Imperialism was often justified by the notion that the colonized peoples needed Western rule to uplift and enlighten them. Westerners like Kipling claimed it was whites’ duty, putting it in missionary or parental terms. Counter-arguments maintained that imperialism was little more than simply brutal conquest and exploitation, and that the imposition of Western culture on traditional civilization was hypocritical.
Critics also said Western cultures were themselves so rife with corruption and hypocrisy that they were not appropriate models for non-Western cultures to follow, and that imperialism amounted to little more than ill-disguised greed.
Colonized peoples were frequently brutalized by their new rulers, but mainly the imperialist rulers disrupted traditional cultures and societies, usurped control of local economics and institutions, kept the natives subordinated (and often ill-prepared for independence), and forced them to assimilate to foreign cultural norms, which sometimes meant that native troops would often fight their own peoples on behalf of the colonizers.
The colonized initially resisted violently (the Zulu and the Sudan are examples), but mainly they grudgingly adapted to foreign rule while also creating independence movements (such as India’s). Japan reacted to Western imperialism by imitating it and asserting an “Asia for Asians” philosophy, which gained credibility after Japan’s victory over Russia in 1905. It became an expansion-minded military power in eastern Asia, assuming control of Korea and eventually Manchuria.
While the Japanese borrowed Western technology and used it to become an expansionist power, India relied largely on peaceful resistance to assert their autonomy and frustrate the ruling British, who finally withdrew in 1947. China had never technically lost its independence, though the Europeans and Americans claimed spheres of influence and effectively dominated the nation. Successive movements fought to reassert Chinese control over their own land – first the failed Boxer Rebellion of 1900, then the Nationalist revolution in 1911, and finally the Communists, who assumed power in 1949.
Both nations aimed to liberate themselves from foreign influence, though in India’s case it was done without extensive violence, while China had to fight off foreign powers and overthrow rulers too susceptible to foreign influence. 4. Satire can disguise pointed criticism with humor, exaggerating one party’s words and by making ridiculous statements appear sincere. Showing the absurdity and excess of political positions directs savvy audiences to question the targeted party’s views.
However, satire is often too subtle for many audiences to really understand, or else it is too heavy-handed to be effective. Crosby’s satire of Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” uses the same rhythm and meter to attack the United States’ incursions into the Philippines, showing how a brutal, greedy, drunken, and hypocritical American culture is imposing itself on a victimized nation. It shows that Western culture was blind to its own flaws when judging other cultures, and that imperialist powers used flimsy reasoning to justify greed and brutality.