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Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism$
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Onur Ulas Ince

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190637293

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190637293.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 11 May 2021

Not a Partnership in Pepper, Coffee, Calico, or Tobacco

Not a Partnership in Pepper, Coffee, Calico, or Tobacco

Edmund Burke and the Vicissitudes of Imperial Commerce

(p.74) 3 Not a Partnership in Pepper, Coffee, Calico, or Tobacco
Colonial Capitalism and the Dilemmas of Liberalism

Onur Ulas Ince

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Edmund Burke’s arguments on the Anglo-Indian trade and the British rule in Bengal. In contrast to the culturalist interpretations of Burke’s position on the British Empire, the chapter brings Burke’s political economic writings to bear on his efforts to maintain the empire in India while expunging its illiberal economic aspects. Behind Burke’s attempt to reform the Indian administration and impeach Warren Hastings, it is argued, was the East India Company’s systematic violation of the liberal economic principles that defined the British character as a commercial society. Burke openly castigated the illiberal extractive policies being used in India and sequestered them from the essentially liberal conception of British commercial society. His condemnation of Company policies in India can therefore be understood as an attempt to shore up the increasingly blurred distinctions between civilized commerce and unabashed pillage, between enlightened self-interest and unbridled rapacity, and between “imperial commerce” and “imperious commerce.”

Keywords:   Edmund Burke, liberalism, empire, India, East India Company, conquest, free trade, commercial society, market exchange, cosmopolitanism

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