Opinion: The British Empire: A legacy of violence?
On the 70th anniversary of the commencement of the British Empire, the question is now becoming more urgent than ever:
‘What sort of legacy will the British Empire leave the world in its wake?’
One answer would be: ‘a legacy of violence.’
This was the central message in Andrew Roberts’ talk at the Institute’s recent symposium. The title was: ‘The British Empire and the British Empire, or What’s Wrong with Empire?’ The event was held on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the end of Britain’s last colonial Empire, which was in practice, the British Empire.
Roberts is a political philosopher at the University of Bristol, who studied at Oxford University where he became a Fellow. Prior to his post at Bristol, he also worked as a Postgraduate Research Fellow at the Institute of Education in London.
In his talk, he spoke about three areas of concern. Firstly, he addressed the question of empire in general.
Secondly, he addressed the question of post-colonial theory. It is often assumed by left and right-wing opponents of empire, together with advocates of internationalism, that the British empire is unproblematic, or, in some cases, a good thing, and that colonialism has done good things for the world and that post-colonial critics can be ignored, or at best dismissed as a minority position. Roberts’s argument was that this is a mistake. He argued that the question of imperialism is a question for intellectuals, not for the masses. He argued that empire is a question for intellectual thinkers because of what its legacy is and because of the issues it raises. His argument is that because of its colonial nature the legacy could only be beneficial.
Finally, Roberts discussed the impact of empire on the relationship between the United States and the world. He argued that the United States has two models for its engagement with the world, and the first is the model of the world in its infancy, which sees the United States as having a special relationship with all nations. The second model is the model of the world after the Cold War,