Monday, October 8, 2012

The Nightmare of Empire

So much horror... So much misery...
Over the gates of Auschwitz were the words “Work Makes You Free”. Over the gates of the Solovetsky camp in Lenin’s gulag: “Through Labour – Freedom!”. Over the gates of the Ngenya detention camp, run by the British in Kenya: “Labour and Freedom”. Dehumanisation appears to follow an almost inexorable course. 
Little distinguishes the British imperial project from any other. In all cases the purpose of empire was loot, land and labour. When people resisted (as some of the Kikuyu did during the Mau Mau rebellion), the response everywhere was the same: extreme and indiscriminate brutality, hidden from public view by distance and official lies.
The justification for these imperial horrors which occurred in the 1950s (Mitt & the Republican Party's Golden Years!) stretches back to the first years of the 19th century when British theorists developed a language of moral justification for genocide.
In common with most of the political class, W.Winwood Reade, Alfred Russell Wallace, Herbert Spencer, Frederick Farrar, Francis Galton, Benjamin Kidd, even Charles Darwin saw the extermination of dark-skinned people as an inevitable law of nature. Some of them argued that Europeans had a duty to speed it up: both to save the integrity of the species and to put the inferior “races” out of their misery.
In America, this terrible scourge has turned inward to the poor, the black and the undocumented immigrant.  We characterize them as the Other.  The brown people, the black people, the homeless and wretched people.  We treat them with the same callous, cavalier disregard our imperial forebears did.

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