The legacy of the British Empire: good, bad? Do we need a rebalanced understanding?

Al Jazeera had a story yesterday about How Britain stole $45 trillion from India. And lied about it. Which basically damns the UK for how it taxed in India and enriched the mother country by a shell game of using collected taxes: instead of paying for Indian goods out of their own pocket, British traders acquired them for free, "buying" from peasants and weavers using money that had just been taxed from them.

We've already discussed on some other threads how Britain has cultural artifacts from other countries it acquired, stole, liberated etc during colonial, conquest and empire times. The current Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) in Canada is to question pretty near everything suggested to be good about colonization and settlement, to counter the historical narrative of civilizing "primitive" peoples which is increasingly described as mainly desire to make money and to enrich the colonizers.

The "balanced view" is progressively being rejected it seems, the balance view being to acknowledge "excesses" like slavery, swindling people out land and resources, outright conquest, extermination of peoples, and to then turn to modern good things the civilizing influence that English speaking culture. I think we're seeing a re-writing of the received version, created from the perspective of the conquered and exploited. Also in Canada, we're seeing a rejection of aspects of the imposed culture, with some Anglican, Roman Catholic and United Church (combo of Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Methodist) sued out of existence due to extensive abuse within mandatory residential schools for indigenous children, and what is now called "cultural genocide". Billions in compensation.

You may have your own examples from your knowledge or where you live. I think the British Empire gets the most attention because it defeated the French, and the Spanish and Portuguese were already on the outs by the time it was doing its worldwide thing.

So my questions. What do you think of the legacy of Empire? Of the English/British/UK influence? Do we need to critically examine it? Should the UK pay compensation? Should Great Britain apologise? (Note I've combined UK, Britain, English, because for most of who aren't from there, it's all one)
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  • I think it (the British Empire) is a direct cause of maybe 75% of ongoing conflicts in the world - and closely associated with the other 25% of it.

    It was a sick idea perpetuated on other people for massive economic gain in these small isles.

    If there was any justice in the world, the British would be sued out of every penny we have and left to drift along in poverty, like so many countries our forefathers drained of wealth and resources.
  • As you no doubt know, the British empire at its height was so big that the sun never set on it. There's a very good reason for that:

    God couldn't trust the British in the dark.

    I love that joke because of how true it also is.

    The truth is that the history and legacy of the British empire is clearly mixed. The majority of the countries involved feel that way and are active in The Commonwealth.

    However, whilst it is simply untrue to state that the story isn't mixed, I understand where it is coming from because the dark history of the empire is really dark. The good in no way justifies or mitigates the bad.

    H.G.Well's War of the Worlds was consciously written to make this point.

    On a personal note I found my visit to Cape Coast Castle in Ghana (centre of the slave trade) deeply moving and troubling. This is where the wealth of Britain was built.

    AFZ
  • It seems a particularly ironic and sad thing when the oppressed thank the oppressor for the abuse. The British didn't cause all the problems, but they sure as hell didn't solve anything that didn't involve a commercial gain to then.
  • Do you mean that the British didn't cause all the problems and that the French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and Germans did too? It was a European project?
  • We might as well ask 'What did the Romans do for us?'

    The world was what it was. Some invaded us, we invaded others. How far shall we go back, to ask for compensation? The Norman conquest? The Vikings? We would probably all end up owing each other.

    Each invader took out more than what was put in. That was the point. But put in they did, as well. Britain did too.

    It's good that indigenous populations in all countries recognise their roots, if they are in touch with them. It must be remembered that most of those who don't recognise them were exploited too, and still are in many instances.

    Brits have made friends and enemies in all countries. It's better to focus on our relationships and respect for each other now than to dwell on the past, in my view.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Do you mean that the British didn't cause all the problems and that the French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and Germans did too? It was a European project?
    You've forgotten the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish ones? What about them? True, two of those ended 100 years ago, but the third endured until the 1990s and outlasted all the others you've mentioned.

  • I reckon that taking credit for 75% of the ongoing conflicts in the world is another way that some English people big themselves up in the shadow of empire. Even in self-flagellation, some English people can't seem to let go of this inflated sense of their own importance.

    A great example of this is the notion that Britain is the cause of the current difficulties in the Middle East because of that terrible trick they pulled when they stabbed both the Arabs and the Jews in the back sequentially (actually they could have been whizzing around stabbing everyone in the back at the same time). It was a terrible series of tricks, but Britain has been out of there for a very long time now. The British should start giving some credit to the stupidity and racism of the people of the Middle East too.

    Dead Ringers was very good on Brexit when they posited Sinn Fein taking their seats in Parliament solely to witness the death throes of the British Empire.
  • The comparisons to Russian, Austria-Hungary, Turkish, and going back in history to Norman, Roman are inapt comparisons. None of these exist today. The UK/BE exists. There is continuity of regime. Gives a good target for demands and if possible suing.

    How far to go back for compensation? Easily to the expansion of empire and attempted expansion. Examination of the 20th century would do nicely. Wicked things in India, other parts of Asia, Africa.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    The comparisons to Russian, Austria-Hungary, Turkish, and going back in history to Norman, Roman are inapt comparisons. None of these exist today. The UK/BE exists. There is continuity of regime. Gives a good target for demands and if possible suing. ...
    Russia still exists. Indeed, it appears to be actively pursuing a policy at the moment of trying to grab its empire back again. Austria still exists. Hungary still exists. Turkey still exists.

    Or is the real point, that it's so obvious that if anyone told them they ought to pay compensation, they'd say a ruder version of 'go away'. It's only the existence of the guilt complex here that Simon Toad is referring to that the argument exists at all.'
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    The truth is that the history and legacy of the British empire is clearly mixed. The majority of the countries involved feel that way and are active in The Commonwealth.

    My realpolitik take on the Commonwealth has always been that the rich countries stick around in order to maintain a sphere-of-influence in a superpower dominated world, and the poor countries stick around because it's a useful vehicle for procuring foreign-aid from the rich countries.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Russia still exists. Indeed, it appears to be actively pursuing a policy at the moment of trying to grab its empire back again. Austria still exists. Hungary still exists. Turkey still exists.

    So far the only part of it's empire that Russia has attempted to grab back is Crimea (granted to Ukraine in 1954 by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet - unsure on that basis whether you are pro or anti the 'Russian Empire'). AFAICT, the presidents of Austria and Hungary don't represent the House of Hapsburg, and Erdogan doesn't represent the Sublime Porte.
  • AFAICT, the presidents of Austria and Hungary don't represent the House of Hapsburg, and Erdogan doesn't represent the Sublime Porte.

    But presumably, if I were required, via some programme of national restitution, to make reparations for the undoubted evils of the British Empire, then that wouldn't be because I am descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but because I am descended from people who benefited. In other words, the continuity of responsibility is via ethnic decent, not via political descent.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    But presumably, if I were required, via some programme of national restitution, to make reparations for the undoubted evils of the British Empire, then that wouldn't be because I am descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but because I am descended from people who benefited. In other words, the continuity of responsibility is via ethnic decent, not via political descent.

    Firstly - continuity of a regime makes it easier to appropriation blame - the history of migration and movement post both the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires makes it easier to identify some of the people who benefited than others, and as they were not run on such nakedly mercantilist lines the costs and benefits were more evenly spread even if the oppression was real.
  • edited December 2018
    Ricardus wrote: »
    But presumably, if I were required, via some programme of national restitution, to make reparations for the undoubted evils of the British Empire, then that wouldn't be because I am descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but because I am descended from people who benefited. In other words, the continuity of responsibility is via ethnic decent, not via political descent.

    Not quite. It's not you personally, it's the country. It's probably contingent on whether the home country continues to be enriched from the times of empire.
    Enoch wrote: »
    Or is the real point, that it's so obvious that if anyone told them they ought to pay compensation, they'd say a ruder version of 'go away'. It's only the existence of the guilt complex here that Simon Toad is referring to that the argument exists at all.'
    It's not about guilt actually, it is about ability to compensate. Have money, can pay restitution. It gets pretty complicated admittedly.

    Does the UK still benefit from the empire, or legacy thereof?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    alienfromzog: On a personal note I found my visit to Cape Coast Castle in Ghana (centre of the slave trade) deeply moving and troubling. This is where the wealth of Britain was built.

    footnote: You will have noticed on your visit, alienfromzog , an interesting feature re Cape Coast Castle, namely, that it is indefensible from the landward side, whereas its guns are pointed seaward. In other words there was not a threat to its operation from the local Fantis, who serviced the castle and ferried out the slaves in their fishing canoes to the European ocean ships anchored in the offshore. Furthermore, the provision of slaves was organised by inland tribes, such as the Ashante confederacy, whose paramount chief, the Asantahene, send a letter to the British Government in 1817 requesting a revival of the trade. It wasn't simply that the British benefitted greatly from slavery, but so, too, did the indigenous African kingdoms. It was a joint venture. Perhaps, alienfromzog, that is what you found 'troubling.'

    The problem that I have with discussions like the one presented here is that while there were aspects of British imperialism which were reprehensible, (the idea of imperialism itself might be considered unacceptable), it is by no means peculiar to the British empire, and might no less be applied to that of Alexander, Rome, Persia, those of the Indian Moguls, various Chinese dynasties, the Aztecs, so on and so on. The history of non-imperial states are, perhaps, no less worthy of moral censure, even by the mores of their own times. Human history can be presented as a litany of instances of man's inhumanity to man. For Christians that is no surprise and the basis of its theological understanding of the nature of human beings and their societies, and the need for salvation.

    Al Jazeera, IMO, is justified in debunking complacent British attitudes towards their empire, but not in suggesting it is peculiarly damnable.



  • Kwesi wrote: »
    footnote: You will have noticed on your visit, alienfromzog , an interesting feature re Cape Coast Castle, namely, that it is indefensible from the landward side, whereas its guns are pointed seaward. In other words there was not a threat to its operation from the local Fantis, who serviced the castle and ferried out the slaves in their fishing canoes to the European ocean ships anchored in the offshore. Furthermore, the provision of slaves was organised by inland tribes, such as the Ashante confederacy, whose paramount chief, the Asantahene, send a letter to the British Government in 1817 requesting a revival of the trade. It wasn't simply that the British benefitted greatly from slavery, but so, too, did the indigenous African kingdoms. It was a joint venture. Perhaps, alienfromzog, that is what you found 'troubling.'
    The African slave trade was hardly a "joint" venture. Some kings/chiefs decided to go for the easy money, but ended fucking their own economy. Whilst they do have blame in doing so, it alleviates not one iota of the European responsibility.
  • Kwesi wrote: »
    Al Jazeera, IMO, is justified in debunking complacent British attitudes towards their empire, but not in suggesting it is peculiarly damnable.

    It's not about damnation: reparations not retribution.

    And what's the Jesusly thing to do about it?

    And is this Brexit thing continuous with the empire thing, or is racism the only link, and just a correlation between Brexit and empire?
  • Don't forget that at the same time as the ruling classes were exploiting the world, they were also exploiting the poor at home.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    But presumably, if I were required, via some programme of national restitution, to make reparations for the undoubted evils of the British Empire, then that wouldn't be because I am descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but because I am descended from people who benefited. In other words, the continuity of responsibility is via ethnic decent, not via political descent.

    Not quite. It's not you personally, it's the country.

    But in practice it would be me personally, because, at the risk of sounding like the Daily Mail, any restitution offered by the UK would have to be funded by taxpayers' money.

    To put it another way, if I (as a taxpayer) have that obligation today, and if next year Nicola Sturgeon achieves Scottish independence, Mary Lou McDonald achieves Irish unification, and Jeremy Corbyn achieves the abolition of the monarchy, and I become a citizen of a presidential republic called 'Federation of England and Wales', then it's not obvious that that obligation would just go away.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    But presumably, if I were required, via some programme of national restitution, to make reparations for the undoubted evils of the British Empire, then that wouldn't be because I am descended from the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, but because I am descended from people who benefited. In other words, the continuity of responsibility is via ethnic decent, not via political descent.

    Firstly - continuity of a regime makes it easier to appropriation blame - the history of migration and movement post both the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires makes it easier to identify some of the people who benefited than others, and as they were not run on such nakedly mercantilist lines the costs and benefits were more evenly spread even if the oppression was real.

    I agree the latter point makes the British Empire different, but I'm not sure it makes the identification of the benficiaries any easier.

    AIUI, many of the evils of Empire were caused not just by the general evils of imperialism, but also by a particularly stupid form of laissez-faire economic, e.g. the Bengal Famine was exacerbated partly by the conversion of many Indian farms to cash crops and partly by an apparently genuine belief that famine relief would interfere with the workings of the free market and thus cause more misery in the long run. However the beneficiaries of laissez-faire economics are stratified by class as well as by ethnicity or citizenship.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Surprise, surprise, human nature is corrupt. God must be so grateful for us good liberal folk not being as other Glauconian men.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    AIUI, many of the evils of Empire were caused not just by the general evils of imperialism, but also by a particularly stupid form of laissez-faire economic, e.g. the Bengal Famine was exacerbated partly by the conversion of many Indian farms to cash crops and partly by an apparently genuine belief that famine relief would interfere with the workings of the free market and thus cause more misery in the long run.

    I think the reality was more complex, there was a mix of laissez-faire and much more dirigiste policies (there were inter-provincial trade barriers set up to during the time of the Bengal Famine - and grain continued to be exported out of Bengal in spite of high local prices) depending on what suited the state at a given point in time.
    However the beneficiaries of laissez-faire economics are stratified by class as well as by ethnicity or citizenship.

    I don't get the feeling that this is intended to be the start of a call for reparations - indeed the end of that article goes in a different direction:

    "We need to recognise that Britain retained control of India not out of benevolence but for the sake of plunder and that Britain's industrial rise didn't emerge sui generis from the steam engine and strong institutions, as our schoolbooks would have it, but depended on violent theft from other lands and other peoples."

    A reasonable start would be a revision of the picture that the British Empire benevolently built infrastructure for other countries and when (these lesser) people took over their own countries they screwed up. When the reality was that the majority of the infrastructure was built for extractive purposes, and on independence the literacy in a lot of colonies was incredibly low, and the number of people who had been educated with the skills necessary to run a modern state could be counted on the fingers of one hand in many cases.
  • Anyone see Taboo? I've nearly finished the first volume in The Baroque Cycle which leads up to that period. I'm glad that the deconstruction of the past continues apace, it leaves us naked and full of survivor guilt, each on a pinnacle of hundreds of billions of victims. The only restitution to whom can be in our tiny privileged lives with other less privileged beneficiaries. Should the thriving Sub-continental half of Leicester's population be exempt? And the poor white underclass, who must pay for the Brexit they didn't vote for, not?
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    We might as well ask 'What did the Romans do for us?'

    We look at Empire from both sides now...

    Do the citizens of Rome still walk the streets built by British slaves? Does Rome benefit from the Coliseum where captured Brits were thrown to the lions ?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    As we sleepwalk into multinational slavery, it is probably worth reflecting that all who put things before people inevitably become exploiters of people in order to get things. That's a balanced view of the history of empires, the British Empire being no different. Any compensatory benefit for the enslaved is incidental to the main objective.
  • Abraham and Martin come to mind. And Bobby. And FDR. And Mandela. And Atlee. The shake of salt on the bad diet of civilization. The better angels of our nature.

  • I don't get the feeling that this is intended to be the start of a call for reparations - indeed the end of that article goes in a different direction:

    "We need to recognise that Britain retained control of India not out of benevolence but for the sake of plunder and that Britain's industrial rise didn't emerge sui generis from the steam engine and strong institutions, as our schoolbooks would have it, but depended on violent theft from other lands and other peoples."

    I think a lot of the problem is that the Empire isn't really discussed at all, except in an ironic Monty Python way. Progressives would tend to say the Empire was irredeemably bad and conservatives would tend to say 'yes of course it was a terrible thing and of course you couldn't get away with it now but we did build them railways', but, present company excepted, neither side would, in general, be able to tell you much about the salt tax or the Bengal-Nagpur Railway.
  • Enoch wrote: »
    Do you mean that the British didn't cause all the problems and that the French, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and Germans did too? It was a European project?
    You've forgotten the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Turkish ones? What about them? True, two of those ended 100 years ago, but the third endured until the 1990s and outlasted all the others you've mentioned.

    And lets not forget the Chinese, which is still hanging in there....
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Timothy the Obscure: And let's not forget the Chinese, which is still hanging in there....

    Of course, the Chinese would deny their territory is an empire, Tibet, for example, being no more than a region of China, which raises the question as to what constitutes an empire as against other territorial units of government: kingdoms, nations, unions of socialist republics etc.. If we see them as a collection of tribes or ethnicities, then all modern nations are imperial in character or origin. To be against empire is to favour the fragmentation of all existing states in an orgy of Brexitism.
  • Kwesi wrote: »
    Timothy the Obscure: And let's not forget the Chinese, which is still hanging in there....

    Of course, the Chinese would deny their territory is an empire, Tibet, for example, being no more than a region of China, which raises the question as to what constitutes an empire as against other territorial units of government: kingdoms, nations, unions of socialist republics etc.. If we see them as a collection of tribes or ethnicities, then all modern nations are imperial in character or origin. To be against empire is to favour the fragmentation of all existing states in an orgy of Brexitism.

    Well even if that's true, China is building influence in many parts of Africa by throwing money around.

    Also I don't know that the British Empire would be an empire in the way you seem to be suggesting. Territory was gotten with the understanding that it was somehow extra land to be conquered and exploited, not that they were first and foremost discreet nations or terrestrial units. If anything, the British tended to recognise groups of people and manage them geographically for their own ends - if necessary imposing borders and lines on maps to create nation states.
  • I actually think there is quite a big difference between Chinese imperial activities in parts of Africa to the historical actions of the British, French Germans and Belgians before them.

    Neither really gave much of a shit about the people who had to live under their influence, but somehow the Chinese actions driven by the need to make money are slightly more acceptable than the British actions of war, invasion, pillage and enforced poverty.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    Im is that the Empire isn't really discussed at all, except in an ironic Monty Python way. Progressives would tend to say the Empire was irredeemably bad and conservatives would tend to say 'yes of course it was a terrible thing and of course you couldn't get away with it now but we did build them railways', but, present company excepted, neither side would, in general, be able to tell you much about the salt tax or the Bengal-Nagpur Railway.

    I think a fair number of problems would be solved if most people's knowledge of the Empire extended beyond 'railways in India' and 'William Wilberforce'.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Re Wilberforce: Is it appropriate to point out that the slave trade took place well before West African became part of the British Empire?
  • Don't forget that at the same time as the ruling classes were exploiting the world, they were also exploiting the poor at home.

    A good point worth picking up on. My ancestors in the early C19 were busy starving in cold fields in Essex, as peasant labour. It must have been bad as in the mid C19 they all (all!) moved to East London, where they presumably had the Dickens (ahem) of a time.

    A silly logical fallacy, but it sometimes strikes me as remarkable that any of my ancestors lived long enough to breed.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    mr cheesy: Well even if that's true, China is building influence in many parts of Africa by throwing money around.

    Also I don't know that the British Empire would be an empire in the way you seem to be suggesting.

    My point about China is that China, itself, might be regarded as an empire, which includes a variety of ethnic identities in various states of integration into a common Chinese identity and citizenship. In the case of Tibet that process is currently problematic, not to mention Taiwan. My general point is that what is happening in China is essentially no different to other cases of nation-building, whereby smaller units have been merged into larger ones. England, to put it somewhat crudely, created through the expansion of Wessex. In other words, England was itself an empire ever before what became the British Empire. The USA can be regarded in a similar light, as can other states. I suppose at the end of the day I'm suggesting that imperialism is a fundamental feature of human political societies, rather than some sort of aberration. Quite where reparations to the numerous disappeared Mohicans fits in, one leaves to the moralists.

    Perhaps I shouldn't have raised the conceptual problem as to what is to be understood by empire because it might seem to detract from a critique of what is commonly understood as the British Empire post 1700 or so. For that I apologise.


  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Kwesi wrote: »
    In other words, England was itself an empire ever before what became the British Empire.

    England as an 'empire' or Italy during the Risorgimento as an 'Empire' is rather different to the colonial outworkings of the British and Italian Empires.

    The British latterly played around with the notion of a common identity and citizenship - but retreated rather hurriedly when the consequences of that were not to their liking (see the various Immigration Acts and the recent Windrush-era situation)
  • We seem to be getting carried away on an extended guilt trip. Looking at the sweep of history, going back as far as you like, (Egypt? Assyria? The Huns? the Aztecs?) one way or another the strong have exploited the weak where opportunity existed. For most of that time, slavery or bondage in one form or another have been a fact of life. We cannot alter our own past as individuals or nations. Britain was and is no better or worse than other nations. Some of our legacy was good, some bad. We have to live with that fact, but beating ourselves up for it doesn't solve anyone's problems. Get over it. (Dons tin hat.)
  • Eirenist wrote: »
    We seem to be getting carried away on an extended guilt trip. Looking at the sweep of history, going back as far as you like, (Egypt? Assyria? The Huns? the Aztecs?) one way or another the strong have exploited the weak where opportunity existed. For most of that time, slavery or bondage in one form or another have been a fact of life. We cannot alter our own past as individuals or nations. Britain was and is no better or worse than other nations. Some of our legacy was good, some bad. We have to live with that fact, but beating ourselves up for it doesn't solve anyone's problems. Get over it. (Dons tin hat.)

    The problem is that those we abused and their close descendents (a couple of generations) can't just get over it. They're still living the reality of British divide-and-conquer and war-rape-and-pillage.

    In a way that nobody today is from civilisations that died thousands of years ago.
  • This is like Germans telling each other than they just need to "get over" their treatment of the Jews in the 20th century.

    Fortunately few in Germany have taken that advice to heart over the last 60 years - because being responsible murder and genocide is not something you can just tell yourself to "get over".
  • As you no doubt know, the British empire at its height was so big that the sun never set on it. There's a very good reason for that:

    God couldn't trust the British in the dark.

    Interestingly enough, the sun still has not set on the British Empire.
    Britain has fourteen overseas territories, the direct remnants of the British Empire.

    The Sun never sets on all fourteen British territories at once (or even thirteen, if you don’t count the British Antarctic Territory). However, if the UK loses one tiny territory, it will experience its first Empire-wide sunset in over two centuries.

    Every night, around midnight GMT, the Sun sets on the Cayman Islands, and doesn't rise over the British Indian Ocean Territory until after 1:00 AM. For that hour, the little Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific are the only British territory in the Sun.

    The Pitcairn Islands have a population of a few dozen people, the descendants of the mutineers from the HMS Bounty. The islands became notorious in 2004 when a third of the adult male population, including the mayor, were convicted of child sexual abuse.

    As awful as the islands may be, they remain part of the British Empire, and unless they're kicked out, the two-century-long British daylight will continue.

    It then goes on to observe that the Pitcairns will only have one total solar eclipse in the next thousand years and when it occurs the sun will still be up over the Caymans.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    ........and empire on which the sun never set and wages never rose.
  • I wasn't aware that the British had ever consciously and deliberately set out to exterminate another people. Admittedly, there were some cases of 'unintended consequences'. But 'the past is another country'.
  • Anglican BratAnglican Brat Shipmate
    edited December 2018
    Eirenist wrote: »
    I wasn't aware that the British had ever consciously and deliberately set out to exterminate another people. Admittedly, there were some cases of 'unintended consequences'. But 'the past is another country'.

    Not being as bad as the Nazis does not equate to being good. The British certainly believed that they were superior to the peoples they conquered. And much of the violence caused towards their conquered peoples stemmed from the British's belief in their inherent superiority over those they ruled over.
  • The British certainly believed that they were superior to the peoples they conquered.

    That must have been true in at least one way, or we’d never have conquered them in the first place.
  • Eirenist wrote: »
    I wasn't aware that the British had ever consciously and deliberately set out to exterminate another people. Admittedly, there were some cases of 'unintended consequences'. But 'the past is another country'.

    This might be informative, it's about Churchill specifically, but talks about various things empire which seem pretty atrocious. How much was official policy, how much was simply unquestioned foundation of empire? It's not pretty.

  • The British certainly believed that they were superior to the peoples they conquered.

    That must have been true in at least one way, or we’d never have conquered them in the first place.

    Well you could conquer other peoples while believing they are your equal. You just want their resources.

    The Romans I believed, considered the Greeks, their equal, but Rome still went ahead and conquered Greece.
  • RossweisseRossweisse Shipmate, 8th Day Host
    Churchill was a monster who got away with all sorts of atrocities. All things considered, though, I'd rather live in the British Empire than the Roman, Soviet, or present-day Chinese same.

  • For a sample of genocidal crap the US unofficial semi-empire has pulled, look up "smallpox blankets".
    :rage:

    Figured I should toss that in for balance, and do it before a non-American did.
  • Eirenist wrote: »
    I wasn't aware that the British had ever consciously and deliberately set out to exterminate another people.

    The Pequot War is the first example that came to mind for me.
  • Golden Key wrote: »
    For a sample of genocidal crap the US unofficial semi-empire has pulled, look up "smallpox blankets".
    :rage:

    Figured I should toss that in for balance, and do it before a non-American did.

    I did as you suggest, but found the Wikipedia page on Native American Disease and Epidemics has a section on "Disease as a weapon against Native Americans" which describes that as a British tactic:
    British officers, including the top British commanding generals, ordered, sanctioned, paid for and conducted the use of smallpox against the Native Americans. As described by one historian, "there is no doubt that British military authorities approved of attempts to spread smallpox among the enemy", and "it was deliberate British policy to infect the indians with smallpox".[15]
    No mention of its later use by the US (I am somewhat surprised to find.)
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