Is The Guardian an ideological tool for neo-imperialism?
Editor's note: Keith Lamb is a University of Oxford graduate with an MSc degree in Contemporary Chinese Studies. His primary research interests are China's international relations and "socialism with Chinese characteristics." The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.
The Guardian newspaper prides itself on independent journalism. Its editorial focus is heavy on human rights discourse, identity politics, and pushing the liberal democratic form. Some believe it to be a radical newspaper with a left-leaning editorial. However, a closer inspection shows that The Guardian, more often than not, acts for maintaining systemic neoliberal hegemony.
The ideology of Western liberal imperialism in line with its strategic imperatives has undergone radical changes since the end of World War II (WWII). The pre-WWII British liberal empire justified war through the ideology of racial hierarchy where they through the "white man's burden" and Christianity justified colonialism.
This ideology, which would now be described as right-wing, was turned on its head after the end of WWII when overtly keeping colonies became a non-profitable venture. The rise of a relatively homogenous British working-class also challenged the liberal elites, which was countered in a number of ways. One of them has been divide and rule.
The imperial strategy of divide and rule has long been popular in the British Empire. Here, populations from the far-flung disconnected parts of the empire were imported to another part. For example, Indian labor was brought to Fiji, Chinese workers were shipped to Malaysia, and Africans were enslaved to build the Americas. Liberal policy has always been to predominantly highlight differences rather than building cross-ethnic unity.
After WWII, Britain witnessed an influx of the needy from the neglected colonies and, more recently, the desperate from countries destroyed by Britain's neoliberal "interventions". To justify this strategic change, at home, the blame for the crimes of Britain's pre-WWII liberal elites have been unceremoniously dumped on the remnants of Britain's traditional working-class, who in fact also suffered horrendous deprivations under the liberal empire.
The Guardian, supporting this divide and rule strategy, is full of articles expressing negativity towards Caucasians. In contrast, all other ethnic groups are celebrated. While this is better than the rightest path, the Guardian could instead lay out a case for real British inter-ethnic unity based on exposing the historical injustices of liberalism. It could express that the lack of development caused by the liberal system itself plays a prominent role in this migration pattern, and it could stress the importance of multi-ethnic working-class unity. However, this class unity would be in opposition to the liberal elites.
In terms of foreign meddling, the material reality that is the end of colonialism and the fact that the subjects of Britain's former colonies are now British citizens has presented a quandary for Britain's liberal elite, as well as other Western powers where "otherness" has become humanized. Imperialism which entails invasion, sovereign interference, and resource extraction must now be justified beyond unacceptable racist ideologies.
Today, neo-colonialism is justified through a new civilizing mission of human rights discourse and the quest to bring in the "enlightened" liberal democratic form to the barbarians. As with old-school liberal imperialism, the call of barbarity precedes the actions of utmost barbarity by the liberal powers themselves.
For example, The Guardian, based on human rights, supported the catastrophic NATO destruction of Libya, which was once the wealthiest African state. Now boatloads of refugees from this failed state flood into Europe, further fermenting exploitable divisions amongst Europeans.
An independent and united China, outside of the liberal imperium, has always been an obstacle to liberal hegemony. During the colonial-era, China was divided into spheres by Western powers. This again was ideologically justified through; a racial discourse that degenerated the "yellow race" and liberal free-trade, which sought to knock down Chinese walls.
Neoliberalism today still aims to curb China's rise. Its ultimate strategy would be to balkanize China. Many Belt and Road projects, supported en-mass by the global south, go through Xinjiang. If successful, they will develop Asia and the rest of the global south. This, in turn, challenges a liberal order which has been premised on sea trade and keeping the earth in a state of uneven development.
This explains the fanning of ethnic tensions in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region through Western military-industrial-complex-funded think tanks and academics. Here, the worst of the liberal empire, such as slavery and genocide, are transposed onto the Uygur ethnicity in Xinjiang. The "evidence" is spurious and the funding of it is just as suspect. Nevertheless, it fits the predetermined imperial strategy, so no fact-checking needs to be done even by The Guardian, which promulgates itself as thinking outside the box.
Recently, an article in The Guardian funded by neoliberal capital, aka the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, further demonstrates The Guardian's acquiescence to divide and rule, based on ethnic lines, when it comes to dealing with China today.
This article argued Xinjiang (which The Guardian terms "East Turkistan") was occupied by China in 1949. However, the Chinese embassy in the UK contests this narrative on a number of accounts. Firstly, they claim that Xinjiang has been, at various times, part of China for nearly 1,500 years.
Secondly, the history of the area characterized by nomadic movement makes it absurd to label "East Turkistan" as a static historical entity.
Thirdly, the original Turkic Khanates were, in fact, defeated over a thousand years ago by the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Uygurs themselves. In turn, the nomadic Turks migrated westwards.
The embassy states that "East Turkistan" is, in fact, a modern creation based on constructing a theocratic state. It seeks to co-opt those of the Turkish language group who believe in Islam for the purpose of breaking China's inter-ethnic unity and balkanizing China.
As such, The Guardian must look towards the wider historical and geopolitical contradictions when it is reporting, and it must recognize that its agenda is, in fact, heavily sullied by the wants of empire and neoliberal class interests. It is these interests that require a pretext for using the tools of war and sovereign interference to enforce their hegemony which rests on a world order characterized by ethnic tensions and uneven development.
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