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Imperialism

  • ... if we continue with what is surely our greatest Western temptation, and think that in some way history owes us a solution, that we can, by pursuing our own most parochial self-interest, achieve in some miraculous way a consummation of world order, then we are heading not simply towards great disappointments, but towards disaster and tragedy as well.

  • Even today to be civilised is held to be synonymous with being westernised. Advanced countries devote large resources to formulating and spreading ideas and doctrines and they tend to impose on the developing nations their own norms and methods. The pattern of the classical acquisitive society with its deliberate multiplication of wants not only is unsuited to conditions in our countries but is positively harmful.

  • No nation is wise enough to rule another.

  • He was one of those staunch patriotic Britons who, having made a portion of a foreign country their own, strongly resent the original inhabitants of it.

  • Formal education in British India was remarkable for its lack of connection with its Indian environment. Like the African persuaded to cover his nakedness with a Mother Hubbard, we wore mental Mother Hubbards, and they were often a sad fit. Our textbooks had been compiled by Englishmen for English children, of whom there were none in my school and few in any school in India.

  • Imperialism was born when the ruling class in capitalist production came up against national limits to its economic expansion.

  • The only grandeur of imperialism lies in the nation's losing battle against it.

  • The concept of unlimited expansion that alone can fulfill the hope for unlimited accumulation of capital, and brings about the aimless accumulation of power, makes the foundation of new political bodies — which up to the era of imperialism always had been the upshot of conquest — well-nigh impossible.

  • ... in the era of imperialism, businessmen became politicians and were acclaimed as statesmen, while statesmen were taken seriously only if they talked the language of succcessful businessmen ...

  • The more I see of life in these 'undeveloped countries' and of the methods adopted to 'improve' them, the more depressed I become. It seems criminal that the backwardness of a country like Afghanistan should be used as an excuse for America and Russia to have a tug-of-war for possession.

  • With our mad lust for Uniformity and a Higher Standard of Living and Expanding Markets, we go to a country like Afghanistan and cruelly try to jerk her forward two thousand years in two decades, giving no thought to the profound shock this must be to her national psychology.

  • The truth is that Mozart, Pascal, Boolean algebra, Shakespeare, parliamentary government, baroque churches, Newton, the emancipation of women, Kant, Marx, Balanchine ballet, et al., don't redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history, it is the white race, and it alone — its ideologies and inventions — which eradicates autonomous civilization wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself.

  • There are two kinds of imperialists — imperialists and bloody imperialists.

  • I hope the rage for foreign conquest will not ever seize upon Americans.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1815), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Native always means people who belong somewhere else, because they had once belonged somewhere. That shows that the white race does not really think they belong anywhere because they think of everybody else as native.

  • In my opinion and experience, imperialists of all nations and races will tell us anything to keep us fighting. For them.

    • Alice Walker,
    • "To the Editors of Ms. Magazine," In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens ()
  • It is more than their land that you take away from the people, whose native land you take. It is their past as well, their roots and their identity. If you take away the things that they have been used to see, and will be expecting to see, you may, in a way, as well take their eyes.

  • There is no hierarchy of values by which one culture has the right to insist on all its own values and deny those of another ...

  • ... we came to realize that a civilization which rode roughshod over the way of life of other peoples was incorporating evil in its own way of life.

  • To native peoples, there is no such thing as the first, second, and third worlds; there is only an exploiting world ... whether its technological system is capitalist or communist ... and a host world. Native peoples, who occupy more land, make up the host world.

  • ... the most powerful bodies in the world, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, are also the least democratic and inclusive.

  • ... 'coffin-nails' are of the white man's inception, along with his multitudinous diseased adjuncts of civilization: whiskey, beer, wine and opium with attending crimes and ills. And to cap the irony of it all, he brings the 'glad tidings' of an endlessly burning hell where we are roasted for emulating his 'superior' example.

  • ... America ... holds up its way of life as the ideal for every nation, and seeks to impose its own standards of living — which many people think ridiculously and unwholesomely high — on others, partly of course in the search for markets. If it were openly stated that it was just a search for markets, that would be one thing, but it is not; by a tremendous propaganda campaign this materialistic conception is held up as an ideal, as somehow part of liberty, and above all, as a form of happiness.

  • One thing one learned from one's colonial masters. / One makes money from other people's disasters.

  • In the common esteem, not only are the only good aboriginals dead ones, but all aboriginals are either sacred or contemptible according to the length of time they have been dead.

  • These ways to make people buy were strange and new to us, and many bought for the sheer pleasure at first of holding in the hand and talking of something new. And once this was done, it was like opium, we could no longer do without this new bauble, and thus, though we hated the foreigners and though we knew they were ruining us, we bought their goods. Thus I learnt the art of the foreigners, the art of creating in the human heart restlessness, disquiet, hunger for new things, and these new desires became their best helpers.

  • Who are we to say what's right for civilizations that were already thousands of years old when our own nation came into being?

  • ... the white man had come with the Bible in one hand, the bottle in the other.

  • Nothing can be controlled by one country today; nothing.

  • There are people who think that we cannot rule ourselves because the few times we tried, we failed, as if all the others who rule themselves today got it right the first time. It is like telling a crawling baby who tries to walk, and then falls back on his buttocks, to stay there. As if the adults walking past him did not crawl, once.

  • One of the great disappointments of our time has been that the United States, a beacon of hope during the freedom struggles of the Asian peoples, succumbed to the views and greater colonial experience of nations grown to power in an earlier period.

  • Here in America we have freedom to say what we want, be what we want, to decide what happens in our country. We even get to decide what happens in other people's countries.

  • The talk at the table was full of expanding British power. ... They discussed campaigns and victories, and spoke contemptuously of the 'natives,' who everyone agreed had to be put in their place periodically. 'Their place?' Anna Harriette pondered, strangely troubled. 'And what is their place in their own country?'

  • It's odd how those who dismiss the peace movement as utopian don't hesitate to proffer the most absurdly dreamy reasons for going to war: to stamp out terrorism, install democracy, eliminate fascism, and most entertainingly, to 'rid the world of evil-doers.'