Tag Archives: colonialism

The Guardian: They should come out as imperialist and proud of it

Geoffrey Wheatcroft:

There is a progressive tradition of support for colonialism, which the Euston Manifesto Group could champion

Whatever else the Iraq enterprise and the supposed attempt to democratise the Middle East have done, they have produced some unlikely alliances, and begun some fascinating new disputes. The question of imperialism has been raised again, though in a way that is uncomfortable on more than one side politically, as the recently promulgated Euston manifesto suggests.

The Iraq war has divided opinion, but not just on conventional left-right lines. It was largely opposed here by the left, but also by a number of former Tory cabinet ministers (not to say more ordinary Conservatives than Labour voters), and in America not only by liberals and radicals but by veteran conservatives such as Peter Viereck and William Buckley.

Another division has opened on the American neoconservative right. Many neocons angrily resent any suggestion that the US could ever be described in terms of imperial hegemony. But some neocons have begun to say that America is indeed an imperial power, and a good thing too: Charles Krauthammer has insisted that Americans must stop shying away from the word “empire”, adding that “we could use a colonial office in the state department”.

Here even the moderate left still does shy away from the idea of empire, as can be seen from the new group that began life in a pub near Euston station a year ago and will be formally launched later this month. A “loose association of bloggers, journalists, academics and activists”, the signatories to the Euston manifesto include Nick Cohen, John Lloyd and Francis Wheen, as well as the Americans Paul Berman and Michael Walzer.

Not all Eustonians supported the Iraq war, but they are broadly “liberal hawks”, or progressive interventionists. Their manifesto deplores “the anti-Americanism … infecting so much left-liberal thinking”. In essence they believe the west, with all its acknowledged faults, is a benevolent and progressive force.

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