Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: What Burden??

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Burden??

I hope I'm not taking the poem for face value but I interpret it to mean that the white man's job is to take over countries and make them better. Even though they do all of that work, the people in the imperialized nation are ungrateful and other nations are jealous and judgmental.
"Through all the thankless years
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!"
I feel as though, the burden is by choice. I don't see any nation begging to be seized. The white man is complaining about not being thanked but no one asked for their help and a lot of the time, they do more harm than good anyway. The reason they are helping these nations are for their own benefit. They wouldn't be sending their sons and the best of their people to fight for the good of others.


Blogger Chris J. Semelrath said...

While I'm not disagreeing with the post overall, there are some nations who do need, and who do ask for help, be it known publicly or not. One example is the capture of Hussein, and the reaction of the people in the streets, and the infamous statue being brought down.

2/20/2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger A. Mattson said...

This a very famous poem by on of the greatest British authors. A man who had direct experience with the costs of empire in India.

The poem is a warning to a young nation (us) about to embark on an Imperial adventure.

The reason we read this poem in this class is not to answer the question of whether colonized populations are grateful or ungrateful for the "civilization" brought to them by the Europeans.

The issue for us is to see how ideas about racial superiority are used to justify imperialism in the paternalistic European and American propaganda which attempted to legitimate the colonization of these countries by arguing that we were bringing these populations civilization, Christianity, Science, progress, etc.

Yes, Kipling says these populations will be ungrateful for these gifts and that there will be a cost in lives and gold for shouldering "White Man's Burden," --that's his warning.

What about the language and the imagery he uses? What does this say about the ideology and symbolism of Imperialism? Was this kind of racial paternalism palatable to the American public? Did it help to sell the war?

2/25/2007 7:17 PM  

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