Time’s Monster

By stewartb:

Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but are there more signs of the historical myths of ‘Great Britishness’ being examined and exposed?

Published on 26 October, 2020 in New Yorker magazine is a preview of a soon to be published book by Stanford University historian Priya Satia entitled: “Time’s Monster: How History Makes History”. It poses the question: ‘how did the British get to be so blinkered about their own history?’

The New Yorker article is itself a good read for anyone reflecting on the ‘goodness’ of the UK in the world. It includes this: ‘The public narrative about Britain’s imperial past matters because it is keenly felt to license present injustice. “Our collective amnesia about the legacy of our colonial past is not getting any better,” the writer and broadcaster Afua Hirsch observes in her podcast “We Need to Talk About the British Empire.” “We’re engulfed in a sense of denial”.’



A second example that comes to mind is the publication in 2018 of Peter Hitchens book: ‘The Phoney Victory: The World War II Delusion”. The blurb notes: “In the years since the declaration of peace in 1945 many myths have sprung up around the conflict in the victorious nations. In this book, Peter Hitchens deconstructs the many fables which have become associated with the narrative of the `Good War’. Whilst not criticising or doubting the need for war against Nazi Germany at some stage. … “ His purpose is stated thus: “In a provocative, but deeply-researched book, Hitchens questions the most common assumptions surrounding World War II, turning on its head the myth of Britain’s role in a `Good War’.” There are some eye-opening ‘claims’ made in this book.

And by contrast but yet related, I came across this btl on Richard Murphy’s Tax Research blog only a couple of days ago. It’s a short film called ‘ ‘Bombing is the London Way : it’s about a recent example of the nature of the British state and its political class. I can’t vouch for the attribution of all the scenes featuring in the film but the opening sequence alone, of events drawing on archive footage from Westminster, gives a powerful message.

NOTE: this film contains images from a war zone. They are tragic and very disturbing. Be warned: some might find them too disturbing and prefer not to watch the film!



4 thoughts on “Time’s Monster”

  1. Terrible.
    It’s gone on for so long that people think it cannot be stopped it’s accepted that these people in Westminster and House of Lords can be trusted to make decisions that lead to bombing countries thousands of miles away countries that could never ever manage to fight back against the mighty war machine that is U.K. and USA let’s face it where there’s one you find the other ,twins in their destruction of world peace because war means opportunity to make unlimited profits .The U.K. leads the world in arms sales


  2. At school in Scotland in the 1950s we were taught UK/Empire history with a (very) wee bit of Scottish history thrown in. Much of the emphasis was on the great “benefits” which the Empire had brought to otherwise backward lands and people.

    Since then I’ve been in no doubt that the Empire was a very one-sided deal for its subjects, but it still came as a shock to read ‘The Inglorious Empire – What the British did to India’ and realize just how extractive and exploitative it was. This very well-written book is written by Shashi Tharoor, an Indian intellectual who was Under-Secretary General in the UN and it should be read by anyone who wants to understand the true nature of the Empire. Read it and you’ll understand why the rest of the world views the British (and in particular the English) with a mixture of contempt and grudging admiration. The contempt is easy to understand but the grudging admiration is for getting away with such gross exploitation for so long.


  3. The point of empire was to exploit the resources of the colonies for the benefit of the mother country (some mother!).
    With the end of empire,the London establishment accepted that their position was greatly diminished but couldn’t shake the habits of empire and the importance that gave them in world affairs.
    They continued to try and maintain the edifice by taking resources from the rest of the UK and concentrating them in London and the SE.
    Tebbit and his “get on your bike” narrative highlighted this culture during the Thatcher “revolution” years.
    This has been brutally exposed recently by their handling of the Covid crisis and their policy of clearly favouring the SE of England at the expense of everywhere else.
    The empire will eventually contract to being simply the City of London with the rest of the UK acting as a support system.
    The final days of Rome and London.


  4. this subject was previously covered in

    “The 52 Britain was a Bell -End” by James Felton Oct 2019

    Was dissapointed in his effort. Some fascinating information, the presentation was somewhere betwee Viz and the Sun. Plus the sketches were poor. “A whistle stop tour of the history we would rather forget” closer to a pamphlet than a book!


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