Discuss The Arguments In Favour Of British Imperialism

Decent Essays

Dirks argues we should look past colonial justifications of ‘higher’ principles such as Liberty, Democracy or a 'civilising' impulse and recognise them as excuses for 'domination and exploitation'. However, the confident and aggrandising attitude is crucial to understanding why the British presumed that their white settler colonies would desire a closer union, and why others were excluded. J. S. Mill’s, who studied the empire as a scholar and as an official of the East India Company thought that "different types of possessions [are] to be governed in different ways depending on the stages of civilisation they had reached’ and because of this civilising aim any failure was blamed on the 'precolonial past'. As Sullivan has noted, like James …show more content…

Mill’s also promoted of Britain as 'the power which of all in existence best understands liberty' and that empire was in the interest of humanity. Britain’s positive force he argued meant it had responsibility to promote “free institutions among the dark-skinned races of the world.” As Betts has argued, they also linked Britain to classical allusions to Rome and Athens as symbols of “order and civilisation in a barbaric world”. It was argued that "we should teach classics [because]... There is no nations burdened with Empire that has so much to learn from Imperial Rome as we do..." The idea of the self-sacrificing, noble British race was also seen in Kipling’s 1899 poem The White Man’s Burden". As Bell has argued, British imperialists imagined themselves as a civilising force of order like Rome, rehabilitating thugs to ‘sturdy yeomen’, and settler colonies were envisioned as the 'organic' spread of a superior people, bringing enlightenment with them. This self convincing attitude went up to government as a white-paper read, “the central purpose of British colonial policy is…to guide the colonial territories to responsible …show more content…

However, the difficulties of a creating an agreed constitutional formula exposed that a coherent ideology was out of grasp. Political structures and Britain’s role within them were of particular concern as for Froude 'one free people cannot govern another free people'. An anonymous article in 1873 argued for 'a really Imperial Parliament in place of the 'English, Welsh and Scotch, and Irish one that wrongly goes by that name’. There was particular concern over Britain’s future role; whether it would be first amongst equals, maintain her status, or be equal with perhaps power centred not in Westminster, but in a federal head. Dilke argued that the issue of central government as 'the choice of capital will, here as in Canada, be a matter of peculiar difficulty'. Also, ambiguous vocabulary with ‘federations’, ‘confederations’, and ‘commonwealths’ whilst in one way was a strength in attracting many to the cause, meant disagreement was inevitable. Bell compares Seeley with anti-Imperialist and opponent Goldwin Smith to show that they shared a broad consensus about the world and Britain's place within it, as Smith, nicknamed “Little Englander” advocated unity, but contrasting Seeley, believed it would come from residue loyalty to England. Furthermore, Dilke, who had already raised concern over

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