Chris Grant, a participant on a sister list of Zion-L's, posted a
question he asked of Christopher Hichens who is what I think you might
call in the US a "good liberal" if that isn't oxymoronic. I've long been
a fan of his, and I think Christ liked Hichens' latest book, "Why Orwell
Matters." But it was another question and answer that caught my eye
here (although I liked the one Chris posted, too, and Hichens gave him a
The person who asked this question is, imho and put as tactfully as I
can, dumber 'n a brick. But judge for yourselves:
TWO CHEERS FOR COLONIALISM:
Christopher Hitchens has written approvingly of Orwell's courage in
fighting the great evils of the twentieth century, which included
Stalinism, Hitlerism, and British colonialism. But aren't there some
kind words to be said for colonialism? Didn't colonialism, in the end,
liberate, educate, and "bring into the twentieth century" many of the
countries it visited? In India, before colonialism, suttee was
practiced. Came and went the British, and now there is parliamentary
democracy. A halfway decent result, wouldn't you say, even while
keeping in mind the moral cost? Or is my moral calculus way off?
The talk at NYU wasn't good, it was great.
Dear Two Cheers,
Marx was a great defender of British colonialism as a dynamic force that
broke open feudal and despotic societies, but he didn't confuse this
with the actual motives of the colonialists, which were greed and
conquest and exploitation. (Even Edmund Burke conceded that much, in his
great indictment of Warren Hastings.) Orwell and Kipling* both served
the empire in its moribund days, when "divide and rule" had negated the
promise of civil society, and when the occupiers had become racist and
proselytising, and when the "native" peoples had outgrown tutelage. They
can both be read as exemplifying this great contradiction, which I agree
is one of the most fertile subjects of literary and critical study.
Orwell's essay on Kipling is one of the best points of entry into this
argument, as is Salman Rushdie's essay on the special place of the
English language in forming what is now a triumphant sub-continental
literature. I even have a chapter on all this in my own book, available
at fine stores everywhere...
*Kipling has what I think is an unfair reputation for defending British
imperialism, but iirc he's also the one who termed the coin "jingoistic"
to refer to the "for king and country" mad dogs and Englishmen who
stayed out in noon-day sun too much.
Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland
Guns donít kill people; people with guns kill people
Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the
author solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the
authorís employer, nor those of any organization with which the author
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