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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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Peril and Propaganda, c.1900

Peril and Propaganda, c.1900

(p.164) 8 Peril and Propaganda, c.1900
The Absent-Minded Imperialists

Bernard Porter

Oxford University Press

The signs of Britain's empire are there, in her literature, culture, and so on. That shows that she was an imperial power. The most noteworthy aspect of all this is how minimal the cultural impact of the empire was. The flood of imperial propaganda in Britain during this period suggests two further conclusions, which unfortunately are mutually incompatible. The first is that people must have been convinced by it, simply because it was so ubiquitous. That is certainly the impression given by taking just one side of the picture. The other possible inference, however, is that it cannot have been as effective as this, or imperialists would not have felt the need to continue propagandizing as they did. Imperial zealots, like many right-wingers, tended to be constitutionally pessimistic, and also extreme in their conception of what constituted an adequate degree of imperial commitment in society.

Keywords:   Britain, empire, literature, culture, power, propaganda, society

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