Justification for Empire, European Concepts

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Justification for Empire, European Concepts

The term empire, derived from the Latin word imperium, contains at least three overlapping senses: a limited and independent rule, a territory embracing more than one political community, and the absolute sovereignty of a single individual. All three of these components were in play when the European overseas expansion gathered speed in the late fifteenth century. And all three senses of the term would figure prominently in European justifications for empire.

Although it opened a Pandora's box of philosophical disputes, the original justification for Spanish colonialism was found in the bulls issued by Pope Alexander VI (1431–1503). These conceded to the Spanish monarchy the right to occupy the newly discovered Americas and to undertake the conversion of the indigenous population, thus making the Spanish monarchy the vicar of God in the New World. If the initial encounters with the inhabitants of the New World corroborated with the Christian hope of evangelizing to the entire world, it also lent new force to a more secular aspiration that focused on the increasing civilization of all humankind. Evangelization and this mission of civilization were the two complementary ideals that underpinned most justifications for European empire for nearly 500 years. This essay traces the many manifestations of these ideas and convictions in the imperial trajectories of the Western powers.

For conquest to serve as adequate proof of the righteousness of the Spanish cause, the conquest itself had to be justified. The wide-ranging debates that preoccupied generations of jurists who debated the legality of the conquest may be condensed into a single question: Had the wars with the indigenous population of the Americas resulting in European conquest, been just ones? In On the American Indians, Francisco de Vitoria (1486–1546) argued that war with native populations could not be justified on the basis of the jurisdiction given by a papal bull, or even a purported right to compel natives to obey natural law. Conflict could be justified in defending the innocent, however, especially in cases where cannibalism and human sacrifice were practiced.

War resulting in conquest also could be justified, according to Vitoria's logic, if indigenous rulers refused to allow missionaries to preach, or discouraged conversion by killing converts. The defense of the latter might instigate war in which the Spaniards could legally occupy the native territories and depose their governments. While critics of the Spanish wrangled over the legitimacy of the conquest of America and the dispossession of its inhabitants, other European powers were embarking on their empire-building missions and would devise different justifications to support their rule.

Like the Spanish, the English justified the conquest of Ireland by claiming that their aim was to convert its inhabitants to Christianity. They contended that this goal was impossible to realize so long as the Irish persisted in their barbarous ways. In the view of Sir Thomas Smith (1513–1577), the English were the new Romans who had come to civilize the Irish, just as the ancient Romans had once civilized the Britons. This historical vision bolstered the conviction that the Irish were culturally inferior to, and far behind, the English in developmental terms. Through subjection, the English colonizers reasoned, the Irish could be made free. This was not regarded as a small task. In his book Tragicall Tales (1587), George Tuberville echoed England's dim view of Ireland, saying, "Wild Irish are as civil as the Russies in their kind;/ hard choice which is best of both, each bloody, rude, and blind" (Berry 1968, p. 28).

A similar rationale, the alleged responsibility to convert heathen Americans to Christian faith, extended to Britain's North American colonies. The true principal and main end of the colonial enterprise, according to one early seventeenth-century Virginian planter, Richard Hakluyt (1552–1616), was to preach and baptize into the Christian religion. Hakluyt exhorted Sir Walter Raleigh (1554–1618) in a similar vein, but added the civilizing mission that would become so important to imperialists in future centuries: "for to prosperity no greater glory can be handed down than to conquer the barbarian, to recall the savage and the pagan to civility, to draw the ignorant within the orbit of reason" (Pagden 1998, p. 35).

This is not to say that religious justification disappeared entirely and was superseded by a secular civilizing mission after the first age of European imperialism had drawn to a close. In late nineteenth-century Britain, many Christians viewed imperial expansion as being designed to support worldwide conversion. Some observers felt that the purported benefits of conversion justified the use of force. One missionary went as far as to remark in 1895 that the British army and navy were under God's Evangelical mission fused with, and complemented, other justifications for European expansion.

Unlike their Spanish counterparts, however, English and Dutch ideologues of empire rejected the notion that conquest itself justified rule. Hugo Grotius (1583–1645) distinguished the original acquisition of property through appropriation, which existed before the establishment of civil society and existed as a natural right, from the notion of ownership existing within civil society, and regulated by the laws made by the appropriate public authority. There were twofold implications of appropriation that served as the basis for a notion of divisible sovereignty: the public rights of sovereignty and the private rights of ownership.

Unlike the Spanish, but like Grotius, British theorists of empire were most concerned not with a king's jurisdiction over native populations, but with justifying the title to property they appropriated (or, more often, expropriated). In his Two Treatises on Government (1690), John Locke (1632–1704) asserted that ownership was acquired when a person had "mixed his labor with (it); and joined to something that is his own" (Pagden 1998, p. 45). This was part of a larger argument that drew on the Roman law of res nullius, which held that all empty things, including unoccupied land, remained the common property of all humankind until they were put to some use.

The arguments of Locke and Grotius formed the basis of most English attempts to legitimate their presence in America, both against the claims of the Iberian powers who appealed to the terms of the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), which divided the New World among itself, and those complaints of the dispossessed native populations. Locke was most influential in the justification of the latter. America was in the same condition as that of the entire world before the founding of human societies when, he argued, "the inhabitants were too few for the country, and want of people and money gave men no temptation to enlarge their possessions of land, or contest for wider extent of ground" (Pagden 1998, p. 44). The major conclusion of Locke's meditations was that Europeans could disregard all aboriginal forms of government, and, consequently, deny their status as nations.

The English, by settling and cultivating the land, had acquired rights to possession that the native people had never enjoyed and certainly could not contest. In this way, Locke's version of the res nullius argument was the most frequent legitimation of British presence in America and would later be employed to justify colonization in Australia and Africa. It also would be used during the American Revolution (1776–1783) by those seeking to justify the continuation of British rule. "Because no nation ever planted colonies with so liberal or noble a hand as England has done," Scottish philosopher Adam Ferguson (1723–1816) argued in 1776, "(the Americans) should repay us for all the blood and treasure that we have extended in the common cause" (Paquette 2003, pp. 428-429). British statesman also appealed to res nullius in their disputes with Spain in the late eighteenth century, claiming that their occupation of the Mosquito Coast and Darien in Central America and the Nootka Sound in the Pacific Northwest was valid because Spain had neither cultivated nor populated those places.

The discourse of improvement then became a justification for the expansion of imperialistic governmental power in the nineteenth century. As historian Richard Drayton commented, "the rational use of Nature replaced piety as the foundation of imperial Providence, government became the Demiurge, and universal progress, measured by material abundance, its promised land" (Drayton 2000, p. 81).

Even where no formal empire existed, as in South America, British proponents of unhindered free trade with the newly independent states invoked the mission of improvement as a way to justify the incursion of their capital. In the 1820s and 1830s, a widespread conviction arose that British industry and technological ingenuity could generate wealth from the fertile resources that Spain's primitive methods and indolence had squandered. Free trade would open markets that Britain could exploit with its superiority and excellence in machinery, skill of the artisan, and extent of capital it enjoyed. The rapid growth of British mining companies in Chile, for example, was premised on the conviction that the mines, if worked with moderate industry and knowledge of metallurgy, might yield considerably more than the quantity necessary for the supply of the whole world.

Such grandiose visions permeated parliamentary debates as well. In a speech urging diplomatic recognition of Spanish America as independent in 1824, Lord Ellenborough (1790–1871) remarked, "even the power of steam seemed to be discovered at the most favorable moment for giving faculties to the navigation of (South American) rivers and the working of precious mines" (Paquette 2004, p. 87). The political language of improvement fused with the interests of British financiers to help bring about a series of free trade agreements that would stifle the development of independent Latin America's industry for much of the nineteenth century.

However much the mission of improvement and legal arguments were the predominant justifications of empire, the differences, real and imagined, between European and non-European cultures would emerge with increasing force and frequency to legitimize imperial rule. Long before Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) set sail, a vigorous, progressive Europe was juxtaposed with a more apathetic Asia and Africa. Although Pope Paul III's (1468–1549) early sixteenth-century bull (Sublimis Deus) left little doubt that "the [American] Indians are true men," assertions of their inferiority to Europeans remained pervasive and this theory was employed to justify the conquest, subjugation, and enslavement of indigenous populations.

Nonetheless, very few writers before the nineteenth century would justify empire on the basis of racial difference. They did not assume that those living east of the Ural Mountains or south of Crete implied subhuman status, if only because no reference existed in the Bible to separate acts of creation. In the absence of scriptural evidence, environmental explanations, the impact of terrain and climate specifically, gained in popularity. The most popular of these climatic theories was the one contained in Corneille de Pauw's (1739–1799) Recherches philosophiques sur les Americains (1768), who declared that the difference between Europe and America was best defined as the difference between strength and weakness, between civilization and savagery.

These explanations gradually led to the stage-based theory of history popularized by the leading figures of the Scottish Enlightenment. All societies, its proponents claimed, advanced through four stages evolving from a hunter-gathering society to a commercial society. An emphasis on cultural evolution linked physical environment and economic progress and could also be turned into a justification for empire. Although critical of Spanish conquest in the Americas, Scottish historian William Robertson (1721–1793) juxtaposed the science, courage, and discipline of the Spaniards to the ignorance, timidity, and disorder of the indigenous population to justify the vicious conduct of conquistadores in relation to the Aztec and Incan societies.

In the introduction to his Historia del Nuevo Mundo (1793), Juan Bautista Muñoz (1745–1799) argued that Spain had encountered in the New World "a field of glory worthy for its elevated thoughts"; and that, in spite of obstacles, "the genius along with the ardor of religious belief ensured the happy attainment of its most arduous enterprises" (Muñoz 1990, p. 25). Spain, in his view, far from destroying the New World's wealth, persevered heroically in the worst of conditions, until America's steadily increasing wealth sparked the emulation, competition, industry, commerce, and interest of all of Europe.

This notion of a hierarchy of civilization, the possibility of advancement toward the perfection achieved by Europe, and Europe's responsibility to accelerate the progress of the non-European world also inspired certain progressive, if paternalistic, late eighteenth-century political writers. Marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794) claimed in 1791 that the inhabitants of Africa, Asia, and America almost seemed to be waiting for Europe to civilize them.

In the early nineteenth century, racial attitudes emerged increasingly as part of the rhetoric that justified colonial rule. Catholics, half-castes, and Hindus were deemed irremediably degenerate, as their religions were thought to corrupt both their moral judgment and political institutions. Arguments of cultural superiority and civilizing mission were plentiful in nineteenth-century Britain. Empire came to express the protection and glorification of the British Crown, church, law, and trade. As Lord Palmerston (1784–1865) bluntly noted, Britain stood at the head of moral, social, and political civilization. "Our task," he said, "is to lead the way and direct the march of other nations."

Such national and cultural chauvinism increased and was given new impetus in the mid-nineteenth century with the emergence of social Darwinism. Coining the term "survival of the fittest" several years before Charles Darwin (1809–1882) set forth his theory, Herbert Spencer (1820–1903) developed an all-encompassing conception of human society and relations based on evolutionary principles. The centerpiece of Darwinism is the theory of natural selection, according to which only the fittest species in organic nature survive, whereas the unfit become extinct. Europeans employed this biologistic framework to justify their imperial rule over people whose races were considered inferior or less fit.

French political leader Jules Ferry (1832–1893) explicitly argued that "the superior races have rights over the inferior races." In his Greater Britain (1868), Charles Dilke (1789–1864) rejoiced over the "grandeur of our race, already girdling the earth." Josiah Strong (1847–1916), an American clergyman, wanted this Anglo-Saxon mantle shared with the United States and, in his Our Country (1885), praised the Anglo-Saxon instinct for colonizing, saying, "his unequalled energy, his indomitable perseverance, and his personal independence made him a pioneer" (Snyder 1962, p. 122).

Empire was justified because it served domestic goals as well. While an empire might have been built around notions of an exported social hierarchy, as historian David Cannadine has shown, it also served to reinforce the hierarchy at home. Possessing an empire bolstered the British perception that they still belonged—amid the upheaval wrought by mass democracy, industrialization, and urban growth to a traditional, agricultural, layered society.

If the legal and religious rationale for conquest, as well as the racial justifications for empire, have been discussed, other European concepts require further treatment. A pervasive justification for empire, existing from the Spanish Conquest until their dismantlement in the late twentieth century, involved the notion of empire as a trust. Finding indigenous societies to be lacking in human and political standards, Vitoria argued: "For their own benefit the king of Spain might take over the government of the country, nominating prefects and governors for their cities, and even giving them new rulers, if it were clearly necessary for their well-being." There was also a materialistic dimension to this trust in Vitoria's thought. The king, he argued, "is obliged to do for the pagans over whom he rules whatever he would be obliged to do for the good of his own people" (Hamilton 1963, pp. 133-134).

Such notions of trust persisted until the late eighteenth century. Speaking on the East India Bill in 1783, British statesman Edmund Burke (1729–1797) remarked that obligations stemmed from empire: "Such rights or privileges…are all in the strictest sense a trust; and it is the very essence of every trust to be rendered accountable; and even totally to cease when it substantially varies from the purpose for which alone it could have a lawful existence." This notion gathered force at the end of the eighteenth century. Imperialism's apologists pointed to their association with humanitarian policies, such as the abolition of slavery, in justifying the maintenance and expansion of territory. Writing of the acquisition of India in The Expansion of England (1883), J. R. Seeley (1834–1895) says, "aggrandisement might present itself in the light of a simple duty, when it seemed that by extending our empire the reign of robbery and murder might be brought to an end" (Snyder 1962, p. 120)—thus presaging Rudyard Kipling's (1865–1936) famous exhortation to Anglo-Saxons across the globe to "take up the white man's burden" (Snyder 1962, p. 87).

The question remained, however, about how this trusteeship could best be fulfilled. One of the main responses was that the expansion of commerce would benefit both the colonized and colonizer. Free trade was considered a vehicle for bettering the world, as well as a way to expand economic interests overseas. Capitalism was conceived as a moral force, helping to civilize the world through the spread of enterprise and a strong work ethic. Palmerston believed commerce to be the best pioneer of civilization, saying that it improved humankind's sense of well-being. Others regarded this type of rhetoric with skepticism. Historian C. A. Bayly, for instance, said, "free trade was no more than a nostrum of a nation which had achieved superiority by the use of military force to break into other protected markets; the British could now afford to be free traders" (Bayly 1989, p. 237).

Free trade also would emerge as one of the main justifications for setting up the Belgian King Leopold II's (1835–1909) colony of the Congo in 1884. In exchange for recognizing the validity of his claims to sovereignty by other European powers, the King promised not to impose import duties on the goods of those nations in the newly established free state. Civilization, free trade, and fulfillment of European responsibility toward non-European people combined to justify such colonial ventures.

Different sentiments and justifications for imperialism as a trust also may be found in the history of Dutch imperialism. As a Christian nation, they believed that the Netherlands had a moral duty in Indonesia to uphold a policy that was manifested in the improvement of education, public health, agriculture, and the appointment of Indonesians to local administrative bodies. Similar notions would grow in strength after the Great War (1914–1918). Trusteeship dominated early twentieth-century debates, for example. It was the keystone of the mandate system proposed by the League of Nations in 1919, justifying the repartition of the collapsed German and Ottoman empires. Although the explicit purpose of making Britain and France trustees was to stifle slavery and forced labor, the demoralizing traffic in arms and spirits and other abuses were considered barbaric to European sensibilities. The mandatory power also was entrusted to promote the material, moral well-being, and social progress of the inhabitants.

The ethic of trusteeship served to justify empire at its most vulnerable point. In The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa (1922) F. D. Lugard (1858–1945) purveyed an alternate vision for the newly acquired tropical dependencies, thought to be unsuited for white settlement, based on his experiences as governor of Nigeria before the war. Lugard called for the development by the agency of natives through European guidance, a formula that demanded the government's intervention. It was a dual mandate because it called for the advancement of the inhabitants and the development of its material resources for the benefit of humankind. In this way, Lugard deflected criticism that tropical dependencies were maintained solely for British self-interest. He insisted that Africans, too, were benefiting from, as he put it, "the influx of manufactured goods and the substitution of law and order for the methods of barbarism" (Lugard 1922, pp. 616-618), while a simultaneous reciprocal and mutual benefit accrued to Europe.

Arguments for trusteeship persisted until the bitter end of European empires. In Portuguese-controlled Angola, one apologist contended in the early 1950s that colonial rule had been characteristically paternal, slowly but surely improving the native's quality of living and bringing them toward the more refined European way of life. The rhetoric of trusteeship also permeated the creation of the colonial development schemes, the forerunners of contemporary development agencies. Britain's 1929 Colonial Development Act, though intended to help colonies to service borrowing for public works, was not altruistic in practice. It was primarily designed to give a boost to a decaying British heavy industry. Similarly, trade preference policies in the 1930s counteracted the slim benefits that development monies produced. In essence, they helped the dominions and harmed the colonial consumers who were likewise exploited by the 1939 policy of bulk-buying commodities, which led to the British economy being subsidized by colonial producers.

The Colonial Development Act had little practical effect. Between 1930 and 1939, only £18 million was spent on development, compared to the £145 million borrowed on the open market by the colonies. Furthermore, the government did nothing to remove the obstacles to investment in the colonies, nor did anything to make industrial production more profitable. In spite of the shortcomings in practice, the notion of empire as a trust was a common feature of the justifications for colonialism in all of the European empires at one time or another.

Some justifications for empire did not address the indigenous inhabitants who would be impacted and focused purely on the needs of European society and its economy. Proponents of such views often resorted to a political language that described colonization as a natural process arising from burgeoning wealth or population in a European country. Colonies were justified as a potential solution to the problems wrought by population expansion. Sir James Steuart (1713–1788), a Scottish political economist whose influence extended across Europe in the mid-eighteenth century, alleged that population must be reduced either by encouragements given to leaving the country, or by establishing colonies. To stay economically strong, he believed that the colony should check its population growth and facilitate the "preservation of wealth that they have already acquired."

Thomas Malthus's (1766–1834) early nineteenth-century demographic analysis, which stressed competition for increasingly scarce resources, justified the search for open territory where a surplus population could live. Observing the social unrest triggered by massive urbanization in the early nineteenth century, G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831) also argued in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right (1821) that colonization could help to solve the problem generated by poverty by providing an outlet for the indigent population competing for scarce resources. European nations, he suggested, were driven to colonize by the pressures of burgeoning population, overproduction, and underconsumption. For Hegel, colonies represented an escape from the burdens and restrictions of European society and envisaged European peasants populating verdant and empty lands, making no mention of the people they might encounter there.

Demographic arguments persisted, especially among the nations without empires. One Italian politician in 1897 claimed that overpopulation forced large-scale immigration of Italians to rival European states and that the absence of space was a cause of poverty. Colonies would provide a much-desired outlet for this surplus population. Some believed that it was less safe and more expensive to bring under control 3 million hectares of land in Italy than to insure the prosperity of a large agricultural colony in Eritrea. Population, of course, was not the only surplus that flowed naturally to ultramarine possessions. Capital, too, searched for new markets. In 1898 American financial analyst Charles Conant (1861–1915) spoke of the irresistible tendency of great states to expand and advocated new outlets for American capital. He argued, "The great industrial countries should turn to countries which have not yet felt the pulse of modern progress."

It must not be forgotten that one of the main justifications for imperialism was that of gaining advantage in the competition among the European powers. The European empires watched each other constantly. They measured their behavior against each other and borrowed from each other's practices. As Portugal's Marquês de Pombal (1699–1782) observed in the mid-1740s: "All European nations have augmented them-selves and are augmenting even today through reciprocal imitation, each one carefully keeps watch over the actions taken by the others (and), through their ministers, they take advantage of the utility of foreign inventions" (Carvalho e Melo 1986, p. 158).

Under the mercantilist system, each state aimed to secure the advantages of colonial trade by depriving competitor nations of access. To achieve this goal, the creation of monopolies was necessary. The conquest and maintenance of colonies was justified not only by bringing commodities to the European colonizing power and opening new markets for domestic manufacturers, but also by depriving rival nations of the benefits of that territory. All of the European empires endeavored to create a closed, monopolistic trading system so that all benefits of colonization would accrue to itself alone, rendering the empire self-sufficient and economically independent of the rest of the world.

Seventeenth-century English commercial writer Charles Davenant (1656–1714) claimed that, in matters of empire, "whoever is the cause of another's advancement is the cause of his own diminuition" (Davenant 1704, pt. 1, p. 205). A nation could not remain, in his view, unarmed and inactive, while other nations enlarged their dominions. In the late eighteenth century, Scottish economist Adam Smith (1723–1790) would show that the mercantile system had rendered less secure the long-term prosperity of the colonial power because its commerce, instead of running in a great number of small channels, had been taught to run principally in one great channel. But even though mercantilist assumptions about the profitability of a colonial monopoly gradually dissipated in the early nineteenth century, the justification of empire based on international rivalry persisted.

Allusions and analogies to the natural processes reached their peak in the biologistic justifications for empire offered by adherents to social Darwinism. This set of ideas played a key role in both imperial rivalry among European states and in the justification of empire over non-European people. In the effort to be fittest among their peers, social Darwinists justified rising military expenditure and increased national efficiency. Walter Bagehot (1826–1877), harnessing biology to defend liberal democracy in the 1870s, emphasized cultural rather than individual selection. He sought to prove that the institutions and practice of liberal democracy were the guarantors of evolutionary progress. "In every particular state in the world," Bagehot wrote in Physics and Politics (1872), "those nations which are the strongest tend to prevail over the others; and in certain marked peculiarities the strongest tend to be the best."

In 1886 the Russian sociologist Jacques Novikov defined the foreign policy of a state as the art of pursuing the struggle for existence among social organisms. Competition with other European states urged the securing of colonies to guarantee the raw material, land, and potential markets against their rivals. Theodore Roosevelt's (1858–1919) The Strenuous Life (1900) warned against the possibility of elimination in an inter-national struggle for existence. America, he said, could not shrink from hard contests for empire or else the bolder and stronger would pass them by and gain domination of the world. Successful imperial ventures thus were perceived to indicate the vitality, and hence fitness, of a nation.

Roosevelt's ideas echoed the sentiment of the so-called Doctrine of World Empires, which maintained that great nations possessed empires. Not possessing an empire, or losing an existing one, would be a sign of being a third-rate, or declining, power. In 1877 French publicist Pierre Raboisson declared, "The grandeur of empires always reaches its apogee when colonial expansion has reached its maximum, and their decadence always coincides with their loss of colonies" (Baumgart 1982, p. 70).

Similarly, Britain's Herbert Asquith (1852–1928) interpreted European expansion as normal, necessary, and a sign of vitality in a growing nation. As they had been for mercantile nations until the eighteenth century, possessing colonies was a sign of national strength and an asset in the constant state of conflict among European nations. Yet even within a biologistic framework, the growth and consolidation of empires did not always tend toward war, but also could be the harbinger of peace. In 1898, dividing the world between living and dying nations, Lord Salisbury (1830–1903) argued, "The living nations will eventually encroach on the territory of the dying, and the seeds and causes of conflict amongst civilized nations will speedily disappear" (Baumgart 1982, p. 72). In this way, biologistic conceptions of international relations made the acquisition of colonies imperative.

This essay has discussed European justifications for empire that persisted during its more than 500 years of world domination. The main justifications were evangelization, pursuit of the civilizing mission, racial superiority, trusteeship and development, and internal demographic and economic pressures. Yet while legions of the West's leading political thinkers collaborated in legitimizing empire, many others lent their intellectual prowess to debunking such justifications. Sometimes unfavorable attitudes toward empire arose from their lack of profitability rather than moral censure. The utility of colonies, or plantations, was among the most contentious and least resolved issues debated by seventeenth-century English economic writers.

Roger Coke derogated their value, asserting: "Ireland and our plantations rob us of all the growing youth and industry of the nation, whereby it becomes weak and feeble, and the strength as well as trade becomes decayed and diminished" (Paquette 2004, p. 77). William Petty (1623–1687) lamented on the treasury-draining impact of providing imperial defense for small, divided, and remote governments that are seldom able to defend themselves. He argued that defending these nations was too much of a financial burden and ultimately diminished national strength.

By the mid-eighteenth century, however, Denis Diderot (1713–1784), Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), and J. G. Herder (1744–1803) all opposed imperial rule over non-European people on ethical rather than economic grounds. The views of these Enlightenment, anti-imperialist thinkers on issues of human nature, cultural diversity, and cross-cultural moral judgments served to undermine justifications for European overseas expansion. They rejected imperialism outright as unworkable, dangerous, or even immoral.

Diderot and his collaborator Abbé Raynal (1713–1796), for example, rejected imperialism not only because of its unhappy consequences for subjugated non-Europeans, but for its adverse impact on Europeans as well, whose prospects for peace, economic stability, and freedom were diminished by the quest for, and maintenance of, empire. Furthermore, Herder, Kant, and Diderot, as scholar Sankar Muthu has recently shown, shared a commitment to human dignity, rooted in the humanity of each individual. These authors presaged the attacks on empire that intellectuals, most notably Marxists, pursued in the twentieth.

see also Christianity and Colonial Expansion in the Americas; Imperialism, Liberal Theories of; Imperialism, Marxist Theories of; Mission, Civilizing; Race and Colonialism in the Americas; Religion, Roman Catholic Church.


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