Social Policy and the British Imperial Legacy
Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud
Chapter 1: The British Empire and World History: Welfare Imperialism and ‘Soft’ Power in the Rise and Fall of Colonial Rule
Joanna Lewis The colonial motive is philanthropy with five percent. (Hyde Clarke, Colonial Minister, Kenya, 1946) Men are only as good as their technological development allows them. (George Orwell, 1940) There has never been a better time to be interested in empire. Empire has become popular. It sells. With its connotations of something forbidden, menacing and slightly sexy, the word pops up in the titles of all sorts of books and films. Empire was even the name of a recent trendy pop album (Kasabian, 2006) whose ironic lead vocalist claimed the band used the word to mean ‘something that is good’. Empire of the Sun was a hugely successful novel by J.G. Ballard published in 1984. Its Hollywood film version appeared in 1987 with the same title. An electronic music duo emerged with the same name four years ago. (They insist they were unaware of the book. They are Australian.) Those that dream of deep space cannot do so without having empires hurtling through it, whilst the cleverest man on this planet believes that the future of the human race depends on colonizing a corner of the universe, and quickly (Lucas, 1980; Hawking, 2010). For good or evil, empires are here to stay. But popularization has also brought vulgarization. Definitions of empire have become diluted and blurred. The term ‘imperial’ is used for virtually any relationship of domination, where power is unequal, often magnificent but also abusive. Usually the moral of the story is that such concentrated power is inevitably...
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