White mans burden

Topics: Colonialism, Imperialism, British Empire Pages: 2 (577 words) Published: January 16, 2014
One view proposes that white people have an obligation to rule over, and encourage the cultural development of people from other cultural backgrounds until they can take their place in the world economically and socially. The term "the white man's burden" has been interpreted by some as racist, or possibly taken as a metaphor for a condescending view of "undeveloped" national culture and economic traditions, identified as a sense of European ascendancy which has been called "cultural imperialism". An alternative interpretation is the philanthropic view, common in Kipling's formative years, that the rich (whites) have a moral duty and obligation to help "the poor" (coloureds) "better" themselves whether the poor (coloureds) want the help or not.[13] On the face of it, the poem conveys a positive view of the idea that "The White Man", generally accepted to mean the colonial powers (Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Italy and the United States), had a duty to civilize the more brutish and barbaric parts of the world. It begins by describing the colonized Filipinos as "new-caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child". Although a belief in the virtues of empire was widespread at the time, there were also many dissenters; the publication of the poem caused a flurry of arguments from both sides, most notably from Mark Twain and Henry James.[14] While Kipling may have intended the piece as a form of satire, much of Kipling's other writing does suggest that he genuinely believed in the "beneficent role" which the introduction of Western ideas could play in lifting non-Western peoples out of poverty and ignorance.[15][16] Lines 3–5, and other parts of the poem suggest that it is not just the native people who are held in captivity, but also the "functionaries of empire", who are caught in colonial service and may die while helping other races less fortunate than themselves (hence "burden"). An analysis focused on the social...
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