"Humanitarian Bombing"

Michael Pollak mpollak at panix.com
Sat Mar 27 23:08:27 PST 1999

On Sat, 27 Mar 1999, Doug Henwood wrote:

> Yeah I know about Kipling, but I wonder how representative that was, and
> where it stood in the history of British colonial narratives. Surely that
> sort of stuff didn't emerge at the first imperial moment, did it?

It was easy to feel moral back then. The Brits (like every other European country) were sure all other cultures were morally inferior to their own. It needed no justification. And for polytheists this went treble; they were barely above the animals. So it followed directly that they could only be improved by being under British control. It was civilization by definition. The codification might have been worked out in detail later, but it was all implicit in initial premises. (It might also have helped that they only public that mattered was the same elite that was acting. They controlled the press and the vote, and world opinion in its present form didn't exist.)

You don't need complex narratives to feel good about yourself when you think your own racism is a moral assertion. The Victorians had it easy that way. They didn't worry that imposing their views on a weaker country might be a bad thing -- it never crossed their mind that it could be anything but a good thing.

But just try to be imperialist today. Everybody's on your case! :o)

It's just one more small good thing that multiculturalism and the UN have brought into the world: the need for imperialists to justify themselves.


__________________________________________________________________________ Michael Pollak................New York City..............mpollak at panix.com


Of the modes of persuasion some are technical, others non-technical. By the latter I mean such things as are not supplied by the speaker but are there at the outset -- witnesses, evidence given under torture, written contracts, and so on.

Aristotle, _Rhetoric_, Book I, 1355, 36-38. __________________________________________________________________________

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