The Death of the British Imperial State 290

All Empires end in ignominy. The United Kingdom is drawing to a close, not with a bang but with a fart.

A century from now, the dominant historical narrative will be Chinese, and Chinese historians will puzzle over how Boris Johnson fell over a lie about what he knew of sexual harassment by a very junior member of his government. Learned papers will be written over whether this was truly the cause, or whether the underlying socio-economic crisis caused by inflation and Brexit was the real determinant. Chinese books (or their technological equivalent) will be written on the crisis of neo-liberalism and how western society reached unsustainable levels of concentration of capital and wealth inequality.

Acres have been written in the mainstream media about Johnson’s lying and personal immorality, but there is very little serious effort to understand why so many in society have been prepared to tolerate this. The answer is that neo-liberalism has succeeded in destroying societal values, to the extent that anti-social and even sociopathic behaviour no longer appears peculiar.

In a society where authority condones, and constructs a system to enable, personal fortunes of US $200 billion or more while millions of children in the same country are genuinely hungry and poorly housed, what values is the socio-political structure telling people to hold? What value is placed on empathy? Ruthless ambition and resource grabbing is applauded, encouraged and held up as the model to be followed.

More and more, you are either part of the elite or you are struggling.

In the UK, the Thatcherite dream of mass property ownership is abruptly canceled. Social mobility and meritocracy are changed from an opportunity for large scale social advancement by multitudes, into Hunger Games. Where significant numbers of young people see their best shot at financial comfort as selection for Love Island, how do we expect them to be repulsed that Johnson was having multiple affairs while his then wife was struggling with cancer?

Johnson is explicitly a devotee of the great man theory of history. But in fact his startling political career is in itself merely a symptom of the decline of the United Kingdom, from great Imperial power to the breakup of the metropolitan state (the latter of course started to take formal effect in 1921).

Brexit was just a convulsion, as the United Kingdom went through the psychological trauma of accepting its change in status from great power to reasonably senior European state. There is a great treatise to be written on this and the consequent wave of populist English nationalism.

You may like to note the constant Tory use of the phrase “world-leading” in risible circumstances, the fact that even yesterday Starmer felt the need to comment on government collapse while planted between three Union Jacks, the constant militarism and fetishisation of the armed forces on TV, and the desire for reflected glory by fighting a great war to the blood of the very last Ukrainian.

Peter Oborne’s meticulous compilation of Johnson lies shows how peculiar it is that the crisis should come over a comparatively minor lie about knowledge of bad sexual behaviour, in which Johnson for once was not personally involved. But it is quite wrong to think of Johnson as unique. Oborne’s wonderful book The Rise of Political Lying chronicles the massive attack on governmental standards perpetrated by the charlatan Tony Blair.

Johnson is just a part of a process. As the power of an Empire disintegrates, so do its mores. Since the second world war, over sixty states have become independent of British rule. The pink bits on the map (“this colony is where your tapioca comes from”) they showed me so proudly at primary school have shrunk and shrunk and shrunk. Thank God children are no longer taught to sing “Over the seas there are little brown children” in need of conversion (I really was taught that, I am not making stuff up).

As the UK’s military, economic and political power have collapsed, so have its political mores – both for good and for bad. Johnson is but a turd spewed to the top of the gushing sewer of British decline.

Every one of those sixty states that have left British rule, was warned that it would struggle without the UK. No state has ever wanted to return to British rule. Fellow Scots, take note.

I also want to make plain to my English readers – and remember I am half English myself – that I genuinely believe the breakup of the highly artificial British union will be very beneficial to England. Scottish Independence and Irish reunification are coming soon. Welsh Independence is fast gathering support.

It will take the break-up of the UK to jolt the great power nostalgia and silly patriotism that underlies so much of Tory support – and that of other right wing union jack fetishists like Starmer. Only the shock of the formal closure of the British state will precipitate the psychological change needed for England to become a modern, forward looking, middle ranking European state with concern for domestic and international fairness.

The UK has been in socio-political turmoil since 2016 and is now entering profound economic crisis. These very days are the end-time of the United Kingdom. Rejoice!

I shall leave the last word to that great radical Percy Bysshe Shelley


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290 thoughts on “The Death of the British Imperial State

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  • Reza

    Wimbledon bans Russian players, despite not having banned British or American players following the Iraq invasion.

    Ladies winner of 2022 Wimbledon championship.. a Russian woman, representing Kazakhstan but still living in her home town of Moscow. Trophy handed over by HRH Princess Kate.

    Oh moral high-principled, imperial Britain .. you showed them.

    • mark golding

      The illation of The Lord O’Donnell GCB KCB CB AELTC board member – Oh yes that silk stocking who refused to publish correspondence between Blair and Bush which Chilcot illuminated, where scrawlings from Blair are now burnt into the minds of compos mentis human Doves eg:

      “If we recapitulate all the WMD evidence; add his attempts to secure nuclear capability; and as seems possible, add on the Al Qaida link, it will be hugely persuasive over here…”.

      “This is the moment when you can define international priorities for the next generation – the true post-Cold War world order. Our ambition is big – to construct a global agenda around which we can unite the world”.


    • tom welsh

      Other consequences:

      1. ATP and WTA withdrew all rating points from Wimbledon, so (for instance) Djokovic descends to #7 by losing all his points for Wimbledon last year. (He won’t be allowed to enter the US Open either, as no one may enter the USA without proof of “vaccination”).
      2. Wimbledon was fined $1 million.
      3. Medvedev (Russian) is now world #1 player.

      Big success. About as successful as the “sanctions”.

      • Bramble

        Not that the BBC will tell you that. It is far too busy telling us we should be concerned because of the young lady’s Russian origins. And, depressingly, millions are following their cue.

  • Goose

    The Death of the British Imperial State

    Definitely reflected in Wimbledon’s absurd ‘collective punishment’ decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players. In the process damaging the international reputation of the aptly named All England Club, reducing the tournament to an exhibition tournament, stripped of its ranking points & status. They also incurred a six-figure fine.

    Today’s Female final winner Russian born Elena Rybakina has made them look very silly.

  • Bob (not OG)

    Never mind the death of the British Imperial State, we seem to be witnessing the death of industrial civilisation (it was always only going to be a matter of time).
    Look at Sri Lanka – the people (living on £80 a month) have finally had enough. Look at the protests in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. (Ok nitrogen use on farms should be reduced, but why do it now and so completely, instead of phasing it out slowly to ease the impact on farmers?)

    Is it a conspiracy? I don’t know but it seems unlikely. It’s just us (humankind) reckoning with the fact that the finite planet we live on has finite resources.
    All that shit built out of the Industrial Revolution? All that accumulation of capital off the backs of others? The resources mined from foreign climes without due recompense? All those pension funds, stocks and shares invested in mining companies, well out of sight? The wealth flooding up and definitely not trickling down? It couldn’t go on for ever and it clearly isn’t going to.
    The people have been corralled into a massive cowshed and milked to death. Over half my wages go on rent, paying my landlady’s mortgage (if it’s not already been paid) on this House of Multiple Occupancy. Man, my udders have shrunk to the size of a nanoparticle.

    Their system of human control is predicated upon cheap energy. That includes the manufacture of all the trinkets and status symbols the more successful slaves can buy (SUVs, ‘sports’ cars, houses etc. etc.).
    As the criminal Blair knew all those years ago, the cheap energy sources are running out.

    The game is up.

    • Johnny Conspiranoid

      “Is it a conspiracy?…..It’s just us (humankind) reckoning with the fact that the finite planet we live on has finite resources?”

      Or both at the same time.

    • russell1200

      I don’t disagree with energy being an issue. It very much is.

      But I think there is also a network effect. The more things are networked, the easier it is to concentrate wealth at the central nodes by skimming a bit from everywhere. There also seems to be a big winner take all aspect to networks.

      I would put some of the Western/Industrial worlds network effect back to the age of sail. But the level of wealth between now and the age of sail is pretty huge in the West.

  • Vivian O’Blivion

    The Sunday Times has a piece about an anonymous woman who as a graduate in her twenties had moved to London and became a Tory party activist.
    In 2008 she had a sexual relationship with then London Mayor and MP Boris Johnson. Johnson immediately attempted to get her a job in the Mayor’s office. Sound familiar?
    The woman “is remaining anonymous for legal reasons”.
    Oh, do catch up.


    Does this qualify as jigsaw identification?

    • Lapsed Agnostic

      Does she have the same initials as a well-known political prisoner, Father? Anyway, did you read Tom Tug-end’s war stories as regaled to Shippers in the Funday Times yesterday?

      Even by the standards of one or two ex-forces I’ve known, if not loved, over the years, they’re quite extraordinary. Here’s a (not-that-)brief synopsis for anyone who can’t be arsed reading the article:

      “…and then when I was a young lieutenant in the Intelligence Corps, I was sent on a top-secret mission behind enemy lines in northern Iraq, with a small bunch of our special forces lads dressed up as peasants, and, you’re not gonna believe this, we only got caught up in a ten-hour firefight with no close air support available…fortunately our guys went equipped with suitcases of ammo…I got shot twice though, one in the chest and one in the chin…lucky I was wearing body armour, a special type that still makes you look like a peasant, and the chin wasn’t too bad because, let you into a secret, AK ammo is only designed to wound*…anyway we managed to get back to the snatch Land Rover and, you’re not gonna believe this, we only hit an IED…luckily it missed the fuel tanks by inches…but I got a few bits of shrapnel in the boat-race, and one of SF lads said: “Ha-ha! You look prettier now, Tom-boy!”…obviously he was only joking because I was pretty good-looking back then and still get women hitting on me even now y’know, and even one or two of the bandits ’cause you know what it’s like these days…anyway then we saw the ex-fil helo about to land and gave them the signal…and, you’re really not gonna believe this, ****ers only started shooting at me with a ****ing mini-gun!!…obviously because they thought I was an Iraqi insurgent, not because they were deliberately trying to slot me…so I shouted up to them: “Leave it out you cockwombles, before you end up actually killing someone!” and they quickly realised their mistake…so then we got back to base and I had to go to the operating theatre and the doc was trying to give me some anaesthetic, but I told him that I didn’t need that shit as I’d just have a few jars in a bar later…so yeah it’s pretty amazing what they can do with shrapnel these days when you think there’s millions of people in Britain with worse acne scars, should’ve Oxycuted ’em innit…remember that advert from when you were a kid in the eighties with the birds with the buckets on their heads, like that Darth Buckethead guy at the elections…anyway then they got the bullet out of my chin and patched it up with superglue…so then I goes to the bar and, you’re not gonna believe this, I only bumped into the guy who’d tried to shoot me with the mini-gun…and he said: “You look great. What you drinking?”, so I said: “How would you know, you blind ****? Pint of Spitfire”…and then I necked that and he said: “It’s your round next” so I told him: “No, mate, it’s your round forever because you tried to ****ing shoot me!”…and then I vowed never to say anything in public about that day until 17 years later when after careful consideration I decided to put my name forward to become prime minister of the United Kingdom…obviously I had to slot a lot of people that day, they were all ****s, but I still don’t like talking about it…I was quite naughty…anyway another Spitfire, please, mate.”

      * Disclaimer: That’s not actually true.

        • Lapsed Agnostic

          Thanks very much for your reply, Father, and for the link. My fault for not following the ‘link’ in your original comment. I have seen that kompromat spreadsheet elsewhere, but forgot all about it till you reminded me. Can you be absolutely sure though that it’s definitely the young woman mentioned there, and not yet another one?

          To be fair, Ms Arcuri probably has enough legal matters on her plate at the minute, as she’s being sued for exemplary damages in the UK and US by Andrew Neil for tweeting that he was ‘fully aboard the pedo elite train’ after his name & number were found in Ghislaine Maxwell’s address book. He’s also stated that he’ll sue anyone who’s re-tweeted her tweet – apparently even if you did it from an anonymous Twitter account, behind a VPN, using a stolen lap-top in an internet cafe in the Colombian port city of Barranquilla that you visited one time only. He will find you. Is that what your lawyers are telling you, Brillo?

          Hope you enjoyed reading TT’s tales of derring-do. I’d imagine plenty of Tory stalwarts in the shires did. He’s now calling for military experts to be deployed to deal with NHS backlogs. Well, if they can patch up shrapnel and rifle wounds with superglue, leaving your fizzog looking like nothing’s happened, and then have you out on the town a couple hours later – why not?, say I.

  • Feral Finster

    Start liking it, for we are ruled by sociopaths.

    Just as sociopaths corrupt every institution that they touch, because they are by the definition the people who will do literally anything to get ahead), once they get power, sociopaths are nearly impossible to root out, because they will do literally anything to keep what they have).

    The problem is that the zero sum winner takes all thinking that is the hallmark of sociopathy creates deteriorating conditions at best, and at worst, the sociopath in charge gambles with everyone else’s lives in an effort to prove once and for all that Mine Is Bigger Than Yours.

  • steve

    A future seeker after bone
    Will find a pedestal of stone
    A lion couchant sunk in marsh
    The only relics (tho’ seems harsh)
    Of us – whose overweening pride
    Believed we’d tamed the North Sea tide
    The dam we built could not withstand
    The flood that came from our own hand.
    For ocean’s rise will overwhelm
    All men’s ephemera by the Thames.
    And Landseers lions – empire’s sigil
    (Beneath the view of Nelson’s vigil)
    Are all that stand of ‘current’ things
    Of Ozymandias and of Kings.

  • Neil Munro

    Dear Mr Murray

    “the desire for reflected glory by fighting a great war to the blood of the very last Ukrainian.”

    Can you please stop using Kremlin tropes in your work? For one thing, Ukraine is very far from being defeated if that’s what you mean by “the blood of the very last Ukrainian.” Using that phrase implies that this is a civil war amongst Ukrainians, whereas it is a war most certainly instigated by a neighbouring state, Russia.

    Second, Ukraine has an absolute right to self-defence under international law, and the UK has a right and a duty to assist that defence by all reasonable means. So, this is not about glory for the UK, no matter how much glory politicians may seek to gain from it. At its heart, it’s about justice, and you can’t have a lasting peace without justice, because the example which injustice sets will forever spark new wars, wars over little bits of insignificant territory, wars over perceived slights; or, as in this case, wars over power itself.


    Neil Munro

    • glenn_nl

      You would apply all the above to the plight of the Palestinians, right? Particularly in the notion that justice demands that the UK has a “right and duty to assist that defence”?

      But we quite clearly do not. We – the UK, the US, NATO, the EU – don’t give a hoot about the Palestinians. On the contrary, we take action against people trying to help them, or raising awareness of their situation.

      Before you reach for that old standby charge of “whataboutary”, just note how little weight our feigned indignation carries, when we simply could not care less when far greater crimes are committed by official friends. Official enemies can do no right. Even criticising official friends is considered a disgrace.

      Palestine represents no threat to the state of Israel, which assaults Palestinians with a regime far worse than apartheid. Having a NATO ally on Russian borders is a quite significant and obvious threat.

      We can say much the same of our response to the Saudis and their war crimes against the Sudan. What’s our response – to sell them more weapons.

      If you don’t recognise any of this, and think ours is a genuine and simple, impartial, morally based response to Russia, I am in awe of your blind faith and trust.

      • Neil Munro

        By your logic, no country should ever take a moral stand on anything, lest they be accused of hypocrisy. Britain went to war in 1939 over the invasion of Poland. Did they stop to think “Oh, should we do this? What about India and all those other countries we invaded? People will call us hypocrites.” No, they didn’t. Does that mean defending Poland was wrong? No, it does not.

        • glenn_nl

          No, by my logic we should be dealing with various regimes with an even hand unless we are content to be utter hypocrites, liars, and stooges of disgusting murderous regimes. Which you are apparently more than happy to be.

          • Pears Morgaine

            The way you leap to the defence of Russia shows that you yourself are not treating all disgusting murderous regimes with an even hand. Ukraine, the poorest country in Europe, was no threat to Russia and what of those countries that neighbour Russia and are NATO members? Surely they represent an even greater threat.

          • glenn_nl

            Ukraine is easily the most corrupt country in Europe, had a significant Nazi infestation, and had openly Nazi battalions killing cultural Russians in its regions by the thousands for nearly a decade.

            That’s a significant difference with the other NATO countries on Russian borders. There is much more, of course, a lot of which has already been referenced on this blog just for one example.

            In any event, this is a situation (Ukraine) where we’re apparently obliged to leap to the rescue with armaments and sanctions. Just for the moral principle of it an’ all, you understand. But when official friends do far worse (eg Israel, America, Saudi Arabia) we not only do not condemn them – we support their atrocities through diplomacy and supply them with weapons!

            Is this actually news to you? Do you rely solely on the BBC etc. for your information?

          • Pears Morgaine

            Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index is generally regarded as the gold standard. Ukraine does indeed rate the worst in Europe at 122nd out of 180. Russia however fares even worse at 136th so their occupation is not likely to make things better; quite the reverse. Anyway I can’t see how this is relevant to a country’s right to self-determination.

            If by ‘Nazi battalions killing cultural Russians…by the thousand’ you’re referring to the war in the Donbas region most of the 14,000 deaths have been combatants with a roughly equal split. Of the 3,300 or so civilian deaths most of these occurred in the first two years of the conflict, more recently the conflict had settled in to a stalemate. Certainly not the genocide you might’ve read about.


            There is a very real fear, justified or not, that the war in Ukraine could spread to other parts of Europe. Russia has already threatened Poland, Finland and Sweden; and then there was that (frankly laughable) ‘nuclear tsunami’ threat against the UK.


        • Bayard

          “Britain went to war in 1939 over the invasion of Poland.”

          No it didn’t, that was merely the casus belli. What goes on in Ukraine is f*ck all to do with us. It is not a member of NATO, nor is it in the EU. We have no treaties with Ukraine.

    • Shaun Onimus

      ‘phrase implies that this is a civil war amongst Ukrainians’.

      I once recall a country in conflict with itself, fighting its regions meant civil war. Then I learned NATO was training the Kiev regime’s soldiers, the civil war label got a bit muddy. Now (8 yrs later), the neighbor steps in to help its bordering regions, and gets labelled the instigator. I do wonder if logic was taught at your school or just tossed out as another sidenote of Math.

      The old ‘switcharoo’ – right to self-defense is being established by the separatists, I can notice the Western propaganda machine isn’t what it used to be, lacking originality and just using real events and mislabelling the actual instigators and those defending themselves.

      Then sprinkle in some justice signalling, the jokes write themselves. Thanks Neil.

    • uwontbegrinningsoon

      Ukraine is a bit like that black knight in Monty Python. Know when to give up. Soon all that will be left will be the memories of the fallen held dear in the hearts of the mothers and fathers who have lost that which is most precious. Zelenski, I fear, could be a monster. Allegedly, according to the, I think, Pegasus papers, funded by foreign nationals and taking his orders from the US state department. Victor Orbin stated the obvious when he said that taking on Russia will not end well.

      • Pears Morgaine

        That’s what you do if a hostile army invaded your country is it? Drop your pants and bend over. So if you’d been running the UK during WW2 when would you have surrendered to the Nazis? After Dunkirk or might you have held on until Singapore?

        • uwontbegrinningsoon

          Good points. I understand that Zelinski was elected on a platform to make peace with Russia and implement the Minsk and other agreements. Most of what I have read suggests that Zelinski was persuaded by the West not to do so. The fascist elements in the Ukrainian society appear to have wanted confrontation with Russia. They do not represent the majority in Ukraine but they are powerful militarily and could therefore influence policy. Your view seems very MSM but even reading Hitchens demonstrates that the conflict is much more complicated than the Guardian would have us believe. We are all obviously entitled to form a view based on what we read and think is most plausible but if you really do share the MSM view on Putin I wonder why you visit web sites like this one which try to give an alternative or more nuanced commentary on world affairs.

    • Bayard

      “Using that phrase implies that this is a civil war amongst Ukrainians, “

      Which is precisely what it is. Ukraine is the last of the countries cobbled together in the first half of the C20th, mostly out of the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to come apart. It was always going to happen sooner or later.

      “Second, Ukraine has an absolute right to self-defence under international law, and the UK has a right and a duty to assist that defence by all reasonable means.”

      In which case Iraq also had an absolute right to self-defence under international law, and the UK therefore similarly had a right and a duty to assist that defence by all reasonable means. However, instead of doing that, we actually joined in with the attack? In what way is Iraq’s sovreignity inferior to that of Ukraine?

  • uwontbegrinningsoon

    What a truly excellent and thought provoking article. I feel the shorter articles you write, really pack a punch. The longer ones; more concentration than I can muster most of the time.

  • Henry

    The collapse of the British Empire was dramatic considering the power wielded by the Empire. However, the days of Empires are long gone. Its the age of technology now.

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