Mark Twain on bringing civilisation at bayonet point

Ever-diligent to bring you the most up-to-date commentary, here is an extract from Mark Twain regarding the US occupation of the Philippines. The article also discusses the Boxer Rebellion in China and the Boer War. The ‘Person Sitting in Darkness’ refers to the non-Western world, not yet fully endowed with the blessings of civilisation, which the Imperial powers of Europe, with the US making a belated entry to the race, were vying to bestow upon it.
Having now laid all the historical facts before the Person Sitting in Darkness, we should bring him to again and explain them to him. We should say to him:.
“They look doubtful but in reality they are not. There have been lies, yes, but they were told in a good cause. We have been treacherous, but that was only in order that real good might come out of apparent evil. True, we have crushed a deceived and confiding people; we have turned against the weak and the friendless who trusted us; we have stamped out a just and intelligent and well-ordered republic; we have stabbed an ally in the back and slapped the face of a guest; we have bought a Shadow from an enemy that hadn’t it to sell; we have robbed a trusting friend of his land and his liberty; we have invited our clean young men to shoulder a discredited musket and do bandits’ work under a flag which bandits have been accustomed to fear, not to follow; we have debauched America’s honor and blackened her face before the world; but each detail was for the best. We know this. The Head of every State and Sovereignty in Christendom and 90 per cent of every legislative body in Christendom, including our Congress and our fifty state legislatures, are members not only of the church but also of the Blessings-of-Civilization Trust. This world-girdling accumulation of trained morals, high principles, and justice cannot do an unright thing, an unfair thing, an ungenerous thing, an unclean thing. It knows what it is about. Give yourself no uneasiness; it is all right.”
And our flag—another pride of ours, our chiefest! We have worshipped it so, and when we have seen it in far lands—glimpsing it unexpectedly in that strange sky, waving its welcome and benediction to us—we have caught our breaths and uncovered our heads and couldn’t speak for a moment, for the thought of what it was to us and the great ideals it stood for. Indeed, we must do something about these things; it is easily managed. We can have a special one—our states do it: we can have just our usual flag, with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and crossbones.

Mark Twain “To the Person Sitting in Darkness“, 1901

Also see Jeffrey Tucker’s article “Mark Twain’s Radical Liberalism” at the Mises Institute website.

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