they lay just below the Roman surface. But Islam seeks as an article of faith to erase the past; the believers in the end honour Arabia alone; they have nothing to return to.
- V.S. Naipaul, Naipaul VS (1998) Beyond Belief: The Islamic Incursions among the Converted Peoples, Random House, New York page 331
- The oppressed were organized in Liberation Movements which started guerilla warfare against their oppressors. Though poorly equipped, their determination and commitment led to unexpected success. To combat the national liberation movements, the imperialists could no longer come out in the open and expose themselves. This would make them lose face. All they wanted was to "invisibly" control these countries. It is in this context that the modem mercenary has become an important tool of imperialism. Mercenarism as a form of soldiering is used as a vehicle for fighting the liberation movements and independent developing countries.
- C.M. Peter, "Mercenaries and International Humanitarian Law", 24 Indian J. of Int'l L., 373, 377-78 (1984); as qtd. in Marie-France Major, "Mercenaries and International Law", Georgia J. Int'l & Comp. L. 103 (1992), p. 106.
- I kept coming back to one main question: if the objective of foreign aid is imperialism, is that so wrong?.. I doubted whether limited resources would allow the whole world to live the opulent life of the United States, when even the United States had millions of citizens living in poverty. In addition, it wasn't entirely clear to me that people in other nations actually want to live like us. Our own statistics about violence, depression, drug abuse, divorce, and crime indicated that although ours was one of the wealthiest societies in history, it may also be one of the least happy societies. Why would we want others to emulate us?
- I realized that my gloss as chief economist, head of Economics and Regional Planning... was part of a sinister system aimed not at outfoxing an unsuspecting customer, but rather at promoting the most subtle and effective form of imperialism the world has ever known.... The march had begun and it was rapidly encircling the planet. The hoods had discarded their leather jackets, dressed up in business suits, and taken on an air of respectability. Men and women were descending from corporate headquarters in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, and Tokyo, streaming across every continent to convince corrupt politicians to allow their countries to be shackled to the corporatocracy, and to induce desperate people to sell their bodies to sweatshops and assembly lines... a world of smoke and mirrors intended to keep us all shackled to a system that is morally repugnant and ultimately self-destructive.
- Regime changes in Iraq and Libya, Syria’s war, Venezuela’s crisis, sanctions on Cuba, Iran, Russia, and North Korea are all reflections of a new global imperialism imposed by a core of capitalist nations in support of trillions of dollars of concentrated investment wealth. This new world order of mass capital has become a totalitarian empire of inequality and repression.
- Imperialism and slavery are no white male monopoly, but are everywhere from Egypt, Assyria, and Persia to India, China and Japan.
- Camille Paglia,"Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders : Academe in the Hour of the Wolf", 1991.
- The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications. Natural aggression, for example, becomes brutal sadism which then is an essential mass-psychological factor in imperialistic wars.
- Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933) Ch. 1: Ideology As Material Power, Section 4: The Social Function of Sexual Suppression, quoted in R. Claire Snyder Citizen-soldiers and Manly Warriors: Military Service and Gender in the Civic Republican Tradition, Rowman & Littlefield, 1999, p. 152.
- The beliefs appropriate to the impulse of aggression may be seen in Bernhardi, or in the early Mohammedan conquerors, or, in full perfection, in the Book of Joshua. There is first of all a conviction of the superior excellence of one's own group, a certainty that they are in some sense the chosen people. This justifies the feeling that only the good and evil of one's own group is of real importance, and that the rest of the world is to be regarded merely as material for the triumph or salvation of the higher race. In modern politics this attitude is embodied in imperialism.
- Bertrand Russell, Why men fight: a Method of Abolishing the International Duel.
- In so far as nationalism inculcates in us a sense of national and social justice which call upon us to fight any system that is oppressive or tyrannical both in our country and the world, there I am completely with nationalism. I hate Imperialism whether British or Japanese or Burmese.
- Aung San, Address to a meeting of the Anglo-Burman Council at the City Hall, Rangoon (8 December 1946).
- The struggle against war and its social source, capitalism, presupposes direct, active, unequivocal support to the oppressed colonial peoples in their struggles and wars against imperialism. A 'neutral' position is tantamount to support of imperialism.
- Leon Trotsky, "Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau" (July 1936).
- It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people [the Filipinos] free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.
- Mark Twain, New York Herald, October 15, 1900, quoted in A Pen Warmed Up In Hell:Mark Twain in Protest, edited by Frederick Anderson, Harper & Row, 1979.
- US imperialism is the greatest destroyer of human life on earth. It is in whole an economic, political and cultural system. It feeds on piracy of the Third World. It colonizes Black and Third World people with the US and dives, exploits, rapes and attempts to buy off poor and working people. Because of imperialism people live in shanty-towns in Saigon and Rio De Janeiro. The same system is responsible for the sub-standard conditions of one quarter of the housing in this country. Us imperialism is a parasite on the Third World, and traps us in a culture of waste and death. For the benefit of imperialism we live in a society either at war or producing and preparing for war all the times.
- The Weather Underground, Prairie Fire (1974)
- What can we learn from the outcome of this war-this war that never was a national war?
The imperialist ideology of force, from whatever side it comes, must be shattered for all time. A one sided Prussian militarism must never again be allowed to assume power. Only in large-scale cooperation among the nations of Europe can the ground be prepared for reconstruction. Centralized hegemony, such as the Prussian state has tried to excercise in Germany and in Europe, must be cut down at its inception. The Germany of the future must be a federal state.
- White Rose Resistance Group, Fifth Leaflet, circa 1942.
- In spite of the fact that we have no such fleet as we should have, we have conquered for ourselves a place in the sun. It will now be my task to see to it that this place in the sun shall remain our undisputed possession, in order that the sun's rays may fall fruitfully upon our activity and trade in foreign parts, that our industry and agriculture may develop within the state and our sailing sports upon the water, for our future lies upon the water.