426. Influence (IX)
Imperialism is bad and colonialism is good, but this is sometimes obscured because the terms are used interchangeably. Colonialism is when you send out surplus population—possibly under a spare elite son—to settle new territory under the laws of the motherland. Imperialism is when you conquer new territory and rule it without any intention to settle. Colonialism is good because it is responsible: the pioneers set up a new settlement, usually under autonomous government, and take responsibility for the land they settle. Imperialism is bad because it is irresponsible; it usually involves the state conquering territory and then sending over a skeleton crew of bureaucrats to administer it—the state is always irresponsible, except in war, and the bureaucratic state is completely irresponsible.
Right-wing people sometimes fall for imperialism because it seems to aggrandise their nation or race—yet imperialism ultimately destroys the nation or race that institutes it; properly, imperialism is decadent colonialism—reverse colonialism. This happens because the imperial elites eventually decide to use their imperial subjects—who have become asset counters in bureaucratic status wars—as weapons against each other. This is especially true if the empire is democratic, for a democracy is a frozen civil war; each faction will seek to import new voting fodder for the frozen civil war. Hence, eventually, the empire destroys its own foundation stock because it imports the imperial subjects as demographic weapons for the imperial elites. This is irresponsible, but the empire itself is irresponsible in nature.
This happened in Rome and it has happened in Britain. The British Empire turned into a black hole that sucked her imperial subjects into the centre so that they will eventually outnumber the founding stock. The same process is underway in America; the Democrats keep the southern border open because it provides new voters and new clients for the American welfare state—new footsoldiers to use against the founding stock, against other elites. Australian and American pioneers never flocked back to Britain because they were colonists; they settled under their own responsibility and had no desire to return.
For a while Britain’s colonial enterprises were run on free-market and pioneer lines—as in the case of the East India Company, one of the world’s most successful joint-stock companies. The state—jealous as ever—claimed “abuses” and nationalised the colonial enterprise; the British Empire at her height was largely leftist: by the mid-19th century it had turned into a bureaucratic boondoggle that aimed to teach the Indians utilitarianism and Christianity—nothing to do with an honest and responsible profit. It cost Britain money to sustain, just like our foreign aid budget and NGOs today—the true successors to the empire. Liberalism and empire go together, liberals think everyone is the same everywhere and can be made into an imperial subject—improved and progressed. Colonialists think you can only transplant discrete populations that will always be a people apart from the natives.
Colonists often find themselves in exterminatory wars with the natives—a normal event in human history—but these are responsible actions, usually waged in self-defence. Empires, by contrast, know no bounds in their desire to conquer; every new population subdued is a new prize for irresponsible bureaucrats. Hence the now imperial America operates on the policy: bomb the world, invite the world—everyone is the same (a rational agent), everyone can be invaded and then invited back to the imperial centre to wage the democratic war.
The founding stock, being more responsible, becomes the enemy of the irresponsible bureaucratic empire. Similarly, in Britain’s colonial history, Rhodesia—a colony—was attacked by the empire when it refused to turn its responsibly gained property over to the Africans; over to Africans trained, in institutions like the LSE, by the imperial-bureaucratic elite. In the future, we may see space colonies—and that would be a fine thing; space empires will come later, when there are colonies that avaricious bureaucracies wish to seize. In short, empires are bad but colonies are good.