Justifications of Imperialism: A Look at texts by Rudyard Kipling, Cecil Rhodes, Karl Pearson, Joseph Chamberlain, and Friedrich Fabri. Are there arguments rational or irrational?

Essay by fadilsamahUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, October 2006

download word file, 4 pages 0.0

Downloaded 25 times

It is sometimes eerie to think that imperialism was not only glorified, but seen as a moral duty by European imperialists of the 19th century. Today, it would be highly unlikely to assume that the majority of the population would agree with the territorial exploitation of a foreign land for monetary gain. However, in those days, most authors did not claim that it was the resources they were after, but other things. Rudyard Kipling, Cecil Rhodes, Karl Pearson, Joseph Chamberlain, and Friedrich Fabri all acknowledged the idea of imperialism and gave different 'moral justifications' as to why it should continue.

Poet Rudyard Kipling glorified imperialism in his poem The white man's burden. In it, he offers a very Eurocentric view of the world. To him, those who are not fortunate enough to be what he calls "civilized" are half devil, half child. This would mean that he regards them as both evil and ignorant or naive.

The title itself represents Kipling's view of the situation. The burden represents the moral obligation to rule over the other nations whether they are willing or not and whether they appreciate it or not. He sees it as a selfless act by the imperialist country to help those who are uncultured. When he says: "Fill full the mouth of Famine/ And bid the sickness cease;/ And when your goal is nearest/ (The end for others sought)/ Watch sloth and heathen folly/ Bring all your hope to nought."¹ he is stating that no matter what progress or incredible medicine the white man brings to the rest of the world, they will never be thankful enough or productive enough themselves. It is as if they need the white man to survive. His last verse of the poem shows why Kipling thinks the white man...