Libperialism is a growing phenomenon among hard-right economic colonialists who choose to present their support for corporate control of nations via the semantics of “Western values.”
British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG) is “dedicated to advancing the UK’s global influence” but doesn’t say how other countries would benefit from being influenced by Britain.
“We support Britain as a strong, engaged and influential global actor, and we recognise Britain’s critical international responsibility to uphold [democratic values, liberal societies] and extend these throughout the world.”
It’s support for imposition of “values” stated above is complimented by support for combating “autocratic states that challenge our interests.”
BFPG is proud to be part of the “foreign policy community in Britain” wherein it “works between the corridors of power to promote the connectivity and understanding needed to reshape and underpin Britain’s strategic advantage.” It provides no clarity of in what aspect of people’s lives such a strategic advantage exists, no clarity on over whom the advantage exists and no clarity on why the advantage is desired.
As a consequence of the departure from the EU BFPG is researching into how “Britain should approach and prioritise its existing and new international relationships, including [how to] achieve our strategic interests and uphold liberal values” amidst concern about “the rise of China, and new forms of cooperation amongst autocratic states, challenging the established Western hegemonic power.” It is noteworthy that “Western” was emphasised by BFPG as a political description in opposition to “autocratic states” rather than, say, “liberal,” “democratic” or “capitalist.”
A recurring theme in BFPG’s analysis is its observation that alliances between governments are changing including break-ups of alliances that it supports and formation of alliances it opposes. Thus, it focuses on “reimagining our [Britain’s] global role.” BFPG is confident that such a role can be coerced upon other countries due to “Britain’s inherent capabilities in governance, administration, regulation, technological innovation and research, [that] can be applied to addressing complex international challenges, and asserting our liberal democratic values on new global systems and forms of power” alongside, of course, surety of “Britain’s approach to safeguarding itself against emerging global threats, including our relations with hostile states, and how we can equip our foreign service and military to harness world-leading systems and intelligence.”
The declaration of intent quoted above is a clear exposition of BFPG’s imperialist philosophy and methodology: Use financial persuasion of soft power to interfere in governance of other countries; if that fails, then use military force. It is exactly the same dual technique used throughout history by colonialist power.
In A UK-China Engagement Strategy BFPG director Sophia Gaston expressed her worries about the success of China as a leader in international trade. She warned of the dangers in acquiring a balance for Britain between its need for good business and trade relationships with China and an apparent fear of “industries vulnerable to malign penetration.”
On Australia’s trade deals with China Gaston said “the lesson here is of the narrowness of the tightrope a nation can walk in its engagement with an authoritarian state” because Australia had succumbed to “a degree of economic dependence, which inevitably encouraged politicians to turn a blind eye to some of the more pernicious infringements China was making towards the nation’s [Australia’s] security and sovereignty.”
Nowhere in her article did Gaston attempt to elucidate why she was certain that China’s non-democratic system of government inexorably led to “malign penetration” via business and trade agreements. Nor did she admit awareness of her hypocrisy of an objection to China using trade to persuade political decisions when a similar strategy is precisely the ethos of BFPG’s philosophy toward “non-Western” countries.
In Britain, Freedom and Democracy Communications & Events Manager at BFPG Matt Gillow – also Founder & Head of Outreach at lobby group 1828 – noted the decline in accountability of elected governments in some democratic countries, most notably in India and USA, but he omitted to admit awareness of the intrinsic and inevitable trend of capitalist democracies toward fewer freedoms as the system’s operational success stalls; he blamed populism for the decline.
Gillow said “the evidence is that the UK is bucking global trends [on populism].” Had he not noticed that an Etonian rabble-rouser is Prime Minister and had the Brexit referendum result been erased from his memory?
Regarding Britain’s ability to persuade other countries to admire its democracy and liberal values he noted that “Windrush scandal and the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policy are issues which, prevent the UK from getting a perfect score.” The extreme racism of the Windrush catastrophe was designed deliberately by the Tory government and it continues to destroy people’s lives and has led to several deaths but Dillow described it as causing an imperfect PR score.
He claimed it is “key” that Britain must “continue to be a strong voice in the room – in multilateral institutions such as NATO or the WTO – where International Trade Secretary Liz Truss recently set out Britain’s stool as a global leader in free trade.” By “free trade” Gillow meant freedom to exploit globally.
BFPG uses populist opinion in Britain as encouragement for its suggestions on how the Tory government should proceed but decries what it perceives as populist governments in other countries, it objects to supposed interference by governments (of which it doesn’t approve) in other countries via international business deals while simultaneously proposing business ties between Britain and other countries as tools to enact changes of systems of government in the latter, and, for BFPG, freedom always means freedom for the capitalist to exploit and to do so across borders.
BFPG supports “soft power” as the main weapon of imperialism. The only differences between it and the blatantly imperialist Henry Jackson Society are tone and style of presentation.
libperialism n. Imperialism promoted by liberals (c. @JonTheEgg)
Links to brief descriptions of right-wing think-tanks and lobby groups
- Institute For Free Trade
- Centre for Policy Studies
- Countryside Alliance
- Policy Network
- Tax-Payers’ Alliance
- Progress Online
- Industry and Parliamentary Trust
- Royal United Services Institute
- Bruges Group
- Human Security Centre
- Freedom Association
- Policy Exchange
- Migration Watch
- Henry Jackson Society
- Institute of Economic Affairs
- Centre for Social Justice
- Adam Smith Institute
- Bow Group
- Legatum Institute
- Due Process
- The Free Speech Union
- Orthodox Conservatives
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