Imperialism

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.

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  • 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'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.
  • 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).
  • 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 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.
  • Take up the White Man's burden-
    Send forth the best ye breed—
    Go bind your sons to exile
    To serve your captives' need.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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

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.

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.

  • Wilhelm II of Germany, Speech in Hamburg (18 June 1901)
  • Variant: Germany must have her place in the sun. (said not by Wilhelm himself but of Bernhard von Bülow)
  • As quoted in Germanism from Within (1916) by Alexander Duncan Mclaren

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Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 09:34