Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Column on the Menace of "Imperialism"

The Menace of Imperialism

Tibor R. Machan

You?d think history would have taught us that empires are a menace. In
their name more murderous killing has taken place than for any other

Yet, in some ways, imperialism is very much part of the contemporary age.
It may not amount to the sort of vast military missions with which it is
so prominently associated, although, sadly, much of that continues today.
Another type of imperialism temps too many people who would never think
themselves followers of the imperial tradition.

Take, for example, all those folks who believe that their pet projects
must gain state support so as to be spread around the world, to be
preserved in granite, if you will, so everyone will know how superior
these are in the history of a country, the world, in one?s city or county.
Historical preservationists who insist that we all be taxed so as to keep
around various monuments or buildings at everyone?s expense?they are
imperialists. They want everyone to be subjugated to what they believe is
important; they refuse to acknowledge that importance is a matter of
individual and special concern, very, very rarely one of universal
significance. Few if any concerns of people are actually, really, proper
concerns for us all and even those few that are, ought to gain support via
the civilized method of persuasion, not the barbaric one of coercion.

A prominent movement today that utterly fails to see this point is that
of environmentalism. By embracing the false doctrine that matters
designated to be ?the wilds? are of superior significance to all others,
that only what is wild is part of authentic nature, they have ended in the
trap of imperialism. They have convinced themselves that what isn?t of the
wilds isn?t natural and, therefore, does not deserve respect and a place
in the world. So, for example, all housing developments are treated as
evil, unnatural, never mind that they are the nesting places for human
beings who are every bit a part of nature as is, say, the beaver or the
swallow. But whereas the beaver and the swallow are deemed precious, thus
deserving all the coercive powers of government behind them, human beings
are treated by environmentalists as some kind of fungus or virus. Why? Not
one good reason has ever been offered, none. It turns out to be no more
than the personal preference of environmentalists, their malicious
imperialism that they?ve decided to lord over everyone.

Of course, environmentalists aren?t alone, only they have managed to
accrue to themselves the tone of moral superiority by way of producing
reams of literature in which they promote the myth that only the wilds
qualify as Nature?or Gaia?and since human beings have left the wilds more
prominently than any other critter on the globe, they have no moral

Such an insidious attitude is, sadly, treated with sympathy and
understanding even by those who do not quite go with the flow, mainly for
reasons of impracticality. As if the environmentalists really did have a
hold of a true ideal but, alas, it just cannot be had, not in the measure
they demand.

But the environmentalists haven?t gotten hold of an ideal, not by any
means. They have, instead, perpetrated a grand ruse, namely, that their
imperialistic mission is a holy crusade.

Yes, some of the wilds is and will always be of importance to most
people, just as are decent housing, transportation, science, education,
art, commerce, and even athletics. But it is whatever matters to us that
ought to determine the measure of environmental concern that makes the
best sense, not what matters to other living things in the world. And even
that proper measure must be something promulgated in a civilized,
non-coercive fashion, which is to say, via the private, non-governmental
sector, without the meddling of the most imperialistically tempted
institution in human history, namely, government.

All in all, let us leave behind the imperialist temptation once and for
all. Let us not assume that our pet projects must be everyone?s or that
our pet peeves must be shared by all. Human beings are a highly diverse
lot and no one?s best need be everyone?s best, or worst everyone?s worst.
Certainly imposing these notions on everyone is no more than that menace
of imperialism that history shows to be such a malicious force.

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