November 18, 2008
Milling for an Answer
John Stuart Mill’s center focus in his essay asks the question of how a body of government can control an individual’s way of life when every individual requires a different way of living. Mill’s idea of liberty was the checks and balances of the world that was soon to be engulfed with imperialistic views. Late 1800’s in Europe was an “era of ambitious conquest” to conform more parts of the world to one way of thinking. This idea was something that was quite contrary to the beliefs of Mill, but the “new imperialism” was born and being enforced. A mass movement of Europeans was happening between 1870 and 1914; 55 million were on the move to over seas locations such as America, Canada, Argentina, and Australia. The “new imperialism”, appropriately named to differentiate from the earlier colonization of the Americas, was centered on Africa and Asia. This was endorsed by many and had high expectations by most (Noble p 763). This new imperialism was brought to light by three main motives; economic, nationalistic, and ideological.
The economic motive of the new imperialism was the hope of new profit that would correlate into stimulating the mother country. This was a false hope to encourage the empire. In reality the colonies did little good for profit and exports. It became a realization that France, Germany, and England were there own best customers (Noble p. 763). The last stretch for social reasons was to use the satellite colonies as a place to put the growing poverty stricken. Unfortunately that was a failed attempt as they were undesirable to live.
Mill would dispute this decision because of the misleading statements to the public. He goes on to say that human beings are not infallible and should not be allowed to decide and issue for all people in society. With the false hope that were conveyed, the people were not given a chance to voice individual opinions (On Liberty Ch.2)
Europe’s nationalistic motives moved the continent into the next level of envy. The powers of the United States and Russia were the desires of all small western European nations, and the next step toward that was accruing land to grow the empire. This grew tensions between France, Great Britain, and Russia. A Russian minister said “The chief difficulty is to know where to stop.” The imperial powers rarely did (Noble p. 765).
Again, Mill would refute for a similar reason. Mill believes that society prefers conformity because it is easier to be in the majority than the minority. But in that situation you fall victim to surrendering your liberty (On Liberty Ch.3). Also Mill believes that a society should only have control over its self and what directly affects it or its individuals among it. Reaching out to colonize another society would greatly disturb that society’s liberty (On Liberty Ch. 1).
With the great rise in nationalistic pride and the imperialism that was being put forth, there became the ideological motive. It was in the beliefs of Europeans that it was there job to bring technology to Africa