The inconvenient virtue of the British Empire

The inconvenient virtue of the British Empire. By Matthew Stratton.

Britain is a small country, slightly larger than Victoria [Australia], yet its people ventured to all ends of the globe establishing an empire ‘compris[ing] nearly one-quarter of the world’s land surface and more than one-quarter of its total population’ on which the sun never set by a mere population of 32 million people. By any measure, it is a truly extraordinary feat.

The British Empire provided for their conquered lands. The British spread the English language, the lingua franca of the world. …

The British also left a legal system to protect victims and enforce contracts –- the bedrock and necessary requirement of any democracy. The British spread the virtues of the Christian faith around the globe, giving their peoples a hope of salvation after death.

Put more bluntly in the words of Monty Python, ‘But apart from the language, the legal system, God, medicine, public health, and the roads, what has the Empire ever done for us?’

White Christians abolished slavery — for the whole world:

And of course, there was arguably mankind’s greatest achievement: the costly and forceful ending of slavery in the Empire. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, after the waving of King William IV’s pen, made the sale and ownership of slaves illegal in the Empire, the cost of which to the public purse was extraordinary. King William’s government paid ‘£20 million to fund the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 [which] was equivalent to approximately 40 per cent of the Government’s total annual expenditure’. A sum so great that it was only fully repaid in 2015 meaning that in our lifetime, the British were still paying to end slavery.

In enforcing the ban on slavery to end the Atlantic slave trade, the British created the West African Squadron to patrol West Africa, the success of which cannot be overstated. ‘Between 1807 and 1860, the Royal Navy, West Africa Squadron seized approximately 1600 ships involved in the slave trade and freed 150,000 Africans who were aboard these vessels.’

In righting the wrongs of slavery, no country has paid so much in blood and treasure, and has been so committed to the ending of the practice than the British Empire. …

The best Empire for its subjects, perhaps ever:

This is enough to prove the value and glory of the British Empire alone, but we must also consider from what the British made their empire. Yes, through war and conquest like all empires, but from the dirt and sticks in faraway lands, armed only with their ingenuity and cunning made a modern society, and left achievements that the peoples before them could not even comprehend or achieve themselves.

The British Empire made the life of its subjects better, and it is a shame, not a celebration, that it is no longer with us today. The British built entire countries up from the ground in faraway lands and provided for the people because it was the right thing to do. Were it not for the British and for their Empire, the world would have been a much worse place. This is undeniable to any honest observer.

By natural selection, the British average IQ increased fairly rapidly from 1100 AD. By 1700 they started the industrial revolution, broke the Malthusian limit for the first time since the Garden of Eden, and “conquered” a quarter of the planet. But their average IQ has been dropping since 1880, and has now fallen over 15 points since that peak. They are dropping back to the pack now, nothing special once again.

hat-tip Stephen Neil