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A Turn to Empire


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Abbreviations xiii Chapter 1: Introduction 1 Liberalism, Pluralism, and Empire 3 Scope and Summary 7 Historical Contexts 11 PART 1: CRITICS OF EMPIRE 23 Chapter 2: Adam Smith on Societal Development and Colonial Rule 25 The Causes and Complexity of Development in Smith's Thought 27 Progress, Rationality, and the Early Social Stages 34 Moral Progress and Commercial Society 41 Moral Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Judgments 43 Smith's Critique of Colonies 52 Chapter 3: Edmund Burke's Peculiar Universalism 59 The Exclusions of Empire 59 Systematic Oppression in India 63 Moral Imagination: Empire and Social Criticism 71 Geographical Morality and Burke's Universalism 77 The Politics of Exclusion in Ireland 85 Burke as a Theorist of Nationality 96 PART 2: UTILITARIANS AND THE TURN TO EMPIRE IN BRITAIN 101 Chapter 4: Jeremy Bentham: Legislator of the World? 103 Utilitarians and the British Empire 103 Bentham's Critique of Colonial Rule 107 A Rereading of Bentham's Work on India 115 Chapter 5: James and John Stuart Mill: The Development of Imperial Liberalism in Britain 123 James Mill: An Uneasy Alliance of Utilitarianism and Conjectural History 123 J.S. Mill: Character and the Revision of the Benthamite Tradition 133 Nationality and Progressive Despotism 138 Civilizing Backward Societies: India and Ireland 146 Colonial Reform and the Governor Eyre Episode 150 Conclusion 160 PART 3: LIBERALS AND THE TURN TO EMPIRE IN FRANCE 163 Chapter 6: The Liberal Volte-Face in France 165 Shifting Political Contexts: Britain, France, and Imperial Projects 165 Condorcet: Progress and the Roots of the Mission Civilisatrice 168 Constant and the Distrust of Empire 173 Desjobert and the Marginalization of Anti-imperialism 185 Tocqueville's Sociology of Democracy and the Question of European Expansion 189 Expansion and Exclusion in America 196 Chapter 7: Tocqueville and the Algeria Question 204 Tocqueville as an Architect of French Algeria 204 From Assimilation to Domination: Tocqueville's Early Colonial Vision 207 The British Empire as Rival and Model 219 Slavery in the French Empire 226 Universal Rights, Nation Building, and Progress 230 Chapter 8: Conclusion 240 Eighteenth-Century Criticism of Empire 242 Democracy and Liberal Anxieties in the Nineteenth Century 247 Late Liberal Misgivings about Imperial Injustice 254 Notes 259 Bibliography 343 Index 363

Promotional Information

Exhibiting depth of research, jargon-free prose, and intellectual acumen on every page, this book is a well-balanced, seamless whole that reveals the impact of empire on the genesis of modern liberalism. It is a work of first importance not only for political theorists but also for readers in philosophy, history, and literature. -- David Armitage, Harvard University, author of "The Ideological Origins of the British Empire" This rich and provocative book examines a subject of great current interest in fields from political theory to international relations to European history. It deserves and should receive a broad audience. The scholarship is both careful and persuasive, and Pitts has an appealing authorial voice. The passion to understand what makes a theorist reject or support foreign conquest drives her narrative and holds the reader's attention as the analysis unfolds. -- Cheryl Welch, Simmons College, author of "Liberty and Utility"

About the Author

Jennifer Pitts is Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University. She is the editor and translator of "Alexis de Tocqueville: Writings on Empire and Slavery".


Winner of the 2006 First Book Award, Foundations of Political Theory Section of the American Political Science Association One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2005 "Jennifer Pitts ... [shows] that support for imperialism is not inherent to liberalism by demonstrating that prominent 18th- and early-19th-century liberals in Britain and France were deeply critical of imperialism... The book is beautifully written, and the scholarship is outstanding."--Choice "Jennifer Pitts helps us to see early-nineteenth-century imperial discourse in a new light by showing more clearly what came before."--Michael Bentley, Victorian Studies "An impressive and even pathbreaking piece of work."--Theodore Koditschek, Journal of Modern History "This book is a brilliantly successful attempt to account for the apparent transition from the fierce, bitter assault on the idea of empire by the writers of the second half of the eighteenth the often self-congratulatory, high-minded endorsement of a new kind of imperial mission less than half a century later... Pitt's finest pages...are on Tocqueville and the Algerian question."--Anthony Pagden, Perspectives on Politics "This is an excellent book about late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century liberals and empire. Based on a wide range of material, which Pitts handles impressively, the book begins from a broad but workable definition of liberalism as involving a notion of individual rights and an attempt to widen social sympathies. Pitts deserves much credit for directing attention to liberalism's ability to negotiate difference in a context of empire and for her well-written, inspiring, and thorough analysis."--Casper Sylvest, Political Studies Review "This [is a] thoughtful and engaging book."--John Cramsie, The Historian "Jennifer Pitts ... undermines the case for the reality of anti-imperialism by depicting the rise of 'imperial liberalism' as a major intellectual trend in both Britain and France between c. 1780 and 1850. She does so in a careful, acute and lucid account of the ideas on empire of Adam Smith, Burke, Bentham, the Mills, and de Tocqueville."--Anthony Howe, European History Quarterly

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