|Second, John Stuart Mill in his essay “On Liberty,” carefully stated that its doctrines were only meant to apply to those countries which were sufficiently advanced in civilization, and that it could not really apply to India, because India’s civilization had not attained the requisite degree of development.
In Orientalism, Said developed arguments that were limited to the Middle East.
In Culture and Imperialism, he broadens his discussion to European writings about Africa, India, the Far East and the Caribbean. Said finds recurring rhetorical figures in European discourses:
In their descriptions of “the mysterious East,” as well as the stereotypes about “the African [or Indian or Jamaican or Chinese] mind,” the notions about bringing civilization to primitive or barbaric peoples, the disturbingly familiar ideas of flogging or death or extended punishment being required when “they” misbehaved or became rebellious, because “they” mainly understood force or violence best; were not like “us,” and for that reason deserved to be ruled (Said “Culture” xi) .
Said bases his analyses in the novel, which he believes was immensely important in the formation of imperial attitudes and experiences of the Western empires in the last two centuries. He cites Robinson Crusoe as the prototypical modern realistic novel, because it is about a European who creates a fiefdom for himself on a distant non-European island. Narrative is key, because stories relate what explorers and novelists say about strange regions of the world; they also are the method colonized people use to assert their own identity and the existence of their own history. “We can read English novels whose engagement (usually suppressed for the most part) with the West Indies or India is shaped and perhaps even determined by the specific history of colonization, resistance, and finally native nationalism” (Said “Culture” 51). In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen carefully defines moral and social values. Sir Thomas Bertram’s overseas possessions give him his wealth, occasion his absences, and fix his status at home and abroad. As Austen says, the right to colonial possessions helps directly to establish social order and moral priorities at home (Said “Culture” 62).
By the 1840s the English novel had achieved eminence in aesthetic form and as a major intellectual voice in English society. The novel shaped the idea of England as an identity “at home” and a cohesive presence “abroad” in England’s overseas empire. Much of the extraordinary pairing of British trade and imperial expansion depended upon cultural and social factors such as education, journalism, intermarriage, and class. “All the major English novelists of the mid-nineteenth century accepted a globalized world-view of the vast overseas reach of British power and aligned the holding of power and privilege abroad with comparable activities at home” (Said “Culture” 76).
The most famous writer to emerge from this society was Rudyard Kipling, who was born in India in 1865. During his first years he spoke Hindustani, and at the age of six he was sent to school in England. Kipling went to one of the lesser public schools designed for children in the colonial service, the United Services College; the best school was Haileybury, reserved for the upper echelons of the colonial elite (Said “Culture” 133). He returned to India in 1882 and worked as a journalist in Punjab. Said interprets Kipling’s book Kim as the dominating viewpoint of a white man in a colonial possession with the perspective of a massive colonial system whose economy, functioning, and history had acquired the status of a fact of nature. That is, Kipling assumes uncontested empire with white Christian Europe on one side of the colonial divide and lesser, inferior, dependent, subject races in a variety of territories on the other side.
The empire made enormous demands on Britain’s army; many officers became senior administrators, especially after the East India Company ceded control to the British government. The British presence in its many colonies also required the determined solicitation of women to emigrate to the colonies, where, with their soldier or administrator husbands, they could form a miniature British culture in foreign lands. Their children were routinely sent back to England to be educated, which reduced excessive fraternization with the “native” children and servants. Imperial wives and mothers devoted themselves to transplanted Britishness, and their society “mirrored in more rigid form the practices found in Britain” (Said “Culture” 188).