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EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

burdens and conditions fit them least for colonial enterprise, are the most eager and rapacious of all.[1] The notion is that colonies are glory. The truth is that colonies are burdens—unless they are plundered, and then they are enemies. Russia is spreading her control over central Asia, although the internal cohesion of her empire is so weak that it will probably break in pieces under any great strain. France, after enormous losses in Tonkin, has just conquered Madagascar and joined England in carving up Siam.

The confusion between the economic use and the political jurisdiction is one of the strongest and most mischievous with which we have to deal. The best thing which could happen, from our point of view, is that England should "grab" all the land on the globe which is not owned by some first-class power. She would govern it all well, on the most enlightened and liberal principles, and we could all go to it for pleasure or gain as our interests might dictate. She would then have all the trouble, care, and responsibility, and we should all share the advantages. If there is a gold mine in Guiana and if England gets the political jurisdiction of it, the English nation or exchequer will not get a grain of gold from the mine; if Englishmen get some of it, they can only do so by going to the mine and digging as individuals. Individuals of any other nationality can go there and do the same; if any Americans want to go there, they will undoubtedly have better chances if the civil jurisdiction of the district is English than if it is Venezuelan.

  1. ↑ In the few days since this paper was written, Italy has suffered a defeat in her colonial extension, which not only proves that she is forcing it as pure aggression against a local power competent to maintain a state, but also puts her face to face with a fatal alternative: she must either abandon her colonial enterprise, or she must prosecute it by new sacrifices which will bring her to bankruptcy, and perhaps to anarchy.