In response to:

Guide to Imperialism from the December 18, 1969 issue

To the Editors:

Professor Barraclough concludes his “Guide to Imperialism” [NYR, December 18] by advising Americans and others to take to heart Bentham’s admonition: “give up your colonies…because you would do good to all the world”—and to yourselves—“by parting with them.”

Splendid; but would he agree that this admonition also applies to the government by the USSR of the Turkmens, Uzbeks, Tadjiks, and Kazakhs? And if not, why not?

George Kirk

Professor of Islamic and

Middle Eastern History

University of Massachusetts


Geoffrey Barraclough replies:

In principle, who would question Mr. Kirk’s point? But circumstances alter cases. I will not debate the complicated problem of Soviet Central Asia, if only out of respect for your valuable space. Instead, let me in turn ask Mr. Kirk another rhetorical question. Would he, an Englishman, agree that Bentham’s admonition applies to the government by the English of the Welsh or Scots or by the U.S.A. of the American Indians? Or of the Nagas by India, the Kurds by Iraq, or the Bretons by France? And if not, why not? I know my answer; I wonder if he knows his.

This Issue

February 12, 1970