The Ideology of Colonization: Metamorphoses of the Colonial Question in the Political Philosophy of Alexis de Tocqueville

Publication type Article
Status Published
Institute of World History RAS
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameISTORIYA

In this article the evolution of views on the empire, colonies and colonization by Alexis de Tocqueville, the outstanding French liberal thinker of the 19th century, are analyzed. It was shown that in the process of expanding the scale of the colonization of the 19th century Tocqueville, like many other French thinkers, began to defend and justify colonial domination, trying to justify colonial policy in every possible way and try to give it legitimacy. Although Tocqueville was fully aware of the vices of colonization, he was ready to defend it. He believed that the French nation could not afford not to be the dominant colonial power. Justifying the expansion of the French empire, he believed that the colonial project could contribute to the political unification of the French, and at the same time he feared that France would lose its position and its international reputation, lagging behind Great Britain in the annexation of overseas possessions. Tocqueville’s ideas about progress and the understanding of progress were fairly typical of nineteenth-century European thinkers. In 19th century Europe as a rule, attempts to justify colonization were combined with a linear theory of progress and a belief in the superiority of Europeans over other worlds.

KeywordsA. de Tocqueville, colonialism, liberalism, France, political philosophy, ideas of superiority
Publication date30.06.2022
Number of characters36133
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