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Imperialism in the Twentieth Century

Imperialism in the Twentieth Century

A. P. THORNTON
Copyright Date: 1977
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttvc41
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  • Book Info
    Imperialism in the Twentieth Century
    Book Description:

    “Nothing is filed under the heading ‘imperialism’ in the archives of any nation-state that owned an empire. Foreign affairs, or external relations, are catalogued there, and a place is found for imperial administration and colonial trade; but ‘imperialism’ is always a listing in someone else’s index, never one’s own. It is not the name a government uses to classify the policies it sets in motion. It is the name given them by those who adopt a particular attitude... In our time the attitude toward this control is hostile.” With these words A.P. Thornton takes on a complezx and elusive term, imperialism, and pursues its meaning and implications in the years of imperial decline. The disappearance of territorial empire, according to Thornton, did not bring imperial impulses to an end, nor did it destroy the power relationships set up in the heyday of empire. Casting a cool eye on the claims of both imperialism and nationalism -- the principal countervailing force -- Thornton brings imagination, wide learning, and clarifying wit to bear upon a subject that remains significant in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6468-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. ix-xii)
    A. P. T.

    In the nineteenth century Sir Archibald Alison filled fifteen volumes with a narrative account of events in Europe between 1789 and 1815, and followed these with another ten, bringing the story to 1852 —and even after this prodigious achievement would often tell his friends how much he regretted having left out. This single volume could not try and does not try to provide an in-depth account of the past seventy-seven years. Instead, it develops a single theme from these years: the theme of imperialism, hereafter defined.

    It examines how the policies of imperialism were organized, and by whom. It sets...

  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. 1 TERMS OF REFERENCE
    (pp. 3-26)

    Nothing is filed under the heading “imperialism” in the archives of any nation-state that owned an empire. Foreign affairs, or external relations, are catalogued there, and a place is found for imperial administration and colonial trade; but “imperialism” is always a listing in someone else’s index, never one’s own. It is not the name a government uses to classify the policies it sets in motion. It is the name given them by those who adopt a particular attitude.

    An imperial policy is one that enables a metropolis to create and maintain an external system of effective control. The control may...

  6. 2 IMPERIAL ASSUMPTION
    (pp. 29-70)

    A11 the argument about the context of imperialism—sometimes going around in circles, sometimes shooting off at tangents, and sometimes hitting its target —says as much about those who argue it and the context they argue in as it does about the subject itself. Imperialism is a phenomenon, it exists. About it can be said what H. G. Wells said about liberalism: “It is something greater than unfavourable comment on the deeds of active men.”¹ And it was said of the study of economic history that it concerns itself with proving or disproving current economic theories, to the consequent neglect...

  7. 3 IMPERIAL FRAMEWORK
    (pp. 73-142)

    Imperialism makes use of other people: coercion is its natual habit. The ultimatum waits at the far side of all imperial diplomacy. The record of the first half of the twentieth century owns no testimony more telling than this, dictated by Sir Miles Lampson, the British ambassador in Cairo on February 4, 1942: “Unless I hear by 6 p.m. that Nahas Pasha has been asked to form a Cabinet, His Majesty King Farouk must expect the consequences.” On this occasion Lampson’s retinue at His Majesty’s Abdin Palace was a posse of armored cars. He presented his ultimatum, which was accepted....

  8. 4 COLONIAL ASSERTION
    (pp. 145-216)

    Nationalism asserts itself when a community has become aware of itself, has reached a particular state of mind. People who think they belong to a nation, who think they constitute a nation, indeed do so and behave as such. Their problem is less to convince themselves than to impress their conviction on others. The record of many peoples tells that, when their conviction is strong enough, they can accomplish this. Nationalism as a word, a theme, and a cause illuminates every nation’s history. To take a single case: historians of modern Italy rightly see nationalism as their focal point, but...

  9. 5 THE NEW CONTROLLERS
    (pp. 219-270)

    A war fought for gain is described as aggressive, or unjust, by those whose assets are its intended prize. A war fought to keep what its instigators won long ago is described, usually by themselves, as defensive, or just.

    At the end of World War I, two allies who had waged it with different ends in view looked on victory and the prospect it presented from expectedly different standpoints. Curzon at the British Foreign Office told the Japanese ambassador on July 18,1919, that any policy of “seeking a preferential position was out of harmony with the spirit of the times.”¹...

  10. 6 THE PROSPECT AS BEFORE
    (pp. 273-314)

    After 1945 nobody had to make a point of promoting the virtues of national self-determination. The promotion had been done, the point had been taken, and it needed no lobbyists at the U.N. General Assembly—such as had crowded the corridors of Versailles at the end of World War I. (This did not, however, prevent their being there.)

    Propaganda in asserting these virtues had reached enormous proportions during World War II. Every “free radio” station, every underground and resistance movement, had taken up and played national, ethnic, and even Communist arias on the theme of freedom; so that in time...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 317-328)
  12. SOURCES
    (pp. 331-344)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 347-363)