Today the word ‘imperialism’ is a familiar part of the political vocabulary only as pejorative term used to describe the relationship between economically advanced and developing nations or, more rarely, the highest stage of capitalism according to Leninist doctrine. Yet in the interwar period the word ‘imperialism’ and the concept of empire were at the heart of Great Britain’s political culture. There was very little need to remark on the fact that Britain possessed an empire and even less need for the average citizen to demonstrate his feelings about it; it was simply accepted as a part of the existing order of things rather like the monarchy and the weather. Reminders of the imperial system were everywhere: there was a school holiday for Empire Day, there were labels saying ‘Empire made’ and the banner of a popular daily newspaper proclaimed that it stood for ‘King and Empire’. In the speeches of politicians appeals were frequently made to the cause of empire and no party could afford not to show enthusiasm for the organisation, although frequently also the word seems to be a rather more altruistic-sounding way of saying ‘Britain’


Round Table British Government British Rule Conservative Party Indian Policy 
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  1. 7.
    Geoffrey Moorhouse, Calcutta, 2nd ed. (London, 1974) p. 87.Google Scholar
  2. 46.
    See Thomas Jones, Whitehall Diary, vol. ii (Oxford, 1969) pp. 242–3.Google Scholar
  3. 56.
    Lord Butler, The Art of the Possible (London, 1971).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Gillian Peele 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian Peele
    • 1
  1. 1.Lady Margaret HallOxfordUK

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