Was the British Empire good or bad?

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Recon1424
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Obviously there are arguments for both sides but overall what would you say?.

I think of it in the same way as i think of the roman empire, everyone hated the Romans but they still brought government,medicine,trade, hygiene etc ofcourse they also brought war and death, i think the same can be applied to the British empire.

And you have to think about it in the context of the time, it was a competition really that the British won if the Brits didnt do it the Frnech Spanish or Germans would have then the world would look so much different.

I honestly cant decide whether it was good or bad.
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whyumadtho
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The evaluation depends on the perspectives and dimensions assessed. I don't think it's possible to definitively say whether it was 'good' or 'bad', because it had a fundamental and enormous impact on the development of international society in so many different ways. It created major revolutions, whilst destroying and oppressing societies and cultures elsewhere.
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mevidek
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It seriously depends on what you take as good or bad.
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Jambo_100
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I'm sure many countries would not exist today if it weren't for the British Empire. Then again, many countries would have been better off without it. Overall, I think the British Empire was extremely important in shaping the modern world, not to mention the impressive magnitude of power Britain possessed because of it.
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jk49
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Its the only thing that makes me proud to be British tbh, and then we went and lost it.
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humanrights
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empires have always existed and its is very easy to pick them apart to criticise, but the modern western empires the british empire especially were the most benign and civilising empires in human history by a long margin.


as niall ferguson says. the modern world is the west. and the british played a massive role in the creation of the modern world. british people should immensely proud of their achievements and should reject the marxist inspired self hate that is designed to breakdown patriotism.
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nmudz_009
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(Original post by Jambo_100)
I'm sure many countries would not exist today if it weren't for the British Empire. Then again, many countries would have been better off without it. Overall, I think the British Empire was extremely important in shaping the modern world, not to mention the impressive magnitude of power Britain possessed because of it.
yea vastly simplified it was just basically away for Europe to gain wealth, by taking money from richer countries, that wud be a threat. Development, and all other ''benefits' are just side affects, they were not intended.
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ultimate mashup
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It's hard to say but the world be such a different place if it had never existed as:

*Australia and New Zealand wouldn't exist in their current form
*USA would not exist in its current form
*The political make up of the Indian Sub-continent would not exist in its current form
*The English Language would not be the world's number 1 language.
*Britain would probably not be the smae either considering the wealth empire generated
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Svenjamin
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It's all very well to assume things would be better without the british empire, but unfortunately in the landgrab that was the age of discovery it was really "us or them". No invasion is good, and many people died, but then again a large proportion of those who died did so due to acquiring imported diseases, so even a peaceful integration could not have avoided that. The British empire did what many empires did, whether it was the Roman or British or Spanish or Aztec or Mayan empire, they all followed a similar blueprint and the world wouldn't have been much different if there was one less empire.


It's impossible to define good or bad though. Bringing democracy and law all sounds very civilised and 'good', but that's imposing a cultural invasion that will destroy the native culture just as much as the christian missionaries did in the past, which is 'bad'. It's pretty presumptuous to suggest the whole world needs western democracy.


I would have liked to see a world where there was less killing and more trading, especially in the Americas where the native races and cultures are pretty much extinct in some areas, but can't change the past.
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rY4uGD1fMzBj4xe2
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(Original post by Recon1424)
Obviously there are arguments for both sides but overall what would you say?.

I think of it in the same way as i think of the roman empire, everyone hated the Romans but they still brought government,medicine,trade, hygiene etc ofcourse they also brought war and death, i think the same can be applied to the British empire.

And you have to think about it in the context of the time, it was a competition really that the British won if the Brits didnt do it the Frnech Spanish or Germans would have then the world would look so much different.

I honestly cant decide whether it was good or bad.
I think people died before the British Empire.
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Jambo_100
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(Original post by nmudz_009)
yea vastly simplified it was just basically away for Europe to gain wealth, by taking money from richer countries, that wud be a threat. Development, and all other ''benefits' are just side affects, they were not intended.
It would have been intended. By developing infrastructure and trade, in many situations there would have been economic benefits to both the occupying nation and the occupied nation. Hence why Canada for example now has the third highest standard of living in the world. If we didn't want to turn the colony into a developed country, we wouldn't have.
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karateworm
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My favourite part of the Empire's history is this.

We literally burnt down the Whitehouse for lulz xD

As empires go, the British empire was one of the greatest. We brought democracy to the rest of the planet and generally treated the colonies with care and compassion... unless they rebelled, then they got slaughtered...

By the fairly vicious standards of the time, I think we can be very proud of it.

Now a days the world is controlled by evil American businessmen and their backroom imperialism. There's something quite nice about men with clipped upper class British accents calling the shots. "Honest" imperalism. :rolleyes:
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bob247
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I'm not even British and I love the Empire. It was fantastic and the it's reach, innovation and achievements in all aspects of, well, everything is simply astounding. The fact that it achieved all this from an island nation is mind boggling.

It's a far cry from the weak, liberal pathetic excuse of a country left now. A shadow of it's once great might.
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peaceman
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(Original post by bob247)
I'm not even British and I love the Empire. It was fantastic and the it's reach, innovation and achievements in all aspects of, well, everything is simply astounding. The fact that it achieved all this from an island nation is mind boggling.

It's a far cry from the weak, liberal pathetic excuse of a country left now. A shadow of it's once great might.


here here. glad to see i am not the only person who is not british ancestry who feels this way.


you know, one of the big things british should be proud of is the fact that they abolished slavery for the first time in human history. they did not invent it. they did not bring it to africa north africa or middle east etc. but through the empire they were able to stamp it out and eventually the whole western world followed its example.


since the decline of the influence of the empires slavery is creeping back into the world.
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Aphotic Cosmos
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You want to sum up the largest empire, indeed the largest ever sovereign polity, in one word? Contrary to what both neocolonialists and anticolonialists want to believe, the Empire's legacy is mixed.

On the upside the Empire planted the seeds for liberal parliamentary democracy all over the world. It spread major advances in technology across six continents and greatly helped explore the seventh. It filled out a lot of the blank spaces on the map in the second great age of discovery after the initial Spanish-Portuguese efforts several centuries prior. It spread the superior common law system in lieu of continental Europe's more authoritarian civil law approach. We created nations from scratch like Hong Kong and Singapore, Canada, Australia and the United States, that have all become powerful forces, in general, for good in the modern world (I believe, anyway). The combined might of the Empire helped win two world wars and bound the Commonwealth (most of it anyway, silly old Ireland :sigh:) together in unity after the breakup of the Empire. Unlike every other European power we generally had a pretty peaceful and amicable withdrawal, excluding several incidents in the run up to Indian independence and the Mau Mau rebellion, but these are pretty minor in contrast to Portugal fighting a long and bloody war in Africa, an almost-coup d'etat in France over Algeria, and Belgium bombing the crap out of the Congo. The Empire's culture fostered fantastic advances in philosophy and society as a response to the industrial revolution, and we treasure much of the musical, visual and literary art of the Victorian era. There is a lot to be said for the Empire.

On the downside? A lot of warmongering, severe classism, and a racist and paternalistic attitudes towards other cultures. We precipitated the oppression of indigenous groups in North America, Oceania and Africa that leaves a stinging legacy to this day. Our desire to expand and conquer drove us to create terrifying military machines like the machine gun, the bomber and chemical weapons, which would claim the lives of millions in two world wars. We carved up Africa after we left with no concern over tribal or religious differences, and these have taken decades to settle - for example Southern Sudan voted just months ago to secede from Sudan after a pointless conflict that could have been easily avoided by drawing up more suitable borders based on the Islam-Christianity divide in Sudan.

Ultimately I don't regret that we forged the Empire, that we spread great ideas, established good infrastructure, a common and beautiful language, and forged bonds transcending continental differences - our relationships with Australia and Canada for example are pretty damn strong for the most part for example, despite being thousands of kilometres away, because of our shared imperial and cultural history. I do wish that we hadn't left in such a hurry without sorting things out properly - the old colonial borders are clearly inadequate for achieving lasting peace in Africa especially, and I wish that we had adopted more of the conciliatory approach that appeared hurriedly in the last days of the Empire. Perhaps we could have been a democratic trans-national union with a population of billions and territories right the way around the globe. T'was not to be :moon:
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peaceman
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(Original post by Aphotic Cosmos)
You want to sum up the largest empire, indeed the largest ever sovereign polity, in one word? Contrary to what both neocolonialists and anticolonialists want to believe, the Empire's legacy is mixed.

On the upside the Empire planted the seeds for liberal parliamentary democracy all over the world. It spread major advances in technology across six continents and greatly helped explore the seventh. It filled out a lot of the blank spaces on the map in the second great age of discovery after the initial Spanish-Portuguese efforts several centuries prior. It spread the superior common law system in lieu of continental Europe's more authoritarian civil law approach. We created nations from scratch like Hong Kong and Singapore, Canada, Australia and the United States, that have all become powerful forces, in general, for good in the modern world (I believe, anyway). The combined might of the Empire helped win two world wars and bound the Commonwealth (most of it anyway, silly old Ireland :sigh:) together in unity after the breakup of the Empire. Unlike every other European power we generally had a pretty peaceful and amicable withdrawal, excluding several incidents in the run up to Indian independence and the Mau Mau rebellion, but these are pretty minor in contrast to Portugal fighting a long and bloody war in Africa, an almost-coup d'etat in France over Algeria, and Belgium bombing the crap out of the Congo. The Empire's culture fostered fantastic advances in philosophy and society as a response to the industrial revolution, and we treasure much of the musical, visual and literary art of the Victorian era. There is a lot to be said for the Empire.

On the downside? A lot of warmongering, severe classism, and a racist and paternalistic attitudes towards other cultures. We precipitated the oppression of indigenous groups in North America, Oceania and Africa that leaves a stinging legacy to this day. Our desire to expand and conquer drove us to create terrifying military machines like the machine gun, the bomber and chemical weapons, which would claim the lives of millions in two world wars. We carved up Africa after we left with no concern over tribal or religious differences, and these have taken decades to settle - for example Southern Sudan voted just months ago to secede from Sudan after a pointless conflict that could have been easily avoided by drawing up more suitable borders based on the Islam-Christianity divide in Sudan.

Ultimately I don't regret that we forged the Empire, that we spread great ideas, established good infrastructure, a common and beautiful language, and forged bonds transcending continental differences - our relationships with Australia and Canada for example are pretty damn strong for the most part for example, despite being thousands of kilometres away, because of our shared imperial and cultural history. I do wish that we hadn't left in such a hurry without sorting things out properly - the old colonial borders are clearly inadequate for achieving lasting peace in Africa especially, and I wish that we had adopted more of the conciliatory approach that appeared hurriedly in the last days of the Empire. Perhaps we could have been a democratic trans-national union with a population of billions and territories right the way around the globe. T'was not to be :moon:


yes, but lasting peace in africa was never going to be possible ever anyway. the problems of africa are not the consequence of the arabs or the europeans. but of the deep tribal mentalities of the africans.
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nmudz_009
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(Original post by Jambo_100)
It would have been intended. By developing infrastructure and trade, in many situations there would have been economic benefits to both the occupying nation and the occupied nation. Hence why Canada for example now has the third highest standard of living in the world. If we didn't want to turn the colony into a developed country, we wouldn't have.
They couldn't have actually benefited from Canada as such, there were no people to trade, with and there was no civilization to plunder, they would have had to build from scratch. The only benefit to Britain I can think of is territory and natural resources (which we only know how to use today)
As for Canada, it did grow prosperous bcoz of the british and they built a nation out it but other places grew poorer.
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Jambo_100
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(Original post by nmudz_009)
They couldn't have actually benefited from Canada as such, there were no people to trade, with and there was no civilization to plunder, they would have had to build from scratch. The only benefit to Britain I can think of is territory and natural resources (which we only know how to use today)
As for Canada, it did grow prosperous bcoz of the british and they built a nation out it but other places grew poorer.
Well that solves your own argument of ''it was a way to get money from richer countries that were a threat''.

The previously inhabited colonies were hardly wealthier than Britain, and if there weren't any people to trade with, then there was no one to act as a threat. Personally I don't see why it would be a problem to use the unclaimed, unused land if no body is living their?
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nmudz_009
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(Original post by Aphotic Cosmos)
You want to sum up the largest empire, indeed the largest ever sovereign polity, in one word? Contrary to what both neocolonialists and anticolonialists want to believe, the Empire's legacy is mixed.

On the upside the Empire planted the seeds for liberal parliamentary democracy all over the world. It spread major advances in technology across six continents and greatly helped explore the seventh. It filled out a lot of the blank spaces on the map in the second great age of discovery after the initial Spanish-Portuguese efforts several centuries prior. It spread the superior common law system in lieu of continental Europe's more authoritarian civil law approach. We created nations from scratch like Hong Kong and Singapore, Canada, Australia and the United States, that have all become powerful forces, in general, for good in the modern world (I believe, anyway). The combined might of the Empire helped win two world wars and bound the Commonwealth (most of it anyway, silly old Ireland :sigh:) together in unity after the breakup of the Empire. Unlike every other European power we generally had a pretty peaceful and amicable withdrawal, excluding several incidents in the run up to Indian independence and the Mau Mau rebellion, but these are pretty minor in contrast to Portugal fighting a long and bloody war in Africa, an almost-coup d'etat in France over Algeria, and Belgium bombing the crap out of the Congo. The Empire's culture fostered fantastic advances in philosophy and society as a response to the industrial revolution, and we treasure much of the musical, visual and literary art of the Victorian era. There is a lot to be said for the Empire.

On the downside? A lot of warmongering, severe classism, and a racist and paternalistic attitudes towards other cultures. We precipitated the oppression of indigenous groups in North America, Oceania and Africa that leaves a stinging legacy to this day. Our desire to expand and conquer drove us to create terrifying military machines like the machine gun, the bomber and chemical weapons, which would claim the lives of millions in two world wars. We carved up Africa after we left with no concern over tribal or religious differences, and these have taken decades to settle - for example Southern Sudan voted just months ago to secede from Sudan after a pointless conflict that could have been easily avoided by drawing up more suitable borders based on the Islam-Christianity divide in Sudan.

Ultimately I don't regret that we forged the Empire, that we spread great ideas, established good infrastructure, a common and beautiful language, and forged bonds transcending continental differences - our relationships with Australia and Canada for example are pretty damn strong for the most part for example, despite being thousands of kilometres away, because of our shared imperial and cultural history. I do wish that we hadn't left in such a hurry without sorting things out properly - the old colonial borders are clearly inadequate for achieving lasting peace in Africa especially, and I wish that we had adopted more of the conciliatory approach that appeared hurriedly in the last days of the Empire. Perhaps we could have been a democratic trans-national union with a population of billions and territories right the way around the globe. T'was not to be :moon:
True, global unity and world connections never seen before would have been started by the British Empire. This lead to greater contact and progress in terms of philosophy, science, multiculturalism etc, there's a lot going for it. But who's to say the existing civilizations around the world wouldn't have made the leap on their own. Unifying the world under one state lead to the all the wealth being controlled by one state. Needless to say, the Britain got very rich and powerful, while countries that previously held wealth (i.e had a large population) became very poor relative to their population size. So in affect it created greater divides between rich and poor and made wealth distribution uneven and increased the number of poor in the world. Is the world really a better place now? and if it is was it worth killing millions of people and dividing plenty of others, literally just sowing the seeds for future conflict?
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nmudz_009
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(Original post by Jambo_100)
Well that solves your own argument of ''it was a way to get money from richer countries that were a threat''.

The previously inhabited colonies were hardly wealthier than Britain, and if there weren't any people to trade with, then there was no one to act as a threat. Personally I don't see why it would be a problem to use the unclaimed, unused land if no body is living their?
literally im saying is the only way Britain benefited financially is by plunder, it did not benefit from Canada financially; canada did, but thats bcoz people actually started living there.
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