The Success of Imperialism

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The Success of Imperialism

Imperialism is a form of government which looks to extend its rule across the borders through a forced action or any other form of force. The state government extends power and dominion; often done through a direct territorial acquisition and gaining political as well as economic control of other specific areas. Imperialism uses power, either in the form of military or any other form, considered to be morally reprehensible and thus is commonly used in the international propaganda to deny and also denounce the foreign policies from opponents and competing countries. English naturalist, Charles Darwin, developed the biological evolution theory that explains how species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small inherited variations that increase the ability to compete, survive and reproduce (Brower & Sanders, 2014).

Poem: White Man's Burden

Social Darwinism is the theory and belief that people are subject to the theories and laws of natural selection as do plants and animals and through these selections, there is the possibility of human beings understanding how they can survive, compete and reproduce where necessary. In most parts of the world and as explored in the poem, through natural selection; humans can find their own ways of doing things and also explore the necessary aspects of survival. Social Darwinism has been largely used to justify and observe aspects such as political conservatism, imperialism, and racism and to discourage intervention and reform.

Kipling references taking up the white man’s burden and this he does with the consideration of several motivating factors and considerations. The most important motivations and consequences for undertaking the white man’s burden according to Kipling include taking their children in the outside world or across the borders to come up with the best goodies as well as be in charge of the other people for as long as it takes. Based on his perception, this is all about power and thus the people taking up the white man’s burden are to come up with full advantages that include resources, profits, control, power and independence or the best practices that might be associated with the travels abroad.

At the same time, Kipling criticizes the assumption of the burden and in a way mentions that this is a form and a show of cowardice, “Comes now, to search your manhood” (Kipling, 1929); shows this is an act of cowardice and not bravery. Therefore, despite the good attributes that might have been associated with the process, it is important to consider as per Kipling that the take up of the white man’s burden is more of a disadvantage than an advantage; his lines are full of mockery rather than genuine good of the process (Brower & Sanders, 2014).
In the poem, there are trains and signs of ethnocentrism as may be seen from the write ups; ethnicity has taken toll of the author as well as the target audience he is addressing.

First of all, he mentions that going into other countries will be like creating profits for them and working for them rather than staying and developing their own country. Other cultures are judged based on the preconceptions associated with their cultures, “Go send your sons to exile, to serve your captives' need” and “Your new-caught, sullen peoples, half devil and half child” (Kipling, 1929). These elements of ethnocentrism are judging on the people from other continents as captives as well as being half devil and half child, based on the perceptions that they are often bad.

The “Half-devil and half-child” peoples are described by the author as being uncivilized. Based on judgement and per his preconceptions is it difficult to understand the right approach and perception of the same system. It is portrayed that whites should go to the people and do most things for them means that they are less civilized or less into the modernization and the present day enlightment.


  • Kipling, R. (1929). “The White Man’s Burden: The United States & the Philippine Islands, 1899.” Rudyard Kipling’s Verse: Definitive Edition. Garden City, New York: Doubleday.
  • Brower, D., & Sanders, T. (2014). The world in the twentieth century: From empires to nations (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
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The Success of Imperialism. (2019, Apr 15). Retrieved April 18, 2024 , from

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