King Leopold's Ghost

2616 words 11 pages
Wesley Don
Professor Frickert
History 4
10 February 2011
King Leopold's Ghost Essay

Primary Questions
1. The era known as the Industrial Revolution was a period of unprecedented growth, not only limited to technology, but to economic systems, policies, and ideologies. Industrialization ignited great nationalism in industrialized countries, hence leading to the rise of the empire builders of Imperialism. King Leopold II was an empire builder of this age who "found a number of tools at his disposal that had not been available to empire builders of earlier times" (Hochschild 89). He cunningly employed these technologies to build an ethereal reputation amongst the Congolese; they were white men who rode on long steel snakes, possessed
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They lived by what was known as the "British Virtue" and "fervently believed in bringing 'civilisation' and Christianity to the natives, filled with righteousness about combating slavery"(Hochschild 27). London's Albert Memorial provides us with the general European consensus on the white man's superiority over others, and, especially, the black man's inferiority. This statue "showed a young black African, naked except for some leaves over his loins.. 'representative of the uncivilised races' and the 'broken chains at feet refer to Great Britain in emancipation of slaves'"(Hochschild 28). It is through this "scientific" racism establishing the "Black Man" as "The Other" that gave Europeans an over-inflated sense of righteousness that bestowed them the idea of "The White Man's Burden" to educate and convert the "Black Man" by any means necessary, and the spoils of civilizing a race were merely bonuses. It is obvious that, from a Eurocentric perspective, the Africans were ridden with barbarism and they were undeserving of Africa's riches, thus spawning European impulses of "antislavery zeal, search for raw materials, and Christian evangelism" (Hochschild 28). Guns may kill and destroy a village, but an ideology can destroy nations; and in this case, these nations were the nations of Africa. A combination of pseudoscience and overzealous Christian fervor were the basis of "scientific racism"