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torrich
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xx British Imperialism
« Thread started on: Oct 13th, 2003, 10:36pm »

What are your veiws on the forging of the British Empire? Was it justified by the bringing of 'civillisation' and 'god's word', or simply a profit driven, military based kingdom with greed as its foundation?
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #1 on: Oct 16th, 2003, 04:46am »

I am generalising here, but more often than not, it was merely to bring the wealth and plunder back to mother england, conquer new territories to expand her empire and wreak havoc on other cultures, whilst using bringing 'Civilisation, Culture and Religion' to the "Savages". Of course that didn't happen all the time (but it did happen many times), what are your views?
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #2 on: Oct 16th, 2003, 04:59am »

Yes it did seem like that.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #3 on: Oct 16th, 2003, 11:00pm »

Yes, I think that plunder and profit was probably more the reason for imperialism.
But you must admit, the British Empire was an incredible thing. How it covered over a quarter of the globe, and the amont of time it lasted, despite distance of most colonies from England was amazing. shocked
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #4 on: Oct 17th, 2003, 02:37am »

Yes, well the ramifications of the Birtish empire have been quite devastating. Such as in Australia where there is almost a crisis for the aborignial people and their way of life in modern times here.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #5 on: Oct 28th, 2003, 4:47pm »

I don't think it was any one thing. Many ministers and high-ranking military people played a part, each with his own views.

The First British Empire, however, was mainly a war of religion with the then-superpower Spain. England was the the only Protestant nation, so they felt obliged to rival Spain on God's behalf.
Of course money and prestige was a driving factor; such things are the driving factors in nearly every human being on this planet, subconsciously at least.
But I have no doubt in my mind that some of the influential people of the time genuinely believed they were 'bringing civilisation to the Dark Continent'. I believe there are letters between ministers, private letters not to be released to the public, involving their missions to 'civilise the Africans'. Why would they maintain lies in private? To really understand, you have to take yourself back to their level of thinking. Which would have been shockingly different to our own. They genuinely saw themselves as the superior race.
And so far as Empires go, the British one was quite pleasant. Think of it this way: if the French or German Empires had been as large, do you think there would be any trace of any native cultures left at all? It's doubtful there would be a United States had the French taken complete control. Not because of skill or power or anything like that, just mentalities of the time. They wouldn't have given up. And the nearly total obliteration of the South American civilisations by Spain I think has only been matched in size and shock-factor by the Nazi Holocaust.
As for the effects of empire being devastating, that's a rather narrow, politically-correct interpretation. Yes there were damaging aspects, but as with everything, there are good and bad things.
India, the world's largest democracy, wouldn't have been united, they wouldn't have been left with advanced technologies such as railways, and they wouldn't have been given a model for such a democracy without the British Empire. Instead, if they managed to get rid of the Dutch and French, and repell the Russians, India would have remained seperated into fuedal kingdoms for some time, perhaps even now. They wouldn't have much in the way of technology, at least not in comparison to the West. At this point in time, an India without previous British occupation would probably have many more people living in dangerous conditions than they do now.
And free trade, the thing giving the current superpower its lifeline, and allowing every country that wishes to trade and improve its economy, was established by Britain. The Opium Wars are prime examples of this struggle, even if the product itself is questionable.
Lets not forget the reason the British Empire ultimately collapsed; Germany. Without Britain's assistance in France, the First World War would probably have been a success for the Germans, Americans or not, and they would have continued to expand. They had no democratic system that their subjects could hope to be given, few human rights, minimal consideration for their subjects.
Even if the First World War had somehow been lost, the Second World War would almost certainly have been won by Germany. The British were pretty much the only powerful European enemy they had to deal with. And without such an enemy on their Western borders, they could have poured nearly their entire army into Russia and beaten them before winter even came close. They could then move further east, probably defeat or ally with all the far east powers, occupy what would have been British territories, and finally take on the United States (if, without Britain, there would be such a place) with the rest of the planet's resources behind the most efficient army on Earth...

Yeah, Britain did some nasty things, and I wouldn't try to justify any of them. But you can't argue that they have made the world a better place, both technologically and politically, but probably not culturally.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #6 on: Dec 10th, 2003, 8:04pm »

Yes, Thoth, I agree. The British Empire did bring alot of good, but that was outweighed by all the disease, violence and prejudice that they also brough with them.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #7 on: Dec 12th, 2003, 7:09pm »

Like I said, a universal language, the defeat of two rather oppressive German Empire-attempts, technology and civilisation outweigh any short-term impacts they may have had, so far as I can see. Imagine how many more people would have died without British Empire; homes are cleaner and safer, medicines were discovered and distributed, transport allows distribution of such technologies to do all this, and Kaiser Wilhelm would have occupied all of Europe - well actually I suppose Napoleon would have, and he was even worse from what I understand.
And there's no way the US would exist had France been left there, and the French government would probably have had all the natives killed. There wouldn't be any traces of the cultures left.
Far outweighs the short-term consequences, very far.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #8 on: Dec 22nd, 2003, 10:08pm »

You say that the British brought hygene and medicine to the occupied countries. Look at India before and after the arrival of the British. When they left India was thrown into chaos with the conflicting Hindus and Muslims and many families were left in poverty, when they had managed to live in relative peace before the Royal Army had marched into the country. And you say the German Empire (if you can call it that) was oppressive! The Army simply shot anyone that tried to express veiws against occupation. An occassion springs to mind where an English colonel ordered an entire battalion of soldiers to open fire inside a crowded mosque, killing countless innocent people.
The prevention of the spread of the German Empire? If the British had the right to Imperial possessions, so did Germany. In WW1, which was started partly to suppress the Germans from building their Empire, British possessions covered a quarter of the globe. A tad hypocritical perhaps?
The defeat of Napoleon. Napoleon's ambition was to have a united Europe, much like the one that is being suggested today as a positive move for the future. It would seem that Napoleon Bonaparte was perhaps somewhat ahead of his time. It is true that he selfishly put himself at the head of his Empire, but he was a key revolutionary figure and played a major part in abolishing the ineffective French monarchy.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #9 on: Dec 30th, 2003, 05:55am »

That was what the French Revolutionary wars were about... freeing all of Europe from their evil dictators. Napoleon took over countries and used them to fund his war. Uniting Europe? What was he doing in Russia then? Last time I looked, that was in Asia.
Bear in mind that the illusion of morals today is vastly different to morals of yesteryear... many people in power in Britain believed what they were doing overseas was for the best. Whether it was or not is an entirely different concept, but they believed it was. As for suggesting Germany should have been left to build an empire... if that had been the thinking at the time, chances are they would still have one, under their original autocratic political system. Which would you rather have had? The German Empire, far more violent and unrepresentative, or the now-extinct British Empire? I know which.
And India, before Empire, was split into several kingdoms. After Empire, it was the largest democracy on the planet. So should we now go in there, saying that according to today's morals British imperialism is wrong, reinstate whatever descendants of those kings we can find and take democracy away from them? You think they're poor now, try them under a few kings who only want what's best for themselves. It's cause and effect. Sometimes good things come out of the bad.
You can't judge empire by today's morals. It's tantamount to judging the actions of a caveman by today's morals. The difference is just as big. Bring someone from a hundred years ago forward in time and show them the way some people dress in the summer and they'd probably have a heart attack. The only thing you can do is try to put yourself in the shoes of people then, and judge the long-lasting benefits of things that have happened. And I'd rather have been a citizen of the British empire than any other, given a choice.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #10 on: Jan 4th, 2004, 01:12am »

I am not saying that if the German Empire would have helped the world and been peaceful, etc. I am just making the point that they had all the right to possess imperial colonies.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not anti-British or anything (I am actually quite proud of my English and Scottish heritage), I just disagree with the morals and hipocracy of the now non-existant empire. I don't think that the recent rapid advances in the quality of life, education and economy in India have anything to do with the past British occupation. It is because of the higher paying jobs that are now available in that nation.
Oh, and British or no British, the Indian Regal class would have been overthrown by the people themselves eventually, as the royals were throughout most of Europe. It has happened in every other country with an inneffective ruling class who seek merely to indulge themselves, so why not India?
Napoleon was greedy, selfish, manipulative, cruel and tyrannical, but he was also a great leader, although I cannot defend my argument on that alone. I suppose he did betray the alliance to Russia and try to invade. The same happened to Spain as well. But Europe would have, in time, been better off under his control than under the rule of the old aristocracy.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #11 on: Jan 8th, 2004, 2:59pm »

Quote:
), I just disagree with the morals and hipocracy of the now non-existant empire.


Exactly what I said, you cannot judge past morals with your own, present-day ones. Morals change over time. Not necessarily the same everywhere, not necessarily for the better. You can see this in how some members of the elderly population react to some of the practices of modern youth. Many important members of British decision-making truly believed they were put on Earth by God to rule. Some thought that British culture was perfect. Therefore, this would reflect in the patronising way in which they dealt with foreign subjects. If the British were the ideal society in Gods eyes, then they were doing Gods work by transforming other cultures. Nowadays such a belief may land you in an asylum, or at the very least prison, but then it was held in the highest ranks of the British hierarchy, and indeed the Church of England - just look at all the missionary expeditions to Africa.
Judging their morals against ours is just as flawed as doing so with the Aztecs. Some of their practices were barbaric to Europeans even at the time, let alone now. But they saw nothing wrong with them. And it is the Aztecs' view that matters most in understanding why they did what they did.

Quote:
I don't think that the recent rapid advances in the quality of life, education and economy in India have anything to do with the past British occupation. It is because of the higher paying jobs that are now available in that nation.


The very reason those higher-paying jobs are avaliable are because of the modernisation programs Britain undertook there. You cannot believe that these high-paying jobs would have just magically appeared, without foundation work, surely?


Quote:
Oh, and British or no British, the Indian Regal class would have been overthrown by the people themselves eventually, as the royals were throughout most of Europe. It has happened in every other country with an inneffective ruling class who seek merely to indulge themselves, so why not India?


Strangely, that's one of the same arguments I used on the stupidity of the war on Iraq. It was dismissed, by Tim I think, in another thread. So I can't really argue, I can only say in hindsight that with the nation-wide infrastructure already built by the British, they may have been better off.

Quote:
Napoleon was greedy, selfish, manipulative, cruel and tyrannical, but he was also a great leader, although I cannot defend my argument on that alone. I suppose he did betray the alliance to Russia and try to invade. The same happened to Spain as well. But Europe would have, in time, been better off under his control than under the rule of the old aristocracy.


Napoleon was a great military leader. Nothing more. And he lost even at war. What makes you think that, after he was done exploiting the common people, he would settle down and try to improve their lives, listen to what they have to say, and not just indulge himself in the same way as said aristocracy did? It seems, to me anyway, that old Napoleon was on a power-trip, towards the end of his career especially.
Europe would have been pretty much the same, only war-torn, under Napoleon.
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #12 on: Jan 19th, 2004, 12:22am »

Fine. I give up. You rarguement is too strong, and mine too weak.
What do you think about the Boer war? Just general views.
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« Reply #13 on: Jan 24th, 2004, 9:04pm »

I think there are two potential views, as i see it. The Boers, by yesterday's and today's standards, were pretty immoral and nasty. And there was a legal issue, in that they continued to capture and keep black slaves, and raid villages of supplies in doing so, in spite of the law the British had laid down. So... if we look past the inherent wrongs in war, the Boer war did have some pretty strong pros.
Of course, it could've been handled better, I suppose, from a strategic point of view at least - they underestimated them, which caused them some nasty problems. I suppose when you are the world's super power you tend to be a bit arrogant...
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xx Re: British Imperialism
« Reply #14 on: Jan 27th, 2004, 9:59pm »

Yes they did underestimate the Dutch settlers. Of course South Africa was far better off after the war, without slave trading and such. I think that the motives are entirely justifiable. The black population was helped by the stronger laws too. As you know, racism was, and is, still strong in South Africa, but the natives were better protected.
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W.S.G.: It's not Bloodygore! It's Ruddigore.
Journalist: Oh well, it's the same thing!
W.S.G.: So I suppose if I say I admire your ruddy countenance, it's the same as saying I like your bloody cheek?! Well it isn't. And I don't.
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