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Militarism and the British Left, 1902-1914

Militarism and the British Left, 1902-1914
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Militarism is usually regarded as a phenomenon of the political right. It has traditionally been seen as alien – indeed, as antithetical – to the values and principles of the left. In Britain during the years before the Great War, however, the relationship between militarism and the politics of the left was a highly complex one. Militarism in pre-war British society was manifest in a variety of forms, from popular enthusiasm for war and martial values, to demands for greater provision to be made for the nation's defence, and even in calls for the militarization of society itself. The response of the political left to these challenges was ambivalent and contested. Whilst militaristic sentiment and practice did not always sit comfortably alongside progressive principles, an ideological space existed on the left in which militaristic ideas could take root. Indeed, militarism could take on ostensibly 'progressive' forms that proved particularly appealing to some elements on the left.

Moving beyond the focus on pacifism and anti-militarism that has characterized much of the existing scholarship on this subject, this book explores the ways in which Liberals, socialists, and others on the left of British politics were able to accommodate aspects of militarism during the years before 1914. In doing so it offers an intriguing new perspective on the nature of militarism itself.
Palgrave Macmillan; January 2013
260 pages; ISBN 9781137274137
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