Insurgent Empire by Priyamvada Gopal review – a superb study of anticolonial resistance


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An important new history of opposition to the British empire, at home and overseas, from the Chartists and the Indian rebels to the Mau Mau uprising

Statues of great white Englishmen are not very popular these days. Since 2016, campaigners have been trying to “decolonise” Britain’s history by removing memorials to imperialists such as Cecil Rhodes and the Bristol slave-trader Edward Colston, among others. Not everyone deserves such treatment. In a quiet London square, just off Holborn, stands a statue of Fenner Brockway, veteran leftwing MP and scourge of empire. Brockway, who lived long enough to attend the unveiling of his own memorial in 1985, took part in almost every anticolonial movement from the 1920s to the 1980s. He belongs to a long tradition of radical opposition to British imperialism, charted by Priyamvada Gopal’s arresting and insightful book. Using some two dozen case studies, Gopal investigates a ...

Imperialism: a look at the book behind the Corbyn furore


This post is by Miles Taylor from Books | The Guardian


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This signature text, for which the Labour leader wrote a foreword, is inseparable from Hobson’s antisemitism

In his 1902 book Imperialism, the radical journalist John Atkinson Hobson called out the “house of Rothschild” as an example of the “single and peculiar race” of men whose monetary manipulations lay behind the curse of the rampant colonialism of the era. Nowhere in the book did Hobson refer specifically to Jews, but his kneejerk antisemitism was a common feature of political rhetoric in the period. Just the previous year, the rightwing, anti-immigration campaigner Arnold White wrote of a Jewish conspiracy at the heart of the British political establishment in his bestselling Efficiency and Empire. Similarly, Keir Hardie, one of Labour’s first MPs, spoke out in 1900 against Jewish financiers.

But Hobson’s range was narrower. Without naming him, Hobson’s actual target was Nathan Rothschild, head of the banking family and a prominent public figure ...