Friday, March 24, 2006

Mark Twain, on Imperialism

Sorry, I've been away and busy. For your consideration on the nature of the historical redundancies, I offer a bit of Mr. Mark Twain, speaking on the US involvement in the Phillipines:

I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with the Rockies. Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.

We have also pledged the power of this country to maintain and protect the abominable system established in the Philippines by the Friars.

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land.


Marty said...

Interesting. Last night PBS NOW reported on a Pentagon program called TALON..Threat and Local Observation Notice..It spies on innocent Americans. Guess America has "talons" everywhere.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem.

Well, didn't they gain their independance in 1946 or somewhere around then?

And is this what we are doing in Iraq: subjugating the Iraqi people? Being imperialists?

Interesting little tidbit you won't find in history books: boxing as we know it today found great influence from our Marines over in the Philippines. If you notice in old west movies, boxers will stand very upright with their palms up in the old english style (I think it came from holding sword and buckler, but I don't remember). Around the turn of the century, U.S. Marines saw that the Filipinos boxed with their hands closer in; this came from their method of double daggers (and if you think of our boxing terminologies..."jab", "uppercut"..."hook" punch...those references to the blade are in there). They also didn't stand toe to toe, exchanging punch for punch. They had much more evasive manuevering and sophisticated footwork. That arose out of knife-fighting, where a touch from the blade could be the end of the fight right there. You can't just stand there trading blows, seeing who was the tougher man.

Maybe I should blog on this? I find aspects of Filipino history fascinating.

Dan Trabue said...

Ya know, I've always wondered why they boxed that old way - with the fists pointing in. It looks like a difficult way to fight.

As to your question, are we being imperialists, I might suggest that we're being neo-imperialists. We're not trying to overtake other nations and make them colonies any more. We've found that it is more effective and humane to dominate economically.

But it is still a domination.