The Racist Hegemonic Patriarchal Oppressor’s Burden

In a comment on a recent Belmont Club post, Jakita said:

     OK, I’m going to express a verboten idea—but what the heck, I’m anonymous.
Today should be the beginning of the Age of the New Imperialism—or maybe, to be au courant—the Neo-Imperialist Era.
Why do we have to take all kinds of crap from people from non-Western cultures (referring to Judeo-Christian cultures, not whether they are geographically in the “West.”
It’s time to stand up and say to those who have barbaric values, “Stop what you’re doing. Or, we’ll make you stop.”
I guess I’m a little annoyed at the jihadist atrocity in London. People should defend civilization, and not be so tolerant of barbaric customs.

Rudyard KiplingThis trepidation with which Jakita voices these opinions is nearly universal within the literate classes of the English-speaking West. For decades such thoughts have been almost unthinkable; the mind simply turns away from anything that is so evidently doubleplus ungood.

And so down the memory hole has gone the great poet of British imperialism, the bard of jingoism, the minstrel of European supremacy. I refer, of course, to Rudyard Kipling. Of all his politically incorrect poems, none violates more of the Ten Commandments of Multiculturalism than this one:

     The White Man’s Burden
Take up the White Man’s burden—
      Send forth the best ye breed—
Go, bind your sons to exile
      To serve your captive’s need;
To wait, in heavy harness,
      On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
      Half devil and half child.
Take up the White Man’s burden—
      In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
      And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
      An hundred times made plain,
To seek another’s profit
      And work another’s gain.
Take up the White Man’s burden—
      The savage wars of peace—
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 hopes to nought.
Take up the White Man’s burden—
      No iron rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper—
      The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
      The roads ye shall not tread,
Go, make them with your living
      And mark them with your dead.
Take up the White Man’s burden,
      And reap his old reward—
The blame of those ye better
      The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of those ye humor
      (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
      Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the White Man’s burden—
      Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom
      To cloak your weariness.
By all ye will or whisper,
      By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
      Shall weigh your God and you.
Take up the White Man’s burden!
      Have done with childish days—
The lightly-proffered laurel,
      The easy ungrudged praise:
Comes now, to search your manhood
      Through all the thankless years,
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
      The judgment of your peers.

If one moves past the conditioned response to Kipling’s politically incorrect tropes, this poem seems strangely apropos to our time. Replace “White Man” with “Anglosphere” or “America”, and it is not 1899; it is 2005, and the poem is our poem.

Examine some of the poem’s components. For example, Send forth the best ye breed: Anyone who has followed accounts of the Special Forces teams in Afghanistan or the Marines in Fallujah knows that there has never been a finer military than the one presently engaged in resisting the Great Jihad.

To veil the threat of terror/And check the show of pride: Coalition soldiers who helped pull down the statues of Saddam and now guard the thoroughfares of Iraq have done just that: the threat of Saddam’s terror is gone.

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 hopes to nought. Kipling might have been describing last year’s Christmas tsunami. Remember how American and Australian ingenuity expedited the delivery of resources and aid to the ravaged areas of the South Asian archipelago? Now, seven months later, much of the aid rots on docks and in warehouses. Such is the bureaucratic incompetence and corruption of “heathen folly”.

The ports ye shall not enter,/The roads ye shall not tread, /Go, make them with your living/And mark them with your dead. Our soldiers build schools, hospitals, power stations, and sewer lines; they encounter IEDs and their flag-draped coffins arrive at Dover AFB. Americans know well what Kipling has described.

And too well do we know this one: Take up the White Man’s burden,/And reap his old reward—/The blame of those ye better/The hate of those ye guard. The blame was going on for a long time before September 11, 2001, resounds now, and will continue indefinitely into the future. For forty years the United States stood guard over the democratic states of Western Europe, protecting them from a tyranny that would have enslaved them and sent their free-thinking literati off to rot in the camps. For that we have reaped the reward of an anti-Amercanism so virulent that it consumes the hearts of those who harbor such envious hatred for their liberators.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

Yes, the British were brutal in maintaining subjugation in their colonies. But compared to the other powers of the period — the French, the Germans, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Russians, the Chinese, or the Turks — the British exercised restraint and humane governance. As a counterexample, consider the Belgian Congo: to be forced to labor in the mines there was a virtual death sentence. It is estimated that more than fifty percent of the colony’s native laborers died in the service of King Leopold in what was effectively a gigantic slave-labor camp.

When the time came for reform, when conscience asserted itself and insisted on the end of the slave trade, it was progressives within Britain who spearheaded the movement. No more enlightened social force existed than that of the literate classes of Great Britain. And, to twist the knife in the wound of modern politically correct sensibility, that force was driven by fervent Christian principle. It was the Christian evangelists who created what are now the universally accepted principles of human rights.

But we are in many ways different from our 19th century forebears. In Kipling’s time virtually everyone was what we would now call a “racist”. It was assumed that non-physical differences between the races — differences of intelligence, skill, emotional predisposition, creative ability, and technical inclination — were inherent. Thus the superiority of some races over others was unquestioned; the only dispute was which race rightfully deserved to be King of the Hill.

Victoria was the Queen of the 19th century, and the British Empire was the force of cultural and technological enlightenment spreading the benefits of Anglo-Saxon superiority to heathen peoples throughout the world. The duty of the Englishman in the colonies was to uplift the savage and civilize him to the extent that his race made possible. This attitude was typical of the times and no group was exempt from it.

The British Empire, like those of the other European colonial states, was commercial in nature. The genius of British commercial and imperial success lay in laissez-faire economics, enforcement of the rule of law, a small, decentralized administrative structure, and a relatively mild authoritarian rule. The British encouraged free trade, trained local magistrates and jurists, created a native civil service (this was particularly notable in India), and raised local governing bodies via a native franchise.

It was the commercial success of the Empire, along with the supremacy of the Royal Navy, that made the British pre-eminent in the 19th century. Economists have demonstrated that the Empire, like all the colonial empires, was not in fact cost-effective, that its costs exceeded its benefits. But economic growth and the success of the British masked that important fact until two world wars and the destruction of much of the Empire’s merchant shipping had made it inescapable.

So here we are, a century later, with the American Imperium standing in for the British. America’s empire, like the British, is also commercial in nature. But the difference is that it is even more decentralized — America demands neither full political control nor territory, merely that the “colonies” play by the rules of law, engage in open and peaceful commerce, and avoid threatening the United States’ vested interests.

The Great Islamic Jihad does not meet any of these criteria. Thus we Americans man the same ramparts across the world that our British predecessors did, leaving our blood and treasure in the same mosquito-infested foreign dungheaps as did our English forebears so long ago.

Today major areas of the world enjoy unprecedented peace and prosperity, the rule of law, full democratic participation, and the right of all citizens to pursue their own fulfillment. The question remains: why are these also the places which use English as a common tongue?

The burden is no longer that of a “white man”, as the work of Condoleezza Rice so eloquently attests. And those who carry it can no longer rely on the The judgment of [their] peers. Thanks to a century of Socialism and enlightened thought, the judgment of our peers has turned against us. We shall have to learn to get along without it.


Update: An enterprising Italian blogger has translated the poem into la lingua di amore here.

7 thoughts on “The Racist Hegemonic Patriarchal Oppressor’s Burden

  1. Another poem by Rudyard Kipling I find amazingly pertinent:


    It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
    To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
    “We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
    Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

    And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
    And the people who ask it explain
    That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
    And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

    It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
    To puff and look important and to say: —
    “Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
    We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

    And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
    But we’ve proved it again and again,
    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
    You never get rid of the Dane.

    It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
    For fear they should succumb and go astray;
    So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
    You will find it better policy to say: —

    “We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
    No matter how trifling the cost;
    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
    And the nation that pays it is lost!”

    – – –

    Should be required reading in Spain and by all western liberals who thinks it’s a swell idea to negotiate with the terrorists or give them some of what they want.

  2. Well, certain parts of US culture seem to value a sort of no-nonsense (my favourite: I’m from Chicago) Spartan’ess, so you might want to keep your pastiche to the American: “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute” and call it a day.

    Also I have but to look in the mirror to see at what price the English and Irish ultimately had to pay for their dane-geld – the price rose year for year, eventually the Vikings stayed for good. It was custom for the Vikings settling The Faeroes and Iceland to swing by Ireland or the Dane Law England to stock up on slave girls. More than 60% of the original female settlers were English/Irish slave girls. I’ve got a reddish hair/beard. I know wherefrom.

  3. Baron Bodissey,

    Have you ever wonder why from British colony of India came Gandhi who used non-violence to achieve independence and finally a democratic India; but from the French colony of Indo-China came Ho Chi Minh who waged two bloody wars and found a Communist dictatorship.

  4. Minh-Duc — and look at India now, the most multiethnic functioning democracy in the world. The Indians may not love the British, but their current political success owes a lot to their former overlords.

    Then again, though, look at Myanmar (Burma)…

  5. ‘As a counterexample, consider the Belgian Congo: to be forced to labor in the mines there was a virtual death sentence. It is estimated that more than fifty percent of the colony’s native laborers died in the service of King Leopold in what was effectively a gigantic slave-labor camp.’

    Belgian Congo was not a slave labor camp. It was a patriarchal rather benevolent bureaucratic and autocratic colony within which some open-air copper mines were run on normal capitalist industrial practices, which required healthy, well-fed laborers. There were plantations (cotton, coffee, palm oil…) of some importance, mainly run by specialized companies. Settling by Belgians was actively discouraged by the colonial authority. Missionary work was allowed. Nevertheless at the independence (1960) Belgian Congo had the best health system, the highest level of literacy of the region. There were no famines, there was an excellent road system… The Congolese consider to-day this period to be the past ‘Golden Age’. They actually call the Belgians now ‘Tontons’ or uncles, which in the Bantu tradition is a sign of great honor as it designates the most important member of the clan or family.

    There was however a less civilized prologue to the Belgian Congo and that was the Congo Free-State (+/- 1885 – 1908). The advent of the bicycle with pneumatic tires (Dunlop) in Europe and the US created an enormous demand for latex. It created a huge boom in rubber hunting. The first country to be affected was Brazil, where as in goldrushes boomtowns sprang up everywhere along the Amazone e.g. Manaos. The demand was so huge that all latex producing wild plants could be harvested profitably. In the extremely poorly populated central Congo river basin (1/6 of the country’s surface area) some lianes in the very dense jungle produced latex. These became the object of active state enforced hunting. This forced labor resulted in many atrocities and casualties. Luckily the missionary societies knew how to warn the public in Europe (Morel, Conan-Doyle…) and in the US (Mark Twain…) and managed finally to change the rubber gathering policy of the Congo Free State.

    From 1900 onwards hevea trees were planted on plantations in South-East Asia and by 1910 almost 90% of the natural rubber was produced over there. The wild rubber from both Brazil and the Congo was in no position to compete.

    Do not believe the trendy 1970’s black ‘victimization’ stories propagated by Adam Hochchild with its ludicrous claims of 10 or 20 millions dead. The best estimates of the population of the whole of Congo at that time was 3 million. and rubber region was only a small part of the country.

    The post independence tragedy of the Congo and of most Sub-Saharan Africa stems from the statist policies, copied from the previous colonial administrations, and of course also from the bad governance by the African leaders.

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