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The Absent-Minded ImperialistsEmpire, Society, and Culture in Britain$
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Bernard Porter

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299591.001.0001

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Imperialists, Other Imperialists, and Others

Imperialists, Other Imperialists, and Others

(p.227) 10 Imperialists, Other Imperialists, and Others
The Absent-Minded Imperialists

Bernard Porter

Oxford University Press

The workers may have been the least — or the least seriously — imperialistic of all the social classes in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain. Even ‘above’ them, however, and in this period of more heightened imperial awareness and enthusiasm than before, not everyone was equally imperialistic, or imperialistic in the same way. Of course, they could all be said to be imperialists in a sense. Every one of them was complicit in the empire (as indeed were the workers). They tolerated it. In general, there were no significant movements of protest at this time against imperialism. Most other people seemed comfortable with the idea that their country ruled hundreds of millions of people beyond the oceans, and even proud of it to a greater or lesser extent. However, this shared imperialism gives a totally wrong impression of the place of the empire in British society. Conversely, it was these domestic value-systems that governed peoples's perceptions of their empire; in other words, their imperialism.

Keywords:   Britain, imperialists, empire, movements, protest, imperialism, society, workers, perceptions

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