United Kingdom"? The uncertain prospects of the (former) British Empire

(To Andrea Forte)
18/07/22

The dramatic human times - and therefore intrinsically geopolitical - that the collectivities and the powers they express are experiencing, make it even more urgent to try to outline the prospects of a very particular empire, but certainly still alive, at least in the spirit and perception it has. of itself, like the British one. To do this, you cannot fail to start by framing the type of subject you are talking about well.

Not nation, but empire indeed, and one of the most sophisticated and capable empires in modern and contemporary history. Not even a kingdom therefore and not even British, but empire e English. In fact, when we talk about UK di Britain e northern Ireland one immediately enters into the profound English ability to hide (therefore protect and therefore sublimate) one's dominion over the people of the island called "Great Britain" and over the northern part of the Irish one.

British it is an adjective that makes the “tenants” of the Celtic provinces seem equal and associated, but it is rhetoric, linguistic compensation of the dominated. Dominant stock then means nothing more than unity should be understood as unification by the Germanic / Anglo-Saxons, who decide the fate of the peoples of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Of course, we are talking about an empire, which can be defined first and foremost as such only sui generis, considering that it is subject to another empire, which is the current global hegemon, the United States, yet also and precisely with them we touch the birth geopolitically of power, of which the British were capable, since the United States was born as revolutionary patricides and monarchicides against London, but already in the name something can be glimpsed of their denied origin.

As the name England is hidden behind the wording of United Kingdom, so the thirteen colonies are defined even more generically than republics, states, and also United, maximum power wrapped in the utmost vagueness, to pretend that the imperial essence is not inherent. a hierarchy and therefore a dominion of one over the other. Precisely from them, from the USA, from how they arise, we can see that an empire, if it is great in its ascent, is even more so in its descent, because it, even more than the first, needs wisdom.

In fact, it is precisely in descending that the English once again proved their superior ability to produce history for themselves and for other peoples. In fact, when they bleed to death in the first world war and even more so they reach the extreme of sacrifice in the second, they feel they have gone beyond their strength, they have won, but they are exhausted. Yet, instead of accepting the idea of ​​their own end, they transfigure it, in homage to the true nature of each community, which becomes geopolitical precisely when and because it does not accept its finitude, its being in any case a mortal creation. Do not accept this end, delay it as much as possible, for this reason the British, from Churchill and above all from the Suez crisis in '56, will be convinced that they are living not in decline, but in traslatio imperii, according to which the new weakness does not mean that the English empire is decaying nor that it is dying, rather it transfers its strength, never scratched, to its Germanic son from overseas.

Therefore a gift, I do not decline. Maximum fiction of a thought that precisely because and as long as it remains imperial, produces lies and illusions, or rather pedagogy and propaganda. From that moment on, London strives to reposition the grandiose idea it has of itself with its new fragility, that is, it tries to be part of the “average” world, a small place for an Englishman, too small.

The entry into the European Union as well as the obvious participation in the US camp in the Cold War are nothing more than the first steps in this new condition of subordination, of which the decolonization of their provinces and their transformation into associates in a more or less tied to the English camp is none other than the most striking signature of this movement.

Let me be clear, for the British, and Thatcher will remember it, it is not a question of having become a middleweight, but a heavyweight who plays in the middle field and still there to be able to excel. Perhaps an illusion too, but true and demonstrable enough to continue dreaming big.

The lesson given to Argentina is a message to the average, the British (English) empire can still win wars and defend its provinces, even if they were lost in rocks thousands of kilometers from the motherland. "Do not confuse the slow pace with the inability to go far", this is the warning of the Iron Lady.

So yes, an empire that neither wants nor can renounce those remote geographic fragments that are absolutely strategic, in which it is still established and from which the residual power it possesses still emanates. But the prime minister does not dream of leaving the EU, she knows well the limits of her geopolitical "animal". You need to insinuate him in the fora, which she can no longer afford to snub.

Isolation is the luxury of the strongest and perhaps not even them. "Dissolving" in organizations means both exploiting and crippling them. Once again, with her, the English imperial fiber knows that hiding is more advantageous than exposing oneself.

A weak empire, however, can survive if its human factor, if its population remains compact, homogeneously convinced of its common destiny and that it justifies an enormous dose of sacrifices. Instead, having implemented the exit from the EU without an overwhelming popular majority and above all with the opposition of the people of the British Isles and their own capital, has outlined a first crack in the certainty that elite English know how to keep the British ship steady in the waves of stormy history.

Brexit is nothing more than taking an extremely uncertain direction. Powerful kick, but possibly blown. Showing oneself willing to pursue it at the cost of losing what can be defined as a real pillar of London's strategic security, or by accepting that customs barrier between oneself and Northern Ireland, carries within itself the smell of weakness and absence. of judgment in letting go of a natural geographic outpost, from which to guarantee the intangibility of at least the whole west coast of Great Britain.

When saving what can be saved comes to the point of giving up even the essential, then it means that cancer is about to reach the heart of the empire. This perception, yes, very clear to the English ruling classes, which however apparently reacted with a move, Brexit in fact, which risks causing the building that was to be saved to collapse even more. Aware of the disease, less sure of the cure.

Of course, in their minds the European Union is a construction that threatened to weaken even more what little remained of the domination of London and yet the dilution point in the provinces may have reached a level by now that Brexit took place beyond the deadline. and therefore with a more harmful than beneficial effect. A real accelerator of disintegration, which triggers a single vortex of Europeanism and independence of the Celtic subjects, as well as implying an almost abandonment of their faithful Northern Irish unionists, true English on Irish soil. A tragic sacrifice of one of the most loyal front lines of English power, a terrible self-mutilation of one's most exposed human factor. Signing a protocol, which admits a certain barrier, albeit of an apparently only commercial nature, between London and Belfast, cannot fail to have a geopolitical connotation of further descent.

The current situation now requires the United Kingdom not to back down on Brexit, but at the same time forces it to try to reconcile the path undertaken in a new imperial transfiguration, much more fictitious and evanescent (not to say utopian and dreamlike) than the translation of eighty years earlier, or the so-called new Global Britain. If that past was the passing of the baton to a much more real and heavier power, to disguise one's being almost on the ground, today the ideology of Global Britain it seems, in its vagueness, nothing more than saying to oneself “I don't want to die, but I don't know how to do it. I still have the strength to fight to be there. " Effective and undeniable strength, still capable of playing an irreplaceable role for the United States itself and whose success could allow, if not to preserve Belfast, at least Edinburgh, to maintain the status and depth of power necessary for Washington to seal more and more especially the Russia in the northern front, acting as a pivot and support for the new generation of Sweden and Finland, even before their entry into NATO (now taken for granted).

It is essentially the old game of showing oneself necessary to one's own dominus, applied today to the war in Ukraine, which not only awakens the British empire as opposed to the Russian one, but is also an opportunity to become the great vicar of the Americans in the bleeding of Moscow. When, in fact, together with Poland and the Baltics, Great Britain stands as the vanguard of the frontal clash with the Russians, London tries upwards to prove itself the capable US arm in the containment against the "bear", but reinforcing that interlayer between Russia and Germany, also demonstrates the anti-German containment approach, increasingly separating Moscow from Berlin. Because the English posture is also aimed at becoming a military and political reference point for those Eastern European countries frightened both by the former USSR and by a resurgence of German power, which, if it were really getting back on the road, could not do not try to extend your own area of ​​influence to the nations of Eastern Europe.

Finally, London is managing to promote a group of willing countries towards Ukraine, ranging from Great Britain to Poland to the Baltics, up to Turkey itself, which guarantees its future borders, whatever they may be, obviously in an anti-Russian sense. A NATO subgroup of communities willing to war (with the useful exception of Turkey, which is indeed willing to war, but not necessarily against Russia) far more than Western Euro-Westerns.

Everything I have said so far is certainly not sufficient to outline a complete picture of the strengths and weaknesses of an empire like the English one and yet it is sufficient to make it clear that the power of London still has something to say to its own. dominus, to its allies and its adversaries, and it is a voice within certain limits that is still irreplaceable for the balance of our world.

That this is enough to prevent the collapse, the implosion, or the separation of Scotland and Northern Ireland and perhaps, in a hypothetical and for now unimaginable future, of Wales itself remains to be seen, but no empire like the British one would probably accept this. I hesitate sitting in silence waiting for the arrival, distant but inexorable, of the final sleep.

Photo: UK MoD