“Yes, it’s anachronistic to have a miniature empire in this day and age, but really the net benefits make it worth keeping.”
Instead, you have to argue explicitly for a Great Britain. You have to invoke the United Kingdom’s world-bestriding past, which the Scots no less than the English sustained and died defending, with something more than awkward embarrassment. You have to make a case to the Little Englanders that Britain’s multicultural, Europe-facing present can keep faith with that past and not just bury it. You have to demonstrate that a liberal empire, no less than an ethnic homeland, can be something real and rooted – something felt in “the blood and guts,” as Massie put it during the Scottish referendum, “the bone and marrow of our lives.”
I’m a Yankee; this not my argument to make. But if our cousins can’t find leaders who can make it, there won’t be a Great Britain anymore.
Article from The New York Times, by Ross Douthat
FOR much of European history, empire was the normal political arrangement: Large, polyglot, multiethnic and eventually multireligious, with a monarch on top and a jostling confederation underneath.
Then came modernity, democracy and nationalism, and the “nations” of Europe – half-real, half-invented – demanded self-determination and self-rule.
Between 1914 and 1945 (with a final act in the Balkans in the 1990s), this led to world-historical disaster, mass exterminations, ruthless wars for mastery. But out of those conflicts came a new kind of hybrid order. The nations would have self-rule, within borders redrawn by war and ethnic cleansing. But they would be supervised by a kind of postmodern empire, an imperial bureaucracy without the emperor – the European Union.
The outlier, as always, was Great Britain. Like its rivals, the United Kingdom lost its overseas colonies, but it kept much of…
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