New Policy Paper on ‘progressive’ anti-imperialism

Today, the Council on Geostrategy has launched a new Policy Paper from Professors Doug Stokes and Nigel Biggar.

This Paper examines the anti-imperialist trend prevalent throughout the ‘culture wars’ taking place in today’s political stage and how it relates to Scottish nationalism. Professors Stokes and Biggar argue that the underlying themes of the drive for Scottish independence play up Britain’s imperialist past and downplay Scotland’s involvement in that same past. They also highlight that the current debate around the history of empire focuses almost entirely on European examples, ignoring the fact that empire has been a constant feature of history from the Assyrians to the Aztecs.

Professors Stokes and Biggar make the case that the current debate around empire in the United Kingdom relates not to learning lessons from the past, but about current political contexts. The legacy of imperialism, the Paper argues, is a useful distraction from the real goal – undermining the West’s political primacy on the world stage.

The self-claimed ‘progressive’ nature of those calling up this narrative – whether to advance the cause of racial justice or righting historical wrongs in the name of instantiating a more equal and fairer world order – is at odds with recent geopolitical developments. Although it is Western-created, the international order, knitted together by a range of global institutions, has provided the context for worldwide economic development and the stunning rise of a new global middle class, mainly located in the developing world, not least in East Asia.

Professors Doug Stokes and Nigel Biggar

Prof. Nigel Biggar is Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Christ Church, University of Oxford. He became Librarian and Research Fellow at Latimer House at the University of Oxford in 1985, and then for most of the 1990s he was Chaplain and Fellow of Oriel College. In 1999, Prof. Biggar took the Chair of Theology at the University of Leeds, before moving in 2004 to the Chair of Theology and Ethics at Trinity College, Dublin. He arrived in Christ Church in autumn 2007. He holds a PhD in Christian Ethics from the University of Chicago and an MA in Modern History from the University of Oxford.

Prof. Doug Stokes is Professor in International Security and Academic Director of the Strategy and Security Institute at the University of Exeter. He helped to establish a Non-Governmental Organisation focused on ethnic reconciliation in Bosnia and held positions with the universities of Kent, Aberystwyth and others. Prof. Stokes has advised and presented research to several British Government agencies and organisations. He holds a PhD in International Relations and an MSc in International Development, both from the University of Bristol.