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Take the strain

Stephen Hornsby-Smith
Stephen Hornsby-Smith

Is Colonization, Occupation or puppet governance the only choices for dominant control of economic markets? Or could competition globalize the markets that you want to sell a product? In short, a military or an economic solution to the issue of superpower status ? Let's learn from the recent masters of an Empire such as the British , who also had a 'helping hand' of being the first to industrialize.

At the heart of everything British in Victorian Britain was 'the metropolis',in fact the whole island was a the market system and network for transporting ' dominance' round the globe from the mills and coalfaces of midlands, the north of England, Wales and Scotland. These 'Dark Satanic' mills were the 'Norman Castles' of their day built to dominate and protect against 'intruders' and homegrown critics etc. Indeed, the British would export and import their goods and services by colonization and administration of the great heyday of 19th century' protectionism' by excluding external competition by the monopoly afforded any 19th Empire. Laissez-faire internally (but not socially)but protected by territorial power under the proverbial thumb of Imperial 'economic dictatorship'(or absence of free competition to you and me) and the cartel of colonial access to impose the 'free wheeling' frontier spirit of 'fortunes made quick' ! This was a very British dream' that relied upon strict social rules of mobility domestically but open season for the 'Chancers' who wanted to make good their opportunities that drove the appetite for the great colonial wealth shipped back and forth to Blighty, of which my Great Uncle was one of them. Victorian Britain was fierce to any threat externally but innovative enough to propel Britain's industrial revolution throughout the vast Empire. Never before had an Empire extended such a rapid technological transformation to its furthest reaches of any empire as Britain did ! It was no doubt that that led many to believe Great Britain was an adventurer and an explorer charting progress through virgin territory by a 'superior self-sustaining economy' that had gifted 'the industrialized nation of merchantalism'....but never a sense of ethnic and racial superiority !!

The British Empire's legacy

The British Empire's legacy was not to let dominance 'go to your head' even when only mad dogs and Englishmen work in the mid day sun !! Britain had discovered dominance without contempt, monopoly without blind arrogance. Although some terrible and inexcusable tragedies happened under British rule,in the main Britain did personify a certain aloof 'aristocratic 'inheritance of smug self-control and even a bit of over-confidence? !! Hardly a crime, no? As a Briton myself, my generation still 'has to apologize for the British Empire'........... for it being run by the 'smug and detached'? But if that's the only real crime of being British then I'd say if you compare us with other 19th and 20th century dominant players who weren't able to distinguish between economic and racial or 'ideological superiority' , we British are beginning to look pretty good right now!!

In fact, I believe that many of the indigenous colonial communities almost saw us as self-deluded self-parodies who waved the flag of eccentricity when the British feel short the British were seen as hugely entertaining fish-out-of-water. If I read this right, the British Empire might well have been conceited by'cultural and imperial condescension, but from Canada to India, Australia to South Africa it was the colonized who condescended to the British 'short-trousered, funny-hat brigade!' I get the feeling that the tail wagged the dog here, and for ages they are still enjoying us Brits squirm with 'guilt' when we were the ones who got 'fired and kicked-out' at the same time!! Perhaps that's why the SNP want to distance itself from the UK because of its role in the Empire (which I hardly need to tell you was considerable)? Or did the English force the Scottish hands ? Furthermore, I have no doubt that we, the British left with more grace and respect than most previous 'imperial powers in decline' did historically, or perhaps that 's a Scottish trait ? Whilst that epoch is over and technology has advanced so much, Britain can hold its head up high and acknowledge that it tried to both lead with distinction as an Imperial power and lead in the process of dismantling its Empire........even if you still find us as your well-worn cliche of us being 'eccentric' when perhaps you bloody well should mean 'progressive'. !'


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