Martin Thomas and Richard Toye
University of Exeter
‘The struggle of races and of peoples has from now on the whole globe as its theatre; each advances towards the conquest of unoccupied territories.’ Tempting as it might be to ascribe such inflated rhetoric to Friedrich Nietzsche or Adolf Hitler, its originator was Gabriel Charmes, a disciple of leading late nineteenth-century French republican, Léon Gambetta.
In September 1882, Charmes was trying to persuade his fellow parliamentarians that France’s recent seizure of Tunisia was ethically imperative. Similar rhetoric could be found across the political spectrum, in Britain as well as in France. In 1888, the Conservative Prime Minister Lord Salisbury described small imperial wars as ‘merely the surf that marks the edge of the advancing wave of civilisation’. But if Britain and France both claimed to be the spearhead of civilizing influences, what happened when their interests clashed, and what new arguments emerged to rationalize the struggle for power between rival ‘civilized’ nations?
That is one theme of our new book, Arguing About Empire, but in order to answer the question we need equally to ask what happened when Anglo-French interests appeared to coincide. How did the two countries’ respective elites justify their mutual collaboration in the face of challenges from other powers and, increasingly as time went on, from domestic anti-colonial critics and local nationalist opponents too? Continue reading “France and Britain – colonial rivals, or co-imperialists?”
The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university that combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction. Exeter has over 21,000 students from more than 130 different countries and is in the top 1% of universities in the world with 98% of its research rated as being of international quality. Our research focuses on some of the most fundamental issues facing humankind today.
The post of Lecturer in Global and Imperial History will contribute to extending the research profile of History at Exeter, particularly in areas related or complementary to the transnational history of imperialism, globalization, and decolonization since 1750. This full time post is available from 1st September 2017 to 31st August 2020 in the College Humanities on a fixed term basis. Continue reading “We’re Hiring! Lecturer in Global and Imperial History”
Director, Centre for Imperial & Global History
Cross-posted from Politics Home
On 29 October 1956, Israeli forces launched an attack on Egypt. The following day Britain and France quickly issued an ultimatum to both sides to stop fighting. There was no compliance and, on 5 November, Anglo-French forces invaded Egypt in order to ‘separate the combatants’. The operation was a military success – and a catastrophic political failure.
For Britain and France’s actions had been based on a lie, and a pretty see-through one at that. The real motivation was to overthrow Egypt’s President Nasser, who just over three months earlier had nationalised the Suez Canal Company. In Paris and London, this was seen as a threat to Western Europe’s oil supply and to international order more generally. Initial efforts to get Nasser to ‘disgorge’ what he had seized, via diplomacy backed by coded threats, were unsuccessful.
Dwight Eisenhower, running for re-election to the White House on a platform of peace and prosperity, was not willing to back the use of force, and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, was similarly cautious. Both men might have been willing to turn a blind eye to a spot of old-fashioned colonial atavism if the British and French had simply got on with it and launched an attack. Yet British Prime Minister Anthony Eden had a reputation to protect as an internationalist and a man of peace. To the frustration of his French allies, there was delay after delay as he looked for a pretext for action that would both allow him to destroy Nasser and to satisfy world opinion. Continue reading “Sixty Years after Suez”
V. I. Lenin penned and published his influential pamphlet, Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, in the midst of the First World War. Building upon Marxist contemporaries like Hilferding and Bukharin as well as non-Marxist theorists like J. A. Hobson, Lenin’s pamphlet would quickly come to embody the orthodox Marxist critique concerning the relationship between modern capitalism and imperialism. In this Talking Empire podcast, Dr Marc-William Palen discusses Lenin’s Imperialism and its legacy with Professor Richard Toye.
In 1902, journalist John A. Hobson published Imperialism: A Study. The book was among the first to connect the rise of finance capital with the growth of imperial expansion after 1870. Hobson’s theory would fast number among the most influential critiques of imperialism. Although Hobson himself was not a Marxist (he was a classical liberal), his theory would play a key role in shaping subsequent Marxist theories of imperialism, most notably that of V. I. Lenin.
In this Talking Empire podcast, Centre Director Richard Toye discusses Hobson’s Imperialism with Dr. Marc-William Palen.