White Man’s Burden

The White Man’s Burden

TAKE up the White Man’s burden –
Send forth the best ye breed –
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness
On fluttered folk and wild –
Your new-caught sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.
Take up the White Man’s burden –
In patience to abide
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain,
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.
Take up the White Man’s burden –
The savage wars of peace –
Fill full the mouth of famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch Sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.
Take up the White Man’s burden –
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper –
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go make them with your living,
And mark them with your dead !
Take up the White Man’s burden –
And reap his old reward,
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard –
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah slowly !) towards the light:-
“Why brought ye us from bondage,
“Our loved Egyptian night ?”
Take up the White Man’s burden –
Ye dare not stoop to less –
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent sullen peoples
Shall weigh your Gods and you.
Take up the White Man’s burden –
Have done with childish days –
The lightly proffered laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years,
Cold-edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgement of your peers.

I ran across this poem flipping through Kipling’s collected works on my Nook. It immediately struck a chord with me based on my past experience in Iraq and now in Afghanistan.
Having had some experience with the professional’s opinions of Kipling’s work, I took the time to read some of the academic reviews. Typical reactionary BS. If this poem advocates Colonialism and racism I’ll eat a turban. So, I wont dignify most of the reviews. One struck me as sensible though, giving some history surrounding the publication of the poem and a private letter Kipling sent at that time to Teddy Roosevelt which he forwarded to Henry Cabot Lodge. Based on this and my own common sense reading of the poem, it is apparent that, while Kipling was clearly in favor or a form of Imperialism, it was both a naive and benign form. The idea being basically a form of noblese oblige towards the poorer nations of the world.
As America slips farther and farther into Empire, we would do well to heed Kipling’s words. It has become apparent over the last 100 years of interventionism that bringing to poor nations the prosperity they want, based on their culture, is too complex a task for government to ever accomplish. As long as Empire is the tool of Civilization, it will fail. Only when the Market is allowed full sway will poor nations be able to find the expression of Civilization which fits them best. Only with the protections of a free and open market can corporate raiderism and Monopoly be ended, allowing individuals who live and work in a place to develop those markets unhindered. It wont be easy or come quickly. Certain cultures may never choose to adopt Western style democracy. But, since I believe Freedom and Liberty are God given rights of ALL men, of ALL colors, creeds, faiths and societies I believe they will win out in the free market of ideas. And, where they don’t for a time, those societies will suffer the death of a thousand cuts as their neighbors out-compete them.
If you need an example, look into the history of Hong Kong vs Mainland China.


About cptcaveman

An Army Major, my family and I are in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We enjoy photography, cooking, reading and outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and trapping.
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