John Locke And John Stuart Mill

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Did the arguments of classical liberals, such as John Locke and John Stuart Mill, serve to legitimate European imperialism and the dispossession of indigenous peoples? John Locke has been informally known as the grandfather of liberalism. Similarly, John Stuart Mill is regarded as one of the early pioneers of the philosophy of liberalism (Armitage, n.d.). However, both of these liberalists have also been known to openly support the concept of empiricism. While no fool can tell that empiricism and liberalism are directly antagonist in nature and do not go hand in hand. How does this even make sense then? It is pertinent to look into the roots of the aforementioned concepts and decipher whether they negate or reinforce each other. Since its…show more content…
Europeans have had always favoured colonialism perhaps due to the growing population pressures. Hence, it was always convenient to move towards a new area when the previous one became too cramped (Smith, 1991). The concept of British imperialism was justified on the grounds of self-proclamation of what is a human being and how they should function in societies (Toll, 2009). Parekh rightly notes that the North American natives were for long thought to be beasts with human bodies and this concept directly led to the higher value of the life of the imperialists. Christians, too, started exploiting on the natives under the pretext of their moral enlightenment (Parekh, 1997). This was the “Civilizing Project”, which paved way for attributing colonialism to something good rather than a blessing on the natives. The Classical Liberal theory rests in its very core on the foundation of equality of life and individuality of all humans. Hence, liberals perpetrate the idea of personal freedom and choice to go about one’s business as long as it doesn’t infringe or interfere with the rights of the other (Heywood, 2002). Locke was of the opinion that each individual is bestowed with certain versatile features which are distinct as must be respected. In an ideal form of government, every individual is hence free to pursue all that his individuality allows him to (Parekh, 1997). He believed that humans possess the ability to reason and cognition which
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