J. S. Mill's Anti-Imperialist Defence of Empire

Utilitas 34 (3):242-261 (2022)
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It is possible to distinguish between empire, as a form of political order, and imperialism, as a process of aggressive expansion. Mill's liberalism allows for a legitimate empire, in which a civilized state rules a less civilized foreign people paternalistically to prepare them for liberal democratic self-rule. However, it rejects paternalistic imperialism, in the sense of aggression designed to establish such an empire. Apparent textual evidence to the contrary really demonstrates Mill's commitment to three distinct theses: that imperialism may benefit those subject to it, and this can mitigate its evil; that it is easier to justify non-aggressive, empire-creating wars of conquest in response to aggression by barbarian powers; and finally, that civilized states are justified in engaging distant uncivilized peoples non-aggressively, even though the latter's aggressive tendencies mean that such engagement renders empire-justifying wars more likely.



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Multicultural Citizenship: a Liberal Theory of Minority Rights.Will Kymlicka - 1995 - Philosophical Quarterly 47 (187):250-253.
A Turn to Empire.Jennifer Pitts - 2007 - Ethics and International Affairs 21 (2).
John Stuart Mill and the practice of colonial rule in India.David Williams - 2021 - Journal of International Political Theory 17 (3):412-428.

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