Blogs > Liberty and Power > Imperialists and Anti-Imperialists in History

May 10, 2006 2:57 am

Imperialists and Anti-Imperialists in History

Geoffrey Wheatcroft reminds his readers that many progressives and leftists, including Karl Marx, have long supported imperialism.

And just as the left was split, so were (and are) classical liberals. Consider, for example, Alexis de Tocqueville who supported French colonization of Algeria. For more see Jennifer Pitts' edition of Tocqueville's writings on empire and slavery.

For Enlightenment thinkers against empire, see Sankar Muthu's Enlightenment Against Empire that describes the anti-imperialist political philosophies of an age often regarded as affirming imperial ambitions. Muthu discusses at length the anti-imperialism of Denis Diderot, Immanuel Kant, and Johann Gottfried Herder.

Footnote: Muthu and Pitts are husband and wife. Both teach in the Politics Department at Princeton University.

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Kenneth R. Gregg - 5/10/2006

I've read the Pitts and the Muthu works and they are both quite good, the first one for clarifying de Toqueville's general support of imperialism and for Muthu's excellent material on Diderot. "Enlightenment Against Empire" is one that is on my "top ten" list for the best works on anti-imperialist thinking. I recommend both.

Best to all of you!
Just Ken