Imperial Sceptics: British Critics of Empire, 1850-1920

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Overview

Imperial Sceptics provides a highly original analysis of the emergence of opposition to the British Empire from 1850–1920. Departing from existing accounts, which have focused upon the Boer War and the writings of John Hobson, Gregory Claeys proposes a new chronology for the contours of resistance to imperial expansion. Claeys locates the impetus for such opposition in the late 1850s with the British followers of Auguste Comte. Tracing critical strands of anti-imperial thought through to the First World War, Claeys then scrutinises the full spectrum of socialist writings from the early 1880s onwards, revealing a fundamental division over whether a new conception of ‘socialist imperialism' could appeal to the electorate and satisfy economic demands. Based upon extensive archival research, and utilising rare printed sources, Imperial Sceptics will prove a major contribution to our understanding of nineteenth-century political thought, shedding new light on theories of nationalism, patriotism, the state and religion.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book explores a variety of fascinating subthemes: lively disputes over the sovereignty of the state, contestations over the possibilities and limitations of religions fostering a tolerant cosmopolitanism, and the development of internationalism. This is a compelling study that revises the chronology of antagonism to empire and advances novel arguments about the legacy of Positivism and the religious sources and the communitarian ideals at the heart of anti-imperialism at the height of empire." - S. M. den Otter, Queen’s University, Canada, Journal of British Studies
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521199544
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2010
  • Series: Ideas in Context Series , #97
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory Claeys is Professor of the History of Political Thought at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has edited numerous works including Modern British Utopias. c.1700-1850 (8 volumes, 1997), Restoration and Augustan British Utopias (2000), Late Victorian Utopias (6 volumes, 2008), and The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature (2010). Claeys has written several studies of aspects of the Owenite socialist movement, of the French revolution debate in Britain, and of Thomas Paine's thought.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: audi alteram partem: imperialism and the moral imagination; 1. Positivist diplomacy; 2. Socialism and empire: from Little England to Socialist Commonwealth 1850–1920; 3. Contextualising Hobson: civilisation, utility and socialist imperialism; Conclusion: the fruits of imperial scepticism.
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