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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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Empire on Condition, 1914–1940

Empire on Condition, 1914–1940

(p.255) 11 Empire on Condition, 1914–1940
The Absent-Minded Imperialists

Bernard Porter

Oxford University Press

Throughout the 1900s, the zealots had been warning that if the country as a whole did not become more imperially committed, the empire itself could be at risk. They were being alarmist, as always; yet the First World War proved them right to an extent. Despite promising early signs, the long-term effect of the war was to weaken Britain and shift the balance of power in the wider world detrimentally to her imperial role. The people had to pull together for it now. So the imperial propaganda was resumed, but with a different emphasis. People were appealed to on other grounds than their putative pride in their empire's glory or strength or power. That seemed more in tune with the more dominant middle- and working-class discourses of the day, whose part in obstructing or diverting popular imperialism before the war have been noticed already.

Keywords:   zealots, empire, First World War, Britain, power, propaganda, imperialism

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