Richard Gott makes the case that it is time to "end the myths of Britain's imperial past" of the sort that David Cameron relies on in an eloquent piece for the Guardian.
In his speech to the Conservative party conference this month, David Cameron looked back with Tory nostalgia to the days of empire: "Britannia didn't rule the waves with armbands on," he pointed out, suggesting that the shadow of health and safety did not hover over Britain's imperial operations when the British were building "a great nation".... Cameron was right about the armbands. The creation of the British empire caused large portions of the global map to be tinted a rich vermilion, and the colour turned out to be peculiarly appropriate. Britain's empire was established, and maintained for more than two centuries, through bloodshed, violence, brutality, conquest and war.
In the article, Gott outlines some of the key issues of his new book, Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt. The book is a critical reappraisal of British imperial history in the light of the experience of the subject people. As Gott notes,
Considerations of empire today must take account of two imperial traditions: that of the conquered as well as the conquerors. Traditionally, that first tradition has been conspicuous by its absence. ... Yet the subject peoples of empire did not go quietly into history's goodnight. Underneath the veneer of the official record exists a rather different story. Year in, year out, there was resistance to conquest, and rebellion against occupation, often followed by mutiny and revolt—by individuals, groups, armies and entire peoples.
On BBC Radio 3's "Night Waves", Richard Gott, author of the forthcoming book, Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt again met with Kwasi Kwarteng, author of Ghost of Empire. They examined their conflicting views on the character of the British Empire, in a discussion chaired by presenter Philip Dodd.
In his book Gott surveyed the resistance to British rule from mid-18th century to mid-19th century, across the world from the Caribbean to Ireland. On the show, Gott explained that he had endeavoured to write a global history of the subject peoples from their point of view, resulting in a survey of resistance on a scale never attempted before. Kwarteng questioned the novelty of such as perspective by highlighting the parallels with subaltern studies and Marxist historiography but agreed that the book is very comprehensive and that its "originality comes in the scale of the rebellions at which it looks".
Richard Gott was on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday to discuss his forthcoming book, Britain's Empire: Resistance, Repression and Revolt with Kwasi Kwarteng, Conservative MP and author of Ghosts of Empire.
Kwarteng's book argues that the operation of the British empire was not systematic or centrally run, but haphazard, random and guided much more by local conditions and individual administrators idiosyncrasies than by Whitehall.
Hugo Chávez has returned to Venezuela in time for the 200th anniversary of Venezuelan independence today. He had been undergoing treatment for cancer in Cuba.
Also, last week it was revealed through Wikileaks that the Catholic church was involved in the 2002 US-backed attempt to topple Chávez by military coup.
Among the latest revelations to emerge from WikiLeaks is that, in 2002, as plotters in Venezuela's capital Caracas were liaising with the US authorities about the conspiracy to topple President Hugo Chávez, the leaders of the Catholic church in that country were defying the instruction of Pope John Paul II to desist from having anything to do with the coup d'état. Instead they threw their lot in with Pedro Carmona, the extremist rightwing businessman, who took office for less than 48 hours during a brief military coup in April 2002.