A Britain Oppressed: The AES and the Nation
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Unlike today, when support for transnationalism is posed as a key marker of progressive politics by many on the British left, the Alternative Economic Strategy (AES) was a deeply nation-centred outlook strongly opposed to Britain’s loss of national sovereignty. The AES depicted Britain as a country oppressed, subjugated by foreign interests and under the control of a national elite selling out to powers abroad. However, the idea that the AES sought a ‘siege economy’ is inaccurate: its protectionism was motivated not by an anti-free-trade principle but mainly by practical considerations of economic necessity. At the same time, the AES’s protectionism reflected longstanding anxieties about Britain’s relative decline. In their dialogue with Marxist theory, AES proponents rejected charges of nationalism. However, their depiction of Britain as subjugated by global interests indicated strongly their orientation towards a left-wing nationalism focused upon enemies abroad and traitors at home.