Printer Friendly

Culture as colonizer: Raynal's "colonialisme eclaire" in the Histoire des deux Indes.

The Histoire philosophique et politique des etablissemens et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes first appeared in 1770 and soon caused a great deal of controversy. With successive editions, the collaborative text took on an increasingly combative tone due, it is believed, to the sizeable contributions of Diderot. In fact, Hans Wolpe famously referred to Raynal's work as a "machine de guerre" (1) for its strong influence in the years preceding the French Revolution. The Histoire was eventually ordered to be burned before the Parliament of Paris in 1781, as a work "impie, blasphematoire, seditieux, tendant a soulever les peuples contre l'autorite souveraine et a renverser les principes fondamentaux de l'ordre civil." (2)

The very complicated question of the nature and extent of Diderot's contributions to the Histoire is one that has already been meticulously researched, most notably by Duchet, Wolpe, Dieckmann, Liisebrink, and Feugere. In keeping with the growing trend of a more global approach to French literary history, (3) an increasing amount of scholarship has come to recognize the Histoire as a valuable document that encapsulates the major historical, political, philosophical, and economic questions of the eighteenth-century colonial world, as viewed from France.

Along with Diderot, Raynal's anti-colonial sentiments have typically garnered much more attention than his positive recommendations for a more humane colonization. This is perhaps due to the lingering of a popularized reductive reading of the eighteenth century according to which the Enlightenment principle of reason and its accompanying right to freedom did not allow for nuance, whereas in reality not all philosophes were strictly anti-colonial. (4) In more recent scholarship, the Histoire has begun to gain consideration as a text containing speculative plans for constructing a more unifying global project. (5) Alongside the wealth of scholarship on Raynal's anti-colonial and anti-slavery discourses, I propose that his interest in fostering a new kind of enlightened colonialism merits equal consideration. Focusing on Raynal's criticism of Spanish colonization and his analysis of French intervention in Madagascar, I intend to show how his presentation of cultural presumptions bearing on customs, practices, and laws both supports and betrays his endorsement of colonial expansion. Like his contemporary, Rousseau, Raynal was keenly aware of both the positive and negative potentialities of civilization, a theoretical consideration underlying the contradictions observable in his discourse on colonization. By highlighting Raynal's preoccupation with the power of cultural signifiers to shape power relations both within social groups and in intercultural exchanges, I wish to emphasize the epistemological significance of the Histoire. Raynal's work exceeds an assembling of historical and political information; it is an experiment in early anthropological methodology that draws upon descriptive and analytical portraits of Non-European peoples in order to elaborate a plan for a more humane colonization.

In distinction to Diderot, who objects to the very principle of colonization, (6) Raynal adopts a more pragmatic approach. Given the fact that the colonies do exist, Raynal is therefore asking the question, "What past mistakes in European commerce with colonized peoples must be avoided in the future, and how can these intercultural exchanges be optimally reconfigured so as to yield a more harmonious and fruitful association?"

At the heart of Raynal's work, as evidenced by the prominent position it occupies in the title, is commerce. Certainly, the commerce with which Raynal is concerned is not limited to material goods. In order to evaluate Raynal's discourse on colonization, it is helpful to consider colonization as a system of global commerce, one whose exchanges deal not only in money but equally, and perhaps even more significantly, in cultural currency. (7) Along with Anthony Strugnell, I propose that the Histoire presents a vision of an enlightened colonialism that is a sort of metaphorical equivalent of "fair trade" commerce. However, the reading of Raynal that I will put forth in this article distinguishes itself by focusing on the pivotal role of culture within colonial encounters. Within this perspective, I argue that Raynals analysis of cultural signs and their relationship to power lends cohesiveness to the multiplicity of his discourse on the colonies, which ranges from condemnation of colonial exploitation to suggestions for a more humane colonization.

In Book VI, Raynal focuses his criticism of Spanish colonization on the conquerors' misguided investment in material commodities having no use value (namely, gold), their inability or unwillingness to "read" the cultural signs of the native populations they encountered, and their intentional abuse of cultural signs to deceive these peoples. In doing so, he develops a conceptual framework that will pave the way for his future recommendations for an enlightened colonization. Raynal describes the reaction of the Spaniards as they embark upon the island that they will name San Salvador:
   C'etait de l'or que cherchoient les Espagnols: ils en virent.
   Plusieurs sauvages portoient des ornemens de ce riche metal; ils en
   donnerent a leur nouveaux hotes. Ceux-ci furent plus revoltes de la
   nudite, de la simplicite de ces peuples que touches de leur bonte.
   Ils ne surent point reconnoitre en eux l'empreinte de la nature.
   Etonnes de trouver des hommes couleur de cuivre, sans barbe et sans
   poil sur le corps, ils les regarderent comme des animaux imparfaits
   qu'on auroit des lors traites inhumainement, sans l'interet qu'on
   avoit de savoir d'eux des details importans sur les contrees
   voisines, et dans quel pays etoient les mines d'or. (8)

Rather than graciously accepting the hospitable gestures of the islanders, a communicative act of goodwill that supplants the need for a common language, the Spaniards are unable to recognize the islanders as peers with whom they can enter into an exchange. In the eyes of the Spaniards, dress functions as a cultural sign solely determined by European customs. What is more, the Spaniards seem to have no curiosity about the islanders, all the while remaining apparently unaware of what their own investment in material commodities reveals about them.

In another related passage, this time involving an interaction between the Spaniards and the Peruvians, commodities such as gold and iron again play a significant role in the Histoires reflections on cultural value systems. Raynal intervenes, challenging a unilateral view of European colonization by suggesting, "Si je ris en moi-meme de l'imbecillite de celui qui me donne son or pour du fer, le pretendu imbecille se rit aussi de moi qui lui cede mon fer dont il connoit toute l'utilite, pour son or qui ne lui sert a rien." (9) The multiplicity of perspectives presented by the text emphasizes the cultural specificity of value systems in view of advancing criticisms of European hegemony. According to the distinction made by Adam Smith, one could say that the Peruvians privilege "use value" over "exchange value." (10) Hans Wolpe articulates the way in which Raynal distinguishes between different types of commodities. For Raynal, he observes:
   Toutes les richesses derivent de la propriete. Mais, entre ces
   richesses, il faut distinguer: les unes sont fecondes, les autres,
   funestes. Raynal ne se lasse pas de fletrir l'inlassable soif de
   l'or qui devore les colonisateurs ... Raynal, selon une distinction
   chere aux Physiocrates, oppose les richesses "fausses" aux
   richesses "vraies" ... les richesses "renaissantes", produites par
   la Nature, telles que la peche, l'elevage, les cultures sont les
   seules reelles. Les richesses dues a l'industrie et au negoce, les
   richesses "circulantes" intensifient les echanges. Elles
   reproduisent rien, et sont, par definition, steriles.

Raynal's preoccupation with commodities and their relation to cultural value systems signals his intent to weigh in on the eighteenth-century debate on luxury. (11) Without entering into the details of this issue, it is clear that the moral debate about colonization and the European tolerance of exploitation in order to support a profitable institution are crucial issues at stake in the Histoire. Also present in the tone of Raynal's reproaches of the Spaniards are Rousseau's criticisms in the First and Second Discourses of the superficial trappings of "civilized" society that threaten to corrupt interpersonal relations. Drawing upon Wolpe's observation that Raynal favors commodities that are fecund, generative, and productive, I will argue further on that Raynal's suggestion of a "soft" colonialism promoting interracial marriage in Madagascar illustrates the theoretical coherence of what he views as a "fair trade" system of enlightened colonialism.

Throughout Raynal's criticisms of Spanish colonization, he repeatedly emphasizes the Spaniards' cultural blindness due to their obsession with obtaining gold. (12) Diderot's rhetorical flourishes intensify the Histoire's denunciation of the Spaniards, with exclamations such as "Jamais peut-etre aucune nation ne fut idolatre de ses prejuges ..." (13) Nevertheless, Raynal's voice resurfaces in the lines in which he presents concrete suggestions for an improved colonization in Mexico:
   O que les maitres du monde feront de biens, qu'ils seront honores
   lorsque l'or qu'ils prodiguent a un luxe gigantesque, a d'avides
   favoris, a de vains caprices, sera consacre a l'amelioration de
   leur empire! Un hopital sain, construit avec intelligence et bien
   administre; la cessation de la mendicite ou l'emploi de
   l'indigence, l'extinction de la dette de l'Etat, une imposition
   moderee et equitablement repartie, la reforme des loix par la
   confection d'un code simple et clair, ces institutions feraient
   plus pour leur gloire que des palais magnifiques, que la conquete
   d'une province, apres des batailles gagnees; que tous les bronzes,
   tous les marbres et toutes les inscriptions de la flatterie. (14)

Once again, Raynal shifts the reader's attention away from what he views as a misguided focus on empty symbols of glory to the founding of institutions whose positive effects on the community will enrich the culture and secure the future glory of the colonizers in a fruitful, lasting way.

As Raynal criticizes European colonizers, he plants the conceptual seeds for colonial reform that will yield a more humane colonization, or colonialisme eclaire. (15) Raynal explains that the Jesuits observed the successful techniques used by the Incas for annexing neighboring peoples and adopted these same methods to convert the native peoples of Paraguay. (16) He reflects upon the Incas' use of culture as a vehicle for political domination in the following lines:
   Ils proposoient a la nation qu'ils vouloient ajouter a leur domaine
   d'adopter leur religion, leur loix et leurs moeurs. Ces invitations
   etoient ordinairement rejettees. De nouveaux deputes, plus pressans
   que les premiers, etoient envoyes. Quelquefois on les massacroit,
   et on fondoit inopinement sur ceux qu'ils representoient. Les
   troupes provoquees avoient assez generalement la superiorite: mais
   elles s'arretoient au moment de la victoire et traitoient leurs
   prisonniers avec tant de douceur, qu'ils alloient faire aimer de
   leurs compagnons un vainqueur humain. (17)

Similarly, he notes, the Jesuits "qui n'avoient point d'armees se bornerent a la persuasion." (18) Raynal argues that the Jesuits had additional obstacles to overcome in convincing the local inhabitants to adopt their customs and religion, since Christianity relies more on dogma concerning the unseen than the Incan religion which, he says, appeals directly to the senses. (19) The native inhabitants of Paraguay first had to learn to read the cultural signs of their conquerors before there was any hope of assimilation. Once their settlement was established, the Jesuits used the mild force of habits and customs to govern the people:
   Le prix accorde aux belles actions; l'inspection ou la censure des
   moeurs; le ressort de la bienveillance; les fetes melees aux
   travaux; les exercices militaires; la subordination; les
   precautions contre l'oisivete, le respect pour la religion et les
   vertus: tout ce qu'on admirait dans la legislation des incas se
   retrouva au Paraguay ou y fut meme perfectionne.

Within this configuration, customs are a gentle yet effective means by which the colonized people monitor the behavior of their neighbors as well as their own consciences, yielding a participatory community in which power is diffused rather than concentrated within a rigid hierarchy.

Turning now to Raynal's assessment of French colonial enterprises, the section on Madagascar exemplifies Raynal's strategy for an enlightened colonialism grounded in culture as an exchangeable commodity. He continues to expand upon the theme that the misreading of cultural codes produces errors in judgment that are often responsible for the failure of colonial ventures. In this chapter, Raynal criticizes the first French colonizing mission in Madagascar, (20) which neglected to take measures to improve the country's economy and infrastructure, changes that could have easily persuaded the Madecasses to accept foreign domination, he argues:
   Ces insulaires etoient fatigues de l'etat de guerre et d'anarchie
   ou ils vivoient continuellement. Ils soupiroient apres une police
   qui put les faire jouir de la paix, de la liberte. Des dispositions
   si favorables ne permettoient pas de douter qu'ils ne se pretassent
   facilement aux efforts qu'on voudroit faire pour leur civilisation.

   Rien n'etoit plus aise que de la rendre tres avantageuse. Avec des
   soins suivis, Madagascar devoit produire beaucoup de denrees
   convenables pour les Indes, pour la Perse, pour l'Arabie et pour le
   continent de l'Afrique. En y attirant quelques Indiens et quelques
   Chinois, on y auroit naturalise tous les arts, toutes les cultures
   de l'Asie. Il etoit facile d'y construire des navires, parce que
   les materiaux s'y trouvoient de bonne qualite et en abondance; de
   les armer meme, parce que les hommes s'y montroient propres a la
   navigation. Toutes les innovations auraient eu une solidite que les
   conquetes des Europeens n'auront pas aux Indes, ou les naturels du
   pays ne prendront jamais nos loix, nos moeurs, notre culte, ni par
   consequent cette disposition favorable qui attache les peuples a
   une domination nouvelle. (21)

This passage clearly illustrates the conceptual framework favoring generative commodities that underpins Raynal's assessments of colonial efforts. Parallel to the lines cited earlier in which he states that practical improvements to Mexico's infrastructure will bring more glory to the Spanish than the construction of palaces and monuments, here again Raynal advises concrete innovation as a means to render a foreign population malleable. He recommends that French colonizers bring skilled laborers from India and China as a means to more fully take advantage of Madagascar's natural resources and geographical location. With the help of a multicultural labor force, Raynal sees the potential for developing a profitable shipbuilding industry as well as an export system whereby Madagascar could supply valuable commodities for exchange on the global market. At the same time, the formation of a preliminary cultural melting pot of native peoples and foreign laborers will help to forge an association in the minds of the Madecasses between cultural collaboration and economic prosperity. Following this initial success, it is likely that the native population of the island would become less resistant to French domination.

Raynal's suggestions for colonial reform in Madagascar reflect a belief in the effectiveness of imposing habits and customs upon foreign peoples as a means to dominate them. This "soft" colonization is, Raynal suggests, a subtle means of control whose returns increase over time:
   Cetoit par la voie douce de la persuasion, cetoit par l'appat si
   seduisant du bonheur, cetoit par l'attrait d'une vie tranquille;
   cetoit par les avantages de notre police, par les jouissances de
   notre industrie, par la superiorite de notre genie, qu'il falloit
   amener l'isle entiere a un but egalement utile aux deux nations. La
   legislation qu'il convenoit de donner a ces peuples devoit etre
   assortie a leurs moeurs, a leur caractere, a leur climat. Elle
   devoit s'eloigner en tout de celle de l'Europe, corrompue et
   compliquee par la barbarie des coutumes feodales. Quelque simple
   quelle fut, les points divers n'en pouvoient etre proposes que
   successivement, et a mesure que l'esprit de la nation se serait
   eclaire, qu'il se serait etendu ... Peut-etre auroit-il fallu
   s'attacher uniquement aux jeunes gens qui, formes par nos
   institutions, seraient devenus, avec le tems des missionnaires
   politiques qui auroient multiplie les proselytes du gouvernement.

In these lines, Raynal is alluding to the renewed project for the colonization of Madagascar initiated by the Count Modave in 1768 and 1769. (23) Similarly to Montesquieu, Raynal recognizes the necessity of taking into account the specificity of the culture of a given people when deciding how best to govern it. However, as is noted in the new critical edition of the Histoire, Raynal's hypothetical eloquence likely serves a compensatory function, since these lines "contrastent de facon frappante avec la realite historique." (24) At first glance, these lines seem to emanate from a dreamily self-serving perspective on French culture, whose elegance and clear superiority will irresistibly lure the Madecasses to adopt French customs and institutions. And yet, paradoxically, Raynal simultaneously condemns Europe for her outdated, corrupt ways. The juxtaposition of contradictory stances within this passage attests to the numerous contradictions of eighteenth-century Europe: the zeal for freedom and progress that animated great political and philosophical discourses was all too often forced to acknowledge its own limitations, perversions, and unintended consequences. In a similar vein, Sara Melzer suggests in her book, Colonizer or Colonized?, that early modern France was still largely haunted by the vestiges of her own past as a colonized land, a complex position that often surfaces in ambivalent passages such as the one cited above. (25) Finally, in keeping with Raynal's preference for generative commodities is his plan to promote intermarriage between the French and the Madecasses, a policy already established by Modave's renewed colonial force. (26) This is perhaps one reason for which Madagascar served as a land of particular inspiration for his ideas about enlightened colonization. Another relevant consideration is that the French were reacting to competition in the region from the Dutch and the English. Seen in this light, it is evident that Raynal's efforts to construct a new variety of enlightened colonization sought to distinguish French colonization as morally superior to the programs of her rivals. (27)

While this article has focused on Raynal's projects for an enlightened colonialism, this is not to say that Diderot lacked vision in this domain. Indeed, although he famously condemns (in the final section of the Histoire, "Reflexions sur le bien et le mal que la decouverte du Nouveau Monde a fait a l'Europe") the human costs of European colonization and questions the economic benefits, he also makes contributions to the section on Madagascar in which he allows himself to envisage the possibility of a more humane sort of colonization:
   Quelle gloire ce serait pour la France de retirer un peuple
   nombreux des horreurs de la barbarie; de lui donner des moeurs
   honnetes, une police exacte, des loix sages, une religion
   bienfaisante, des arts utiles et agreables; de l'elever au rang des
   nations instruites et civilisees! Hommes d'etat, puissent les voeux
   de la philosophie, puissent les voeux d'un citoyen aller jusqu'a
   vous! ... Vous desirez que votre nom s'immortalise: songez que les
   monumens eleves en bronze sont plus ou moins rapidement detruits
   par le tems. Confiez le soin de votre reputation a des etres qui se
   perpetueront, en se regenerant. Te marbre est muet, l'homme parle.
   Faites-le donc parler de vous avec eloge. (28)

As Diderot imagines an ideal colonial venture in which France would introduce the order manifest in her institutions to other less advanced peoples, he adopts a similar thematic to Raynal by emphasizing the pivotal role of culture. In this brief moment, he is in perfect coherence with Raynal, as he designates language, through both words and gestures, as a means to conduct cultural exchange. If the French will treat the Madecasses humanely, he suggests, this will greatly facilitate the islanders' acceptance of foreign rule, and the subsequent melding of the two cultures will further perpetuate their bond. Language constitutes the most powerful, indeed the ultimate form of cultural exchange.

Language is the matrix through which eighteenth-century writers were able to question colonial policies, propose alternatives, and provide the very conceptual framework necessary for thinking globally. At several key moments in the Histoire, Raynal lends a voice to the colonized, for example, the Hottentots of the Cape of Good Hope. By rendering the abstract figures of colonization "human," (29) Raynal draws upon the sentimental mode to move his readers. This literary technique was widely used in French and British eighteenth-century writings. As Lynn Festa explains:
   Sentimental texts helped create the terms for thinking about agency
   and intent across the geographic expanse of the globe by giving
   shape and local habitation to the perpetrators, victims, and causal
   forces of empire ... By designating certain kinds of figures as
   worthy of emotional expenditure and structuring the circulation of
   affect between subjects and objects of feeling, the sentimental
   mode allowed readers to identify with and feel for the plight of
   other people while upholding distinctive cultural and personal

In other words, this rhetorical strategy established a network of exchange, an affective economy between colonizers and colonized. (10) Seen in this light, the sentimental mode serves as a powerful vehicle for conveying Raynal's ideas about enlightened colonialism.

As a writer, Raynal is an actor engaged in this affective commerce, and in so doing, does not limit himself to the role of critic of colonial exploitation. Instead, he oscillates between touching portraits that encourage identification with victims of colonization and generic representations of sauvages. As master of this network of sentimentality, Raynal is able to "govern the circulation of feeling among subjects and object." (11) Rather appropriately, Raynal's method of engagement yields "enlightened colonization" in the proper sense of the term: despite his aspirations to equitable commerce and the numerous moments that encourage sentimental identification, it is clear that even his most enlightened moments remain nevertheless inscribed within a hierarchical structure of colonization.

Among others, Michel Delon has reflected upon the complexity of the Histoires stance on colonization, asking:
   Comment un livre peut-il s'adresser a la fois aux colonisateurs et
   aux colonises, aux exploitants et a leurs victimes? VHistoire des
   deux Indes ne se contente pas de prendre a parti les premiers et
   d'encourager les seconds, elle pose le probleme du dialogue, de
   l'effet du discours. (32)

A reader of Raynal's Histoire, similarly to a reader of Diderot's Supplement au voyage de Bougainville, should not limit his or her attention to a consideration of anti-colonial arguments. The dialogical form, which constitutes the richness of these works, obliges one to move beyond static opposition and enter into a dynamic exchange. As Carey and Festa note in their work on The Postcolonial Enlightenment:
   The dialogue was ... the essential device whereby Enlightenment
   philosophers simulated the kinds of contestation and debate that
   were absent from the metropolitan public sphere ... The
   eighteenthcentury critique of colonialism ultimately contributed to
   a new colonial discourse based on Enlightenment conceptions of
   universal reason, individual freedom, and commercial globalization.

It is precisely this paradigm of language and of the exchange of meaning through cultural values that gives shape and coherence to Raynal's encyclopedic work. By placing culture at the center of his project, he draws upon the energy of a renewable human resource capable of guiding intercultural relations as they evolve throughout history, and as peoples oscillate between the roles of colonizer and colonized. Through the Histoire's many voices, at times addressing colonized peoples, and at others, colonial powers, offering both criticisms and recommendations for a more humane colonization, Raynal has produced a text that, through its presentation of a multiplicity of viewpoints espoused by philosophers, historians, and politicians in eighteenth-century Europe, stimulates further discussion in a manner consistent with his advocacy of a fruitful global commerce.

Princeton University

Works Cited

Carey, Daniel, and Lynn Festa. The Postcolonial Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Colonialism and Postcolonial Theory. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009.

Delon, Michel. "L'appel au lecteur dans l'Histoire des deux Indes", Lectures de Raynal, Eds. H-J. Lusebrink and M. Tietz. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 286. Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1991.

Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 4th Edition (1762), s.v. "Commerce".

Festa, Lynn. Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 2006.

Feugere, Anatole. l'Abbe Raynal: un precurseur de la Revolution (1713-1796). Geneva: Slatkine, 1970.

Jimack, Peter, and Jenny Mander. "Rewriting the World: The Pacific in Raynal's Histoire des deux Indes". Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter 2008), Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2008. 189-202.

Lusebrink, Hans-Jurgen. "La Critique de la colonisation espagnole dans l'Histoire des deux Indes", Raynal: De la Polemique a l'Histoire. Eds. Bancarel et Goggi. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 12, Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 2000.

McDonald, Christie, and Rubin Suleiman, Susan. Eds. French Global: A New Approach to Literary History. New York: Columbia UP, 2010.

Melzer, Sara E. Colonizer or Colonized?: The Hidden Stories of Early Modern French Culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

Pagden, Anthony. Lords of all the World: Ideologies of Empire in Spain, Britain and France, c. 1500-c. 1800. New Haven: Yale UP, 1995.

Raynal, Guillaume Thomas Francois. Histoire philosophique et politique des etablissemens et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes. Eds. Anthony Strugnell et al. Ferney-Voltaire: Centre International d'Etude du XVIIIe siecle, 2010.

--. Histoire philosophique et politique des etablissemens et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes. 1780 Edition, Geneva: J-L Pellet.

--. Histoire philosophique et politique des etablissemens et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes. 1781 Edition, Geneva.

Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Electronic version of 1776 edition. London: Electric Book Co., 2001.

Strugnell, Anthony. "Colonialism and its Discourses". The Eighteenth Century Now: Boundaries and Perspectives. Ed. Jonathan Mallinson. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 10. Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 2005.

Tietz, Manfred. "L'Espagne et l'Histoire des deux Indes de l'abbe Raynal". Lectures de Raynal. Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. 286. Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 1991.

Wolpe, Hans. Raynal et sa machine de guerre: L'Histoire des deux Indes et ses perfectionnements. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1957.


(1.) Wolpe argues for the enormous impact of the Histoire which, he says, fed political unrest, both in Europe and in the New World. He boldly maintains, "Raynal a ete, avec Rousseau, l'oracle de la Revolution francaise. Les orateurs le citaient, imitaient meme ses images et ses procedes de rhetorique [...] On la lit avec avidite en Amerique du Nord, oU, parait-il, plus de vingt-cinq mille exemplaires sont distribues aux colons pour les inciter a la revolte [...]" Raynal et sa machine de guerre: L'Histoire des deux Indes et ses perfectionnements, Stanford: Stanford UP, 1957, 8-9.

(2.) Anatole Feugere (citing Bachaumont), EAbbe Raynal: un precurseur de la Revolution (1713-1796), Geneva: Slatkine, 1970,178-179.

(3.) As evidenced by recent works such as the anthology French Global: A New Approach to Literary History, Eds. Christie McDonald and Susan Rubin Suleiman, New York: Columbia UP, 2010.

(4.) As Anthony Strugnell suggests, "It would be wrong to think that there is a straight causal link between Enlightenment values and anti-colonialism ... The philosophes were not opposed to colonialism as such, only to its misuse as a means of exploiting and dominating indigenous populations and to promoting inequitable trading practices." "Colonialism and its Discourses", The Eighteenth Century Now: Boundaries and Perspectives, Ed. Jonathan Mallison. Studie on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, Vol. io, Oxford: The Voltaire Foundation, 2005,163-164.

(5.) In Peter Jimack and Jenny Manders 2008 article, "Rewriting the World: The Pacific in Raynals Histoire des deux Indes", they analyze the strategic intent underlying Raynal's organization of the multivolume work according to geographical regions. They persuasively argue that by partitioning the colonial world into two Indies, separated by the Pacific Ocean, Raynal draws attention to the divisiveness that permeated European colonial struggles: "The main thrust of the Histoire des deux Indes is that these naturally induced distances between peoples have been reinforced by invidious and benighted European politics [...] Raynals narrative, however, is not only informed in this way by the history of European colonialism that has parceled up the world on the basis of power and prejudice: we intend to show that it also offers a bold corrective vision [...] It will be our contention that Raynals narrative contrives in effect to echo Magellan's exploit by positioning the Pacific as the means by which the Old and the New worlds can be reunited, constituting a link between them rather than a barrier, and the roundness of the earth restored." Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter 2008), Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2008, 190-191. The suggested metaphor of the Pacific as a unifying link is a useful figure for conceptualizing Raynals project for an enlightened colonialism that will advocate multiculturalism through the sharing of customs and practices. In a similar vein, Anthony Strugnell proposes, "[The Histoire's] force as a prime manifestation of eighteenth-century colonial discourse resides in the range and diversity of its perspectives and its sources, its vast coverage in both space and time and the pithy, condensed nature of its style which permits this, and last but not least, the vision of global fraternity founded on an equitable commerce between the peoples of the world that drives it forward, and which in places becomes indistinguishable from the promotion of enlightened' French colonial interests.", op.cit., 163-164.

(6.) Diderots opposition to the very concept of colonization is most evident in his criticism of the Dutch in Book II, where he passionately declares, "Apres les ameliorations que nous nous sommes permis de proposer, l'ordre se trouveroit retabli pour quelque tems. Nous disons pour quelque tems parce que toute colonie, supposant l'autorite dans une contree, et l'obessance dans une autre contree eloignee, est un etablissement vicieux dans son principe. C'est une machine dont les ressorts se relachent, se brisent sans cesse, et qu'il faut reparer continuellement." Histoire philosophique et politique des etablissemens et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes. Eds. Anthony Strugnell et al., FerneyVoltaire: Centre Internationale d'Etude du XVIIIe siecle, 2010 bk. II, Ch. XXIV, 221.

(7.) It should be noted that the term "commerce" was used, in the eighteenth century, to refer to social exchanges and communication, and was not limited to instances involving monetary exchange. Commerce is defined in the 4th edition of the Dictionnaire de l'Academie francaise (1762) as "Trafic, negoce de marchandises, d'argent, soit en gros, soit en detail [...] On dit figurement d'un homme qui se mele de quelque pratique ou intrigue qui n'est pas honnete qu'il fait un mauvais, un mechant, un vilain commerce, un honteux commerce. Commerce signifie aussi communication et correspondance ordinaire avec quelqu'un, soit pour la societe seulement, soit aussi pour quelques affaires ..." Dictionnaire de l'Academie francaise, 4th edition, 1762, The artfl Project, "Dictionnaires d'autrefois," [].

(8.) Abbe Raynal, Histoire philosophique et politique des etablissemens et du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indes, Geneva: J-L Pellet, 1780 ed., Vol. III, Bk.VI, 344-346.

(9.) HDI, op. cit.. Vol. IV, Bk. VIII, 249.

(10.) Smith delineates this important distinction: "The word value, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called "value in use", the other, "value in exchange". Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [electronic resource of 1776 edition], London: Electric Book Co., 2001, 42.

(11.) The question of luxury constituted a lively debate during this period as it was directly related to the morally questionable venture of colonization. Voltaire wrote in defense of luxury in Le Mondain (1736) and La Defense du Mondain (1737), justifying it both as a philosophy of individual happiness and as a stimulus of national prosperity. Voltaire was himself drawing upon the conceptual groundwork established by Mandeville's Fable of the Bees, Melon's Essai politique sur le commerce, and Letter CVI of Montesquieu's Lettres Persanes, all of which argued in support of luxury as a tool for economic success.

The article "Luxe" in the Encyclopedie, long believed to have been written by Diderot, and later attributed to Saint-Lambert, also offers a defense of luxury. Associating luxury with the passions, Saint-Lambert suggests that it results from a natural tendency that is not harmful in itself. After an extensive examination of luxury among numerous societies and historical moments, Saint-Lambert concludes that it is the character of a nation's government, and not luxury, which is the primary factor that determines its political destiny and the customs of its people.

While Saint-Lambert subordinates the effects of luxury on a society to the character of its government, Rousseau, for his part, heartily condemns luxury as a vice that arises from the selfish mode of civilized society. For Rousseau, man in society is consumed with amour-propre, and so he wishes to amass representative signs of wealth to impress others. In the First Discourse, he associates it with wasting time, and criticizes the arts and sciences for needing luxury to flourish.

For further information, see Christopher J. Berry, The Idea of Luxury: A Conceptual and Historical Investigation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.; Maxine Berg and Elizabeth Eger, Luxury in the Eighteenth Century: Debates, Desires and Delectable Goods, Basingtoke: Palgrave, 2002. For further specifics on Voltaire's stance on luxury, see J. Robert Vignery, "Voltaire's Economic Ideas as Revealed in the 'Romans' and 'Contes'", The French Review, Vol. 33, No. 3, Jan. 1960, 257.

(12.) While concerns about censorship likely deterred Raynal and his collaborators from focusing their anti-colonial attacks on their native France, it should also be noted that Spain was an obvious target due to the perception that it had retained an archaic mentality. As Manfred Tietz explains, "Pour Raynal et ses collaborateurs, les Espagnols sont l'incarnation du fanatisme, de la superstition et de l'abus du pouvoir monacal, qualites toutes negatives et surannees qui empechent le pays d'entrer dans 1ere moderne." The most blatant expression of this faulty mentality of the Spaniards in the eyes of their fellow European nations was, of course, the Inquisition. Manfred Tietz, "L'Espagne et l'Histoire des deux Indes de l'abbe Raynal", Lectures de Raynal, svec Vol. 286, op. cit., 102-103.

(13.) HDI, op. cit., Vol. III, Bk. VI, 383-384. Starting from "Jamais..." the passage corresponds to Pensees detachees, 334-335 (Wolpe, op. cit., 231).

(14.) HDI, op. cit., Vol. III, Bk. VI, 498-499.

(15.) In his study, "La Critique de la colonisation espagnole dans l'Histoire des deux Indes", Hans-Jurgen Lusebrink makes a brief mention of the Histoire as "un des forums d'exploration de voies alternatives et utopiques de l'histoire, en particulier dans la perspective d'une colonisation heureuse equitable et reussie", in particular with reference to Raynal's description of the Jesuits' establishments in Paraguay. "La Critique de la colonisation espagnole dans l'Histoire des deux Indes", Raynal: De la Polemique a l'Histoire, SVEC Vol. 12, Eds. Bancarel et Goggi, Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 2000, 210.

(16.) HDI, 1781 edition, Bk. VIII, Ch. XIV, 246.

(17.) Ibid., Bk. VIII, Ch. XIV, 246-247.

(18.) Ibid., Bk. VIII, Ch. XIV, 247.

(19.) Ibid., Bk. VIII, Ch. XIV, 247.

(20.) The 2010 critical edition of the Histoire provides the following information regarding the first French colonizing endeavor in Madagascar: "Lexpedition francaise de 1665 a Madagascar avait ete lancee par la nouvelle Compagnie des Indes orientales, formee par Colbert en 1664 par une vente d'actions et une subvention royale. Parmi les membres de l'expedition se trouvaient Francois Martin, futur fondateur du comptoir francais de Pondichery, Souchu de Rennefort, dont le recit servit de reference sur Madagascar par la suite, et le president du Conseil de la France orientale (Madagascar), Pierre de Beausse," op. cit., 355.

(21.) HDI, 1780 ed., Vol. II, Bk. IV, 301-302.

(22.) HDI, 1780 ed., Vol. II, Bk. IV, 302-303.

(23.) Under Choiseul, Modave sought to renew colonization efforts in Madagascar after the failure of the initial mission in 1665. HDI, 2010 critical edition, op. cit., 355-358.

(24.) Ibid., note 57,356.

(25.) Sara Melzer places France's colonization strategies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries within the larger historical and cultural context of Frances own past as a people colonized by the Romans. She depicts France's relationship to peoples of the New World as a love-hate relationship of wanting to cultivate the sauvages while at the same time fearing a "backsliding" into their own primitive past. Colonizer or Colonized?: The Hidden Stories of Early Modern French Culture, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012, 22.

(26.) According to the 2010 critical edition of the Histoire, intermarriage was in actuality rare and the program was rather unsuccessful. Nevertheless, its presence in the text helps to shed light on the conceptual framework underlying Raynals colonial discourse.

(27.) HDI, 2010 critical edition, op. cit., 341.

(28.) HDI, 1781 ed., Vol. II, Bk. IV, 308-309. According to the 2010 critical edition, this passage corresponds to Diderot, "Contributions", No. 47.

(29.) Lynn Festa refers to this process of "confer[ring] a human face and form upon the victims of empire" as "the redundant humanizing of the already human". Lynn Festa. Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France, Baltimore: The Johns Flopkins UP, 2006.

(30.) Festa goes so far as to argue that it is the sentimental mode that rendered the far-reaching relationships implicated in colonization conceivable at all for eighteenth-century Europeans:

Although the deliberate stimulation of sentimental affect magnifies and mystifies colonial relations, I contend that it does even more than this: sentimentality fashions the tropes that render relations with distant others thinkable. Eighteenth-century readers were obliged to imagine and anticipate the remote consequences of local deeds in the face of global systems--commercial markets, credit, public opinion--that could not be understood through analogies with individual behavior. Ibid., 8

(31.) Ibid., 3

(32.) Michel Delon. "L'appel au lecteur dans l'Histoire des deux Indes", Lectures de Raynal, SVEC Vol. 286, op. cit., 60.

(33.) Daniel Carey and Lynn Festa. The Postcolonial Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Colonialism and Postcolonial Theory, Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. In a similar vein, Anthony Pagden argues that the new form that colonial discourse took during the eighteenth-century was pivotal in paving the way for nineteenth-century empires:
   The conception of a world imperial base, generating enlightenment
   and technology and laced with a certain amount of Christianity
   which constituted the 'white man's burden', was perfectly in
   keeping with the late eighteenth-century notions of empire. If the
   empires of the nineteenth century possessed no larger vision of
   themselves which they were prepared to articulate with any force,
   if they were, as Marx and others supposed, merely the necessary
   expression of a certain kind of economic system, this was, in part
   at least, because their ideological groundwork had already been
   laid out. The older providentialist languages of imperialism had
   been transformed into a pretense for enlightened rationalism.
COPYRIGHT 2014 University of Pennsylvania Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2014 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Michaud, Monica
Publication:French Forum
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Mar 22, 2014
Previous Article:Liberte, egalite, sororite: the regime of the sister in Graffigny's Lettres d'une Peruvienne.
Next Article:Le libertinage feminin de Mme de Merteuil dans Les Liaisons dangereuses: une "revolution manquee?"

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters