Friday, August 01, 2008

The moral case for imperialism

"So far as the underlying spirit of Imperialism is a frank acceptance of national duty exercised beyond the nation's political frontiers, so far as it is a claim that a righteous nation is by its nature restless to embark upon crusades of righteousness wherever the world appeals for help, the spirit of Imperialism cannot be condemned. Morality is universal ... I want to make it clear that however successful designing men may be in prostituting the high purposes of the nations to their own ends, or however imperfectly the nations themselves interpret their ideals in their political policies, the compulsion to expand and to assume world responsibility is worthy at its origin." (J Ramsay MacDonald, 'The Propaganda of Civilization', 1901, quoted in Bernard Porter, Critics of Empire, 1968, pp 185-6)