The Elements of Politics

Henry Sidgwick

Chapter 18

Principles of External Policy

II. §4. Among civilised States a continual interchange of population goes on to a slight extent, which will be called immigration or emigration according to the point of view from which it is regarded. As between old fully-peopled States like those of Western Europe and civilised States like the American, with a large amount of unoccupied land, the transfer of population tends to be more extensive and one-sided; the old States---even when they are growing in numbers and wealth---send to the newer countries a considerable excess of both over what they receive. When, however, emigration takes place from civilised States into regions uninhabited except by savage tribes---whose political organisation would hardly be held to justify the name of ``States''---it is in modern times normally combined with extension of the territory of the State from which it takes place, and may be regarded as a process of Expansion of the community as a whole. Whether, and in what manner, it is desirable that this expansion should take place is the last of the chief questions of external policy which I reserved for the present chapter.

First, it is to be observed that the extension of the territory of States through conquest is almost always accompanied by some immigration of the old members of the State into the new territory. But where the territory was already fully peopled by human beings the immigration is not likely to be considerable, unless the war has been unusually destructive, since there would be no room for the immigrants without such a violent invasion of the private rights of the old inhabitants as would be generally condemned and would excite strong resistance and general odium. Hence the enlargement of a State through conquest of this kind is hardly to be called expansion; and the larger whole that results from it is not, for some time at least, organic, being composed of parts not united by a common national sentiment. Where the conquerors and conquered are approximately equal in civilisation this result is likely to continue for an indefinite period; and, as the government of the conquerors is not likely to confer benefits on the conquered sufficient to compensate for the drawbacks of alien rule, such conquest seems to be, under ordinary circumstances, rightly disapproved by the morality of modern civilised nations.

The case is different when the conquered, though not uncivilised, are markedly inferior in civilisation to the conquerors. Here, if the war that led to the conquest can be justified by obstinate violation of international duty on the part of the conquered, the result would generally be regarded with toleration by impartial persons; and even, perhaps, with approval, if the government of the conquerors was shown by experience to be not designedly oppressive or unjust; since the benefits of completer internal peace and order, improved industry, enlarged opportunities of learning a better religion and a truer science, would be taken---and, on the whole, I think, rightly taken---to compensate for the probable sacrifice of the interests of the conquered to those of the conquerors, whenever the two came into collision.

Whether such conquest is in the interest of the conquering nation---apart from the need of repressing and punishing a turbulent neighbour, which has often been the preponderant motive to wars that have terminated in conquests---is a question to which it is difficult to give a general answer. Both the disadvantages and the advantages vary much in different cases. The disadvantages are (1) the bloodshed and cost of the fighting necessary to win and keep the conquest; (2) the increased difficulty of self-defence due to the diminished cohesion of the enlarged State; and (3) the stronger temptation that dominion based on conquest offers to the aggression of powerful neighbours. The chief material advantages aimed at in conquest are (1) the increase of strength for war,---due mainly to the mere increase in size and total resources, enabling the State to maintain larger armaments---and (2) increase of wealth for the conquering community. The former advantage may easily be more than outweighed by increased difficulty of defence if the conquest is distant or otherwise inconveniently situated, e.g. England is rather weakened than strengthened for formidable conflicts by her possession of India. The prospect, again, of increase of wealth varies very much in different cases. In modem times such gain is rarely even expected in the form of tribute to the public treasury; since it is recognised that such taxation as is possible without oppression is rarely likely to do more than meet the expense involved in the acquisition, retention, and defence---as well as the internal government---of the conquered country. Still substantial gains are likely to accrue to the conquering community regarded as an aggregate of individuals; through the enlarged opportunities for the private employment of capital, the salaries earned in governmental service, and especially, in the case of a commercial community, through the extended markets opened to trade. The importance of this last consideration is obviously much increased by the general adoption of the protectionist policy which at present finds favour with the majority of civilised States; but it would not be without importance even under a system of universal free trade; since the superior civilisation that the conquerors are supposed to introduce will tend to spread to some extent their special tastes in consumption, and a consequent preference for the products of the dominant community.

Besides these material advantages, there are sentimental satisfactions, derived from justifiable conquests, which must be taken into account, though they are very difficult to weigh against the material sacrifices and risks. Such are the justifiable pride which the cultivated members of a civilised community feel in the beneficent exercise of dominion, and in the performance by their nation of the noble task of spreading the highest kind of civilisation; and a more intense though less elevated satisfaction---inseparable from patriotic sentiment---in the spread of the special type of civilisation distinctive of their nation, communicated through its language and literature, and through the tendency to imitate its manners and customs which its prolonged rule, especially if on the whole beneficent, is likely to cause in a continually increasing degree.

This latter result might be called a process of spiritual expansion, as distinct from the physical expansion which takes place when the conquered region is so thinly populated as to afford room for a considerable immigration of the conquerors.

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