A Teaching Tool for High School English Language Arts or Global History Teachers

by Evan Mantyk


Background of Kipling and British India

Rudyard Kipling

The poet, Rudyard Kipling, was born in British India in 1865 and spent much of his life there. He produced many works of fiction and prose set there, the most famous being the Jungle Book.

The British Empire is generally recognized as having been a force for good in India through the 19th century and arguably beyond. When India was given independence from the British Empire and partitioned in 1947, the devastation that the British had warned of came to fruition: around 1 million died when Muslims fought against Hindus and other groups. The law and order brought by British rule, known as the British Raj, were no more.

There were, of course, at least two sides to how people viewed the British Raj. Introduce students to the complexities of the situation with Dadabhai Naoroji’s piece on the benefits and detriments of British rule. Naoroji was a founding member of the Indian National Congress and the first Asian to serve as a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1892-1895.


Background of the Poem

“The White Man’s Burden” was written in 1899, at a time when imperialism was still a perfectly normal and healthy way of ensuring the survival and prosperity of one’s nation or empire. Particularly, this was before World War II and the Holocaust, which was enabled by the rise of Nazi German imperialism. (It is important to note here that Nazi German imperialism was ideologically driven by social Darwinism, part of the underpinnings of communism.) Kipling wrote “White Man’s Burden” as a response to the American takeover of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War in 1898. The phrase that forms the poem’s title and refrain, “White Man’s burden,” is a metaphor for the tremendous hardship and responsibility of carrying out effective and positive imperialism. Representing imperialist Britain, the narrator is speaking like an older, wiser brother to his new imperialist younger brother, America, explaining what difficulties lie ahead on this path.  


The White Man’s Burden

by Rudyard Kipling, 1899

Take up the White Man’s burden—    [burden: heavy weight, a responsibility]
__Send forth the best ye breed—    [ye: you / breed: give birth to]
Go bind your sons to exile
__To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
__On fluttered folk and wild—    [fluttered folk: irregular people]
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,    [sullen: gloomy, sad]
__Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
__In patience to abide,            [abide: wait]
To veil the threat of terror            [veil: hide]
__And check the show of pride;    [check: stop]
By open speech and simple,
__A hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
__And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
__The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine            [Famine: widespread lack of food]
__And bid the sickness cease;            [cease: end]
And when your goal is nearest
__The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly            [sloth: laziness / heathen: non-Christian / Folly: mistakes]
__Bring all your hopes to naught.        [naught: nothing]

Take up the White Man’s burden—
__No tawdry rule of kings,            [tawdry: showy but cheap and of poor quality.]
But toil of serf and sweeper—         [toil: hard work / serf: a type of slave-worker]
__The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
__The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
__And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
__And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
__The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humor
__(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
“Why brought he us from bondage,    [bondage: slavery]
__Our loved Egyptian night?”*

Take up the White Man’s burden—
__Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom
__To cloak your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
__By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
__Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden—
__Have done with childish days—
The lightly proffered laurel,            [lightly proffered laurel: easily won achievement]
__The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
__Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
__The judgment of your peers!            [peers: those of one’s same age or generation]


*quote: reference to Moses bringing Jews out of slavery in Egypt. The fictitious quote seems to suggest that the Jewish slaves are angry at Moses for leading them out of more comfort in Egypt into the wild desert, where they are free but suffer through 40 years of wandering.

A printable version of the poem with line numbers can be obtained here: White Man’s Burden Rudyard Kipling


Question for Students

What are three ways that the British had to suffer while ruling over the natives of India, according to the poem? You may quote, but make sure to also write in your own words for each of the three ways.

Answers will vary. Sample answers:

“Send forth the best ye breed— / Go bind your sons to exile / To serve your captives’ need” (lines2-4): Many of the best and brightest young men of England were sent to run the Empire in various locations around the world, including faraway places like India, which was “the Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire.” Back then, before air travel that would mean weeks or months of travel by boat and had a similar feeling to exile from one’s home. These men might go to India for years at a time without returning.

“The blame of those ye better, / The hate of those ye guard” (lines 35-36): Although the British did much good in India, as discussed in the Naoroji reading, they naturally took much criticism based on the fact that they were a minority ruling a majority. Such criticism should, ideally, be based on the merit and character of one’s rule rather than categorically applied. It is good to note here that some Indians have praised the British for ruling better than the Mughals (who were invading Muslim Persians and also a ruling minority in Hindu-dominated India.)

“Fill full the mouth of Famine / And bid the sickness cease” (lines 11-12): This may seem confusing. Did not the British cause famine in India? Indeed, there is some blame to be had for the inevitable failures of a command economy the size of the British Empire (“the sun never sets on the British Empire”), but such blame should again not be categorical.  We cannot observe all of the famines or epidemics that did not happen and that very likely could have happened. The British were in charge and it was their responsibility, day and night, to look out for the best interests of India and the Indian people, to protect India, and to make sure its people are healthy, strong, and, to a degree, happy. Consider for a moment too that India was likely the second most populous nation on earth at that time. Such was the weighty yoke—“the White Man’s burden”—of the British imperialist.


Additional Resources


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52 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    Where were you, Evan, when I was in high school? It’s not that I didn’t have some good English teachers, but I seldom got English and history in the same lesson.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Thank you, Kip! Yes, I tend to bring literature into my history class and history into my literature class. Ideally, the two could just be taught together.

  2. Jeff Eardley

    Evan, I would never have failed my English O level, aged 16, with a tutor like you, and lessons like these.
    This should be a regular feature. Thank you for a thought provoking lesson and a fabulous artwork.

  3. Joseph S. Salemi

    India was in Kipling’s blood. He spoke Hindi as a small child (he had native nannies), before he even learned English well enough to converse with his parents. V.S. Naipaul said of Kipling’s novel “Kim” that no European writer had ever written of India with such in-depth understanding and perception.

  4. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Evan, thank you for this informative and insightful piece. It puts Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” in historical, cultural and social perspective – aspects often overlooked in today’s interpretations of past literature. Kipling’s is now receiving the full force of this cancel-culture era. The BBC banned Mandalay from its VJ Day commemorations after a performer involved complained that a section of it is ‘derogatory to people of colour’.

    I have much respect for Kipling and have spent many hours at Bateman’s – his home in the Sussex Weald. “Kim” is a superb work as are many of his poems and stories. He had a wonderful command of English and wrote with a fearlessness and frankness that I can only aspire to.

    When great literature is taken out of context and banned for the sake of a political agenda, it robs present day society and our future generations of an enlightening and life-enhancing gift – the priceless gift of wonder and wisdom that is fast being stamped out.

    Like Jeff, I thoroughly appreciate educators of your integrity, Evan. With much gratitude.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Indeed, Susan. There is an undercurrent here; the elephant in the room is the giant censor canceling our culture and human civilization’s traditions and basic values, taking us into oblivion. We should celebrate this culture and, in fact, just take a look at the reality of it with a bit of common sense, decency, and factual accuracy.

  5. Jeff Eardley

    Evan, here in England, we live 3 miles from the artificial canal-feeding reservoir at Rudyard. This beauty spot was the meeting place of John Lockwood Kipling and Alice McDonald. They fell in love with this place during their courtship and named their son accordingly. Rudyard itself gets its name from Ralph Rudyard, reputedly the slayer of Richard III at Bosworth. Hope this is useful.

    • Evan Mantyk

      Mr. Eardley and Mr. Salemi have added some historical gems to this. These are invaluable and were a surprise to me. Thank you, gentlemen.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        I have an essay (“Kipling and the Language of Manhood”) up at Expansive Poetry Online.

      • The Society

        Thank you, Mr. Salemi. It has been added above under additional resources along with a link.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        The link seems to be inoperative. Try this:


      • The Society

        Mr. Salemi, thank you. It should be updated now.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Joe S., I have just read “Kipling and the Language of Manhood” on Expansive Poetry Online, and have a far greater understanding of the works of Kipling having done so. I thoroughly recommend that everyone who has a love of literature reads it. It puts the works of one of the great masters of English Literature into social, historical, and cultural perspective – the elements overlooked in the interest of pushing political ideologies and agendas.

        We have too many apologists for the insidious act of cancelling. If Kipling is cancelled, where do we draw the line… Shakespeare? Chaucer? When is enough enough?

  6. Sally Cook

    If I may, I would like to introduce yet another comment on a side issue — that of . researching one/s’ own family. Not only is it remarkable to see how traits carry on for hundreds of years, but it is thrilling to assess the scope of differences in individual within and between generations.
    Even more remarkable is the common cultural bond between unrelated families, and the reasons for this
    We have a cultural connection within our society, and seeing it laid out generation after generation teaches a lot about our culture. .

  7. benjamen grinberg

    Such an essay would be unthinkable in a public school. Moreover, I’m amazed it’s allowed at all and that authorities don’t break down the door and ban it as hate speech.

  8. benjamen grinberg

    To add some insight I have for myself, a person may say, well India was a great nation, how can these be referred to as savages? My answer would be that in antiquity India had great civilizations but by the time of the British it had fallen into depravity and thus came the Brits to civilize. Even the British empire itself decayed. What’s depravity in England now is being colonized by communism. It seems that it’s come to destroy it altogether. Just some thoughts I had from the essay.

  9. Joseph S. Salemi

    There’s no such thing as “hate speech.” There’s only free speech, or the soft-focus enslavement of censorship.

    • Benjamen Grinberg

      Hate speech is expressing hate. Let’s outlaw human foibles. The party will decide what they are.

      • Benjamen Grinberg

        Dear Joseph,

        I couldn’t be further from serious.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Then answer these two questions. Which “human foibles” do you want to outlaw? And what “party” will decide what the foibles are?

        I suggest you think carefully before you answer.

      • Benjamen Grinberg

        Dear Joseph,

        I apologize. I was not clear that I was being sarcastic. I am not sure if you read my longer comment where I stated that I believe that while India had once been a great civilization, that it had fallen into decay and this the British came to civilize an uncivilized nation. That’s my understanding of the poem. It couldn’t be further from hate speech. Indeed hate speech is a tool of usurpers of humanity to do just that. If one is to actually take a look at what they are saying, they are condemning what is simply the human emotion of hate. But they do so selectively, as if they are the arbiters of what is acceptable and unacceptable hate. This is what “the party” is. It’s the communist party. “The party” decides morality, and there is no morality outside of the party. That’s what I was referring to. Does this make sense?

  10. David Gosselin

    Historical context is important when discussing individuals and their ideas, but the problem here is that the context for the British Empire and the ideas of empire is very sanitized and misleading, or simply left out. Famines were express British policy, that’s why they spread Malthusianism across the globe, which to this day is taught in all economics departments as an “important” idea, and it has almost become something of a religion today parading around under the cover of “sustainability,” as seen with the World Economic Forum crowd.

    A few important points:

    There would be no Hitler or Nazi Germany without the British Empire. Edward VII actually played the key role in organizing WWI through the “triple entent”, which is what ultimately set the stage for WWII. British Geo-politics was how Britain maintained control over so many lands, playing on and exploiting the differences of religion, culture, and ethnicity among different nations and peoples. Standard British geopolitics.

    WWI was about making sure Germany and their industrial economy was crushed, and more precisely, that the American system industrial policies that Germany had adopted did not spread to rest of Europe, which would have meant the end of the British Empire and its maritime rule.

    Hitler, Fascism, Eugenics were all ardently supported by the British Empire, including the crown, which was gaga over Hitler at the time. The only problem the British Empire had with Hitler is that he didn’t follow the playbook and he turned on London. Hitler was supposed to only go after Russia, and destroy Russia. As usual, the British plan was to come in and pick up the pieces. This is just text-book modus operandi for empires.

    However, eugenics did not at all start with Hitler or the Nazis, eugenics was an idea spread by the British Empire.

    In fact, Hitler and the Nazi party were actually financially supported and even BAILED OUT by Wall Street and the London financiers. Notably George Bush Jr’s grandfather, Prescott Bush, made the loan to bail out the Nazi party through Brown-Brothers Harriman. The Harriman family was of course fanatical about spreading the “science” of eugenics. There would not have been a rise of the Nazis party without Wall Street/British backing.

    Everyone should know that and no apologies should be made for such a history.

    It should also never be forgotten that the British royal family was fanatical in its support for Hitler and eugenics, and the Bank of England under Montagu Norman financially backed the Nazis as well, as did much of the Wall Street banking interests, which were essentially just an extension of the City of London into the United States.

    The truth is that Hitler and the Nazis would never have pulled off what they did had they not had the support from the top echelons of the British Empire and Wall Street interests.

    It’s also important to recognize that Empires always have a trajectory. To just take one moment in that trajectory and try to attribute certain qualities is likely to lead to many misconceptions about the nature of Empire. And there is of course the empire of mind, which is as important as the physical empire. Empires will always try to enslave their subjects mentally as a much more efficient means of control, resorting to violence only when it’s necessary. Aldous Huxley, another ardent eugenicist, famously described this system of as that of the Brave New World.

    Africans, Indians and Asians were deemed inherently inferior to British imperialists. This is what characterized the British Empire. They did not care about spreading progress or promoting technological development. In fact they were all about preventing other nations and peoples from developing. They promoted people like Thomas Malthus, preaching his gospel of death, famine and depopulation, which is has actually arguably become more popular today.

    That is the nature of the British Empire and it shouldn’t be excused in any way shape or form, it should only be studied so that such things never happen again. Unfortunately, many of those lessons have not been learned and the same financial circles and interests which ran the British Empire, the City of London, Wall Street, who backed Hitler and the Nazis, most of them still exist to this very day.

    • Mike Bryant

      And who are those same financial interests backing today, China?

    • Evan Mantyk

      Dear Mr. Gosselin,

      In Malthus, we see the communist specter as we see it in Robespierre, decades before Marx and his manifesto. The British Empire was infected, as was any major government. Overall though, as far as empires go, the British Empire did more good than harm. I will have to side with Dadabhai Naoroji on this one.

      You may find this series on the communist specter edifying: https://www.specterofcommunism.org/ebook-toc/

      To Mr. Bryant: Indeed, these are the financiers in league with the Chinese Communist Party.

      • David Gosselin

        Dear Evan,

        In regards to the British Empire, I think the American founding fathers would disagree with you, so would all the Americans that fought in the revolutionary war to free themselves from the tyranny and enslavement of the British Empire.

      • David Gosselin

        Just to clarify what the difference between the American System and the system of the British Empire is, here is a great quote by Abraham Lincoln’s economist. It perfectly encapsulates the axiomatic difference between the two systems, which are often mistaken as being a variation on one idea:

        Two systems are before the world; … One looks to increasing the necessity of commerce; the other to increasing the power to maintain it. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level. One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world.

        The Harmony of Interests – Henry C. Carey

      • Mike Bryant

        David, your whole premise is ridiculous and childish. “MY SYSTEM IS BETTER THAN YOUR SYSTEM!!!”
        Responsibility lies in the now. It lies in each individual doing the best they can with what they have… now.
        For heaven’s sake, America was born out of Great Britain. If we continue along the path of serfdom laid out by our globalist masters, we shall die under the heel of the now-building Chinese war machine.
        Don’t you think divisive rhetoric has wreaked enough damage?
        Not one person alive today is responsible for the mistakes of the past. Why not point your pen in a direction that might actually help?
        Kipling was an upstanding and responsible individual who followed his better instincts and is loved by his country of birth and all who appreciate his poetry and outlook.
        I will not follow you down the rabbit hole of blame.

      • Evan Mantyk

        Mr. Gosselin,

        A splendid quote from Lincoln, thank you; though I wonder if the Native Americans and Mexicans would agree with it.

        I say we put the British Empire to a vote in Hong Kong. How many people in Hong Kong would like to…

        (A) continue being ruled by the Chinese Communist Party
        (B) return to rule by the British Empire

        We could even add a third

        (C) return to rule by the Japanese Empire.

        At any rate, I suspect the results would not be (A), though (B) or (C) could be interesting match. One thing: we’ll have to make sure that the voting is not done on Dominion voting machines! We can use paper ballots and make sure they can be counted and verified later on if needed.

  11. Joseph S. Salemi

    I think that, when we hear from David Gosselin, we should remember that we are hearing a lot of echoes from The Schiller Institute, Lyndon LaRouche, and the “New Silk Road” (a Chinese Communist scheme for world domination). The savage hatred of the British royal family and the British Empire is particularly characteristic.

    • David Gosselin

      Right, because Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington and the founding fathers also believed that the British Empire was doing more good than bad… To think otherwise is a cult conspiracy!

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Thinking that the British royal family is the source of all the political disasters of the twentieth century is more that cultish. It’s a sign of LaRouche-ite paranoia.

  12. James A. Tweedie

    Someone once told Billy Graham that they didn’t need to go to church because they worshiped God on the golf course. Graham replied that the difference is that people go to church to worship God and then they do other things and that he went to the golf course to play golf and the worship of God was one of those other things.

    Colonialism is like that. Nations do not occupy and take possession of alien geographic territory, cultures, and peoples for the sake of “civilizing” them, they colonize to derive benefits for themselves by gaining control of natural and human resources in support of their national economy and the power that comes with it. Any benefit to those colonized is secondary and, where it occurs, its primary purpose is to increase the benefit to the colonizing country. Power and control are maintained though law designed to strengthen the authority of the colonizing nation and by the imposition of military force to ensure that the law is enforced.

    England was perhaps the most liberal of all the European colonizers but to suggest altruistic motives is to overlook the exploitation, the suppression and oppression of people by slavery and later by plantation-style labor and the use of force to suppress the constant uprisings from those who felt they were being denied a fair piece of their own pie. England seized and maintained control over India, Uganda, and even Hong Kong (initially) at the point of a gun, and then making sure that their gun was bigger than any possessed by those they colonized.

    To maintain this power and control required great investment of military force, including British soldiers and those recruited from among indigenous populations (like the Ghurkas in India). The monuments to these soldiers’ sacrifice are found in nearly every cathedral in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well in the genealogies of those of us whose ancestors came from those places (my own family became wealthy from its control of several indigo plantations in India–until the industry went bust in the early 1800s).

    But there are few monuments to the millions of Indian and African people who were exploited, abused, oppressed, starved, and slaughtered in support of maintaining colonial control.

    India wasn’t even a nation when the British colonized it and it is only a country today because the British forcefully united its disparate parts by the force of law imposed on the sub-continent and enforced by military power. Was it improved under British rule? Absolutely. Were the vast majority of Indians suppressed, abused, exploited, and oppressed and the wealth of the colony drained away for the benefit of the British gentry, industrial barons and economic oligarchs? Absolutely.

    The “White Man’s Burden” of Kipling celebrated the dedication and sacrifice made by those who served to maintain British control of India. For those who served it was indeed a burden borne almost exclusively by “White Men.”

    His poem celebrates the imposition of Western Culture, government, law, and “civilization” on a people who did not ask for it and from which most of them did not derive any significant benefit; while turning a blind eye to the suffering, oppression and exploitation that made the “burden” a profitable one for Britain to bear.

    In a real sense, modern India is an invention of the British, just as the nations of Jordan, Iraq, and Syria were created out of thin air by the British following WW 1 and the subsequent collapse of the Ottoman Empire (not to mention their hand in the creation of modern Israel).

    One can argue forever as to whether British colonialism was, on balance, a good thing or a bad thing for those who were colonized, but it is indisputable that it was a massive benefit to Britain.

    Mike’s comment concerning context is a very important one. When we judge the past based on current standards, history does not usually come out looking well. It is best to judge history by learning from it rather than simply condemning it outright.

    In short,

    They didn’t go to India to worship God.

    They went to India to play golf.

    As poetry, I would never use the Kipling poem as a teaching aide except as a springboard into a conversation about the history of colonialism in general and the British rule of India specifically.

    Evan’s questions are good. But there are other, more important and insightful questions that would also need to be asked.

    PS. As a more recently created country the United States was never a big player in the colonization game (although our history of institutionalized/legalized domestic slavery and our treatment of Native peoples should cause us to cringe in shame, regardless of historical context).
    Our own attempt was the acquisition of the Philippines following the Spanish American War and our betrayal of the promise of independence. We proved to be terrible at imposing our control at the cost of over 200,000 Filipino lives. Although it is true that the people of the Philippines were (and still are) grateful to the United States for freeing them from the nightmare of Japanese occupation during WW 2, there are many who will never forgive the United States for what we did in response to the Philippine’s struggle to gain independence from the American occupation of their country.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Good grief. What a perfect example of sentimental, self-abasing, liberal apologizing.

      Grow up. Empires are natural, and all empires are brutal and bloody, some more than others. The Roman Empire was brutal, the Athenian Empire was genocidal towards fellow Greeks, the Egyptian, Assyrian, Spanish, Chinese, French, Portuguese, Inca, Russian, Dutch, and Japanese Empires were brutal. The big difference is that some empires (like the British) were brutal only when they had to be, while others (like the Nazi or Soviet empires) were brutal as a matter of sadistic policy. As Congreve said, ” ‘Tis the way of the world, madam.”

      If you dislike empires, fine. But that scruple won’t prevent you from being eaten alive by some other nation that doesn’t share your pietistic bleeding heart. And when you spend time whining and bemoaning the sins of your ancestors, you make yourself a prime candidate for being devoured.

      • James A. Tweedie

        Bad show, Joseph.

        You argue against something I never said and pretend to set me up as an example of something drawn from your imagination. Why you do this with me repeatedly and incessantly is a mystery and it does not become you.

        Good grief, yourself.

        Where am I sentimental? Where am I self-abasing? Where, even once, do I apologize for anything? Where do I display any evidence of being liberal–or conservative, for that matter.

        Is stating historical fact in as even-handed a way as possible a sign of liberalism? of being a progressive? If so, then you are giving far too much credit to liberals for being less radical than they are.

        It is not I who needs to grow up in this exchange, for I have been reasonable, honest and straightforward in what I have written and have invented nothing out of thin air as you have done in your shallow mischaracterization of my beliefs, my character and my politics.

        Of course empires are “natural.” Who would argue against that? But it not a sign of childish immaturity to also believe that Empires may also, at times, be cruel, unjust, and loathsome, as you yourself appear to agree.

        And insofar as you also seem to agree with me that British colonialism was most certainly the the most liberal of the European colonizing powers, I fail to see why you choose to attack me for sharing common cause in the matter.

        As far as empires, cruelty, oppression and the like “being the way of the world, madam,” the same could–and still can–be said of slavery. Does the fact that slavery is the way of the world place it above critical examination and condemnation?

        As far as I can see, the easiest way to be “devoured” by the endlessly repeating cycles of history is to turn a blind eye to the evils of the past and, in so doing, to justify their continuing existence in the present.

        The disdain and disrespect that you have shown me in your response to my contribution to the conversation and your baseless attempt to describe me as exhibiting a “pietistic bleeding heart” is far more a reflection on your own heart than it is on anything I wrote in my comment.

        No doubt you will come out swinging, as you are wont to do.

        But I have had my say and will say no more on this matter until such time you may choose to take another unprovoked cheap shot at me in the future.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        You complain about monuments to fallen British soldiers in English churches and cathedrals. And you implicitly complain about the lack of monuments to those who fought and killed them.

        You apologize for your family profiting handsomely from the indigo plantations.

        You say that we in the United States must “cringe in shame” because of slavery, and our domination of the Philippines.

        You say that you would never teach Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” except to “start a conversation about colonialism” (the translation of that is “to apologize profusely for our sins”).

        Yes, I can fly off the handle and be rude and impolite. And yes, you and I have diametrically opposed world-views that simply rub each other the wrong way. I was harsh, and I do ask your pardon for that offense.

        But try to see it from my viewpoint. Everything you have said in your post is perfectly suited to be what the left wants: all Europeans hanging their heads in shame, apologizing, and beating their breasts with “Mea Culpa!” for things that happened long before any of us was born.

        Don’t you see that you are being played, politically? That your moral feelings are being exploited and manipulated to work against your own race and culture, for the purpose of empowering its enemies? That when the newer and younger empires come to take over, they will make NO DISTINCTION between Salemi and Tweedie, but will enslave and degrade us all?

        Sins are personal, not social or political. No one alive today bears any guilt or responsibility for the misdeeds of past systems or long-dead empires. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to trap you into a leftist paradigm of paralysis, and hesitation to defend yourself.

        When I see Europeans falling into that trap, that’s when I get ferociously angry.

        But since we can’t get along, I wont comment any more on your postings.

  13. Mike Bryant

    And as we witter on and bicker with each other over our past the Chinese Communists are winning the future by colonizing the USA. The new “Raj” is in power in the USA NOW, as the Lords of China hand out trinkets to the masses, and keep us confined to our homes with our multiple gags in place.
    Divide and conquer.
    As we stand and cheer for All those who are accepting money from the CCP, our blood and treasure is won by the new Colonialists, The CCP.

  14. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    I have read this comments thread with interest, concern and sadness. I am sad because factors beyond our control are in constant question. We cannot choose our skin color, our country of birth, or that county’s history. Yet, white people (and only white people) are expected to atone for the sin of their color and origin of birth – especially the “white supremacist” with his “toxic masculinity” on display. It’s terms and attitudes like this that have caused the suicide rate among young Western white males to soar. How sad it is for me, the mother of an intelligent and kind son with the immutable traits of whiteness, Britishness, and maleness, to hear him apologize for these characteristics and a past he had no part in.

    We can learn from our collective histories. We can apply that wisdom and aspire to a better future, but we cannot and must not burden future generations with past sins. Kipling led a harsh life and paid the ultimate price for his origin of birth by losing a son to the horrors of WWI. He also wrote with a candor that gives each reader a feel of what it was to live in the time he did (the good, the bad, and the ugly), none of which should be erased when it can serve as an education. This is why it is so important to let our future generations read past literature without injecting present-day politics into every line (thank you, Evan).

    Who is next for the chopping block? The Bard of Avon – the supreme white misogynist who shunned women in favor of young men to act in his plays and who used racist language such as “Moor” to describe Othello? And when Shakespeare’s legacy is dead and buried because of his literary transgressions, will the West haul the rest of the world over the cancel-culture coals because of their wicked histories… I think we know the answer to that. There is absolutely no consequence for the evil doings of the CCP with its present-day genocidal traits – never mind looking to China’s past.

    • James A. Tweedie


      I said I would say no more but your reply has forced my hand insofar as you continue to do what I said you did at the first: Critiquing me for things I did not say.

      1. I did not complain about British monuments to those who died in service to their country in India (or elsewhere). When, for example, I recently stood before one such monument to the 200 women and children slaughtered by Indian mutineers in the infamous Bibighar massacre in Cawnpore, I grieved, as I did before the many memorials to officers and regimental soldiers who died in the lengthy campaign to relieve the siege of Lucknow. It is estimated that over 6,000 British soldiers and civilians died during the rebellion.

      2. I do confess to making note of the memory hole regarding the British slaughter of well over 100,000 Indian civilians (along with well over 50,000 rebels) during the uprising. Here is a quote: “Edward Vibart, a 19-year-old officer whose parents, younger brothers, and two of his sisters had died in the Cawnpore massacre, recorded his experience:

      The orders went out to shoot every soul…. It was literally murder… I have seen many bloody and awful sights lately but such a one as I witnessed yesterday I pray I never see again. The women were all spared but their screams on seeing their husbands and sons butchered, were most painful… Heaven knows I feel no pity, but when some old grey bearded man is brought and shot before your very eyes, hard must be that man’s heart I think who can look on with indifference.”

      Am I to be criticized for joining with this 19-year old British soldier in refusing to feel indifferent towards this wholesale slaughter and the widespread and well-documented (by the British themselves) torture and rape that accompanied it?

      3. I did not apologize for my family’s short-lived prosperity from indigo holdings in India (he was a doctor with the East India Company) in the early 1800s.

      4. If you do not wish to cringe in retrospective shame for our nation’s legacy of slavery, it’s mistreatment of Native People, and what was done in the Philippines following the Spanish American War, I will not criticize you for that. But why you criticize me for doing so–out of a commitment to preserve the memory of such moral failures so that our nation may avoid repeating them in the future–and condemn my sentiments as symptomatic of left-wing political indoctrination is, to my way of thinking, to have jumped the shark.

      And although I may not personally share responsibility for the sins and guilt of my forebears, I do not consider it a fault to acknowledge their sin, grieve for those who suffered as a result of their sin, or to work to ensure that such injustice and abuse is not repeated in the future.

      If I have mis-characterized you in any of my comments then I join with you in asking pardon for any offense.

      I do not, however, apologize for anything else that I have said.

      Peace be with you, Joseph. Our differences do not include either of us lacking a love of our country or either of us minimizing or failing to acknowledge the present and growing threat to our freedom and independence by China and by those in our own country who are willingly or unwittingly selling their souls (for whatever reason) in spreading the evil that the CCP represents to the free world.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        James, your last paragraph says it all… perhaps if this huge elephant in the room was addressed in the first place we wouldn’t be in this sorry situation now. The powers that be need to divide and conquer in order to survive. Perhaps addressing the present rather than the past issues might lead the way to a just world that makes sense.

        I am sick of the Toyota Pious brigade… a vehicle that wouldn’t exist without the CCP’s present colonialism and abuse of African children who mine and die for a pittance they receive for the cobalt that makes virtue signaling possible. The bright side… at least they’re not having their organs ripped out by those who claim freedom of religion is akin to cultism…. yet.

        We need to make clear whose side we are on before it’s too late. Why are we buying what they’re selling? (In every sense of the word)



    • David Gosselin

      It seems like most people are reacting emotionally over a question of objective historical context. The British Empire was evil by design, by intent and by effect. The way the empire operated was through trade, commerce and finance. Trade, commerce and finance are not imperialist things, but in the case of the empire, the question is all about HOW they used these things and to what end. The empire was built on the dogma of “Free Trade”, buying cheap and selling dear, using slave-grown cotton from one part of the world to then get another one of its colonies with a textile industry to make the product, which they would then sell “dear” on the international markets. It was based on using cheap labor, degrading the value of labor, often slave labor as a means of dominating the economic landscape, and THROUGH THIS DOMINATION, imposing its will on other peoples and keeping those deemed “inferior peoples” in check.

      Of course it created economic activity, which means “jobs” the same way globalization has created “jobs” all over the world by outsourcing. But to simply view such imperial activities with that lens is to miss the whole point and intent of the game.

      I haven’t seen anyone in the thread arguing for the idea that people today should feel guilty about what was done by empires of the past. No one said that. However, KNOWING WHAT WE KNOW NOW, everyone, any young person being educated should be able to demonstrate why something like Imperialism of the British Empire is evil and doesn’t actually work.

      The American Declaration of Independence was in 1776… People back then were completely capable of understanding the fallacies and evil underlying slavery and the ugly nature of empire. The point of context to be made is that within this historical context, the British Empire was THE INSITUTION promoting slavery and the subjugation of peoples as a matter of policy, economic, financial, social, psychological etc…

      Of course the empire, being crafty, sold this as “Free Trade”, FREEDOM.
      They have a right to conduct economic activity freely!

      Being alive in the 1900s, Kipling was certainly capable of judging the nature and function of an empire. He was an independent and sovereign individual who was perfectly able to think over the issues of empire in his position. He demonstrated that he was doing just that with his poem. He espoused a genuinely racist imperialist outlook. Of course, there are plenty of oligarchs who see it as a preferable approach to the “messier” alternative. They were trying to get the slaves to cooperate and think what they think so that they would accept their condition of serfdom as essentially nature, world that has rulers and peasants, masters and slave, the strong and the weak, the genetically superior and the genetically inferior.

      Those with the economic advantage must be the smarter ones! Right?! How else could they be the ones with power?!

      The slave mentality is to actually buy into that such that some people would suggest what was happening was essentially “human nature.” It’s sophistry and it’s really a slave mentality. Someone has imposed their will on another, so that must be the nature of things! Experience shows us that this is how things work. It must be true; this must be the way the universe intended things to be! Masters and slaves!

      No one in this thread is calling for the banning of any book or idea. The main point of contention is on the good or evil nature of the British Empire. The author of the above lesson suggested teaching young people that the British Empire and its imperial policies were good, that they did more good than bad, that they HELPED people in India.

      That’s wrong and anyone today should be able to demonstrate that if their education is to be half decent. Empires, economic imperialism and slavery are not good, neither do they entail some kind of benefit.

      As an imperialist, Kipling is essentially taking something like the idea of white privilege and flipping it on its head, advancing the idea of “white burden.” That doesn’t make it better. That makes it worse. Imperialism is treated as something virtuous. Kipling’s poem embodies a disgusting racist idea. It doesn’t make anyone here racist for reading it, and I haven’t seen anyone suggest anything like that, but Kipling’s idea itself is apologetic racist imperial drivel of the worse kind i.e. the white man running his empire is ultimately being virtuous… What would a poem have to say to be considered racist imperialist drivel? Does it have to literally call for the mass enslavement of human beings across the world in service of an oligarchy, a no-nuance flat out statement? Then can we call it racist imperialistic ideological drivel?

      When the actual context for the British Empire exists, it’s clear that Kipling is expressing a very ugly, disgusting and racist idea. The only reason that wouldn’t be clear is if the context in which the poem was presented was incorrect. So I AGREE, the context DOES MATTER. But in this case, the context is what allows one to reach the conclusion that the poem is pure ugly racist ideological drivel.

      Again, anyone is allowed to read or teach the poem, but what should be clear is that if we’re talking about education i.e. truth, the nature of things, historical events and consequences, the poem expresses an imperialist idea which should be easily understood as being false and ugly. If people cannot judge false and ugly, society is not something that will exist for much longer. In fact, the problem is that ugliness is what has come to dominate a great deal (not all) of the art in the 20th and 21st century, and Modernism played a major role in that.

      Think of the “Rite of Springs”: the audience watches a ritualistic sacrificial dance and then the chosen young lady is ritualistically sacrificed i.e. murdered, and then the audience is supposed to clap!

      That’s the “Rite of Springs.” That’s what people are supposed to clap for. They are supposed to be disabused from any idea of ugly or beautiful, good or bad. In fact, Frankfurt School Modern Art theorists like Adorno would argue that in fact the uglier it is, THE BETTER, because it’s freeing the reader or audience from any notion of universals or objective truth. The more you can offend someone and make them think like they are crazy for questioning the motive or value of a piece of art, the more FREEING such art is.
      It is in this context that I think it’s important for someone to be able to judge the idea of a poem like “White Man’s Burden” as ugly or beautiful, good or bad.

      The education is not about TELLING people what to think, but giving them the means to make their own value judgements grounded in reason.
      If one questions or judges such a piece as embodying an inherently ugly and false conception, by Theodor Adorno’s and other Modernist guru standards, you’re an authoritarian! You’re a fascist! You have no right to judge something as good or evil, ugly or beautiful. All you can do is judge the craft, the technical aspects, but you are not allowed to make judgements based on truth or beauty.

      This is why Kipling’s poem is evil and disgusting. It was written with rhyme and meter, but so what? Who cares? Poetry is about much more than just metrical characteristics and formal principles. A real quality education entails giving students the ability to cultivate their own sovereign faculties of reason such that they can not only judge the craft and form something takes, or HOW someone says something (as we see with the scourge of political correctness), but also its content, truth, validity and beauty. It’s a two-fold task.


      All the so-called “benefits” that India got from being occupied could have easily been generated by simply having normal healthy economic relations with trade, investment etc… However, sane, healthy and human activity was not the business of the British Empire. The real brainwashing is when we see people who don’t know how to think in any other terms. They can’t conceive of development, progress, or cooperation outside of some Nietzchean survival of the fittest might-makes-right power struggle. Such are satantic characters like Dick Cheney, the swarm of Neo-cons and interventionists who reject any idea of the benefit of the other, or of any kind of win-win approach. For brainwashed imperialists (whether left, right, conservative or liberal) it’s all a zero-sum game, it’s one great big closed Malthusian system where the only way to win is to act like a stronger beast and overpower others in order to impose one’s will and manage depleting resources.

      Kipling called this “White Man’s Burden”…

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Mr. Gosselin, and what about the elephant in the room… the here and now… the CCP – what about the present? You’ve had plenty to say about the now cowed British – how about addressing the evil of today… or are you of the same mind of the current American administration… the CCP get a pass on the grounds that genocide is just their “culture”. Shame on you!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        … and, Mr Gosselin, do calm down… don’t get overwhelmed with the past. Learn from it and look to the future – that’s where the real threat lies.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Susan, notice that Gosselin adroitly avoids answering your question or your husband’s question about the massive influence of the Communist Chinese Party in establishing a new empire over the rest of us.

        He also avoided answering Evan Mantyk’s question about the protesters for democracy in Hong Kong. Does he favor them, or the Communist Chinese thugs who are crushing them? These are pertinent and relevant questions, but Gosselin (like all LaRouche-ites) is fixated on a dead-and-buried British Empire.

        Notice also that he expects all poems to “teach the truth.” How quaint. Especially when the “truth” is apparently what The Schiller Institute decides is true.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Joe S., I have noticed and firmly believe he has no answers to uncomfortable, non PC questions that need to be answered honestly and directly- a sad indictment of the times.

      • David Gosselin

        Unfortunately, you both seem to have jumped to many conclusions without any knowledge of what I actually think. Instead you went for a nice (and very easy) “Red Scare” narrative in hopes everyone would just forget what the actual subject was: Kipling’s bad racist poetry and your defense of it. The article was about Kipling’s poem “White Man’s Burden” and that’s the topic that I was speaking on.

        Frankly, for you to just try and flip the script with a “What about China!?!?” when you seem emotionally unable to even recognize the evil and problems with the current subject seems pretty dishonest. If you’re not even capable of emotionally recognizing the fallacies with the work and ideas in question, I don’t think you’re really in a position to be pontificating on the moral inferiority of other nations and people, again.

        You also probably should refrain from swallowing whole whatever narrative the mainstream media wants you to swallow, especially since you in all likelihood don’t give a damn about China or the Chinese people. I have several Chinese friends and they certainly don’t buy every word being spewed by the MSM. But oh! Wouldn’t everything just be so much better if we could just invade and occupy China like we did with Vietnam, and all the Middle Eastern countries! Sure, it would be a great “burden”, but you guys seem to believe in that stuff.

        In conclusion: you tried to completely change the subject and avoid recognizing the fallacies of the present article. The smarter people can see through that. Instead, you started throwing silly commie accusations around and talking about things you likely have very little knowledge of: China.

        So there’s no reason for me to believe you have any knowledge of China, or any friends from China for that matter… I’ll bet on the latter. Again, I don’t think you give a damn about China or the Chinese. Your whole reaction has been to freak out about the fact that a racist imperialist poem was actually called out for what it is, based on actual context and history of empire. And you still can’t call it for what it is. If you can’t even accept that, how are we supposed to have a conversation about other countries that you probably know much less about?

        MAYBE, if you were willing to acknowledge the racist nature of the poem and ideas at hand, I’d be open to having a discussion about a subject like Chinese foreign and domestic policy, but from the looks of it, you probably think we should just to “rescue” the people like we did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and many others. Let’s just keep trying to topple evil dictators and intervene in foreign nations, it’s really worked out so far!

        I wish you the best in your China studies.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        Mr. Gosselin,

        Kipling’s poetry and the British Empire have been addressed by Dr. Salemi, Mr. Mantyk, and myself. Dr. Salemi has even pointed you in the direction of an essay he has written on Expansive Poetry Online which provides context and affords meaning to the works of Kipling – context and meaning that rise above the lazy and all too convenient “racist” slurs. As I said, Shakespeare also falls into this category with his derogatory terms used to describe Othello… it’s only a matter of time before he’s thrown onto the ever-increasing pyres of no-good “racists” of past literature.

        I have already agreed that the British Empire had a lot to answer for. I will repeat, no one can choose their skin color or their origin of birth. Kipling was a man of his time – a time we can learn from by reading his books, not burning them. He has many great works, many humble works, many works that have enhanced people’s lives. His poem “If” is not lauded by the British because it’s “racist” – it’s because it’s humble, human and wise.

        In years to come, the atrocities of our times will come to the fore in all their horror. And, yes, I agree with you on the inhumane and pointless wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and many others – all pushed forward by corrupt, money-grabbing governments that hoodwinked their people into believing these wars were a necessary means to a good end, just like they did in Kipling’s time. Just like they’ve always done. And what if you, as a writer, believe your government, just like you may believe Biden now when he says the genocide at the hands of the CCP is merely “cultural”, nothing to see here, and the experimental vaccine is the holy grail to health and wellbeing, and in years to come your work is burned because you come from a country that aided and abetted and even colluded with an evil regime… and you brushed it aside as nothing to see here – let’s call out the past evils of the British Empire instead?

        My whole point is that history is a tool for learning, and the only way forward is to accept that those living through government-inflicted atrocities are mere men with access to a fraction of the truth, as we all are. Why on earth should well-intentioned writers be labeled “racist” and banned for speaking the language of an era. You incorrectly state that I have gone for the ““Red Scare” narrative in hopes everyone would just forget what the actual subject was: Kipling’s bad racist poetry and your defense of it.” One day, you may wake up and find all those working to ban the likes of Kipling because he’s a “racist” threat to the sensibilities were looking in the wrong direction.

  15. Evan Mantyk

    Dear Mr. Gosselin,

    Perhaps you are unaware of the SCP’s origin. I have thought about publishing the speech I gave at the 2019 Symposium on the background, but decided against it previously. The SCP was founded by myself and Joshua Philipp, both of whom were involved for years in activism on behalf of Chinese human rights. It is a lifelong quest for us since the traditional meditation practice we do, Falun Gong, is persecuted barbarously in communist China today. To say I have a few Chinese friends myself would be understatement. In fact, my good friend and the SCP VP Frank Yu is Chinese.

    Today the SCP hosts the Friends of Falun Gong Poetry Competition, which Susan Jarvis Bryant took an Honorable Mention in last year: https://fofg.org/competitions/susan-jarvis-bryant-beef-and-the-price-honorable-mention-adult/

    She is well aware in the atrocities of the Chinese Communist Party. Perhaps you would find these links useful:


    When looking at the past we deal with a lot of uncertainties and “what ifs”. Would India have been better off without the British Empire? Maybe. Maybe not. Therefore, when someone attacks the British Empire in India we find ourselves asking “Is this posturing to take up a popular anti-imperialist veneer or is this genuine humanitarian compassion?” Looking with a broad mind at all of recorded history we see that empires and powerful governments have always existed as a matter of unavoidable reality. It is simply how human civilization has always worked and how it works today. If we take the Chinese Communist Party as an empire today then we have a clear example right in front of us of an evil empire. Does the British Empire compare in its cruelty, in its corruption, and in its basic disregard for human life? I would argue that the British Empire was more benevolent and aboveboard because, most obviously, it killed a lot less civilians. Also, it had a strong strain of traditional Christian belief at its core. It accepted that human beings are all in the image of the Creator and are inherently precious. The British Empire did horrible things, but had a conscience that they genuinely reckoned with at the end of the day. The Chinese Communist Party has killed tens of millions and, at its core, is atheist and views human beings as animals that evolved randomly and can be wiped out at will, just so long as it doesn’t create a press nightmare.

    Frankly, in my view, there is not enough of a Red Scare. Just think about it: on one hand Biden says “Yes, there is genocide” and then on the other hand he simply brushes it off as “different cultural norms.” What is going on here? Are people being butchered for their beliefs and who they inherently are, or not? This is the KKK, the Nazis, and every mass murderer you can imagine rolled into one totalitarian communist government. If people really knew the facts and the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party has infiltrated our government, Wall Street, our colleges and universities, Hollywood, the United Nations, etc. then I think they would be scared and, more importantly, a little bit pissed off. They should be.

    Finally, regarding the LaRouche Movement, if anyone reading this is involved with them, beware. They are globalists who apparently are perfectly okay with genocide to achieve their aims and have acted as a propaganda arm for the Chinese Communist Party. Ironically, they also apparently trumpet classical arts, which led one friend I know to submit this piece last year exposing just how twisted and evil some of their content can be: https://classicalpoets.org/the-larouche-movements-attack-on-falun-gong/

  16. James Sale

    What a hoo-ha over a fine poem. I think Mike Bryant is right: where we are now is far more important than where we were, which is not to whitewash anything. I am surprised to find what I can only describe as extremist arguments from David Gosselin, attacking both the mother country of Canada, but worse, seeking to drive a wedge in between British and American allies. One profound truth of the American Revolution which he obviously prefers not to dwell on is the fact it could equally be described as The English Civil War part 2 – the reasons Washington and co took on George were almost identical to the reasons Cromwell took on Charles 150 years earlier: primarily, the oppression of monarchy and the denial of rights – revolutionary Americans knew full well about Magna Carta, as did the Puritans, their ancestors. In both cases democracy prevailed and the rights of citizens were established. Steps forward were made that could not be reversed. Thus it is that the notion of power that David grants to the British monarchy in the C20th is absurd: the Kaiser and the Tsar had that power – but British monarchy did not. Equally, David’s account of the British empire is partial and clearly tainted by malice: I am quite shocked at these extravagant allegations against it. The truth is, the English, and through them, the Americans, have been responsible for the largest distribution of democracy and wealth in the whole history of the world, and at this moment in time it is poised to end. Quite why somebody seeks to undermine our capacity to resist that destruction is a relevant question. Believe me, if America and Britain go down, there won’t be much time left in Canada to contemplate the beauties of Shelley and Keats.

  17. Mia Panayi (nee Solomonides)

    I have come to this conversation a little late. It is unbearably interesting for me as I was born a British Subject in Cyprus(I have given my age away now)
    but have lived as a British Citizen in the UK for many years. I feel that I my family are part of the past, present and future as far as this conversation is concerned .
    In 1974 I lost my home in Cyprus to Turkey.
    I have lost one home. I do not want to lose another. As a Cypriot I am neither white or black. Wedged in the middle, not just an ethnic minority but an endangered species.
    ‘ Rome is burning” but we believe that it is ours forever.Life will go on with or without us.
    So no one should be responsible for what happened in the past.
    interestingly when I was allowed a very brief visit to my home in Cyprus after the occupation I was told ‘welcome to our home’ by the family who has taken it by force. no hint of an apology or shame there. Shame is what white people are supposed to feel whilst some will deny the Armenian massacre ever happened let alone apologise for it!
    So what to do? Now that is the question.
    I know that I can only give my point of view and keep rational.
    perhaps try and improve my poetry although I am dangerously close to giving up. But giving up is not an option. I would like the future to be a good one for the young people who are growing up in such a world. I am grateful to Britain for its Democracy. I fear that one day it may be lost.
    Also if children are studying Kipling in the west then they have nothing to do with colonialism. it should be a poetry lesson set in a historical context. they are after all studying as free citizens. Not to mention the fact of how fortunate we are to have access to so much literature and art. Yes it is easy to be resentful and to see the bad in things and people. To blame others for one’s misfortunes. Or to go along with the accepted and expected view.
    It is much harder to stand up for what we believe in and defend what is precious in the face of ‘might is right”.
    ps I am also very grateful for this site and for its defence of classical poetry. I may not be able to always reach the standard required but I recognise excellence when I see it!


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