British Empire: Historical Assessment

Figure 1.--One of the many critucism leveled against the British imperialism is racism. And there is considerable justification for the charge. What is commonly left unsaid is that many of those making the accusations are guilty of racism themselves, especially the Indians. Racism and untouchability were a the heart of Hunduism in a way that was never the case of Christianity. Here we see low caste Indian women and children, probably in the 1910s.

The scope and duration of the British Empire meant that Britain had a major impact on countries throughout the world. The impact included law, democracy, capitalism, the military, educational systems, technology, modern medicine, and sports (such as cricket, rugby and football)--in short technology to Asia, Africa, and to a lesser extent Latin America. And in addition to all of this the global spread of the English language. One of the few national institutions today holding India and other former colonies together, for example, is the English language which has become something of an international language. Britain has been criticized for its colonialization effort and often rightly so. There were certainly negative aspects to British colonial rule. Today the politically correct assessment is to stress the negative aspects, including economic exploitation, racism, slavery, brutality, and cultural bigotry. Today the tendency is to accentuate the negative because the academic community today is committed to both socialism and cultural relativity, the idea that all cultures have great value and are of substantial if not equal importance. Now we believe that non-Western cultures have importance and value. That said it is the west that invented the idea of freedom and with it the ciore of modernity--political freedom (democracy) and economic freedom (capitalism). And it is Britain that brought modernity to much of the Third World. Another part of stress on the negative is the failure od de-colonization in mych of the Third World, including former Britiosh Empire countries. It is a convient excuse for Third World leaders to explin away their failures by blaming the Brirish rather than their failed leadership. There were certainly were certainly many failures, but also a number of successes. The nmost obvious is America and the Dominions, but another is India. The vibrant Indian democratic system and thriving free enterorise economy are both part of the British inheritance. We also note the success of two of the Asian Tigers (Hong Kong and Singapore).


Navigate the Children in History Website:
[Return to the Main Btritish Empire page ]
[Return to the Main national colonial regimes]
[Return to the Main British page]
[About Us]
[Introduction] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Climatology] [Clothing] [Disease and Health] [Economics] [Freedom] [Geography] [History] [Human Nature] [Law]
[Nationalism] [Presidents] [Religion] [Royalty] [Science] [Social Class]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Children in History Home]

Created: 12:07 AM 4/27/2018
Last updated: 12:07 AM 4/27/2018