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Imperialistic Attitude Conveyed In Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels And Voltaire’s Candide

1566 words - 6 pages

One must sometimes wonder what an ideal utopian world would be like. The first things to come to mind would probably rather trivial, such as golden roads, chocolate fountains, etc. However, the underlying core of what a utopian society would be like is one that would have an abundance of two seemingly unknown words, morality and humanity. Morality and humanity would be the greatest grace for any society to have, for any government to be driven by. Sadly, this is usually not, nor has it really ever been, the case. Instead, government is run by a largely imperialistic attitude. That is, whatever can satisfy the greed and hunger of a nation is what matters, not the inhumane suffering that follows afterwards. This imperialistic and dehumanized attitude is both explicitly and implicitly shown in two great novels, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Voltaire’s Candide, along with some lesser known but no less important stories. Not only is this corrupt imperialism expressed as a whole in these writings, but also in its more detailed aspects, such as globalization of empire, racism, and slavery in a literal and metaphorical sense.
The first aspect, empirical globalization, is one that has been rampant for all of the past to the present. By globalization, I do not merely mean exploring another country in a peaceful, knowledge-seeking manner- I wish that were the case. In speaking of this, I am speaking of that which is exemplified so well in the Spanish conquistadors in America, the “noble” conqueror and king Alexander the Great, and so many more nations and figureheads to mention. These people were and seemingly still are venerated as heroes for finding knew lands, “taking them”, and becoming incredibly wealthy off those lands resources. On a much darker yet more realistic note, these adventurers destroyed many cultures and lives in the process, sickeningly all in the name of good will. After all, a country’s economic status is much more important than the well-being of other countries. It really is nothing more than dangerous nationalism. The sea captain Martin, in Candide, says it best, in speaking of imperialistic government best, with,
“He’s mixed up in the affairs of this world to such an extent that he may well be in me, just as he’s in everything else…I’ve scarcely seen one town that did not wish the ruination of his neighbor, or one family that did not want to see the end of another. Everywhere you look, the weak execrate the strong while they grovel at their feet, and the strong treat them like so many sheep, providing wool and meat to be sold. One million regimented assassins, rushing from one end of Europe to the other, commit murder and brigandage by the rule book in order to earn their daily bread, because there is no more respectable profession; and in cities, where people appear to live in peace and the arts flourish, men are devoured by more envy, worry, and dissatisfaction than all the scourges of a city under...

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