In heart of darkness Conrad questions the concept of civilization. The best of a civilization is in the quality if the men/women it produces, and the quality of a person is revealed in that ultimate situation where e has only his "own true stuff" on which to rely, and when illusions are destroyed.
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I think the illusion is that these white "pilgrims" and company men can go into the Congo raping the country and its people without consequence. Marlow sees the consequences through Kurtz and the others. The looting of a country and people has consequences that are more than tangible.