Their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force – nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could for the sake of what was to be got.
I read Heart of Darkness for the first time during the Christmas break. I was struck by such a sense of how current it seemed that, without wishing to appear ridiculous, I think it’s a very good allegory of the current government and their approach (captured by the quote above).
At the level of the individual, the following descriptions by Marlow, Conrad’s explorer making his way up the Congo River to find a key person in a British Company’s empire-based operations, of the role of administrators within that Company put me in mind of most Ministers:
This papier-mâché Mephistopheles[;] it seemed to me that if I tried I could poke my forefinger through him, and would find nothing inside but a little loose dirt, maybe.
‘The groans of this sick person’, he said, ‘distract my attention. And without that it is extremely difficult to guard against clerical error in this climate’.
It’s not a cheery note, but I found a lot in Heart of Darkness and modestly suggest you add it to any reading you list you might have. Incidentally, it also means I shall be watching Apocalypse Now again in the near future.