Was The British Empire A Force For Good? Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: England, Empire, Colony, Countries, Force, World, Economics, Technology

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2023/04/10

Was the British Empire a force for good?

The origin of the British Empire dates back to between the late 16th century and the early 18th century. It had numerous effects on the British people and the world overall. The question as to whether or not the British Empire was a good or bad force has been a question of discussion in the UK. Some people argue that the Empire came with good ventures while others claim that it brought so many evils. The British Empire reigned most of the world territories and had various activities whereby some were beneficial to the society while others adversely affected the society (Lambert and Lester, 2010). Nonetheless, the negatives outweigh the positives coming to an agreement that the British Empire was a bad force for their colonies. The British went to search for new colonies for political and economic gains, and in the process, they adversely harmed their colonies (Armitage, 2000). Even though they brought some positive changes to their colonies, they did it for their interests while stepping over the people in their colonies. Therefore, this paper will argue that, the British Empire was not a force for good.
The British Empire was a good power because it brought many changes to many countries (Parmar, 2005). Moreover, it spread good benefits to their colonies including helping abolish slavery, spreading technology, improving the infrastructure, building schools, and medical centers, and spearheading the industrial revolution (Offer, 1993). To start with, the British Empire helped in fighting against slavery in the 1800s. It further helped in the abolition of slavery during the early years (Buckner, 2002, p. 103).
Besides, the British Empire assisted in establishing education systems, infrastructure, and medical care in their colonies. It was responsible for the development and improvement of infrastructure in most of their countries under their influence. They did this by building roads and railways for secure transportation of good and services. For instance, they built a railroad in India (Kumarasungham, 2015). They also built schools and introduced modernized education to their colonies. The British Empire introduced and spread western educational systems in countries where they highly relied on informal education, for instance in Africa (Hardt and Negri, 2009). Moreover, they also built hospitals in their colonies thus making medical services accessible to these countries. The British Empire also introduced new judicial systems and laws to their colonies. According to Mehta, through the developed justice system, the countries under the British influence were able to develop new legislation to govern them (1999, p. 202). Therefore, the British Empire was a good force to their colonies as it brought positive changes.
Another benefit of the British Empire was introducing the agricultural techniques in the countries under their influence. The British ensured that their colonies had the best methods of farming that enormously improved food production (Ballantyne, 2010). They further introduced new crops to their colonies as well as livestock. Therefore, by introducing new agricultural techniques, the British Empire’s legacy still lives on their colonies as these agricultural technologies are still in use now even though improved.
On the other hand, the British Empire was an evil force in their colonies because of several reasons. For instance, after the British left, most of their colonies were plunged into debts and poverty, which still affects them until today (Gott, 2012). The British rule had made most of their colonies to become dependent on other countries for aids because it only benefitted Britain and its economy. Most of the improvements/development they made in their colonies were solely for the British interest.
The British Empire focused on conquering wealthy territories full of resources whereby they used the resources and the workforce for their benefits. According to Gott, the Empire exploited countries with substantial resources to benefit the British prestige and its economy (2012, p. 124). For instance, in Africa, to be specific West Africa, the British rule forced the natives/peasants to grow cash crops such as cocoa, which led to a famine that killed several people while they enrich themselves (Brendon, 2010).
The British Empire went to their colonies for political and economic gains, and this harmed many of their colonies. While colonizing these countries, the British were empowering their nation, and this hurt their colonies economically (James, 1997, p. 109). They moved to new countries in search of raw materials for their benefits. They were also looking for markets for their products without caring about the welfare of the countries they colonized. Hence, the British through their Empire were after political and economic gains and hurt their colonies in the process of achieving their goals (Levine, 2013p. 78). Secondly, the British Empire caused separation and conflicts in their colonies. The Empire created arbitrary borders, which divided the countries creating separation and conflicts (Lambert and Lester, 2010). These boundaries separated the people from the same areas of rather tribes because they found themselves in different countries.
It is apparent that the British Empire had various ventures in the societies they ruled. These investments brought both negative and positive effects on the world nations (Brendon, 2010). For this reason, the British Empire has been severely criticized for the evil things in their colonies. According to Brendon, it has been accused of being a force of evil in the society (2007, p. 44). The Empire conquered territories where they could gain materially. Even though they are known to have piloted the spread of innovative technologies in the countries they colonized, the British used the innovative technologies to develop their economy and their country’s prestige (Ferguson, 2008).
Nonetheless, the despite the evils it brought in the society, the British Empire brought many positive changes to their colonies. The British Empire had a large effect on the entire world because it brought a change in technology, agriculture, educational system, the infrastructure, and the judicial system of their colonies (Ballantyne, 2010). Despite the positive changes, the British left adverse lasting effects on their colonies. Therefore, the question whether the British Empire was a good or an evil force cannot be answered by a yes or no. This is for the reason that this empire brought several changes to the people and different countries, which were both positive and negative.
In conclusion, the British Empire can be regarded as a force that was both good and bad. Even though it brought some adverse effects on their colonies, the Empire had positive results too. They improved infrastructure, education system, the judicial system, agriculture, technology, and medical services in their colonies. As a result, the countries under their influence benefitted from them. Moreover, the Empire also helped end slavery in the 1800s even though it had profited from the institution in the 1700s. Apart from the benefits, the British Empire had adverse effects on their colonies. For instance, the British misused their colonies resources and workforce for their profit.
The British Empire brought many achievements to their colonies, but they were not enough compared to the negatives. It brought civilization to many countries and introduced English as a language of communication thus making communication easier all over the world. Despite all the benefits the British Empire brought to its colonies, it is still a force of evil because these colonies were adversely affected by their rule and exploitation. Therefore, the paper concludes that the British Empire was not a force for good in most of their colonies. The British government plunged these colonies in a cycle of poverty and enduring debts, which still affects them up to date. Most of the British colonies are still dependent on developed countries for aids. The British Empire has had a lasting effect on the history of the world through the many changes that came with it.

Reference List

Armitage, D., 2000. The ideological origins of the British Empire (Vol. 59). Cambridge University Press.
Ballantyne, T., 2010. The Changing Shape of the Modern British Empire and its Historiography. The Historic Journal, 53(2), pp. 429-452.
Brendon, P., 2007. A moral audit of the British Empire. History Today, 57(10), p.44.
Brendon, P., 2010. The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997. London: Vintage.
Buckner, P. A., 2002. Was there a" British" Empire?" The Oxford History of the British Empire" from a Canadian Perspective.
Ferguson, N., 2008. Empire: The rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons for global power. UK: Basic books.
Gott, R., 2012. Britain’s Empire: Resistance, Repression, and Revolt. London: Verso.
Hardt, M and Negri, A., 2009. Empire. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
James, L., 1997. The rise and fall of the British Empire. St. United Kingdom: Martin's Griffin.
Kumarasungham, H., 2015. Book Review: A Political Legacy of the British Empire: Power and the Parliamentary System in Post-Colonial India and Sri Lanka. Common Law World Review, 44(2), pp. 168-171.
Lambert, D and Lester A., 2010. Colonial lives Across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century. London: University of London.
Levine, P., 2013. The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset. UK: Routledge.
Mehta, U. S., 1999. Liberalism and empire: A study in nineteenth-century British liberal thought. University of Chicago Press.
Offer, A., 1993. The British Empire, 1870‐1914: a waste of money? 1. The Economic History Review, 46(2), pp.215-238.
Parmar, I., 2005. ‘I’m Proud of the British Empire’: Why Tony Blair Backs George W. Bush. The Political Quarterly, 76(2), pp.218-231.

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