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Can we be proud of the British Empire?

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dalin80

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I admire the greatness of what was achieved and am pleased that ultimately in lead to a 'what did the Romans do for us?' style growth of infrastructure and advancement in many of the nations that were part of the empire. I'm also proud that unlike the collapse of most Empires it resulted in something arguably better- The commonwealth. In the end Britain gave up the last remnants of it's empire in order to direct all resources at fighting the Nazis, would have it have been powerful enough to do that without empire building?

Were a lot of innocents stamped on to get there? Yes. Was that going to happen anyway even if Britain didn't do it? Yes, it would have just been another European nation instead.
 

Jayof9s

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People these days still jerk off the Roman Empire/Republic as if it were some amazing ideal. It wasn't. But it was sure of a hell a lot better in some aspects, but it was just like any other empire at the end of the day.

It certainly isn't prominent like it once was though.

If anything, we see the ideals of democracy and some other aspects (again, more of the Republic) put on a pedestal more so than the Empire as a whole. Though there are probably plenty of school books that talk about it as the foundation of all civilization.
 

Newline

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Jan 30, 2012
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I don't think you understand the impact of the industrialisation and the scientific advances that came out of Britain.


But we're not completely removed from it. A lot of what we have now (the commonwealth aside) could be said to be a descendent of that era, including the global economic trade systems and globalisation itself.
That's grossly oversimplyfying things. The global economic trade could be said to descend from that era as much as capitalism descended from the black death. While they are indeed related, it'd be stupid to herald the black death as a marvelous mechanic for which we achieved capitalism.
 

TCRS

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Aug 31, 2010
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I think it's not wise as it's really casually glances over the huge amount of human death and suffering it perpetrated.

Saying "others did it too" and "that's the way it is" isn't a justification of celebrating it or pretending that suffering didn't exist.

You can celebrate the achievements but also acknowledge the cost at which it was achieved.
 

Real Hero

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Jul 31, 2012
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you can't portray the scramble for Africa in a positive way for Africans. Hardly left a developed place behind did we
 

King Tubby

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I'm american and I'm proud of it.

The conquering and claiming of land has always been the way the world worked, every empire did it but ultimately it spread language and culture so something to be proud of for sure.

A certain kind of language and culture in places that tended to have a language and culture of their own already. I wonder what happened to people who spoke those languages and had those cultures when the British showed up?
 

Africanus

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I find this apparent change in opinion fascinating. I mean, I have the same view - the Roman Empire is interesting but not an ideal to look up to, however, even just a few decades ago, the Romans were viewed as the 'pinnacle of society' by much of the western world. (Or maybe I should say the Republic more-so but the Empire as well)

I cracked open The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire recently and was blown away by the amount of 'commentary' on the greatness of the the Empire. It felt like propaganda to me, more than a historical account.
The renaissance is to blame, as much of Europe became the equivalent of "weeaboos" for Rome and the empire, which has lasted even to this day.
 

Gr1mLock

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Dec 12, 2008
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Only reason any of these comments are being typed right now is because of English conquest.
 

Newline

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You can celebrate the achievements but also acknowledge the cost at which it was achieved.
Not when one directly caused the other, that'd create some crazy levels of cognitive dissonance if you really acknoweledged the extend of the cost.
Only reason any of these comments are being typed right now is because of English conquest.
Amoungst an unfathomable amount of other historical events yes.
 

Kabouter

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Feb 10, 2006
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Were a lot of innocents stamped on to get there? Yes. Was that going to happen anyway even if Britain didn't do it? Yes, it would have just been another European nation instead.

I'm not sure which other European nation could have managed to build the empire that Britain did to be honest.
 

Walpurgis

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Mar 12, 2015
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Or more serious: leaving a legacy of democracies, rule of law, infrastructure etc.

Do you think it will become acceptable at some point? Discuss.
Thanks for civilising my parents' country. Oh wait, they don't even have a functioning government anymore.
For all the success stories like Canada and Australia, there's also colossal fuckups that affects the world deeply to this day, like how the post-Ottoman middle east was handled. There's still even relatively recent stuff like orchestrating the coup in Iran in the 50's.

Exactly. We have the British to thank for the current situation in the Middle East and backing/legitimising Saudi/ISIS ideology.
 

akira28

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Aug 31, 2010
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War drives innovation. That is undeniable.

so does any kind of endeavor where you're spending full resources on new research and development, and threatening death if you don't succeed.

shouldn't be that surprising, that's no code to be cracked, academic.
 

TheKaeptain

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Jan 1, 2009
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Not even top 3 on my fave empires list

1)
Ottoman Empire

2) The Great French Empire
3) Han Dynasty Empire

You say this but what language are we typing in? What language does America speak right now?
 
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I just got back from a holiday in Cyprus. The British have a notorious history in Cyprus However Cyprus is one of the most organized and orderily countries I've ever visited (on the level of Canada). I pointed this out to some locals and they attribute this to the fact they were once of the British Empire.
 

painey

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Nov 9, 2006
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Red, white and blue; what does it mean to you?
Surely you're proud, shout it aloud,
"Britons, awake!"
The empire too, we can depend on you.
Freedom remains. These are the chains
Nothing can break.
 

Mammoth Jones

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You can celebrate the achievements but also acknowledge the cost at which it was achieved.

I disagree. I think you can acknowledge the achievements. But celebration flies in the face of the "cost" that it took to achieve.

I guess what I'm saying is we'd need a time machine and go ask some people that were killed if their involuntary sacrifice is worth celebrating. Their answer may be different than ours.
 

Lunar15

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Jun 15, 2011
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Pride's a weird thing, especially when talking about something that came at the cost of a lot of human life.

Do I agree with many of the ideals of the founding fathers of America? Yeah, totally. I think I could say I even take pride in some of them. But they still held a lot of views and did a ton of things I don't agree with. America has done countless things I'm certainly not proud of.

I guess my question is: What's the point of having pride in something you didn't do? We all do it, look at sports. It's just kind of a weird concept when you break it down.
 

Faddy

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Apr 30, 2008
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I'm not sure which other European nation could have managed to build the empire that Britain did to be honest.

The French. They had territory in as many places as Britain and controlled more of Europe than Britain ever has

How did South America do with the conquistadors
 

klonere

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Jan 26, 2015
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Irish here.

I guess we can consider ourselves the world's best ever petri dish for experimenting with colonialism so the Brits could get it just right down the road
 

~Devil Trigger~

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Jan 4, 2007
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or is it too early?

Whenever someone expresses pride at the british empire they'll get loads of furious comments about how taking pride in an institution that subdued, surpressed and looted so many people is wrong. Yet how was any empire ever any different? .

right.... so.... its still bad
 

Griss

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Even as an Irishman I can see that there's plenty to be proud of regarding the British Empire. The common law being introduced wherever you went being the primary one. Magnificent system of law, and a gift to many countries, including ours. We've been a free state for almost a century yet we still copy the vast majority of your laws within 3-10 years. Because when it comes to that stuff you tend to nail it.

It's interesting to visit places like Kenya or the Caribbean country I currently live in and see how some things actually disintegrated without the Brits around, like education. Plenty of nostalgia for the British rule both here and in Kenya, though ultimately people need to learn to govern themselves.

Of course the concept of conquering the world is abhorrent and there were atrocities. If you're proud of that then that's wrong. But it was a hell of an achievement and much good did come out of it. I do think that there were far less atrocities committed under British rule than there would be had another civilisation taken command over that amount of the globe, and nor would the dismantling of the Empire gone as smoothly.
 

Kabouter

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The French. They had territory in as many places as Britain and controlled more of Europe than Britain ever has

They may have had a lot of territory in Africa and Indochina, but they had nothing even remotely comparable to India. They also didn't have the early industrialization advantage of Britain.
 

Sober

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Feb 8, 2008
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A certain kind of language and culture in places that tended to have a language and culture of their own already. I wonder what happened to people who spoke those languages and had those cultures when the British showed up?
Hey, I can replace "British" with "Romans" and it still works! How about that!
 

michaelius

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Jan 5, 2012
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I'm not sure which other European nation could have managed to build the empire that Britain did to be honest.

Spain, Portugal, France or Germany - all 4 had plenty of colonies and could easily expand into the areas owed by Brittain at diffrent periods of European history.
 

Dazzler

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Feb 25, 2013
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They ran the rule over, killed and exiled Irish people for over 700 years.

The British Empire is probably the worst thing to ever happen to my country, so nope

Still feeling the effects of it in Northern Ireland to this day
 
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And isn't the British Empire sort of responsible for a lot of suffering? Particularly in Africa. Not saying they're the only ones at fault, but still a major player. I don't know, doesn't seem something I'd be proud of.
 

TCRS

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Aug 31, 2010
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I disagree. I think you can acknowledge the achievements. But celebration flies in the face of the "cost" that it took to achieve.

I guess what I'm saying is we'd need a time machine and go ask some people that were killed if their involuntary sacrifice is worth celebrating. Their answer may be different than ours.

I find it hard to feel sorry for people who have been dead for decades/centuries. I don't feel sorry for the various english tribes either before the anglo-saxons conquered england. Death is a natural by-product of conquest.

The current situation in the middle est is different though, being born out of the clusterfuck from the fall of the Ottoman empire. For them I do feel sorry.
 

whatsinaname

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Feb 13, 2009
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You can celebrate the achievements but also acknowledge the cost at which it was achieved.

You can? So why don't you start a thread a similar thread for the Third Reich? There was a lot of technological achievement from that attempt at conquest too right? Why don't you celebrate the medical breakthroughs that came out of the "research" from concentration camps?

But the Nazis are horrible. Churchill would never have supported concentration camps (except he did, in South Africa). Churchill would never have said the colonies had inferior people who couldn't be trusted to rule themselves (Except he did, about India and the Native Americans).
 

Newline

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They ran the rule over, killed and exiled Irish people for over 700 years.

The British Empire is probably the worst thing to ever happen to my country, so nope

Still feeling the effects of it in Northern Ireland to this day
This right here. I was absolutely shocked at how prevelant it is in Northern Ireland. I went to visit a friend from university there multiple times and every other day there seems to be a bomb threat on the news. This kind of thing is completely unreported in London yet it's a part of daily life over there. It's also hard to forget that only a couple of decades ago London was bombed on a regular basis.
I find it hard to feel sorry for people who have been dead for decades/centuries. I don't feel sorry for the various english tribes either before the anglo-saxons conquered england. Death is a natural by-product of conquest.

The current situation in the middle est is different though, being born out of the clusterfuck from the fall of the Ottoman empire. For them I do feel sorry.
The current situation in the middle east isn't different you just have to use less of your imagination to realise how fucked up it is.
 

dalin80

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Aug 30, 2007
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I'm not sure which other European nation could have managed to build the empire that Britain did to be honest.

Without the impact of the Royal navy either France or Spain (who already had sizeable empires and colonization efforts) would have stepped in. As is Britain 'ruled the waves' and as such had free reign to grow the empire.

you can't portray the scramble for Africa in a positive way for Africans. Hardly left a developed place behind did we

Africa wanted the Empire out and eventually got what it wanted? End result a power vacuum and many areas being worse off. Awesome work.

Zimbabwe used to be a rich 'fruit-basket' of the continent with a growth in hospitals, schools and industry. Obviously the government there since the end of British reign has done such an awesome job of keeping that going...

This right here. I was absolutely shocked at how prevelant it is in Northern Ireland. I went to visit a friend from university there multiple times and every other day there seems to be a bomb threat on the news. This kind of thing is completely unreported in London yet it's a part of daily life over there. It's also hard to forget that only a couple of decades ago London was bombed on a regular basis.

Considering NI has a majority that wants to remain part of the UK I don't think you can blame a long dead empire for IRA thinking it is justified to bomb pubs.
 

Herne

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Spain, Portugal, France or Germany - all 4 had plenty of colonies and could easily expand into the areas owed by Brittain at diffrent periods of European history.

Hell, the only reason Australia became a British colony is because a French admiral or some such thought the place looked boring.
 

Faddy

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Apr 30, 2008
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When it comes to English being the global language Britain has America to thank much more than the other way around.

What country conquered North America first? Everyone else was sniffing around as well but Britain kicked their arses. Why didn't French become the dominant language in the US. Just because you split later doesn't mean you aren't riding on the coattails of good old british culture
 
D

Deleted member 231381

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ummm France??!

Not to the same extent. France and Britain ran their colonies very differently; France favoured killing the local elites and replacing them with French natives, whereas Britain usually just incorporated the local elites into their own power structure - e.g., the way that the local brahmin class became the bureaucrats that powered the East India Company and later British India. The result of this is that French colonial expansion was usually slower and took longer to get off the ground because of resistance to their rule, whereas British sovereignty was often (initially) accepted voluntarily and only later did British soft power fully incorporate formerly independent states.
 
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To be completely honest though, pride in something you had no part of is extremely silly. So, sure, you can fell pride in the British Empire, but that'd be mighty silly of you.
 

Kazerei

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I find it hard to feel sorry for people who have been dead for decades/centuries. I don't feel sorry for the various english tribes either before the anglo-saxons conquered england. Death is a natural by-product of conquest.

But you feel proud of other people's accomplishments decades/centuries ago? Okay...
 

Newline

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Considering NI has a majority that wants to remain part of the UK I don't think you can blame a long dead empire for IRA thinking it is justified to bomb pubs.
No but just like the OP feels proud of the british empire, some NI today are extremely embittered. These kinds of unnecessary feelings warp the reality of the situation and create unnecessary animosity.
 

Coriolanus

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Brazil.
Grats on ruining China with Opium, and exploitation of Africa and India, I guess.
I guess you were also kinda of necessary evil to counter French colonialism in Southeast Asia.

I went looking for data on how Britain ruined china with opium and found sweet fuckall. Sure, there were the wars, but i saw no indication that that's what drove China into ruin, and not, say, all the other fuckery that the BE, and China's archaic af political system at the time, were doing.
 
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