By Jennifer Pitts
A dramatic shift in British and French rules approximately empire spread out within the sixty years straddling the flip of the 19th century. As Jennifer Pitts exhibits in A flip to Empire, Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and Jeremy Bentham have been between many at first of this era to criticize ecu empires as unjust in addition to politically and economically disastrous for the conquering countries. by means of the mid-nineteenth century, despite the fact that, the main favourite British and French liberal thinkers, together with John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, vigorously supported the conquest of non-European peoples. Pitts explains that this mirrored an increase in civilizational self-confidence, as theories of human growth grew to become extra triumphalist, much less nuanced, and no more tolerant of cultural distinction. whilst, imperial growth out of the country got here to be visible as a political undertaking that may help the emergence of solid liberal democracies inside Europe. Pitts exhibits that liberal thinkers frequently celebrated for respecting not just human equality and liberty but in addition pluralism supported an inegalitarian and decidedly nonhumanitarian overseas politics. but such moments symbolize no longer an important function of liberal proposal yet a impressive departure from perspectives shared by means of accurately these late-eighteenth-century thinkers whom Mill and Tocqueville observed as their forebears. Fluently written, A flip to Empire deals a unique overview of recent political concept and foreign justice, and an illuminating viewpoint on carrying on with debates over empire, intervention, and liberal political commitments.
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Additional info for A Turn to Empire: The Rise of Imperial Liberalism in Britain and France
Civil servants trained at Haileybury College in administration and Indian languages, and regarded as impartial professionals, were replacing the rapacious “boys” Burke had disparaged as partly responsible for the violence and disorder of the Company in India. 37 Thus, while Burke could insist on “the Evils which arose from a System of sacriﬁcing the Being of that Country [India] to the Advantage of this,”38 nineteenthcentury European observers were not prepared to believe that the colonial system either intended to or actually did sacriﬁce Indian interests to British.
Such developments thus could not be attributed to superior European understanding, for instance to a triumph over superstition or an emerging consciousness of human equality. This account suggests that Europeans could not derive moral authority from such developments, that they could not point to them as evidence that they alone had perceived certain moral and political truths while other societies remained mired in ignorance or error. For Smith, development through the four stages is at once a natural process and one pervaded with contingency and the unpredicted consequences of myriad individual actions.
92–93) The manners and customs characteristic of hunting society arise from natural and reasonable human responses to circumstance; given different experiences, savages would judge and behave like others. Smith maintains that members of societies of all stages of development make moral judgments by the same process. 105]) Smith questioned the inevitability of the superiority of civilized values not because he feared, as Adam Ferguson did, that civilized society produced a weakening of the individual, a loss of primitive virtues of courage or self-reliance, leaving its members effeminate, enervated, and dependent.