The Elements of Politics

Henry Sidgwick

Chapter 18

Principles of External Policy

§5. In the conquest of countries fully inhabited by a people on a par with their conquerors in civilisation, the aim of physical expansion can---for a modern State---hardly come in: and it cannot usually be more than a subordinate aim, even where the conquered are decidedly inferior in civilisation, if they have arrived at the state of settled agricultural occupation of the land that they inhabit. Still, if the conquered, though semi-civilised, are at a decidedly lower stage of economic development, and if their climate is not unsuited to the conquering race, the immigration of the latter may reach substantial proportions; so that the conquered country acquires in some degree the character of a colony. Thus in Algeria, during some sixty years of French rule, room has been found for nearly half a million Europeans, although at the time of the French conquest the land was already held in agricultural occupation by an Arab population; and a judicious writer allows himself to imagine that in 1930 the European element in ``French Africa'' may amount to two millions, with an Arab element of six or seven millions largely ``francisés''. If this forecast should be fulfilled, probably no one would refuse to Algeria the name of a colony.

More commonly, however, we denote by the term ``colonisation'' the occupation by a civilised community of regions thinly inhabited by uncivilised tribes; in which, accordingly, even supposing the ``aborigines'' to be treated with equity and consideration, there is room for a new population of immigrants far exceeding the old in numbers. The rational motives to colonisation, in this narrower sense, are partly the same as those that prompt to the conquest of semi-civilised countries. There is the desire of the more profitable employment for capital, afforded in a special degree by the undeveloped resources of regions new to civilised men, and more safe---or generally believed to be more safe---in a colony than in a foreign country: again, a colony tends, even more decidedly than a conquest, to be a source of wealth to a commercial country, from the extension that it affords to trade; since capital taken to a new country, if it is not employed in producing commodities peculiar to this new region, or for the production of which it has special advantages, is naturally applied to the production of food and raw materials, to be exchanged for the manufactured products of the old country. But a further most important motive to colonisation is supplied by the desire---whether of the labourers themselves or of statesmen on their behalf---to find a more remunerative field of employment for the surplus labour of the mother country. This motive, however, would hardly by itself lead any European nation to attempt the founding of a new colony, so long as the American States allow free immigration and have large tracts of unoccupied land available for settlers; in the present condition, therefore, of the modern world, this motive only prompts to colonisation as distinct from emigration when combined with patriotic desires for national growth and expansion, extension of national wealth and prestige, and even power in international struggles,---though it must be very doubtful how far this latter end is likely to be promoted by the founding of colonies. It is obvious that such patriotic sentiments must be offended when emigrants are absorbed in an alien State.

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