[Marxism] Forerunner to Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens et al

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 11 07:11:45 MDT 2005


Liberal Imperialism.

It's nothing new. Here's a passage from John Stuart Mill's 1859 essay, "A 
Few Words on Non-Intervention":

     There assuredly are cases in which it is allowable to go to war, 
without having been ourselves attacked, or threatened with attack; and it 
is very important that nations should makeup their minds in time, as to 
what these cases are....

     There is a great difference (for example) between the case in which 
the nations concerned are of the same, or something like the same, degree 
of civilization, and that in which one of the parties to the situation is 
of a high, and the other of a very low, grade of social improvement. To 
suppose that the same international customs, and the same rules of 
international morality, can obtain between one civilized nation and 
another, and between civilized nations and barbarians, is a grave error....

     Nations which are still barbarous have not got beyond the period 
during which it is likely to be for their benefit that they should be 
conquered and held in subjection by foreigners. Independence and 
nationality, so essential to the due growth and development of a people 
further advanced in improvement, are generally impediments to theirs....

     Barbarians have no rights as a nation, except a right to such 
treatment as may, at the earliest possible period, fit them for becoming 

     A civilized government cannot help having barbarous neighbors: when it 
has, it cannot always content itself with a defensive position, one of mere 
resistance to aggression. After a longer or shorter interval of 
forbearance, it either finds itself obliged to conquer them, or to assert 
so much authority over them, and so break their spirit, that they gradually 
sink into a state of dependence on itself .... This is the history of the 
relations of the British Government with the native States of India.



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