The Idea of Colonialism

The Idea of Colonialism

The Idea of Colonialism

The Idea of Colonialism

Excerpt

by Hans Kohn

The meaning and implications of the word "colonialism," and of the closely connected terms "empire" and "imperialism," have undergone a profound transformation in recent decades. Until the end of the nineteenth century the words "empire" and "imperialism" were generally used in a laudatory and not a pejorative sense. The Roman empire had been the model for Western political thought for over a thousand years. Americans at the end of the eighteenth century spoke proudly and hopefully of their "empire." The French revolutionaries proclaimed the "imperial" expansion of their leadership. Modern Western civilization was regarded as superior to other, comparatively stagnant civilizations, and to bring higher civilization to less developed countries was considered a praiseworthy enterprise, in spite . . .

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