I am reading “All Hell Let Loose” by Max Hastings and into the second chapter of The Polish Campaign. The writer mentions that British had a anti-militarist tradition and which was a source of pride to its people. Well, how does one go on to become an imperial power and rule half the world if one practised anti-militarism ?
British pacifism and anti-militarism was just a fad
When we talk about British pacifist and anti-militarist tradition, it largely revolves around Peace Society and people like Robert Spence Watson, John Scott etc ... People like these were usually well respected and known in their professions (scholars, religious figures, businessmen ...) but they had limited political influence. Sure, there were few MPs among them (like Richard Cobden ) but not nearly enough to influence foreign policy. In fact, although they campaigned against British imperialism, most of these people enjoyed wealth created by it. In that regard, they were similar to latter champagne socialists. Unlike latter hippie movement they didn't have support of masses of youth. In fact, looks like they didn't even want such support. Instead, it was enough for them to preach from moral high ground in their mostly private upper society gatherings. Note that even hippies in 60's didn't achieve much (military spending continued as it was a height of Cold War), and British pacifists were even less successful to this day.