Contrary to popular opinion, the British Empire was not the monstrous entity it is characterised as today, in fact it was and remains the most benign empire to have ever existed.
While this is in no way a claim that it was perfect, the benefits it brought do outweigh the harm it wrought.
Is that a bold statement? Yes, it is, my good fellow.
Empire of Law
- British rule was a rule of law, not arbitrariness.
Throughout the Imperial history of Britain, the state was a constitutional parliamentary monarchy (try saying that three times fast) and in its final phases, an actual democracy. Constitutional regimes mean that rule of law supersedes the rule of man – the law and order is above the regent’s or tyrant’s whims or any religious laws and customs, secular. This rule of law provided the perfect basis for founding an organised and just society. It was “Just” in the sense that every subject had law-written rights and responsibilities and everyone had a defined place in the society. A leap forward over anything that existed previously.
As a result British laws and societal systems were usually more humane and sane than the alternatives. It guaranteed the basic rights – freedom from: slavery, lawlessness, anarchy, persecution, arbitrary imprisonment and extrajudicial punishments. Freedom of: expression, trade, ownership, religion and other basic rights and freedoms. This allowed trade to flourish and economy to develop, improving the lives of millions upon millions.
The intent of taxation was not to milk the subjects dry, fill up the regent’s coffers and ensure nobody would get wealthy and hence threaten the despot’s status, but to provide the state the means of taking care of the essentials of rulership.
The result was that the subjects themselves identified to the Empire and that mutinies and rebellions were rare. Everyone benefited to at least some extent.
Empire of Trade
- The British sought wealth, not power. The British Empire was based on trade, not conquest.
A common refrain is that the Empire was exploitative and merely extracted the wealth of other nations. Lies. It was mostly about trade, creating markets for British goods around the world whilst creating markets for global goods in Britain. Add to this huge trade between all the different parts of Empire and you have a recipe for enormous wealth creation on a global scale for most people within the Empire.
This is not to say everything was wine and roses. There were crimes, and wrongdoings, like in all empires. Of course there was conquest, quite a lot of it. The same as other empires around the world.
The remarkable success of other former dominions, thought, is attributable to their participation in the Empire, without which those countries would be far less well off than they are today, like the former colonies of certain other European empires.
Pax Romana, Pax Britannica, Pax Americana – Promotion of Peace and Prosperity
The Pax Romana (Roman Peace) was a period of relative peace and stability across the Roman Empire which lasted for over 200 years. This is where the term “Pax” comes from. During this time Rome was unchallenged in military and economic power, thus it looked inward to stability and progress.
Quite a few centuries later came the Pax Britannica, this time it was a little different. The period from 1815 and 1914 is know as the “Imperial Century” during which the British Empire was at its height bringing peace and prosperity to its lands. For example: in this era, the Royal Navy provided services around the world that benefited other nations, such as the suppression of piracy and blocking the slave trade. Britain also traded goods and capital extensively with countries around the world, adopting a free trade policy after 1840.
Later in the 20th century the US would become the foremost power on the global stage, and they would expand on the British model. Eventually sowing the seed of what the world order would look like today.
Even so, all some have to say is that the Empire was simply “evil”. Belay that.
The Good Deeds
Few will admit, even among contemporary British, surprisingly, that the Empire did a lot of good for Humanity as a whole.
Is that a controversial statement? It shouldn’t be. Let’s take a look at the achievements of the Anglo-Saxons:
- Education. It was the Empire that brought literacy for the first time and created widespread educational reform in many nations. When intellectual superstars were found they were often brought them back to Britain to receive the world’s best education.
- Technology. The industrial revolution happened in Britain, most of the technology that makes the modern world possible comes from Europe. Much of this out was exported to the Empire. From the printing press to steel works.
- Slavery. The British led the world in trying to get rid of this. The Slave Trade Act of 1807 made the slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire, the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 made slavery totally illegal. Between 1808 and 1860, the Royal Navy’s West Africa Squadron seized approximately 1,600 slave ships and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard.
These are only a few of the accolades that the British Empire acquired. There are many more. To think that this is but one European empire of many…
The collapse and its consequences
By comparison, the collapse of the Empire lead in many cases to negative consequences which can still be felt today. The abandonment of its duty to its dominions resulted in the collapse of several once prosperous nations, particularly in Africa where most have never recovered.
Ironically it is the new colonialism of Globalism that behaves far more like the monster the British Empire is accused of being: robbing countries of their best and brightest in order that the elites in Britain and other Western countries can have a never ending supply of cheap labour, and claim to have “won” gold medals in the Olympics and trophies in the football, etc., all of this destroying any hope for recovery in the lands which had prospered when ruled by the “evil” Empire. Speaking of…
In exchange for this fake prestige and increase in GDP, the ethnic English, Scots, French, Spanish, etc. are pushed out of their ancient capitals and are subjected to regular abuse by those who seek to blame them for perceived “crimes” committed by their forefathers centuries ago…
A sad note to end an age on. But there’s nothing to fear, an end is a beginning too, after all. This age asks different things from us, Europeans. Our forefathers have achieved so much and it is the secret with of all fathers that their sons outperform them. So we must rise to the task, because we can ask nothing less than a great challenge from our ancestors.
It’s time to prove ourselves. It always has been.
Let’s make our forebears proud!