In the Winter 2004 Explicator, Tenrence Bowers writes
Similarly, Heart of Darkness invites us to contemplate the moral
structure of the world created by European imperialism. First, we
quickly perceive that world to be a moral sham. European imperialism is
supposed to bring technology, the rule of law, enlightened forms of
government, and other fruits of Western civilization to Africa, but as
the products of Western know-how that Marlow finds in Africa
indicate–the “vast artificial hole” that has no purpose, the “broken”
drainage–pipes, the overturned railway-truck without a railway, the
sunken steamboat-the imperial project has simply created a junkyard
while robbing Africa of its riches. As Marlow says in reference to
Roman imperialism, but which, we learn, also applies to European
imperialism, “it was just robbery […] on a great scale […]” (9).
I always enjoyed this seeming paradox of history that imperialism creates. To go with the Roman example, yes they conquered via much bloodshed. The ancient Romans were very proud of their art and literature, their law and science and architecture. If you were to talk to a priveledged Roman or a General, they would tell you with a glimmer in their eye, that they were in effect making the world a more beautiful and fit to live. Would Rome’s influence on our modern society been nearly as much if they would have remained like the peoples of Africa? How might the world be different if Brittania had been left alone? The Middle-east developed part of its warring culture as they were being invaded by the “western infidel”. If Rome had been less imperial, how would the Arabs been able to perfect the war techniques that made defeating the Crusader armies possible?
Imperialism has its evils, but its certainly premise means well…