By Frederick G. Whelan
Edmund Burke and India' is the 1st thorough remedy of Burke's perspectives on India, even supposing the affairs of the British Indian empire occupied extra of Burke's consciousness - and occupy extra space between his writings and speeches - than any of the opposite explanations to which he committed himself in the course of his lengthy public occupation. confident of corruption and tyranny within the Indian empire, Burke led a crusade to reform its management and convey the offenders to account. pertaining to Burke's perspectives on India to rules expressed in his different writings, Whelan bargains a entire evaluation of Burke's political conception as a complete. Burke looks right here as one of many few vintage political thinkers within the Western canon to have made a major and sustained attempt to appreciate a non-European society and tradition.
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Extra info for Edmund Burke and India: Political Morality and Empire (Pitt Series in Policy and Institutional Studies)
This complaint was disingenuous, however, if Burke's presentation of the case also aimed to influence public opinion. More often than not, it was Hastings's counsel who sought a narrowly legalistic interpretation of the charges and evidence, and Burke who appealed to broadly moral and political considerations. 74 With respect to France, Burke condemned prosecutions for ''undefined crimes of state, not ascertained by any previous rule, statute, or course of precedent" ("Letter to Depont," 11). Concerning page_62 Page 63 Hastings, however, Burke set out to demonstrate "a general evil intention, manifested through a long series and a great variety of acts," rather than a few discrete offenses, since the former would carry "greater weight with a publick political tribunal" (Corr.
5:15051). In this situation, Burke the politician grasped the problem of the superior force likely to be wielded in a legislative assembly by a special interest, or the concentrated beneficiaries of corruption, in the face of merely diffuse, though potentially more numerous, opposition. The only way out of this vicious circle was to educate public opinion through a dramatic presentation of the case and thuspresupposing a reliable moral sense in a largely disinterested electorateto stir up an effective public interest in imperial justice.
77 If Burke appealed tO the "principles of state morality" and demanded justice, Hastings often spoke the language of political realism and invoked success. The following chapters will explore further dimensions of this fundamental tension between political morality and empire building. page_63 Page 64 Chapter Two The Charges: Corruption Burke fervently believed that the East India Company's servants in India, and most prominently Warren Hastings, were guilty of numerous and persistent offenses against both their native subjects and the laws of Great Britain.
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