"So far from being 'out there', the Empire was integral to British life for 300 years, and became obviously so as it neared its end." Is this valid or not valid? Comment critically.

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  • "So far from being 'out there', the Empire was integral to British life for 300 years, and became obviously so as it neared its end." Is this valid or not valid? Comment critically.
    • Economic Benefits - India
      • 1757 Battle of Plassey between EIC and Nawab - he captured their main trading port in Calcutta for £££. Resulted in collection of wealth on a scale never seen before - collected state revenues from Orissa, Bengal and Bihar.
      • Indian resources were used for the benefit of the British - Indian goods were bought to be sold in Europe which reduced the amount of silver lost to Asia.
      • Trade with India allowed Britain to sell more than it bought (Lancashire Textile Mills and the Industrial Revolution), which made up for the trade deficit with the rest of the world.
      • By 1790 India contributed £500,000 per year to the British Treasury - By 1820 it was 7x that of 1770.
      • HOWEVER...
        • Infrastructure cost: by 1902 there was 26,000 miles of train track laid in India, more than anywhere else in Asia.
        • Irrigation cost: initially 400,000 acres of land was cultivated, but through irrigation it became 3.2 million acres.
        • Is overseas investment economically rational???
        • Legacy of underdevelopment in India, less developed countries are more prone to crisis.
      • Enjoyed free trade in a protectionist world.
    • Movement of People
      • International Movement of Labour
        • USA initiating restrictions on immigration, the significance of white "DOMINIONS" grew markedly
        • Asians left China and India to work on British Plantations, as many as 1.6 million Indians - cheap labour.
      • Convicts
        • William Pitt sent convicts to Australia due to overcrowding of the British prisons
        • Frosts however argues that this was based on Britain's need to secure a base in the Pacific for trade with the East - PENAL COLONY
        • After their sentence had finished, they applied for grants and land and became settlers.
      • White Collar Employment
        • Administration in the Empire offered alternate opportunities for the educated middle class, who had previously entered the church, law, or written plays.
    • The Empire and War
      • WW1 - "TOTAL WAR"
        • High noon of British Imperialism = 1914-18 BUT began to unravel after.
        • India paid £146 million towards the cost of the war.
        • Almost 1.5 million of the 2.5 million British Empire troops that fought in WW1 were Indian.                               Colony as a source of human capital.
        • Division of the wars spoils - carved up German empire, for example, South West Africa.
        • East Africa campaign was fought on the backs of African labour -porters, carriers etc.
        • Approx. 100,000 Africans and 90,000 Chinese died on the Western front.
        • HOWEVER...
          • Post-war crisis of Empire
            • British army was overstretched with its commitments.- Egypt, Punjab, Mesopotamia.                               IMPERIAL OVERSTRECTCH
            • WW1 unleashed strong feelings of Nationalism amongst Colonies - mobilisation of new ideas                                Woodrow Wilson helped shape nationalist discourse : 14 Points speech --> Catalyst?
            • Now could only hold onto Empire through terror, system of rule unravelling
            • VICTORY ONLY OBSCURED WEAKNESS OF COLONIAL SYSTEM
          • Colonial strength after 1918 was ILLUSIONARY
          • WW2 -Colonial strength after 1918 was ILLUSIONARY
            • Shown by readiness to resort to violence - limits of the legitimacy of colonial rule
            • After 1945, Britain and France, faced an irreversible deficit of legitimacy, asked subjects to once again bear the burdens of fighting a "total war" in defence of a colonial system that offered them few rewards
        • "THE SUN NEVER SETS ON THE BRITISH EMPIRE"
    • NOT INTEGRAL - MASS EXPLOITATION
      • Kenya's White Terror, 1950s
        • Kenya became a British protectorate in 1895, then a colony in 1920.
        • Land expropriation by the British meant that the Kikuyu people (inc. Mau Mau) were economically marginalised because of white settler expansion.                                7 million acres, mainly the fertile mountain regions, were taken by the British.
        • Forced Kenyan's to work - introduced Hut tax
        • Total near neglect of native subsistence farming.
        • Rape, murder, heinous war crimes.
        • Settlers administered flogging: 'rough justice'.
        • State of Emergency declared in  October1952 after 2 British were murdered
        • Screening camps set up - Detention and Rehabilitation camps = war crimes?
        • RAF: Dropped 6 million bombs. Dropped propaganda leaflets, and leaflets showing a woman being hacked to death.
      • Anglo-Zulu Wars, 1879
        • Zulu's depicted as barbaric and in need of the white man's help; "White Man's Burden" (Kipling)
        • Zulu's seen as a threat to British common rule, HINDSIGHT: forced into war by Lord Chelmsford, British aggression.
        • British initially defeated at Isandlwana, massacred. But, later success at Rorke's Drift. contributed to the second invasion being a success.
        • Resulted in the Annexation of Zulu lands in South Africa, which ultimately led to the Boer Wars.
      • China
        • Raw cotton exports from India weren't enough to cover the cost of tea from China
        • Overrode 1729 Anti-Opium edict
        • First Opium War: Britain won, China had to limit tariffs and accept "extraterritoriality" - British merchants were no longer accountable to Chinese law to to home law.
        • China's "century of humiliation", loss of soverignity
        • Addiction to opium became an epidemic 18th C.
      • The Atlantic Slave Trade
        • British didn't understand the significance of slavery on the population - relative depopulation, ripe for colonial settlements.
        • Large scale imports of African slaves to replace the European workers, Europeans created a myth that Africans were uniquely suited  to harsh work in tropical climates
        • Average life expectancy of a caribbean slave was only 7 years
        • 17th C 1.8 million slaves, 18th C 6 million.
        • Suagar = important commodity.

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