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    Pretty much since the end of the Second World War, Imperialism has become a dirty word. Why so? Well, to most people this seems obvious - it removes the right of a people to self-determination and puts them at the mercy of a foreign state that may or may not choose to act in the way they want it to. It creates disempowerment and frustration, as well as friction. This is what happened in the latter stages of the British Empire, in any case. But why?
    In my opinion, the answer is simple - the British Empire become a political Empire controlled centrally from London, rather than a private Empire of trade and culture as the Americans have built. Of course, theirs is no where near as successful as ours was, nor is it as ideologically based or as prominent in world affairs. But why is Imperialism good?

    Firstly, we should define Imperialism. I am talking here about economic Imperialism - where a state or (more importantly) private individuals from a state move into that state and, through investments, essentially take control of this state to all intents and purposes. This is what happened in India, which was not controlled centrally from London until the 1850s, as well as most of the settled colonies and the West Indies. So why is this good?

    - By their very nature, potential colonies are small, weak and poor. Generally there are regular famines, frequent instability and violence as well as a great deal of general warfare. These states (if they are even states) are not pleasant places to live.

    - Private individuals or companies move in, setting up (for example) mines or factories. These produce things that the factories sell and so make money. They are made by the natives who are then paid.

    - This brings jobs to the states in question. Moreover, it also brings economic prosperity and means there are fewer reasons for there to be violence.

    - Generally a company or individual may bring a security force to safeguard himself and his investment. Sometimes this is basically an army, as in the case of the East India Company. However, this does not enforce the will of the individual or company upon the people of the state, it merely protects the property and employees of the individual or company, bringing greater stability to the area.

    This is what has happened across the world and this is why, on average, countries that have had more British influence (as this is primarily a British model - the other European models were somewhat different and so did not become as successful) are more successful. That is why Hong Kong and Singapore are capitalist bastions of a first world lifestyle whilst China, for all its overall strength, is a backward provider of subsistence agriculture and cheap, unskilled labour. That is why Canada, Australia, New Zealand and America - all once British - are rich and powerful countries.

    However, there are two inherent flaws in the British system. The first is the most obvious and the one most heavily attacked by anti-Imperialists - the economic Imperialists get too big for their boots. They become social and political Imperialists. They try to enforce their will on an ambivalent or hostile people. They don't mind the jobs, but they don't want the bayonets. This is ultimately unsustainable. People will not work for you if they don't like you - they will smash your factories, flee in the hills and kill your troops. They will burn your crops and, eventually, tear down your flag unless you are willing to invest so much time, energy and manpower in beating them into line that the whole morally repugnant affair becomes a net loss-maker anyway.


    The second is far more intricate, and far less easy to avoid - eventually the people grow used to their better lifestyle, and decide to take the factories for themselves. Regardless of your views on land redistribution, this is clearly wrong, as far as I am concerned - the owners put in the initial investment and hard work, and it is their property. Theft is never noble, no matter the cause (and I believe the cause of redistribution to be a wrong one in any case). We have seen this happen most dramatically in Egypt, with the seizure of the Suez Canal. Also in Iran, when the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was to be nationalised.


    Perhaps more tragically, we have seen it in Africa where state after state has elected or had imposed a government which has nationalised the foreign businesses. Generally this leads to one thing - failure and economic collapse. This is the main reason Africa is poor today - that and there not really being enough time to finish the job in Africa. South Africa, a nation that has retained a free market (albeit for some time under a tyrannical and racist government) all the way through and which has had the longest period of settlement (first the Dutch, then the British), is the richest in Africa - easily comparable to a first world nation. Compared to Zimbabwe, where food costs more now than house did ten years ago, with inflation at over 1.5 million percent a once great nation has been destroyed by a tyrannical dictator.


    Many would say that Imperialism is the cause of poverty in Africa. They couldn't be more wrong. Imperialism is nothing more than investment, and it benefits everyone. Imperialism at the barrel of a gun is certainly wrong and almost certainly dead. It is simply not sustainable in the long term. Economic Imperialism is still very much alive, and it is something that should be embraced, not rejected. I favour the notion of a new empire, built on the values of freedom, democracy and laissez faire capitalism. Cecil Rhodes made a good point of an ‘Imperial Parliament’ representing all the corners of the Empire in London while they still controlled local issues, sort of like devolution here in the UK.
    “To and for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for the extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom, and of colonisation by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour and enterprise, and especially the occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the Islands of Cyprus and Candia, the whole of South America, the Islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire, the inauguration of a system of Colonial representation in the Imperial Parliament which may tend to weld together the disjointed members of the Empire and, finally, the foundation of so great a Power as to render wars impossible, and promote the best interests of humanity.”

    The Empire did benefit humanity in its economical role, I favour this system and believe those nations from old Empire or even outsiders should be invited to join. The benefits of massive trade opportunities and the collective security would be popular. Small nations could trade with the larger giants of Europe and North America when previously they would be shut out by tariffs and protectionism. Those nations like Zimbabwe which persecute their own people, suppress democracy and laissez faire economics should be called to account either with sanctions or direct military action. My final point is that I think this would counter any Chinese plans of an empire which they seem to be trying to undertake if you look at place like Sudan with their interests in oil. The Chinese are not famous for their democracy and individual rights and they are far more likely to practice the darker form of political imperialism.


    I know many of you are going to slate me for this I just thought its a useful intellectual discussion, I thank my dear Rt. Honourable Friend Collingwood for writing some of this excellent work.
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    What are your counter-arguments to those two main problems, then? Those are what you must surmount if your argument is really to work convincingly.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    What are your counter-arguments to those two main problems, then? Those are what you must surmount if your argument is really to work convincingly.
    I think the main problem that created anti-imperialism was the lack of any democracy or direct control over the local area. With the 'Imperial Parliament' idea and devolved powers given the colonies this would not be a problem. The Empire would be a mutual thing to benefit all, the idea of having to control a country with military force is not one of the ideas of my argument for economic imperialism. Yes troops may be stationed in countries for firstly their protection from hostile nations and to safeguard the economic interests.

    The second problem have both positive and negative sides, firstly for countries to develop industrially and then create their own factories and companies would be one of the greatest achievements. This would be a true show of democracy and a free market, if they have the means to buy land and set up a factory then they all the right to do that, stealing however is not and the law must be used against those who do. Indisputably with a free market system the standard of living would rise and with stable employment in factories I would find it hard to believe that people would want to ruin and put back all the progress that has been made.
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    As much as I hate to say this, the pride (and hence power) of nationalism is too strong. No country is ever going to accept having a foreign power rule over them, no matter how noble the interests - they will always be suspicious. That said, although there is no doubt that the British Empire did various good things in South Asia, but they did enough bad for the nationalist leaders to blame all the bad on them. This is why, in addition to WWII and the lack of resources thereafter, the British Empire was no longer sustainable.
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    Historically, imperialism has almost always a humiliating and unjust experience for the colonised. Human dignity is not negotiable. Sorry, I'm out.
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    (Original post by dan_man)
    I think the main problem that created anti-imperialism was the lack of any democracy or direct control over the local area. With the 'Imperial Parliament' idea and devolved powers given the colonies this would not be a problem. The Empire would be a mutual thing to benefit all, the idea of having to control a country with military force is not one of the ideas of my argument for economic imperialism. Yes troops may be stationed in countries for firstly their protection from hostile nations and to safeguard the economic interests.
    That's precisely the role envisioned by the current European Commission for the European Union.

    See this statement (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2Ralocq9uE), where Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says
    Sometimes I like to compare it to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empires. We have the dimension of Empire but there is a great difference. Empires were usually made with force with a centre imposing diktat, a will on the others. Now what we have is the first non-Imperial empire. We have 27 countries that fully decided to work together and to pool their sovereignty. I believe it is a great construction and we should be proud of it. At least, we in the Commission are proud of it.
    Without spinning tangentially off topic, though, the idea of an enlarged Democratic European Union reminds me of the Holy Roman Empire - neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire.
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    (Original post by Gilliwoo)
    Imperialism is almost always a humiliating and unjust experience for the colonised. Human dignity is not negotiable. Sorry, I'm out.
    Eh?

    Have you actually read anything I wrote, you have quickly jumped to the political imperialism view which is mostly associated with shooting foreigners in the backs and enslaving the population. I am proposing the idea of a mutual economic empire that would be entirely voluntary and beneficial to nations that wish to join.

    Nationalism is an inherently evil ideology, something which was problem in the later stages of the British Empire. Nationalism would be present I could imagine, in a healthy democracy there should be a wide variety of political movements. If the people view that being part of the Empire is not beneficial then they can leave but the benefits of being would be lost and likely the country would be significantly worse off.
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    (Original post by dan_man)
    Eh?

    Have you actually read anything I wrote, you have quickly jumped to the political imperialism view which is mostly associated with shooting foreigners in the backs and enslaving the population. I am proposing the idea of a mutual economic empire that would be entirely voluntary and beneficial to nations that wish to join.

    Nationalism is an inherently evil ideology, something which was problem in the later stages of the British Empire. Nationalism would be present I could imagine, in a healthy democracy there should be a wide variety of political movements. If the people view that being part of the Empire is not beneficial then they can leave but the benefits of being would be lost and likely the country would be significantly worse off.
    Yes I did read it, and that's why I amended the post to the past tense - to make clear that I was referring to prior imperialism. I have read similar literature before, but, as a previous poster pointed out national affiliations are extremely enduring, and it's odd that people will not always give up control over their sovereignty for the manifold benefits of what you describe
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    Colonialism is inherently intended to benefit the colonist above the colonised.
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    (Original post by Cage)
    Colonialism is inherently intended to benefit the colonist above the colonised.
    Yes that's what you get from political imperialism, not from economic imperialism.
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    (Original post by dan_man)
    I think the main problem that created anti-imperialism was the lack of any democracy or direct control over the local area. With the 'Imperial Parliament' idea and devolved powers given the colonies this would not be a problem. The Empire would be a mutual thing to benefit all, the idea of having to control a country with military force is not one of the ideas of my argument for economic imperialism. Yes troops may be stationed in countries for firstly their protection from hostile nations and to safeguard the economic interests.
    I'll accept that one

    The second problem have both positive and negative sides, firstly for countries to develop industrially and then create their own factories and companies would be one of the greatest achievements. This would be a true show of democracy and a free market, if they have the means to buy land and set up a factory then they all the right to do that, stealing however is not and the law must be used against those who do. Indisputably with a free market system the standard of living would rise and with stable employment in factories I would find it hard to believe that people would want to ruin and put back all the progress that has been made.
    History is not on your side here. People don't think rationally, they think as mobs. All it would take would be a few ranting populist demagogues (GOD I love that phrase) to whip them into a frenzy and boom! Britain Out! You haven't really proposed any means of stopping this forcible seizure of property, short of sending in the troops which is arguably precisely what did for the British Empire in the long term.
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    (Original post by dan_man)
    Yes that's what you get from political imperialism, not from economic imperialism.
    The workers in factories in small countries being paid 60p a day may disagree.
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    (Original post by Cage)
    The workers in factories in small countries being paid 60p a day may disagree.
    You'd prefer they had a minimum wage which priced them out of the market and protected European trade unionists jobs, then?
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    You'd prefer they had a minimum wage which priced them out of the market and protected European trade unionists jobs, then?
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    I'll accept that one

    History is not on your side here. People don't think rationally, they think as mobs. All it would take would be a few ranting populist demagogues (GOD I love that phrase) to whip them into a frenzy and boom! Britain Out! You haven't really proposed any means of stopping this forcible seizure of property, short of sending in the troops which is arguably precisely what did for the British Empire in the long term.
    There is no other way to prevent the forcible seizure of property other than to have the powers of law and order. Robbery happens all the time in any country, its unpreventable and 'sending in the troops' if there was a large scale rebellion would occur in most countries as robbery and violence is just not acceptable. Hopefully the mistakes of the British Empire would be taken in to prevent such actions in a new economic Empire.

    As for Comrade Cage's comments, you do have to remember that under a free market the price of labour will fluctuate and that 60 p a day is likely to go up considerably. Living costs are likely to be lower in an industrialising nation so as the cost of goods goes up then the wage price would increase.
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    (Original post by dan_man)
    There is no other way to prevent the forcible seizure of property other than to have the powers of law and order. Robbery happens all the time in any country, its unpreventable and 'sending in the troops' if there was a large scale rebellion would occur in most countries as robbery and violence is just not acceptable.
    I agree wholeheartedly. The forcible and involuntary nationalisation of private technology and private capital investment should be resisted with arms and men. There's an interview on youtube with Ayn Rand in the late 1970s, where she's asked: "Under a free market, what's to stop OPEC holding us to ransom with oil prices?" Her answer is brilliant - If we hadn't been so altruistic, we would have defended private property and the rights of the extractor to retain the oil he drills, not Nasser, Mossadegh or any other tin pot dictator.
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    Why did the Empire break up? Could it have had anything to do with a growing desire for self-determination and a weakening ability of the British state to control and defend its colonised interests?
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    (Original post by Oswy)
    Why did the Empire break up? Could it have had anything to do with a growing desire for self-determination and a weakening ability of the British state to control and defend its colonised interests?
    Yes, your point being?
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    Colonialism is inherently intended to benefit the colonist above the colonised.
    So what? People are only pissed off becasue they got owned.
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    (Original post by Gilliwoo)
    Historically, imperialism has almost always a humiliating and unjust experience for the colonised. Human dignity is not negotiable. Sorry, I'm out.
    And one might argue that having political states at all 'almost always' ends in warfare between them.
 
 
 
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