Tuesday, May 29, 2007


As an addendum to my Memorial Day post on the insiduous nature of assertions of any "divine mandate", and the dangers of Imperial hubris such always brings, it's worth reading Glenn Greenwald today as he debunks Tony Blair's neo-colonial blimpism. I'm entirely in agreement with Glenn's finding that Blair, Bush and the neo-war crowd are guilty of Blimpism - the crime of thinking they know better than the Poor Bloody Natives, who they will save from their own uncivilized selves.

Glenn writes that he wants to "leave aside for the moment the inflammatory question of whether it is valid to compare our invasion and four-year-and-counting occupation of Iraq and previous policies of British colonialism."

But let's not. Let us instead confront it head on. Glenn quotes extensively from a 1926 rant by British colonial administrator Lord Frederick Lugard. Here's the bit that seemed most resonant to me:
If there is unrest, and a desire for independence, as in India and Egypt, it is because we have taught the value of liberty and freedom, which for centuries these peoples had not known. Their very discontent is measure of their progress.

We hold these countries because it is the genius of our race to colonise, to trade, and to govern. The task in which England is engaged in the tropics--alike in Africa and in the East--has become Part Of her tradition, and she has ever given of her best in the cause of liberty and civilisation.

There will always be those who cry aloud that the task is being badly done, that it does not need doing, that we can get more profit by leaving others to do it, that it brings evil to subject races and breeds profiteers at home. These were not the principles which prompted our forefathers, and secured for us the place we hold in the world to-day in trust for those who shall come after us.
Yet for all its talk of divine mandates and Empires on which the sun would never set, that era of British colonialism is gone the way of Rome and Ozymandias.

Tell me how this substantially differs from the pronouncements of the neocons or other war-hawks from the extreme Right of American politics.

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