The victorious powers [in 1945] were not imperialist, as in 1918, but anti-imperialist: the US and the Soviet Union.
This sentence occurs in the LRB review of Mark Mazower’s Hitler’s Empire. It is written by the newly appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.
Well, they were hostile to the British, French, and Dutch empires.
Quite. And we in our time had been untiringly hostile to the French and Dutch empires.
True, Andrew, but the Americans and Soviets wanted to break up the colonial empires, not take them over wholesale.
I think the Soviets pretty exactly took over every inch of the German empire in the East. And there wasn’t anything else left over of a German empire after 1918.
The Americans are a more complicated case, I know.
Also, Mazower’s assertion looks perfectly potty to those of us who are familiar with the Hilferding/Lenin definition of imperialism, which is most people my age. But Mazower may not be, or may not think it at all useful.
Restricting your working definition of an empire to a collection of directly administered extra-territorial provinces, as this quotation seems to do by implication, would obviously be extremely narrow, as it would exclude the Athenians, the Aztecs and the Angevins, just for one letter of the alphabet. But maybe Mazower isn’t bothered about precedents before the 20th century.
I quite agree, except that the sentiment wasn’t Mazower’s but the reviewer’s. And as I am meant to be paying attention right now to a popular philosopher’s exposition of apostasy I had better shut up.