Imperial silences: From Rhodes to Surabaya

Newsinger, John
Date Written:  2016-06-22
Publisher:  International Socialism
Year Published:  2016
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX19577

The campaign last year to have the statue of Cecil Rhodes removed from Oriel College, Oxford, has provoked more discussion of the British Empire and its crimes than we have seen for many years. Rather than keeping quiet about Britain's imperial past, the Rhodes Must Fall campaign has actually flushed establishment apologists out into the open. They have been forced to defend the legacy of a man who, if he had not been British and had not given a substantial bribe to Oxford University, would today be generally acknowledged by everyone as a corrupt fraudster, thief, liar and killer for profit, as someone marked out only by the enormity of his crimes. The hypocrisy that the debate over Rhodes Must Fall has occasioned has been very instructive in itself, but what is intended here is an examination not just of the part played by hypocrisy in the defence of British imperialism, but of the other strategies employed: suppression and amnesia.

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