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America and the Art of the Possible: Restoring National Vitality in an Age of Decay
Christopher Buskirk
Between 1920 and 1950, America saw an unprecedented expansion of… Read more
The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom
James Burnham
A classic work of political theory and practise, this book… Read more
The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics
David Goodhart
A robust and timely investigation into the political and moral… Read more
The Construction of Nationhood: Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism (The Wiles Lectures)
Adrian Hastings
This interdisciplinary book straddles the fields of history, politics, religion… Read more
No Apologies: Why Civilization Depends on the Strength of Men
Anthony Esolen
No more apologies for being a man! Best-selling social commentator… Read more

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Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought (1999)

Uday Singh Mehta

We take liberalism to be a set of ideas committed to political rights and self-determination, yet it also served to justify an empire built on political domination. Uday Mehta argues that imperialism, far from contradicting liberal tenets, in fact stemmed from liberal assumptions about reason and historical progress. Confronted with unfamiliar cultures such as India, British liberals could only see them as backward or infantile. In this, liberals manifested a narrow conception of human experience and ways of being in the world.

Ironically, it is in the conservative Edmund Burke—a severe critic of Britain’s arrogant, paternalistic colonial expansion—that Mehta finds an alternative and more capacious liberal vision. Shedding light on a fundamental tension in liberal theory, Liberalism and Empire reaches beyond post-colonial studies to revise our conception of the grand liberal tradition and the conception of experience with which it is associated.

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