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Can we be proud of the British Empire?

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dalin80

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proud? we're all paying the price for it now

In what way? Considering much of the politics and issues date back earlier then the empire it would be silly to blame many current issues on it. It would be like blaming my leaking roof on the Ottoman empire as if this hadn't happened then that wouldn't have happened that in turn this wouldn't have happened... and so on and on and on...
 
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Actually, many of the earliest American settlements were penal colonies.
 

Dazzler

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And there was the thought it could be used for strategic materials to help with ship maintenance and building in the Pacific, something it became apparent very quickly wasn't going to happen

The Fatal Shore is a great book about this very subject, the settlement of Australia as a penal colony. Reading it at the moment and loving it
 

Carl2291

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Absolutely.

Its amazing how such a tiny Nation managed to build the greatest Empire on the planet.
 

Kabouter

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Actually, many of the earliest American settlements were penal colonies.

Not to mention that when recruiting colonists was tough, Europeans found their prisons to be tremendously good sources for supplementing the flow of colonists. Beggars and the like too.
 
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And there was the thought it could be used for strategic materials to help with ship maintenance and building in the Pacific, something it became apparent very quickly wasn't going to happen

The Fatal Shore is a great book about this very subject, the settlement of Australia as a penal colony. Reading it at the moment and loving it

Read it! Outstanding book (i dare say the best on early Australian history).
 

braves01

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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.



Obviously other factors were at play like you mention, but there was a lot of opium around. I think the British used it help against running a trade deficit from all the tea. Old opium smuggling corporations like Jardine Matheson are still around, too.
 

Gr1mLock

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Dec 12, 2008
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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.

Amoungst an unfathomable amount of other historical events yes.

Please. Do go on.
 

Toxi

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Can American southerners be proud of the Confederacy?

I mean, some of their ancestors did fight for the Confederacy and help win battles in its favor.
 

Shake Appeal

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The British Empire has been responsible for more suffering than all but a handful of other entities, especially when you factor in the diffuse effects of colonialism/postcolonialism/carving up the Middle East/ushering in the Industrial Age and planetary warming.

Very little be proud of there.
 

Coriolanus

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Brazil.


Obviously other factors were at play like you mention, but there was a lot of opium around.

Indeed, and where is the evidence that it harmed the country's development? That's what i've failed to find.
The wikipedia articles even mention that use was mostly limited to the upper chastes, and all the lower chastes used were a combination of opium and tobacco, then proceeds to point out how it helped redevelop the country's economy.
 

Mammoth Jones

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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.

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.

I completely understand that empathy for human suffering diminishes over time. That's kinda my point. We forget and often have little regard for the immense price in human suffering that occurred.
 

genjiZERO

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Look, like any empire it comes with good and bad. While most former colonies are above average democracies they came at the cost of genocide both ethnic and cultural. However, in the end Britain "won" so it'll be looked upon more favorably than not in the long run.

As far as pride goes. I would't be proud because of the empire, but I think being proud of the advances made because of the empire is OK. For example, Darwin was able to have the luxury of theorising evolution because of the British navy.



Obviously other factors were at play like you mention, but there was a lot of opium around. I think the British used it help against running a trade deficit from all the tea. Old opium smuggling corporations like Jardine Matheson are still around, too.

Yeah Opium War is super fucked up. It definitely lead to the collapse of the Qing something China still hasn't fully recovered from.
 
Jan 10, 2015
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Can American southerners be proud of the Confederacy?

I mean, some of their ancestors did fight for the Confederacy and help win battles in its favor.

This is a bit like asking should Germans be proud of the Third Reich?

The Nazis did atrocious and despicable things, but not everything they did was atrocious and despicable.
 

dalin80

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The British Empire has been responsible for more suffering than all but a handful of other entities, especially when you factor in the diffuse effects of colonialism/postcolonialism/carving up the Middle East/ushering in the Industrial Age and planetary warming.

Very little be proud of there.

Most of the geographical, religious and political issues were going before the empire and would be going regardless. Ultimately a few borders changed not the reasons for war. Just about every conflict before and after is a religious divide which ironically is conflict which the Empire stamped out in various nations when it took control.

Of course we wouldn't be able to debate this if it wasn't for the chain of technological advancements that followed the industrial revolution so if you personally think that we would be better off still living the lives of the iron age then that's fine.
 
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Pride is pretty worthless however you look at it. But there is a lot of interesting history from the British Empire and not all of it is a simple story of a bunch of villains oppressing weaker nations and eating babies.
 

Chichikov

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Indeed, and where is the evidence that it harmed the country's development? That's what i've failed to find.
The wikipedia articles even mention that use was mostly limited to the upper chastes, and all the lower chastes used were a combination of opium and tobacco, then proceeds to point out how it helped redevelop the country's economy.
Are you arguing for the opium wars here?
Like, what's the bigger point?

Britain went to war with China to force them to buy opium from them, they killed tens of thousands of people for that, ended up taking up pieces of China and making all Christians exempt from Chinese laws, all things that directly help bring the boxer rebellion and the fuckery that followed and you really want to argue that "well, it didn't technically destroyed China"?

It was a colonial crime, unjustifiable and unforgivable, I mean yeah, it's not as bad as some of the stuff the British did in Africa and India, but let's get fucking real here.
 

God Dayumm

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Maybe if you're British, otherwise it makes no sense.

Actually US and Canada might be a little proud of it because the alternative would have been to be under Spanish domination. Now that was a shitty empire
 

dalin80

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It was a colonial crime, unjustifiable and unforgivable, I mean yeah, it's not as bad as some of the stuff the British did in Africa and India, but let's get fucking real here.

Well if you want to appoint blame for expansionist crimes then let's go back a couple of thousands years before the British empire and you will find Chinese emperors butchering their way across Asia to the borders of what is modern China, their crimes were also unjustifiable and unforgivable but you are applying a current viewpoint to a long historic event.

Exactly? That's a direct result of the Empire...

The last remnants of British rule left Africa over 60 years ago at some point those who have fucked up running the various nations will have to stop a long absent nation for their own incompetence... coughcough Mugabe coughcough.
 

ShemhazaiX

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It had some good points and some bad points. Personally I'm pro-global unity so the potential of the British Empire could have been tremendous towards unifying most of the world into potential prosperity. Obviously greed got in the way of that and had some pretty awful consequences. However, I'll always look at the entire business as something that could have been incredible.
 

KillerMan91

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Wonder how different the thread would be if the title for example had ''Japanese empire'' instead of british. All empires are forged trough blood so I really don't know how you can be proud of any of them. Amazed by how they could conquer half of the world yes but proud? Eh.
 

Hari Seldon

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Basically you are saying can you be proud of the fact that elite aristocrats enslaved and killed millions of people all in the name of profit?
 

Visualante2

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In the words of Major Briggs: Achievement is its own reward, pride only obscures it. He was talking about it military achievements but I feel it probably could apply to a nation.
 

genjiZERO

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Are you arguing for the opium wars here?
Like, what's the bigger point?

Britain went to war with China to force them to buy opium from them, they killed tens of thousands of people for that, ended up taking up pieces of China and making all Christians exempt from Chinese laws, all things that directly help bring the boxer rebellion and the fuckery that followed and you really want to argue that "well, it didn't technically destroyed China"?

It was a colonial crime, unjustifiable and unforgivable, I mean yeah, it's not as bad as some of the stuff the British did in Africa and India, but let's get fucking real here.

And let's not forget that Britain sacked Beijing which basically destroyed the Qing as an actual authority. Had Britain not led to the collapse of the Qing Japan almost certainly would not have been able to exert colonial control, and it's likely the Chinese Civil War probably wouldn't have happened. Clearly the Qing would have eventually fallen in the face of modernization, and it probably would have led to civil war (because the Qing were a foreign dynasty), but I think it would have happened later on and in a less ideological manner. The GMT/CCP duality was a direct reaction to over a century of colonial assault.
 

Shake Appeal

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Of course we wouldn't be able to debate this if it wasn't for the chain of technological advancements that followed the industrial revolution so if you personally think that we would be better off still living the lives of the iron age then that's fine.
I don't think we would be. But the next two hundred years or so should answer the question of whether the planet and the life on it might have been better off with humans living at an 18th-century level forever. Who knows, with enough simultaneous resource shocks and an energy crunch, we may end up back there.
 

dalin80

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Wonder how different the thread would be if the title for example had ''Japanese empire'' instead of british. All empires are forged trough blood so I really don't know how you can be proud of any of them. Amazed by how they could conquel half ot the world yes but proud? Eh.

I feel that you can be proud of a historic achievement performed by your ancestors ie becoming a massive and powerful empire as long as you can view that from a less idealised viewpoint and can appreciate the implications.

My Grandfather (who died before I was born) was a Desert Rat, I am proud of his achievements yet I still find the act of war to be horrific.

I don't think we would be. But the next two hundred years or so should answer the question of whether the planet and the life on it might have been better off with humans living at an 18th-century level forever. Who knows, with enough simultaneous resource shocks and an energy crunch, we may end up back there.

Maybe, but there an awful lot of maybes there and a whole seperate thread but one thing I will mention is that humans were already bringing about extinctions and climate change prior to and semblance of industry due to farming and hunting, the overall effects would be different and almost certainly slower but I feel that there has only been one inevitable outcome for us on this planet.
 

genjiZERO

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Well if you want to appoint blame for expansionist crimes then let's go back a couple of thousands years before the British empire and you will find Chinese emperors butchering their way across Asia to the borders of what is modern China, their crimes were also unjustifiable and unforgivable but you are applying a current viewpoint to a long historic event.



The last remnants of British rule left Africa over 60 years ago at some point those who have fucked up running the various nations will have to stop a long absent nation for their own incompetence... coughcough Mugabe coughcough.

You're missing the point though. The British directly caused the collapse of the Qing.
 

FlyingSaucer

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In term of level of civilization attained, China and the Austrian empire.

In term of size extension and of accomplishment for its time, the Achaemenid empire ?

In term of longevity : everyone favorite nation in EU4 ? No, not the Ryukyu, the other one.

The British empire isn't really that special, really. At the very best they are just an empire of shopkeepers ;p
 

Hari Seldon

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It is not even something to be proud of from a military history perspective. The Brits beat up a bunch of people hundreds of years behind them technologically. They didn't take down superior (in a military sense) opponents like the Romans, Macedonians, and Mongols did.
 

Red Liquorice

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Any positives you think came out of it, I think can be achieved through other ways that don't involve war, espionage, murder, corruption, etc, etc, etc.
 
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