THIS is ending. The world will go on.
December 8, 2019 2:18 PM   Subscribe

This is one of the most interesting things I've read in a while. Specifically, the bit about the fatal flaw in the fundament that Labour's policies are based on: 'Despite all those struggles, such “progressive” politics, directed from this “distributionist” framework never quite explained where the wealth to be distributed would come from, especially if Empire’s global resources were no longer available.'

The thing I would have liked to see more of is an indication of HOW the global empire economy needs to be restructured. Perhaps that exists elsewhere.
posted by rednikki at 7:09 PM on December 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

I came across the article thanks to Mrs Potato's post last week on a story by the same journalist. His analyses are incisive and insightful, also courageous. Here's some biographical info about him. Here is a report of a Ugandan government charge against him in 2009 (perhaps it explains the exile.)

I noted that bit about where's the money to be distributed coming from, although, Britain having transformed itself into a global financial center/service economy, thought it was somewhat answerable ... except in the event of some inexplicable catastrophe cutting the country off from its established trading partners ...
posted by glasseyes at 1:32 AM on December 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

From the pullquote: “… People used to say that ‘several of the principal streets of Liverpool had been marked out by the chains, and the walls of the houses cemented by the blood of the African slaves.’ The Customs House sported carvings of Negroes’ heads…”

It still does. Britain is facing a reckoning with its past, as other countries often have and will yet. We have had an outsized influence on the world thus far, but expecting that to continue is patently absurd. The recurring mistake seems to be that we believe that there is something unique about the British character that makes us superior to the rest. It's obviously not true, but still we cling to it. It is perhaps poetic justice that our hubris should be our downfall.
posted by Acey at 3:36 PM on December 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

I suspect the problem is that there isn't really a "we" - people have different understandings of what Britain is supposed to mean. In a lot of ways, I wonder whether being in the EU hasn't inoculated us against having to question anything.

On a recent episode of Ed Milliband's podcast, one of the guests - Professor Gurminder Bhambra - said something like that Britain had only ever been an empire, that before there was a British Empire there wasn't really a conception of Britain as we understand it. Best listen to the podcast to check out what she actually said. But the version that I remember is, I think, true. And further than that, it struck me that the first country to be subsumed in the British Empire was England - that it was completely dissolved and absorbed and is now inseparable from Britain (in a way that Ireland or Scotland or Wales are not), and that without Britain, England doesn't really exist. And that might be the root of the English crisis at the heart of the British crisis - there's no longer an Empire, and without an Empire there's not really a Britain, and once Britain is gone it reveals the absence where England is supposed to be. So people cling to totally misunderstood and half-remembered ideas of our supposedly glorious imperial past - Which wasn't really that glorious, even without taking the mass murder into account - because they don't have anything else. Except we helped the Soviet Union and the United States win a war once. And, oh yes, we won a football match over fifty years ago.

Of course, tantalisingly that opens up a possibility for something new to happen, which is the only bright thought to have crossed my mind for months, but only after the old finally destroys itself. Which will be, to put it mildly, painful.
posted by Grangousier at 4:38 PM on December 9, 2019 [5 favorites]

Serumaga touches on this: For the British people then to be able to speak, the creation of an ENGLISH parliament is imperative. This is a call that comes up from time to time, but is then ridiculed and silenced.

However, before England became “the first, and the most deeply penetrated of all the British colonies” to quote Oscar Wilde, England’s Kingdoms did often have their own parliaments
, such as the Anglo-Saxon Witangemot that operated between the 7th and 11th centuries.

Only after this democratisation process can Britain have a meaningful referendum in which each region decides for itself and negotiates to stay or go independently of the others.

Whether Britain were to have become a full member of the EU, or to have completely broken away from it, a central truth remains: this is actually the end of an epoch. The unravelling of the UK’s political system is part of it.

What he says there didn't quite register with me until I read your comment, Grangousier. It's not an idea I've come across before and I wonder if it requires being emotional and historical distance from the UK to make it.
posted by glasseyes at 5:29 PM on December 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I noted that bit about where's the money to be distributed coming from, although, Britain having transformed itself into a global financial center/service economy, thought it was somewhat answerable

I think the article identified that as an attempt at surreptitious Empire:

Britain sidestepped an obligation to undertake a principled and genuine retreat from Empire. Such a retreat would have entailed a costly reckoning with history. Empire’s unravellng came with huge costs: there was the risk of being forced into making material reparations to the colonies and descendants of those enslaved in the Trans-Atlantic trade; downsizing and restructuring her global corporate reach would have meant a significant reduction in income; and weaning her domestic population off the proceeds of Empire’s profits could have led to sharp political disruptions. Instead, Britain embarked on a series of pretend “withdrawals” and resorted to all manner of skullduggery so as to maintain back-channel influence and continue profiteering.
posted by PMdixon at 5:17 AM on December 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

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