The Instigator
LoveRichardDawkins
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)
Anonymous

The British Empire is something to be Proud of

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/16/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 679 times Debate No: 115599
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (0)

 

LoveRichardDawkins

Pro

Pride is a funny thing. In this debate being proud should refer to having a positive feeling towards something that has been an objectively good thing for humanity. The British Empire was a force for good in the world.

Let me be clear. This debate combines two tiers. Anyone wishing to take up arms in this debate must be aware of the 2 questions regarding this big question. The first is an historical question. I will prove that the British Empire in its historical context was objectively good for the world. I believe that the burden of proof is heavily on my side concerning this question. Secondly there is the moral question. Can we be proud of something which is relatively good in its context or are some things moral absolutes and therefore always wrong.

So why was the British Empire a force for good in its time. First of all, needless to say that the countries the British Empire invaded and colonised were improved as nations by that invasion in most cases. The likes of India wouldn't have even existed had it no been for the unifying force of the British. The same can be said for many African countries. Now in some cases this has lead to problems like in Sudan but in many there have been successes such as in Nigeria which is overall, a stronger more unified nation as a result of colonialism. Secondly, the basis for the rule of law, the judiciary, democracy, freedom and economic development was a laid down by the British. Infrastructural benefits are the very least Empire can be praised for. The likes of a parliamentary system exist in so many ex colonies and they function much better than most other countries. Just compare Kenya and Uganda to the DRC the level of corruption is far less and there is at least the basis of a democratic and just process. So I believe that Britain was a force for good in the world in that respect. Furthermore, the British Empire got rid of a lot of injustices which were far worse than those they brought in. Time and time again politically correct, revisionist nut jobs like Owen Jones lecture us about all the horrible things the British did while conveniently forgetting the fact that Empire got rid of more injustice and immorality than it replaced it with. Take the Sudan for instance. Now yes the British Empire brought racist policies with it towards the Black Sudanese when they colonised the Sudan however revisionists like to forget the fact that the British Empire actually got rid of the Arab slave trade in the region and used its small colonial army to stop tribes from going on genocidal rampages against each other. In the case of India of course Britain brought in racism towards native Indians however the British also got rid of the burning to death of widows and overturned the likes of Sharia law and Hindu violence towards the Muslims in many regions. This was arguably an overall benefit to India. Moreover, those who criticise Empire also have to show that realistic alternatives were better unless they should at least be honest and instead argue that the period of time was all bad. What alternatives were there to the British in a dog-eat-dog world. Colonialism was the inevitable and unstoppable context of the time. Either you argue colonialism was totally all wrong or you fall into the trap of arguing that the British Empire was the worst. If not the British then the French (objectively more brutal), the Dutch (objectively more brutal), the Belgians (literally genocidal) or the status quo (in India the Mughals and the Sikh empire). The British empire was the best realistic regime that a poor undeveloped country could have wished for.

So, the British empire in its context was a force for good in the world. The question now is whether this means we can be proud of it. Yes we can. Why? Because if something is relatively good then it is morally acceptable. This is because if it was the best possible option out of a range of terrible options then it must have led to the least suffering out of all of those options. Its a case of: would you rather 10 or 100 people die? Given this considering utilitarianism the British empire was the the most moral model and therefore the moral option.

In a tough dirty world of injustice and unfairness, exploitation and rape the British Empire was a shining beacon of hope and progress. Better than any of the other options, we must not through the rose tinted spectacles of the 21st century and judge the British empire on its contextual merits. Doing this we will see that the British empire is a source of relative righteousness and freedom. This is surely something to be proud of.

Con

I'm incredibly sorry but I realized that I won't have time to do this debate in depth and in detail, I have some other obligations to do. I'll try to be terse.

The reason the sun never set on the British Empire is because God couldn't trust the English in the dark. British colonialism has caused great harm for those suffering under its imperialist regime. Contrary to what my opponent claims, it did not cause a net benefit to said nations, and even if it did, that wouldn't excuse the crimes done against them. As a mater of analogy, if someone was shot while being mugged, and henceforth spent more time with his friends and family and lived a better life, this doesn't make the mugger's actions honorable or moral in any adult sense. Even if everyone was mugging everyone else and the mugger was a lot nicer than everyone else, this doesn't excuse anyone's actions. The example of the abolition of Arab slave trade is ridiculous, as it was simply replaced by the Translatlantic Slave Trade. Democracy in the Third World was mostly spread during the Cold War via Western (primarily US) involvement through democratic instistions and developmental aid. India was in fact a nation before Britain, look up a hint of Indian history, they've been there for thousands of years. Have you not heard of the Vedas? Sharia law still exists and there is still violence against Muslims in India.

The development of Middle Eastern mandates by Britain along with the Big 4 is the primary reason for the troubles in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of Mesopotamia, as the borders developed were not theirs. These countries were not supposed to exist as is, and this is why we see so much squables and conflict there.

Even so, we can not simply judge a country by the actions of the past. However, neocolonialism is still a problem today, and the problems from colonialism and the destistion and troubles of former colonial countries still do exist.

Debate Round No. 1
LoveRichardDawkins

Pro

So you have taken the tough road of disagreeing with both of my assertions.

1) You argue that the British Empire was not good for its time
2) You argue that somethings are always wrong and that we cannot be proud of relatively positive actions

You claim that I need to read up on some history over India. I don't know where you get this idea that India was already a country before the British from. It's certainly not what most historians say. Northern India was part of the Mogul Empire - a barbaric islamic empire which discriminated heavily against the Hindus (it's also where the Taj Mahal comes from). The south of India was part of the the Dravidian Kingdom which was a separate state. No - India did not exist before the British Raj. Also, following the collapse of the Mogul Empire, it's rule of the north disintegrated into several smaller states at war with each other. The British colonised India with actually very little violence - it was mainly done by stealth. Most of the north was actually given large amounts of autonomy under local Maharajas which were allied with the British. Of course there is still violence against the Muslims in India. But guess what - the British are no longer in India. While the British were in India religious violence was heavily surpassed. The treatment of the Vedas in India and Sri Lanka is not the responsibility of the British Empire but of the governments of today. Again of course Sharia law exists but it was suppressed by the British. Can you imagine how much more backward Pakistan would be if the British hadn't been there forming the basis of a democracy and restoring liberty and law and order?

My example of the Sudan still stands. You said it was replaced by trans-atlantic slavery. What?! The British Empire completely banned the slave trade in 1807, 58 years before the US. Slavery in the UK had already been declared illegal after the Somerset Case in 1772. The Sudan was absorbed into the Empire in 1899. No - the Arab slave trade was not replaced by the Transatlantic trade. The truth is that the British navy was instrumental in destroying the slave trade and the colonial forces were equally important in destroying other forms of slavery. The slave trade is wrongly blamed as being part of the British Empire. Firstly, the British empire didn't even exist by the time Trans-atlantic slavery had begun. It was British corporations and not the British state which committed the crimes of the slave trade. The British state was absolutely complicit in this for sure but to claim that the British empire was the cause of trans-atlantic slavery is patently not true.

This idea about spreading democracy in the Third world is fascinating. I ask: do you deny that the British Empire spread any democracy? The Indian, Australian, Canadian, Kenyan, Ugandan... parliaments are based on the British house of commons. They all share in the fruits of democracy whose seeds were planted by the British empire. Even the current main beacon of freedom and liberalism in the world - the USA has its constitution based on the English Bill of Rights. Furthermore, the USA was much worse at speeding democracy in the Cold War. Many of the countries the USA effectively colonised like South Vietnam were replaced with capitalist right-wing dictatorships not democracies. President Ngo Dinh Diem was a complete tyrant put into power by the Americans. The same goes for the likes of Pinochet. The USA is an expert in setting up military, basket-case dictatorships. The middle-east is not solely the fault of the big 4. The violence in the region is also the responsibility of the governments of the region. The incessant meddling of the USA is also a cause. Saddam Hussein was backed by the USA and then toppled by the USA and yes the UK as well. The complete cock-up of Iran in 1979 was a huge driver of middle east instability and had nothing to do with the British Empire. Also this crazy idea that Iraq and Syria would not exist without the British. Iraq and Syria and other states existed well before colonialism. Iraq was under the Hashemite monarchy for years. Furthermore, surely instability would still exist without the British Empire. The British Empire did not exist in a vacuum. If not the British mandate then the French Mandate or the German Mandate or even the Russian Mandate or just the lovely ottomans instead with their straight lines too. There is no way out of colonialism in the 19th century. The fact is that the British were the best at making a good job out of it. Yes in its context the British empire was good.

Next the moral question. You provide this analogy of the less cruel robber. Firstly, I think this is a bit misleading because you equate the British Empire to an actively bad 'robber' whereas I argue that actually it did many good things. So it's not as simple as a less bad robber. Even so, consider the environment of of this nicer mugger. I would argue that they have grown up in a time of crime and injustice in a dog-eat-dog world. They don't have a clear moral code. All they know is that everyone around them is doing the same thing and in order to survive they need to do this too. It doesn't mean that their individual actions, by modern standards, are good. But it does mean that in their environment they were much more progressive and something to be at least impressed with. Sometimes, things that bring great progress and, in the end, positive effects to the world have negative aspects to them. The ancient greeks kept slaves and so did the Romans but does that not mean that those civilisations cannot be appreciated? Good historians shouldn't blur their view of history by throwing emotion and modern hysteria at it. I think that the actions of our robber are immoral but considering the context of the robber I don't believe they were an immoral person. I'd much rather be mugged by them than the others and in that respect I am proud of the progress that they have made to bring about a better world. But in order for your robber analogy to even work you need to prove that the British Empire literally is a robber. Of course, by today's standards colonialism is wrong. But the world has changed. Colonialism including neo-colonialism is a real problem because it no longer progresses mankind. But in the 19th century and early 20th century some colonialism did. The British Empire represents this. It was a force for good in the world. By today's standards we couldn't be proud of it. But considering the cess-pit of immorality surrounding it the British Empire is something that merits pride. It is ethically utilitarian to support the option which does the greatest good to the greatest number - that choice is the British Empire.

Anything which brings about the least suffering is a morally right thing to pursue. The decisions for Empire were made in a context. If the Kings at the time had the same moral reasoning of today of course invading other countries would be immoral but they did not. In their time the decisions that they made were moral by their standards and so their actions must be seen as fair as the intentions were not in any way as evil as we consider them to be today. Therefore, their morality is something I'm very proud of.

I wonder if revisionist historians wrote about the Roman Empire in the same way? The Italians are certainly very proud of the Roman Empire. I think that the Roman Empire, like the British Empire, was a good thing for the world and thus considering the moral standards of its time and the fact that it adopted the same position of the least suffering I'm proud of that Empire too.
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
mosc
I support and agree that the British barbarians merit nothing but eternal contempt. Spit upon the British.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
LoveRichardDawkins
Ok so I have clearly won this debate. Unlucky Brett
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
mosc
The Nazi SS says the same thing about the 3rd Reich. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
SirNoodles518
Let's also not forget that it was the British Empire who helped fight the Nazis.
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