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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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Liberal Imperialism

Liberal Imperialism

Chapter:
(p.107) 5 Liberal Imperialism
Source:
The Making of Modern Liberalism
Author(s):

Alan Ryan

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.003.0006

This chapter argues that liberalism is intrinsically imperialist and that we should understand the attractions of liberal imperialism, even as it cautions against succumbing to that attraction. Liberal imperialism, or liberal interventionism, is the doctrine that a state with the capacity to force liberal political institutions and social aspirations upon nonliberal states and societies is justified in so doing. Contrary to the orthodoxy in political theory, there is nothing odd about the notion that we can force an individual or a society to be free. The chapter considers two actual cases of liberal imperialism, one relating to the East India Company and the other to World War II, and one nineteenth-century text: John Stuart Mill's essay On Liberty. It also examines the consequentialist-liberalism defense of intervention and how it overlaps with arguments for intervention based on human rights.

Keywords:   liberalism, liberal imperialism, liberal interventionism, East India Company, World War II, John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, intervention, human rights

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