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Realist Variations on Imperialism and Race

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E. H. Carr: Imperialism, War and Lessons for Post-Colonial IR

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Abstract

The core aim of this chapter is to demonstrate that the classical realist analysis of imperialism and race is largely misrepresented in post-colonial literature. Morgenthau and Niebuhr perceived the causes of imperialism in human pride and self-deception over the reality of power. They associated this pride with in-group association and out-group racial prejudice. Racial prejudice, they argued, is rooted in the individual’s drive for power, enabled via in-group identification. As a diagnosis for imperial policies, as well as out-group racial prejudice, Niebuhr and Morgenthau thus argued for an ethic of humility that recognises the deceptive nature of power and its limitations. In contrast to Morgenthau and Niebuhr, Carr’s critique of imperialism entailed a critique of nineteenth-century laissez faire and the social question in Western democracies. According to Carr, the rise of the socialised nation, to whom the issue of economic (re)distribution was fundamental to democracy, could not be accommodated by laissez faire. This in turn led to the export of the social question at home to imperialism, racism, and war abroad. Carr thus saw racial injustice as imbedded in nineteenth-century liberalism, particularly the pretence of the ‘free market’ under laissez faire, that rationalised and legitimated imperial violence.

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Correspondence to Haro L Karkour .

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Karkour, H.L. (2022). Realist Variations on Imperialism and Race. In: E. H. Carr: Imperialism, War and Lessons for Post-Colonial IR. Palgrave Studies in International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99360-3_2

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