Imperialism Quotes


You cannot continue to victimize someone else just because you yourself were a victim once—there has to be a limit

Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate."
(
Los Angeles Times
, July 20, 2003)

Emotional neglect lays the groundwork for the emotional numbing that helps boys feel better about being cut off. Eruptions of rage in boys are most often deemed normal, explained by the age-old justification for adolescent patriarchal misbehavior, "Boys will be boys." Patriarchy both creates the rage in boys and then contains it for later use, making it a resource to exploit later on as boys become men. As a national product, this rage can be garnered to further imperialism, hatred and oppression of women and men globally. This rage is needed if boys are to become men willing to travel around the world to fight wars without ever demanding that other ways of solving conflict can be found.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

No one today is purely one thing. Labels like Indian, or woman, or Muslim, or American are not more than starting-points, which if followed into actual experience for only a moment are quickly left behind. Imperialism consolidated the mixture of cultures and identities on a global scale. But its worst and most paradoxical gift was to allow people to believe that they were only, mainly, exclusively, white, or Black, or Western, or Oriental. Yet just as human beings make their own history, they also make their cultures and ethnic identities. No one can deny the persisting continuities of long traditions, sustained habitations, national languages, and cultural geographies, but there seems no reason except fear and prejudice to keep insisting on their separation and distinctiveness, as if that was all human life was about. Survival in fact is about the connections between things; in Eliot’s phrase, reality cannot be deprived of the other echoes [that] inhabit the garden. It is more rewarding - and more difficult - to think concretely and sympathetically, contrapuntally, about others than only about us. But this also means not trying to rule others, not trying to classify them or put them in hierarchies, above all, not constantly reiterating how our culture or country is number one (or not number one, for that matter).

We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.

Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.

The darkest secret of this country, I am afraid, is that too many of its citizens imagine that they belong to a much higher civilization somewhere else. That higher civilization doesn’t have to be another country. It can be the past instead—the United States as it was before it was spoiled by immigrants and the enfranchisement of the blacks.
This state of mind allows too many of us to lie and cheat and steal from the rest of us, to sell us junk and addictive poisons and corrupting entertainments. What are the rest of us, after all, but sub-human aborigines?

Bluebeard

Kurt Vonnegut

Bluebeard

We first crush people to the earth, and then claim the right of trampling on them forever, because they are prostrate.

I hate imperialism. I detest colonialism. And I fear the consequences of their last bitter struggle for life. We are determined, that our nation, and the world as a whole, shall not be the play thing of one small corner of the world

Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.

What is history? Any thoughts, Webster?'

'History is the lies of the victors,' I replied, a little too quickly.

'Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated. ...

'Finn?'

'"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation." (quoting Patrick Lagrange)

What is history? Any thoughts, Webster?'
'History is the lies of the victors,' I replied, a little too quickly.
'Yes, I was rather afraid you'd say that. Well, as long as you remember that it is also the self-delusions of the defeated. ...
'Finn?'
'"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation." (quoting Patrick Lagrange)

What do nations care about the cost of war, if by spending a few hundred millions in steel and gunpowder they can gain a thousand millions in diamonds and cocoa?

They make a desolation and call it peace.

Israel's demonstration of its military prowess in 1967 confirmed its status as a 'strategic asset,' as did its moves to prevent Syrian intervention in Jordan in 1970 in support of the PLO. Under the Nixon doctrine, Israel and Iran were to be 'the guardians of the Gulf,' and after the fall of the Shah, Israel's perceived role was enhanced. Meanwhile, Israel has provided subsidiary services elsewhere, including Latin America, where direct US support for the most murderous regimes has been impeded by Congress. While there has been internal debate and some fluctuation in US policy, much exaggerated in discussion here, it has been generally true that US support for Israel's militarization and expansion reflected the estimate of its power in the region.
The effect has been to turn Israel into a militarized state completely dependent on US aid, willing to undertake tasks that few can endure, such as participation in Guatemalan genocide. For Israel, this is a moral disaster and will eventually become a physical disaster as well. For the Palestinians and many others, it has been a catastrophe, as it may sooner or later be for the entire world, with the growing danger of superpower confrontation.

The two main criminals are France and the United States. They owe Haiti enormous reparations because of actions going back hundreds of years. If we could ever get to the stage where somebody could say, 'We're sorry we did it,' that would be nice. But if that just assuages guilt, it's just another crime. To become minimally civilized, we would have to say, 'We carried out and benefited from vicious crimes. A large part of the wealth of France comes from the crimes we committed against Haiti, and the United States gained as well. Therefore we are going to pay reparations to the Haitian people.' Then you will see the beginnings of civilization.

America... goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

When the white man turns tyrant, it is his own freedom that he destroys.

Official Washington cannot tell the American people that the real purpose of its gargantuan military expenditures and belligerent interventions is to make the world safe for General Motors, General Electric, General Dynamics, and all the other generals.

Islamic killers are over here because we are over there.

Hitherto, the Palestinians had been relatively immune to this
Allahu Akhbar
style. I thought this was a hugely retrograde development. I said as much to Edward. To reprint Nazi propaganda and to make a theocratic claim to Spanish soil was to be a protofascist and a supporter of 'Caliphate' imperialism: it had nothing at all to do with the mistreatment of the Palestinians. Once again, he did not exactly disagree. But he was anxious to emphasize that the Israelis had often encouraged Hamas as a foil against Fatah and the PLO. This I had known since seeing the burning out of leftist Palestinians by Muslim mobs in Gaza as early as 1981. Yet once again, it seemed Edward could only condemn Islamism if it could somehow be blamed on either Israel or the United States or the West, and not as a thing in itself. He sometimes employed the same sort of knight's move when discussing other Arabist movements, excoriating Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party, for example, mainly because it had once enjoyed the support of the CIA. But when Saddam was really being attacked, as in the case of his use of chemical weapons on noncombatants at Halabja, Edward gave second-hand currency to the falsified story that it had 'really' been the Iranians who had done it. If that didn't work, well, hadn't the United States sold Saddam the weaponry in the first place? Finally, and always—and this question wasn't automatically discredited by being a change of subject—what about Israel's unwanted and ugly rule over more and more millions of non-Jews?
I evolved a test for this mentality, which I applied to more people than Edward. What would, or did, the relevant person say when the United States intervened to stop the massacres and dispossessions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo? Here were two majority-Muslim territories and populations being vilely mistreated by Orthodox and Catholic Christians. There was no oil in the region. The state interests of Israel were not involved (indeed, Ariel Sharon publicly opposed the return of the Kosovar refugees to their homes on the grounds that it set an alarming—I want to say 'unsettling'—precedent). The usual national-security 'hawks,' like Henry Kissinger, were also strongly opposed to the mission. One evening at Edward's apartment, with the other guest being the mercurial, courageous Azmi Bishara, then one of the more distinguished Arab members of the Israeli parliament, I was finally able to leave the arguing to someone else. Bishara [...] was quite shocked that Edward would not lend public support to Clinton for finally doing the right thing in the Balkans. Why was he being so stubborn? I had begun by then—belatedly you may say—to guess. Rather like our then-friend Noam Chomsky, Edward in the final instance believed that if the United States was doing something, then that thing could not
by definition
be a moral or ethical action.

If a man is convinced that he is safe only as long as he uses his power to give others a sense of insecurity, then the measure of their security is in his hands. If security or insecurity is at the mercy of a single individual or group, then control of behavior becomes routine. All imperialism functions in this way.

We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)

Never before in history has such a sweeping fervor for freedom expressed itself in great mass movements which are driving down the bastions of empire. This wind of change blowing through Africa, as I have said before, is no ordinary wind. It is a raging hurricane against which the old order cannot stand [...] The great millions of Africa, and of Asia, have grown impatient of being hewers of wood and drawers of water, and are rebelling against the false belief that providence created some to be menials of others. Hence the twentieth century has become the century of colonial emancipation, the century of continuing revolution which must finally witness the total liberation of Africa from colonial rule and imperialist exploitation.

Arabs and other Muslims generally agreed that Saddam Hussein might be a bloody tyrant, but, paralleling FDR's thinking, "he is our bloody tyrant." In their view, the invasion was a family affair to be settled within the family and those who intervened in the name of some grand theory of international justice were doing so to protect their own selfish interests and to maintain Arab subordination to the west.

The concept of humanity is an especially useful ideological instrument of imperialist expansion, and in its ethical-humanitarian form it is a specific vehicle of economic imperialism. Here one is reminded of a somewhat modified expression of Proudhon’s: whoever invokes humanity wants to cheat. To confiscate the word humanity, to invoke and monopolize such a term probably has certain incalculable effects, such as denying the enemy the quality of being human and declaring him to be an outlaw of humanity; and a war can thereby be driven to the most extreme inhumanity.

Afghanistan—where empires go to die.

We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all sham. We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos....
We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don't want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. (1970 English translation)

Solaris

Stanisław Lem

Solaris

A dull, decent people, cherishing and fortifying their dullness behind a quarter of a million bayonets.

That’s what imperialism is all about, shoving your language, religion, culture, and race down others’ throats and telling them that they’re beneath you – and it’s not unique to the West either.

Robinson Crusoe, the first capitalist hero, is a self-made man who accepts objective reality and then fashions it to his needs through the work ethic, common sense, resilience, technology, and, if need be, racism and imperialism.

Eurocentrism is quite simply the colonizer's model of the world.

Als it is hard for America to fight wars in the name of freedom, if those people themselves choose for nonfreedom. Can America and England save India from communism, if they vote communist themselves.

Whoever tries to climb over our fence, we will try to climb over his house.

But suppose, for the sake of argument, free competition, without any sort of monopoly, would develop capitalism trade more rapidly. Is it not a fact that the more rapidly trade and capitalism develop, the greater is the concentration of production and capital which gives rise to monopoly?

[Bill] Clinton was a pretty good president for a Republican.

I resolutely refuse to believe that the state of Edward's health had anything to do with this, and I don't say this only because I was once later accused of attacking him 'on his deathbed.' He was entirely lucid to the end, and the positions he took were easily recognizable by me as extensions or outgrowths of views he had expressed (and also declined to express) in the past. Alas, it is true that he was closer to the end than anybody knew when the thirtieth anniversary reissue of his
Orientalism
was published, but his long-precarious condition would hardly argue for giving him a lenient review, let alone denying him one altogether, which would have been the only alternatives. In the introduction he wrote for the new edition, he generally declined the opportunity to answer his scholarly critics, and instead gave the recent American arrival in Baghdad as a grand example of 'Orientalism' in action. The looting and destruction of the exhibits in the Iraq National Museum had, he wrote, been a deliberate piece of United States vandalism, perpetrated in order to shear the Iraqi people of their cultural patrimony and demonstrate to them their new servitude. Even at a time when anything at all could be said and believed so long as it was sufficiently and hysterically anti-Bush, this could be described as exceptionally mendacious. So when the
Atlantic
invited me to review Edward's revised edition, I decided I'd suspect myself more if I declined than if I agreed, and I wrote what I felt I had to.
Not long afterward, an Iraqi comrade sent me without comment an article Edward had contributed to a magazine in London that was published by a princeling of the Saudi royal family. In it, Edward quoted some sentences about the Iraq war that he off-handedly described as 'racist.' The sentences in question had been written by me. I felt myself assailed by a reaction that was at once hot-eyed and frigidly cold. He had cited the words without naming their author, and this I briefly thought could be construed as a friendly hesitance. Or as cowardice... I can never quite act the stern role of Mr. Darcy with any conviction, but privately I sometimes resolve that that's 'it' as it were. I didn't say anything to Edward but then, I never said anything to him again, either. I believe that one or two charges simply must retain their face value and not become debauched or devalued. 'Racist' is one such. It is an accusation that must either be made good upon, or fully retracted. I would not have as a friend somebody whom I suspected of that prejudice, and I decided to presume that Edward was honest and serious enough to feel the same way. I feel misery stealing over me again as I set this down: I wrote the best tribute I could manage when he died not long afterward (and there was no strain in that, as I was relieved to find), but I didn't go to, and wasn't invited to, his funeral.

It is Toussaint's supreme merit that while he saw European civilisation as a valuable and necessary thing, and strove to lay its foundations among his people, he never had the illusion that it conferred any moral superiority. He knew French, British, and Spanish imperialists for the insatiable gangsters that they were, that there is no oath too sacred for them to break, no crime, deception, treachery, cruelty, destruction of human life and property which they would not commit against those who could not defend themselves.

I have come to the conclusion that imperialism and exploitation are forms of cannibalism and, in fact, are precisely those forms of cannibalism which are most diabolical or evil.

Conquest occurred through violence, and over-expolitation and oppression necessitate continued violence, so the army is present. There would be no contradiction in that, if terror reigned everywhere in the world, but the colonizer enjoys, in the mother country, democratic rights that the colonialist system refuses to the colonized native. In fact, the colonialist system favors population growth to reduce the cost of labor, and it forbids assimilation of the natives, whose numerical superiority, if they had voting rights, would shatter the system. Colonialism denies human rights to human beings whom it has subdued by violence, and keeps them by force in a state of misery and ignorance that Marx would rightly call a subhuman condition. Racism is ingrained in actions, institutions, and in the nature of the colonialist methods of production and exchange. Political and social regulations reinforce one another. Since the native is subhuman, the Declaration of Human Rights does not apply to him; inversely, since he has no rights, he is abandoned without protection to inhuman forces - brought in with the colonialist praxis, engendered every moment by the colonialist apparatus, and sustained by relations of production that define two sorts of individuals - one for whom privilege and humanity are one, who becomes a human being through exercising his rights; and the other, for whom a denial of rights sanctions misery, chronic hunger, ignorance, or, in general, 'subhumanity.

The Latin American cause is about all a social cause: the rebirth of Latin America must start with the overthrow of its masters, country by country. We are entering times of rebellion and change. There are those who believe that destiny rests on the knees of the gods; but the truth is that it confronts the conscience of man with a burning challenge.

As ever, the original inhabitants of Turtle Island are entirely overlooked. Mysteriously, the only time indigenous people are guaranteed a mainstream Amerikkan mention is on Thanksgiving.
Again, to contextualize, this would be be kinda like someone busting into your house and robbing you blind, then sending you postcards once a year to remind you how much they are enjoying all of your stuff, and getting annoyed with you if you don't respond with appreciation for their thoughtfulness.

The solutions put forth by imperialism are the quintessence of simplicity...When they speak of the problems of population and birth, they are in no way moved by concepts related to the interests of the family or of society...Just when science and technology are making incredible advances in all fields, they resort to technology to suppress revolutions and ask the help of science to prevent population growth. In short, the peoples are not to make revolutions, and women are not to give birth. This sums up the philosophy of imperialism.

Bolivians die with rotted lungs so that the world may consume cheap tin.

The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking
it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly
flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look
into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the
back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an
unselfish belief in the idea—something you can set up, and bow down
before, and offer a sacrifice to…

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness

Debating Imperialism is a bit like debating the pros and cons of rape. What can we say? That we really miss it?

The idea that we must choose between the method of "winning hearts and minds" and the method of shaping behavior presumes that we have the right to choose at all. This is to grant us a right that we would surely accord to no other power. Yet the overwhelming body of American scholarship accords us this right.

Based on the considerations of history, ancient history, and international axioms, the logic of following up a citizen with his shadow for the purpose of the demarcation of political frontiers of any state has been discounted for international conventions. For example the Arabs cannot ask Spain just because they were there some time in the past nor can they ask for any other area outside the frontiers of the Arab homeland

Arab    Arabism    Arabs    Axioms    Expansionalism    Imperialism    Spain

There were waves of genocide that overcame indigenous populations of Oceania and do we have a library of books or films to tell our story? No. We have tourist hula shows and commercials where the natives tend to tourists like indentured servants with plastic, lifeless smiles. It’s not such a charming picture, is it? The truth is ugly, but so is ignorance or denial of such atrocities and pain.

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