British Empire - A Legalized System Of Theft And Murder

Mick Hall has an unyielding view of the British Empire:

The British Empire was a legalized system of theft and murder, genocide is the only word which describes it.

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In the early days of David Cameron's coalition government he attempted to rewrite the history of WW1 in a sorry attempt to turn ruling class donkeys into lions. Pliable academics from Oxbridge were recruited to turn this unnecessary and bloody conflagration into something noble and heroic.

The plan was to celebrate every day of the war, but within months this post imperialist endeavor quickly withered on the vine. Far from changing the national consciousness about heroes led by ruling class donkeys it set it in stone.

Now the same bunch of ruling class cretins are attempting to rewrite the history of the British Empire, the difference being the politicians are taking a backseat while Oxbridge academics are leading the charge.

One of their number Nigel Biggar, a regius professor of moral and pastoral theology at Oxford University, which in itself is a contradiction of terms, started the ball rolling when he wrote an article in The Times in which he accused:

Strident anti-colonialists could lead to a feeling of guilt about the British Empire which makes the public vulnerable to wilful manipulation.

As if Biggar is not engaged in wilful manipulation in his Times column.

In his attempt to rewrite the bloody history of the Empire Biggar quotes The Case for Colonialism an article by a fellow academic Bruce Gilley another Oxford lumine in which he wrote "For the last 100 years, western colonialism has had a bad name. It is high time to question this orthodoxy." He then calls for a return of colonialism, citing the benefits of a colonial governance. Gilley also claims the British Empire brought law, order, and good government. True, that's what imperialism does, but questions need to be asked who benefited from this so called law and order. It certainly wasn't the overwhelming majority of the population who lived in the occupied land as they were treated appallingly by the British administrations.

Nor was it the British working classes who during the years of the Empire lived in slum housing, worked in factories without any health and safety and in which child labour was legally allowed.

The great English estates which tourists now flock too were built upon empire blood, Far from benefiting British workers as Gilley's ilk claim they were treated like chattels, and lived in bondage and fear due to the Bloody Code, a term now used to refer to the system of crimes and punishments in England in the 18th and the 19th centuries.

Larceny was one of the crimes that drew the death penalty; it was defined as the theft of goods worth more than 12 pence. This is the type of barbarism these people inflicted on not only ordinary men and women in the British Isle but their victims throughout the British empire. When the magistrates, the most toady section of the justice system refused to pass guilty verdicts due to the harshness of the sentence, the government turned to transportation for what would be regarded today as minor crimes or no crimes at all.

It has been estimated that over one-third of all so called criminals convicted in Britain between 1788 and 1867 were transported to Australia and Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania)

The law and order within the Empire the likes of Biggar and Gilley admire so much came at the end of a bayonet or rope, without it would have been impossible for the British imperialists to plunder the wealth of the nations they occupied. There law had nothing to do with justice and everything to do with genocide.

The so called civilising mission which the British ruling class wish to reinvent was a total sham, a falsehood dipped in blood, nothing but empty rhetoric designed to cover the crimes of the Empire.

As Karuna Mantena has argued successfully:

After 1857 great rebellion in India, and the scandal of Governor Edward Eyre's brutal repression of the Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica in 1865. The rhetoric continued but it became an alibi for British misrule and racism. No longer was it believed that the natives could truly make progress, instead they had to be and were ruled by a heavy hand.

Just how shallow Gilley's arguments are, India's literacy rate at the end of British rule was only 12 percent, it had been 9% prior to the Empire years as Raghu Bhaskaran points out:

British did diddly squat. Or rather they destroyed all community based educational systems and let the missionaries monopolize the field, teaching us a perverted version meant for clerks and obedient monkeys.

The British Empire inflicted genocide on peoples across the world, the fact the British State have never accounted for these crimes is the main reason why the likes of Gilley and co are now able to rewrite history with such ease.

Britain's imperial past was one long, unbroken litany of oppression, exploitation and self-deception. It’s the main reason why today the UK is such an undemocratic state, why like all democracies worthy of the name we don't have an elected head of state, or a second democratically elected parliamentary chamber and are still governed by a narrow ruling class which is currently enriching itself as it did in the empire years and pauperising a large section of its own population.

Look at the photo below of Truganini, her relative Bessy Clarke and William Lanney, believed in the 1800s to be the last indigenous Tasmanian people alive. They and their forebears had lived in this region for thousands of years but within a few short years of British occupation of their homelands they were wiped off the face of the earth. By murdering scum acting under orders from London.

Ian Jack recently wrote:

Biggar and the rest of the Empire apologists are always weighing one thing against another: the abolition of the slave trade versus the Amritsar massacre; the empire as the only armed resistance to the Nazis in 1940-41 (good) versus the extinction of indigenous Tasmanian people (bad). Gilley, the like-minded scholar Biggar admires, certainly believes in balance sheets when he describes how the colonial record might be assessed by measuring “development, security, governance, rights, etc” against the counterfactual: what would likely have happened in the absence of colonial rule.
Such arithmetic seems like madness: every historical fact, supposing it can be agreed on, has a thousand human ramifications. As well as that, there are the chasms that separate human experience. A topical example is Winston Churchill. Defending Rhodes in a speech at the Oxford Union two years ago, Biggar said: “If Rhodes must fall, so must Churchill, whose views on empire and race were much the same.” Or, you might say, even worse. Churchill had a visceral loathing of Indians. Hindus, he said to his private secretary in 1945, were a foul race “protected by their mere pullulation [rapid breeding] from the doom that is their due”. How much his attitudes contributed to the Bengal famine of 1943 is arguable, but a persuasive case has been made (by the writer Madhusree Mukerjee, among others) that Churchill’s refusal to heed the advice of his Indian administration was instrumental in the death of between 2 and 3 million people.

Approximately three million people died in The Bengal famine and not only there, in Ireland at least one million people died from starvation and its attendant diseases, whilst a further one million were forced to emigrate or starve during the Great famine years. The population of the island dropped from over 8 million in 1845 to about 6 million in 1850.

These were not accidents of history but happened because of the deliberate genocidal behavior of the British Government.

Ian Jack concluded with this:

The argument sits at the heart of a new documentary, Bengal Shadows. For every million Britons who know about the latest Churchill feature film, Darkest Hour, I suspect no more than half a dozen will know about the documentary (and the proportion in India may not be much larger). But what Churchill might mean to a resident of Midnapore, West Bengal, and another in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, could not be more different. Before we try to refine ethical approaches to the empire, we should perhaps try to discover more of what it was.

Never forget the concentration camp was first tried by the British in the Transvaal Rebellion when the Boers revolted against the British stealing what they regarded as their homeland.

The Empire imprisoned the women, and children of the Boer guerrilla fighters in these concentration camps and all but left them to starve or die of diseases. 28,000 Boer women and children and at least 20,000 black people died in the camps. If that is not genocide I do not understand the definition of the word.

The Empire deliberately and systematically devastated the supply of food and shelter, towns and thousands of farmsteads were burnt or ravaged, herds of livestock wiped out and crops destroyed. This was not an aberration unique to the British behavior in SA. This was a benchmark act of how they behaved throughout their cruel and grubby empire.

The Nazi's marauding across Poland and Russia acted similarly during WW2 and we rightly call it Genocide. To their great credit the German people have analysed the crimes of the Third Rich and answered for them. It is time the British did the same, but don't hold your breath, the British ruling class are more likely to repeat it than deal with their history in a thoughtful and civilized manner.

Mick Hall blogs @ Organized Rage.

Follow Mick Hall on Twitter @organizedrage

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

6 comments to ''British Empire - A Legalized System Of Theft And Murder"

  1. Never understood how an empire fought for my freedom during WWI and WWII?

  2. Indeed, in terms of apologists, I still detect a reluctance from people like Dianne Abbott or Chukka Umunna (for example) to process what their people did to Ireland when pulling it into the British Empires orbit.

  3. The photo of the last Tasmanians is absolutely heartbreaking. For some reason they remind me of a West of Ireland Famine family. If you read Asanath Nicholsons two great works you can see the similarity.

  4. Extremely thorough article! Mick Hall's unyielding view of the British Empire is just based on fact! Genocidal behaviour was & still is part & parcel of it's barbaric system of exploitation!

  5. Lots of BBC produced documentaries criticizing the Nazi during WW2 are f. ridiculius. At least UK is not entitled to do that given what astrocities they had committed all over their colonies over centuries.

  6. "The Empire imprisoned the women, and children in these concentration camps and all but left them to starve or die of diseases"
    True as far as regards the Boer people but I have never seen any difference between workhouses for English, Scottish and Irish poor and the concentration camps for the Boer "insurgents".

    As far as I am concerned the workhouses/poorhouses were just like concentration camps - men and women split up, children separated from parents, poor food, appalling living conditions, dormitory-like sleeping in conditions that were like the nazi concentration camps, disease was rife, no quarantine for people with infectious diseases, and so on.


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