, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
In the UK today, there are still plenty of people, some of whom write for the newspapers, who believe British colonialism was largely benign. Here is a small part of the vast body of evidence they must ignore: theguardian.com/australia-news…
Here is another series of atrocities the apologists for the British Empire must ignore: theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
When you put this evidence together, you discover that British imperialialism was drenched in blood, from beginning to end. Like other imperialisms, its purpose was to seize land, labour and natural wealth, while destroying anyone who resisted.
But there is something peculiar about British imperialism: the astonishing extent to which the people of this nation were - and in many cases still are - prepared to believe its justifying rhetoric.
I frequently come across people who genuinely appear to believe that the principal purpose of Britain's engagements overseas was to teach less enlightened peoples English, table manners and double-entry book keeping. Oh, and build railways - for the benefit of the natives.
At school I was taught about the Black Hole of Calcutta and the Siege of Khartoum: apparently terrible things the natives did to heroic white men. We were not taught one fact about the terrible things the British did to the natives. We were brainwashed.
Unlearning the falsehoods in which we were drenched is as painful as learning the truths that were hidden from us.
The British chose to believe the myths of benign imperialism because to do otherwise was to recognise that our wealth arose from the theft of other people's wealth, and the mass murder that enabled it.
Facing the reality of what we did would have meant seeing ourselves as a cannibal society, consuming the lives of others to nourish our own.
Even to this day, it is easier for journalists like Max Hastings and Dominic Sandbrook to burrow back into the justifying myths in which they appear to have been schooled than to face the fact that they were lied to.
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