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The British Empire, good or bad?

1dustpelt
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7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?
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YYW
Posts: 36,357
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7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.
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tvellalott
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7/29/2012 8:28:09 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I wouldn't exist if Australia hadn't been colonised, so that's good for me.
I'm not an expert by any means, but the British Empire were critical in the industrial revolution, was it not?
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MrBrooks
Posts: 831
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7/29/2012 8:34:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Together, Britian and America brought much of the world into the modern age; sometimes they were dragged into it, kicking and screaming.
Man-is-good
Posts: 6,871
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7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.
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YYW
Posts: 36,357
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7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.
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Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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7/30/2012 12:07:50 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
As with any discussion like this, it depends on whether you think that aristocrats and the military becoming more powerful is worth the prolonged pain and suffering of millions of natives.

It was extremely profitable for the Nazis who took the wealth of dead Jews. Does that somehow present I lighter side to the holocaust, simply because somebody made money?
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

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Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
Wnope
Posts: 6,924
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7/30/2012 5:48:43 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Empires use colonies to get raw materials, they had no interest in India creating an economy that lead to anything but increased efficiency in the collection and manufacture of raw materials.

Capital that may have gone towards other industries were funneled into keeping India economically inferior and dependent.
16kadams
Posts: 10,497
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7/30/2012 7:14:08 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/29/2012 10:27:21 PM, ConservativePolitico wrote:
The sun never sets on the British Empire.

I always thought that was so badas$ when I was a kid.

It still is!
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"A trend is a trend, but the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?" -- Alec Cairncross
16kadams
Posts: 10,497
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7/30/2012 7:15:04 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 5:48:43 PM, Wnope wrote:
Empires use colonies to get raw materials, they had no interest in India creating an economy that lead to anything but increased efficiency in the collection and manufacture of raw materials.

Capital that may have gone towards other industries were funneled into keeping India economically inferior and dependent.

So they need to have intent for it to be, on balance, good?
https://www.youtube.com...
https://rekonomics.wordpress.com...
"A trend is a trend, but the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?" -- Alec Cairncross
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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7/31/2012 8:38:38 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?

You're right, but he wouldn't have needed to be a reformer without British imperialism. Sure, in the end India may have come out on the other side a stronger nation, but for every India, there are a dozen Irans (yes Iran's current state is a long term result of the British empire). Take most of Africa for instance. No silver linings there.

Although to be far to Britain, at least their empire was not as fvcked up as Belgium's or France's, which committed a terrible genocide and started the Vietnam war, respectively.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
HelterSkelter
Posts: 281
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7/31/2012 10:23:52 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

Amartya Sen disagrees. He contends that social development is actually a precondition to functional economic development; the states in India that were socially developed have pulled miles ahead of the states that developed economically first but that have never developed socially.
HelterSkelter
Posts: 281
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7/31/2012 10:25:06 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?

Reformers existed prior to Gandhi. The Sikhs, Buddhist, Jains, and poets of the Bhakthi movement are good examples.
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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7/31/2012 10:28:51 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/31/2012 8:38:38 AM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?

You're right, but he wouldn't have needed to be a reformer without British imperialism. Sure, in the end India may have come out on the other side a stronger nation, but for every India, there are a dozen Irans (yes Iran's current state is a long term result of the British empire). Take most of Africa for instance. No silver linings there.

Although to be far to Britain, at least their empire was not as fvcked up as Belgium's or France's, which committed a terrible genocide and started the Vietnam war, respectively.

But my point was more sophisticated than the, "Isn't it good the Indians had a common enemy to rally against?" It was the specific relative virtues of the British Empire that helped to shape Gandhi. And just to be totally clear, the alternative to British imperialism doesn't straightforwardly get you to modern India, there's isn't some historical destiny that meant that India would have arrived where it currently is regardless.

With respect to Iran, first the British Empire, then the British and the American, messed it up to a real extent. I'm not justifying that. However, in Iran the legacy is the Ayatollah system, in India, the consequences have been radically different. India doesn't quite have Israel's claim (for what that's worth) of being "the only democracy in the region", but many of it's proximate neighbors don't compare favorably on the liberal democracy scorecard. Eg: China, Myanmar, Nepal.

For better or worse, infrastructure, administration and law (to say nothing of competence in the English language), some of which is derived from its colonization, have helped India become so successful.
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
HelterSkelter
Posts: 281
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7/31/2012 10:28:55 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I don't think that the British Empire was that great. If they wanted to take up the Burden, that's fine, but they didn't develop the nation socially (as they were supposed to), which means they didn't fulfill their portion of the Burden.
Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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7/31/2012 11:54:51 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/31/2012 10:28:51 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/31/2012 8:38:38 AM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?

You're right, but he wouldn't have needed to be a reformer without British imperialism. Sure, in the end India may have come out on the other side a stronger nation, but for every India, there are a dozen Irans (yes Iran's current state is a long term result of the British empire). Take most of Africa for instance. No silver linings there.

Although to be far to Britain, at least their empire was not as fvcked up as Belgium's or France's, which committed a terrible genocide and started the Vietnam war, respectively.

But my point was more sophisticated than the, "Isn't it good the Indians had a common enemy to rally against?" It was the specific relative virtues of the British Empire that helped to shape Gandhi. And just to be totally clear, the alternative to British imperialism doesn't straightforwardly get you to modern India, there's isn't some historical destiny that meant that India would have arrived where it currently is regardless.

With respect to Iran, first the British Empire, then the British and the American, messed it up to a real extent. I'm not justifying that. However, in Iran the legacy is the Ayatollah system, in India, the consequences have been radically different. India doesn't quite have Israel's claim (for what that's worth) of being "the only democracy in the region", but many of it's proximate neighbors don't compare favorably on the liberal democracy scorecard. Eg: China, Myanmar, Nepal.

For better or worse, infrastructure, administration and law (to say nothing of competence in the English language), some of which is derived from its colonization, have helped India become so successful.

That's all true, and I'm sure that India would be a much weaker nation if it weren't for Britain. Their democracy would also not be as sophisticated. However you would be hard pressed to find many other British 'success stories' like India, and by success story I mean that it turned out good in the end.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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7/31/2012 2:39:20 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/31/2012 10:28:55 AM, HelterSkelter wrote:
I don't think that the British Empire was that great. If they wanted to take up the Burden, that's fine, but they didn't develop the nation socially (as they were supposed to), which means they didn't fulfill their portion of the Burden.

Hm?

At 7/31/2012 11:54:51 AM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/31/2012 10:28:51 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/31/2012 8:38:38 AM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?

You're right, but he wouldn't have needed to be a reformer without British imperialism. Sure, in the end India may have come out on the other side a stronger nation, but for every India, there are a dozen Irans (yes Iran's current state is a long term result of the British empire). Take most of Africa for instance. No silver linings there.

Although to be far to Britain, at least their empire was not as fvcked up as Belgium's or France's, which committed a terrible genocide and started the Vietnam war, respectively.

But my point was more sophisticated than the, "Isn't it good the Indians had a common enemy to rally against?" It was the specific relative virtues of the British Empire that helped to shape Gandhi. And just to be totally clear, the alternative to British imperialism doesn't straightforwardly get you to modern India, there's isn't some historical destiny that meant that India would have arrived where it currently is regardless.

With respect to Iran, first the British Empire, then the British and the American, messed it up to a real extent. I'm not justifying that. However, in Iran the legacy is the Ayatollah system, in India, the consequences have been radically different. India doesn't quite have Israel's claim (for what that's worth) of being "the only democracy in the region", but many of it's proximate neighbors don't compare favorably on the liberal democracy scorecard. Eg: China, Myanmar, Nepal.

For better or worse, infrastructure, administration and law (to say nothing of competence in the English language), some of which is derived from its colonization, have helped India become so successful.

That's all true, and I'm sure that India would be a much weaker nation if it weren't for Britain. Their democracy would also not be as sophisticated. However you would be hard pressed to find many other British 'success stories' like India, and by success story I mean that it turned out good in the end.

It depends how you weigh these things in the balance. America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are probably decent achievements, if you don't mind the extermination of indigenous populations (at worst, and I do). Further, it shouldn't be forgotten that while Britain did massively gain from the slave trade, it eventually abolished it, and tried with some measure of success to stamp it out globally.
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
Frederick53
Posts: 1,037
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8/1/2012 4:24:31 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 7/31/2012 2:39:20 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/31/2012 10:28:55 AM, HelterSkelter wrote:
I don't think that the British Empire was that great. If they wanted to take up the Burden, that's fine, but they didn't develop the nation socially (as they were supposed to), which means they didn't fulfill their portion of the Burden.

Hm?

At 7/31/2012 11:54:51 AM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/31/2012 10:28:51 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/31/2012 8:38:38 AM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/31/2012 2:16:16 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 5:40:15 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 3:17:22 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:20:02 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:07:09 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 7/30/2012 1:25:36 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 7/30/2012 2:05:12 AM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:56:02 PM, Man-is-good wrote:
At 7/29/2012 8:14:58 PM, YYW wrote:
At 7/29/2012 5:21:18 PM, 1dustpelt wrote:
At its height, the British Empire governed one quarter of the world's population and roughly the same in terms of land mass. During its existence, it presided over the longest period of peace, within its boundaries, in human history, the Pax Britannica. On the whole then, was the Empire a good thing, or would the world have been better of without it?

India benefited from British colonial rule.

Hmm...economically, yes. Socially, perhaps can be viewed more in terms of the preservation of long-standing cultural norms.

Economic benefits precede social advancement. Consider every developed nation, for example. Did they not first industrialize? British colonial rule facilitated rapid economic advancement in India, and laid the foundation for India to become the largest democracy in the world. The institutional memory of western order lives on successfully today.

And I too thought the British Empire was really badass growing up.

But India is a democracy IN SPITE of the British empire, not because of it. Empire causes enslavement an lack of individual freedom, and it is only because of progressive revolution that the world today is not one big monarchy.

This sounds suspiciously first principles-y. Empires export good or proto-good as well as bad, although often not in equal measure.

It's very naive to say that empires export good unless you're saying it in the sense that everything has a silver lining.

The only justification that people can offer is the reverse Pol Pot mentality- That it's so important that everything be modernized and made efficient that it's justifiable- perhaps even necessary to wipe out all those who have not already begun the process of industrialization.

I agree that most of what Empires do to vulnerable, foreign entities is negative, but your starting premise of "in spite of" seemed to me inaccurate: in India's case, the silver lining was infrastructure, which has been conducive to the existence of the modern, democratic nation.

But it was the push from Gandhi's peaceful protesters that lead to independence, and thus true democracy (rather than a protectorate government). Britain's control over the country may have accelerated it's infrastructure and brought wealth there, but the vast majority of the population suffered. The country may owe it's power to British rule, but they owe their democracy from those who fought it.

Sure, Gandhi, Khan, and others deserve a good deal of credit. However, even the mentioning of Mahatma Gandhi sort of bolsters my point: educated in London, connecting with his views of the world in a more profound way during his stint in South Africa - to what extent would Gandhi have been a reformer without British imperialism?

You're right, but he wouldn't have needed to be a reformer without British imperialism. Sure, in the end India may have come out on the other side a stronger nation, but for every India, there are a dozen Irans (yes Iran's current state is a long term result of the British empire). Take most of Africa for instance. No silver linings there.

Although to be far to Britain, at least their empire was not as fvcked up as Belgium's or France's, which committed a terrible genocide and started the Vietnam war, respectively.

But my point was more sophisticated than the, "Isn't it good the Indians had a common enemy to rally against?" It was the specific relative virtues of the British Empire that helped to shape Gandhi. And just to be totally clear, the alternative to British imperialism doesn't straightforwardly get you to modern India, there's isn't some historical destiny that meant that India would have arrived where it currently is regardless.

With respect to Iran, first the British Empire, then the British and the American, messed it up to a real extent. I'm not justifying that. However, in Iran the legacy is the Ayatollah system, in India, the consequences have been radically different. India doesn't quite have Israel's claim (for what that's worth) of being "the only democracy in the region", but many of it's proximate neighbors don't compare favorably on the liberal democracy scorecard. Eg: China, Myanmar, Nepal.

For better or worse, infrastructure, administration and law (to say nothing of competence in the English language), some of which is derived from its colonization, have helped India become so successful.

That's all true, and I'm sure that India would be a much weaker nation if it weren't for Britain. Their democracy would also not be as sophisticated. However you would be hard pressed to find many other British 'success stories' like India, and by success story I mean that it turned out good in the end.

It depends how you weigh these things in the balance. America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, are probably decent achievements, if you don't mind the extermination of indigenous populations (at worst, and I do). Further, it shouldn't be forgotten that while Britain did massively gain from the slave trade, it eventually abolished it, and tried with some measure of success to stamp it out globally.

It is true that these are achievements of the British empire (they may have abolished slavery before the US did, but it wasn't nearly early enough in my opinion), but in all of these cases they absolutely came to be IN SPITE of Britain. Britain would have intended for all of these powerful democracies to under their control, and thus not be true democracies since the governments would be in their pocket. So as far as I'm concerned, the British empire accomplished great things and horrible things, but all of the great things happened by accident.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
NixonianVolkswagen
Posts: 481
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8/1/2012 6:19:40 PM
Posted: 4 years ago

It is true that these are achievements of the British empire (they may have abolished slavery before the US did, but it wasn't nearly early enough in my opinion), but in all of these cases they absolutely came to be IN SPITE of Britain. Britain would have intended for all of these powerful democracies to under their control, and thus not be true democracies since the governments would be in their pocket. So as far as I'm concerned, the British empire accomplished great things and horrible things, but all of the great things happened by accident.

I think to talk about "accidents" in that clear-cut way is to misunderstand Empire. Because of it's history (victories, so there're generals & statesmen) and ideology (usually some sort of destiny or exceptionalism) there's this notion that they have some set of prime directives. The truth is that Empires are, on balance about as amorphous as societies. On the one hand, in the British case at-least, there was centralized power (Commons, Lords and Queen), and defined arms of those powers (eg: Navy, Civil Service), which does lend it a certain rigor, but on the other, the scope and variance of the Empire in question somewhat mitigates this.

After the losses of the First British Empire (eg: America), a slightly less authoritarian bent was imposed upon it's colonies. This should be taken as a rule of thumb, awful things still happened. But many of the evils, such as the class system in India, which came out of occupation were apparently genuine attempts to let locals retain (some) of their own preexisting customs. I guess my point is this, if you're going to let intent matter, then you have to accept that a portion of the wicked things the British Empire did will be forgiven likewise on that basis (being part or wholly accidental).

In any case, accepting for a moment your premise, I'm not sure the Indian example is totally fair. I'm not saying that Westminster back then desired anything like modern India - they would be appalled with the modern UK, for a start. However, I imagine there was some sense that the institutions and infrastructure being imposed, or whathaveyou, on India were for it's benefit. Probably couched in racist, colonialist, sexist, etc., language, but part of "civilizing savages" is "civilizing". It makes sense that the British Empire would want India to be better. Maybe not democratic per se, but with a more just legal system (corruption means that you get less of that which you're coercing from others), for example. So, all the virtues of modern India aren't unintentional, those which are approximately consonant with British desires for the region count, surely?

With respect to slavery, we're in accord. I think though that slavery is immoral, so probably whenever it stopped would have been too late. We shouldn't gloss over how monumental that achievement was though. America required a civil war, France a revolution, Britain realized this change through effective lobbying. More impressive is that much British wealth had been born of slavery, imagine if a city in the antebellum South had renounced the practice, what that would mean? I fully admit that it's a depraved chapter in human history, however, the story of abolitionism should not be minimized, nor should the work the British Empire did afterward in policing and disrupting the trade.
"There is an almost universal tendency, perhaps an inborn tendency, to suspect the good faith of a man who holds opinions that differ from our own opinions."

- Karl "Spartacus" Popper
Frederick53
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8/1/2012 10:13:01 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/1/2012 6:19:40 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:

It is true that these are achievements of the British empire (they may have abolished slavery before the US did, but it wasn't nearly early enough in my opinion), but in all of these cases they absolutely came to be IN SPITE of Britain. Britain would have intended for all of these powerful democracies to under their control, and thus not be true democracies since the governments would be in their pocket. So as far as I'm concerned, the British empire accomplished great things and horrible things, but all of the great things happened by accident.

I think to talk about "accidents" in that clear-cut way is to misunderstand Empire. Because of it's history (victories, so there're generals & statesmen) and ideology (usually some sort of destiny or exceptionalism) there's this notion that they have some set of prime directives. The truth is that Empires are, on balance about as amorphous as societies. On the one hand, in the British case at-least, there was centralized power (Commons, Lords and Queen), and defined arms of those powers (eg: Navy, Civil Service), which does lend it a certain rigor, but on the other, the scope and variance of the Empire in question somewhat mitigates this.

After the losses of the First British Empire (eg: America), a slightly less authoritarian bent was imposed upon it's colonies. This should be taken as a rule of thumb, awful things still happened. But many of the evils, such as the class system in India, which came out of occupation were apparently genuine attempts to let locals retain (some) of their own preexisting customs. I guess my point is this, if you're going to let intent matter, then you have to accept that a portion of the wicked things the British Empire did will be forgiven likewise on that basis (being part or wholly accidental).

In any case, accepting for a moment your premise, I'm not sure the Indian example is totally fair. I'm not saying that Westminster back then desired anything like modern India - they would be appalled with the modern UK, for a start. However, I imagine there was some sense that the institutions and infrastructure being imposed, or whathaveyou, on India were for it's benefit. Probably couched in racist, colonialist, sexist, etc., language, but part of "civilizing savages" is "civilizing". It makes sense that the British Empire would want India to be better. Maybe not democratic per se, but with a more just legal system (corruption means that you get less of that which you're coercing from others), for example. So, all the virtues of modern India aren't unintentional, those which are approximately consonant with British desires for the region count, surely?

With respect to slavery, we're in accord. I think though that slavery is immoral, so probably whenever it stopped would have been too late. We shouldn't gloss over how monumental that achievement was though. America required a civil war, France a revolution, Britain realized this change through effective lobbying. More impressive is that much British wealth had been born of slavery, imagine if a city in the antebellum South had renounced the practice, what that would mean? I fully admit that it's a depraved chapter in human history, however, the story of abolitionism should not be minimized, nor should the work the British Empire did afterward in policing and disrupting the trade.

Being a cynic, I do not buy into the idea that those who controlled the empire were truly interesting in helping the 'savages' for the sake of helping them. Attempt to make them decently educated and comfortable so that there would not be as much tension between the natives and the empire- probably. But not for any truly altruistic reasons.
In 1975, the Second Vietnam War began -1Historygenius

Like no wonder that indian dude rejected you.- Darkkermit to royalpaladin

Social Darwinism is a justification- 1Historygenius

Equal opportunity exists, so there is no problem- EvanK
NixonianVolkswagen
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8/2/2012 4:40:53 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/1/2012 10:13:01 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 8/1/2012 6:19:40 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:

It is true that these are achievements of the British empire (they may have abolished slavery before the US did, but it wasn't nearly early enough in my opinion), but in all of these cases they absolutely came to be IN SPITE of Britain. Britain would have intended for all of these powerful democracies to under their control, and thus not be true democracies since the governments would be in their pocket. So as far as I'm concerned, the British empire accomplished great things and horrible things, but all of the great things happened by accident.

I think to talk about "accidents" in that clear-cut way is to misunderstand Empire. Because of it's history (victories, so there're generals & statesmen) and ideology (usually some sort of destiny or exceptionalism) there's this notion that they have some set of prime directives. The truth is that Empires are, on balance about as amorphous as societies. On the one hand, in the British case at-least, there was centralized power (Commons, Lords and Queen), and defined arms of those powers (eg: Navy, Civil Service), which does lend it a certain rigor, but on the other, the scope and variance of the Empire in question somewhat mitigates this.

After the losses of the First British Empire (eg: America), a slightly less authoritarian bent was imposed upon it's colonies. This should be taken as a rule of thumb, awful things still happened. But many of the evils, such as the class system in India, which came out of occupation were apparently genuine attempts to let locals retain (some) of their own preexisting customs. I guess my point is this, if you're going to let intent matter, then you have to accept that a portion of the wicked things the British Empire did will be forgiven likewise on that basis (being part or wholly accidental).

In any case, accepting for a moment your premise, I'm not sure the Indian example is totally fair. I'm not saying that Westminster back then desired anything like modern India - they would be appalled with the modern UK, for a start. However, I imagine there was some sense that the institutions and infrastructure being imposed, or whathaveyou, on India were for it's benefit. Probably couched in racist, colonialist, sexist, etc., language, but part of "civilizing savages" is "civilizing". It makes sense that the British Empire would want India to be better. Maybe not democratic per se, but with a more just legal system (corruption means that you get less of that which you're coercing from others), for example. So, all the virtues of modern India aren't unintentional, those which are approximately consonant with British desires for the region count, surely?

With respect to slavery, we're in accord. I think though that slavery is immoral, so probably whenever it stopped would have been too late. We shouldn't gloss over how monumental that achievement was though. America required a civil war, France a revolution, Britain realized this change through effective lobbying. More impressive is that much British wealth had been born of slavery, imagine if a city in the antebellum South had renounced the practice, what that would mean? I fully admit that it's a depraved chapter in human history, however, the story of abolitionism should not be minimized, nor should the work the British Empire did afterward in policing and disrupting the trade.

Being a cynic, I do not buy into the idea that those who controlled the empire were truly interesting in helping the 'savages' for the sake of helping them. Attempt to make them decently educated and comfortable so that there would not be as much tension between the natives and the empire- probably. But not for any truly altruistic reasons.

Again, I don't think this counts for the amorphousness of Empire. Sure, some would have been educated partly on the basis of needing a ruling caste, or aides thereto. However, an Empire which abolishes the lucrative venture of slavery is not wholly amoral. Even if they racistly thought that, by and large, an Indian was doomed to be the inferior of a Western European, they could still want him to improve him, insofar as they believed that he could be improved.

Also, we have to consider intent here. Sometimes things that we would think, "Ah, that's obviously harmful." back then they'd think, "Yes, this is ethically sound." For example, you and I might think that forcing someone to embrace your religion was suspect, whereas they would have accepted Christianizing as virtuous. So, we should be careful not to read modern mores into the conduct of the British Empire. To an extent they're rather similar to us, but many of their notions were quite distinct. What we might ascribe to their villainy, they may have thought was a sacrifice on their part for the sake of morality.
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Frederick53
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8/2/2012 4:14:40 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/2/2012 4:40:53 AM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:
At 8/1/2012 10:13:01 PM, Frederick53 wrote:
At 8/1/2012 6:19:40 PM, NixonianVolkswagen wrote:

It is true that these are achievements of the British empire (they may have abolished slavery before the US did, but it wasn't nearly early enough in my opinion), but in all of these cases they absolutely came to be IN SPITE of Britain. Britain would have intended for all of these powerful democracies to under their control, and thus not be true democracies since the governments would be in their pocket. So as far as I'm concerned, the British empire accomplished great things and horrible things, but all of the great things happened by accident.

I think to talk about "accidents" in that clear-cut way is to misunderstand Empire. Because of it's history (victories, so there're generals & statesmen) and ideology (usually some sort of destiny or exceptionalism) there's this notion that they have some set of prime directives. The truth is that Empires are, on balance about as amorphous as societies. On the one hand, in the British case at-least, there was centralized power (Commons, Lords and Queen), and defined arms of those powers (eg: Navy, Civil Service), which does lend it a certain rigor, but on the other, the scope and variance of the Empire in question somewhat mitigates this.

After the losses of the First British Empire (eg: America), a slightly less authoritarian bent was imposed upon it's colonies. This should be taken as a rule of thumb, awful things still happened. But many of the evils, such as the class system in India, which came out of occupation were apparently genuine attempts to let locals retain (some) of their own preexisting customs. I guess my point is this, if you're going to let intent matter, then you have to accept that a portion of the wicked things the British Empire did will be forgiven likewise on that basis (being part or wholly accidental).

In any case, accepting for a moment your premise, I'm not sure the Indian example is totally fair. I'm not saying that Westminster back then desired anything like modern India - they would be appalled with the modern UK, for a start. However, I imagine there was some sense that the institutions and infrastructure being imposed, or whathaveyou, on India were for it's benefit. Probably couched in racist, colonialist, sexist, etc., language, but part of "civilizing savages" is "civilizing". It makes sense that the British Empire would want India to be better. Maybe not democratic per se, but with a more just legal system (corruption means that you get less of that which you're coercing from others), for example. So, all the virtues of modern India aren't unintentional, those which are approximately consonant with British desires for the region count, surely?

With respect to slavery, we're in accord. I think though that slavery is immoral, so probably whenever it stopped would have been too late. We shouldn't gloss over how monumental that achievement was though. America required a civil war, France a revolution, Britain realized this change through effective lobbying. More impressive is that much British wealth had been born of slavery, imagine if a city in the antebellum South had renounced the practice, what that would mean? I fully admit that it's a depraved chapter in human history, however, the story of abolitionism should not be minimized, nor should the work the British Empire did afterward in policing and disrupting the trade.

Being a cynic, I do not buy into the idea that those who controlled the empire were truly interesting in helping the 'savages' for the sake of helping them. Attempt to make them decently educated and comfortable so that there would not be as much tension between the natives and the empire- probably. But not for any truly altruistic reasons.

Again, I don't think this counts for the amorphousness of Empire. Sure, some would have been educated partly on the basis of needing a ruling caste, or aides thereto. However, an Empire which abolishes the lucrative venture of slavery is not wholly amoral. Even if they racistly thought that, by and large, an Indian was doomed to be the inferior of a Western European, they could still want him to improve him, insofar as they believed that he could be improved.

Also, we have to consider intent here. Sometimes things that we would think, "Ah, that's obviously harmful." back then they'd think, "Yes, this is ethically sound." For example, you and I might think that forcing someone to embrace your religion was suspect, whereas they would have accepted Christianizing as virtuous. So, we should be careful not to read modern mores into the conduct of the British Empire. To an extent they're rather similar to us, but many of their notions were quite distinct. What we might ascribe to their villainy, they may have thought was a sacrifice on their part for the sake of morality.

I think that going by modern standards, we (meaning the US empire) is just about as morally sound as the British empire, which is not saying anything good about the US. I think that training and arming death squads (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, etc) and setting up brutal and oppressive regimes (Guatemala, Iran, Chile, etc) would have been considered bad during the time of the British empire as well. Not that the British did exactly those things, but the end results of such activities- death of innocents and lack of freedom- did occur (excluding the previously discussed long term effects of the British empire). My point being that while some of the things that the British did that weren't frowned upon then but now are comparatively superficial, the things that they did then that are considered just as dastardly now was they were then were the the most damaging.
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