Opinion: The British Empire: A legacy of violence?
The British Empire was a unique project. It was founded as a response to the idea that a European superstate could spread across the world in the same way that the Roman Empire had done, and, while Britain’s expansion was not quite such an unalloyed success, it remains an historical fact that the British Empire was and remains the most successful imperial structure ever established.
The United Kingdom and the Empire, the second largest economy in the world, were and remain major and vital forces in the formation and development of the modern world. They have also been major political, economic and ideological forces, often contradictory, in the making of the modern world. Many, many different histories exist of the British Empire, and they are all worthy of their own moment in time, each filled with the most unique stories and characters that will never be repeated. From the first time that Britain was invited into the continental empire in the mid-seventeenth century, to the last time when Britain’s last colonies – Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya – were transferred away from Britain in 1971, the British Empire has always been a force that has brought stability to parts of the world that were otherwise volatile, and have changed the lives of many, many people.
It was, however, not a force that has been able to prevent internal and external problems, often caused by imperialism itself. While many have praised the British Empire for its achievement, and even for their achievements, others have criticized their actions.
Britain’s expansion into India resulted in many abuses, and not in every instance was imperialism an improvement in the relationship between Britain and the peoples it dominated. Many Indians protested against the British rule when India became an empire in its own right, and many fought in the Indian rebellion of 1857-67. Many Indian nationalists protested the British invasion of Afghanistan in the 1880s, when British soldiers massacred thousands of tribal people when they fought British forces in the war.
Britain’s imperialism and other foreign policies also resulted in the rise and fall of many political leaders. Many revolutionaries from