Saturday, August 15, 2009


G.M. Trevelyan came from the British upper crust. You can surmise this from these two sentences in his wikipedia entry:

Trevelyan's parents used Welcombe as a winter resort after they inherited it in 1890. They looked upon Wallington Hall, the Trevelyan family estate in Northumberland as their real home.

Trevelyan's views were considered liberal within the British aristocracy. Even so, in his 1927 extended essay titled "History of England" (could be subtitled What Makes Britain and Her People So Darned Great), he reveals truly embarrassing ethnocentricity and rationalization.

Writing of the "Second Empire," of Queen Victoria's time:

The other aspect of the Second British Empire has been the development of vast portions of Asia and Africa by commercial intercourse and by political rule.  The political rule has been conducted in African and in The East and West Indies, according to the benevolent ideals that have been generally prevalent in Downing Street since the days of Wilberforce and since the reorganization of Indian Government by Pitt and His governors General. Great benefits have been conferred on a very large proportion of mankind: in Africa, inter-tribal war and slave-raiding have been stopped; in India, Egypt and elsewhere the material benefits of modern science and organization have been applied for the advantage of all, not least of the humblest cultivators of the soil.

But two difficulties have beset the path of executive rule over the non-European races.  First, the counter claims of white farmers and traders, especially where, as formerly in the West Indies and permanently in South Africa, they are numerous enough to practice self-government. And, secondly, the class of difficulties which inevitably arise, particularly in India, when a long period of peace, good government and contact with Western civilization has caused the ruled to desire to become self-rulers. The questions how best, how fast and how far this demand can be met without disaster, form perhaps the most difficult problem that good government has ever created for itself.

With a quick clean-up of the racial references, many white Britishers today would pretty much agree with the stuff about benevolence and good government.

In America this same sentiment takes the form of:

Despite obvious mistakes and imperfections, the United States has been a force for good in the world.

Just too fucking white for me.

Big Mama Willie Mae Thornton is beautiful.  I usually don't think of women playing blues harp.  This is great.

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