Front Page Titles (by Subject) 5.: The Problems of Asia - Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War
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5.: The Problems of Asia - Ludwig von Mises, Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War 
Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War, edited with a Foreword by Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Indiana, 2011).
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The Problems of Asia
When the age of liberalism dawned, the Western nations began to have scruples about their colonial enterprises. They felt ashamed of their treatment of backward peoples. They became aware of the contrast between the principles of their domestic policies and the methods applied in colonial conquest and administration. What business did they, liberals and democrats as they were, have to govern foreign nations without the consent of those ruled?
But then they had an inspiration. It was the white man’s burden to bring the blessings of modern civilization to backward peoples. It would be unjust to say that this exculpation was mere cant and hypocrisy. Great Britain had reshaped its colonial system radically in order to adjust it to the best possible promotion of the welfare of the natives. In the last fifty years British administration of Indian and colonial affairs has been by and large government for the people.
However, it has not been government by the people. It has been government by an alien master race. Its justification lay in the assumption that the natives are not qualified for self-government and that, left alone, they would fall victim to ruthless oppression by conquerors less civilized and less benevolent than the English. It further implied that Western civilization, with which the British wanted to make the subdued natives happy, was welcome to them. We may take it for granted that this was really the case. The proof is that all these colored races were and are anxious not only to adopt the technical methods of Western civilization but also to learn Western political doctrines and ideologies. It was precisely this acceptance of Western thought that finally led them to cry out against the absolute rule of the invaders.
The demands for liberty and self-determination on the part of the Asiatic peoples are a result of their Westernization. The natives are fighting the Europeans with ideologies borrowed from them. It is the greatest achievement of Europe’s nineteenth-century Asiatic policies that the Arabs, the Hindus, and the Chinese have at length grasped the meaning of Western political doctrines.
The Asiatic peoples are not justified in blaming the invaders for atrocities committed in previous years. Indefensible as these excesses were from the point of view of liberal tenets and principles, they were nothing extraordinary when measured by the standards of oriental customs and habits. But for the infiltration of Western ideas the East might never have questioned the propriety of slaughtering and torturing foes. Their autochthonous methods were much more brutal and abominable. It is paradoxical to bring up these bygone grievances in the very hour when the most numerous Asiatic nations can preserve their civilizations only with the military aid of the Anglo-Saxons.
A defeat of the United Nations would spell the doom of the Chinese, of the Hindus, of the Moslems of Western Asia, and of all the smaller nations of Asia and of Africa. The victory of the United Nations will bring them political autonomy. They will get the opportunity to demonstrate whether they have absorbed more from the West than the modern methods of total war and total destruction.
The problem of the relations between East and West is obscured by the shortcomings and deficiencies of current ways of dealing with political issues. The Marxians purposely ignore the inequality of natural conditions of production in different parts of the world. Thus they eliminate from their reasoning the essential point. They bar their own way to either a satisfactory interpretation of the past or an understanding of the tasks of the future.
In the face of the inequality of natural resources there are today no such things as internal affairs of a country which do not concern the rest of mankind. It is to the vital interests of every nation that all over the earth the most efficient methods of production should be applied. It hurts the well-being of everybody if, for instance, those countries which have the most favorable conditions for the production of rubber do not make the most efficient use of their resources. One country’s economic backwardness may injure everybody else. Autarky in one country may lower the standard of living in every other country. If a nation says: “Let us alone; we do not want to interfere with your affairs, and we will not permit you to mind our business,” it may wrong every other people.
It was these considerations that led the Western nations to force China and Japan to abandon their age-old isolation and to open their ports to foreign trade. The blessings of this policy were mutual. The drop of mortality figures in the East proves it clearly. East and West would both suffer if the political autonomy of the Asiatic nations were to result in a fall in their production, or in their partial or complete withdrawal from international trade.
We may wonder whether the champions of Asiatic home rule have fully grasped the importance of this fact. In their minds modern ideas are in a curious way blended with atavistic ones. They are proud of their old civilizations. They are apt to despise the West. They have a far sharper recognition of the shortcomings of Europe and America, their militarism and nationalism, than of their great achievements. Marxian totalitarianism appeals more to them than “the bourgeois prejudices” of liberty, capitalism, and democracy. Do they realize that there is but one way to prosperity open for their nations, namely, the unconditional adoption of Western industrialism?
Most of the leaders of the oriental nations are convinced that the West will turn toward socialism. But this could not change the main issue. Backwardness in the East would offer the same problems for a socialist West as for a capitalist West.
The age of national isolation of individual countries is gone with the progress of division of labor. No nation can now look with indifference at the internal conditions of other countries.