Alibis of Empire: Henry Maine and the Ends of Liberal by Karuna Mantena

By Karuna Mantena

Alibis of Empire offers a unique account of the origins, substance, and afterlife of overdue imperial ideology. Karuna Mantena demanding situations the concept that Victorian empire was once basically legitimated via liberal notions of development and civilization. in truth, because the British Empire won its farthest achieve, its ideology used to be being dramatically reworked through a self-conscious rejection of the liberal version. The cave in of liberal imperialism enabled a brand new culturalism that under pressure the risks and problems of attempting to "civilize" local peoples. And, hand in hand with this shift in pondering used to be a shift in perform towards versions of oblique rule. As Mantena indicates, the paintings of Victorian criminal pupil Henry Maine was once on the middle of those momentous adjustments. Alibis of Empire examines how Maine's sociotheoretic version of "traditional" society laid the foundation for the culturalist common sense of past due empire. In charting the stream from liberal idealism, via culturalist rationalization, to retroactive alibi inside of nineteenth-century British imperial ideology, Alibis of Empire finds a impressive and pervasive dynamic of recent empire.

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57 The savage was pure ego, a selfish will that did not know how to calculate beyond immediate impulses. This portrait would reappear in later writings as one of the principle reasons for why barbarous societies fell outside the community of nations and the norms of international law. As Mill wrote, the rules of ordinary international morality imply reciprocity. But barbarians will not reciprocate. They cannot be depended on for observing any rules. 58 Thus a savage or barbarous society, unable to either suppress immediate instincts or conceptualize long-term interests, was fundamentally incapable of the organization and discipline necessary for the development of the division of labor, for commerce and manufacture, and for military achievement—in short, for civilization.

37 CRISIS OF LIBERAL IMPERIALISM 29 Grant’s and Mill’s critique of Jones and the sympathetic tendencies of Orientalist scholarship transformed the framework of debates on what constituted a just and morally defensible basis for rule. For both, the Orientalists had become enthralled by the follies and superstition of Brahminical science and religion, and thus rescinded the moral obligation to create a form of government that would work toward the improvement of the subject race. Together they outlined a moral justification for imperial rule based on the prerogative of a liberal project of transformation.

Burke was certainly mistaken to construe Hastings as a zealous innovator, bent on implementing English ideas and institutions with no regard to native customs and institutions. Hastings was a patron of Oriental learning, instrumental in the establishment of the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the attempted codification of Hindu and Muslim law for integration into Anglo-Indian legal administration. ” In countering the thesis of Oriental despotism, Burke articulated a reverent image of the ancient laws, customs, and institutions of India, an image that would stand in dramatic contrast to the nineteenth-century view of India’s downgraded civilizational status.

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