Published: 6 July 2016.
Author: Michael Roberts.
The IIPPE workshop in London on modern imperialism, organised this week by Simon Mohun, Emeritus professor of political economy at QMC London University, was highly appropriate for two reasons.
First, it brought together those scholars with the latest works on modern imperialism. Both John Smith’s new book and that of Tony Norfield have been reviewed on my blog. Smith’s book has won the prize from the Monthly Review and Tony’s has been included on the short list for the Isaac Deutscher prize for the best Marxist book of the year, previously won by many eminent leftists and Marxists. And Lucia Pradella had a book Globalization and the Critique of Political Economy: New Insights from Marx’s Writings, Routledge, 2014 that was also shortlisted for Isaac Deutscher in 2015.
The other reason, of course, was Brexit. The decision of the British people to vote in a referendum to leave the EU brings into focus the history of British imperialism and its impact on the consciousness of the British people. And the workshop spent some time considering the importance of British imperialism in the 21st century. It may be only the 5th largest economy by GDP, but as Tony Norfield has shown, it is still second only to the US as an imperialist power, when finance and military might are considered. The split in the British ruling class between its past imperialist ambitions and its recent need to integrate with Europe has come to a head with Brexit.