Life – Terror. Ecstasy. Fight. Denial. Flight. Failure. PAIN. Forgiveness. Reconciliation. Hope. Love. Peace – Death.

The Rise and fall of the British Empire

Some say the start date should be as early as the 1490s, while other historians date the empire from the early 1600s. At its height it was (debatably) the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was unquestionably, the foremost global power.

By 1913 the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23 per cent of the world population at the time, and by 1920 it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24 percent of the Earth’s total land area. The end of the empire came in the years after World War 2, with most of Britain’s colonies ruling themselves independently by the late 1960s.

The First and Second World Wars left Britain weakened and less interested in its empire. Also, many parts of the empire contributed troops and resources to the war effort and took an increasingly independent view. This led to a steady decline of the empire after 1945.

Other nations were on the rise. The U.S. got rich during World War I through trade. At the same time, the German and the British Empires (the number one and two powers) decimated each other. With WWII, the US took over the Empire. Many overseas military basses were ceded to the US.

With the Portuguese withdrawal from their African colonies in 1975, the colonial empires were virtually over. The reasons for this withdrawal are manifold. … After 1945, nationalist unrest throughout the colonial empires showed colonial rulers just how costly maintaining colonial rule would be.

At the start of the 20th century Britain’s power began to erode. Britain was increasingly challenged by many other industrializing nations. By 1979, the British empire was reduced to a few pockets around the world. The shrinking didn’t stop, however. When Hong Kong was transferred to China in 1997, Prince Charles himself dubbed it the “end of the Empire.”

14 global territories remain under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom. Many of the former territories of the British Empire are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, territories such as Bermuda and the Falkland Islands. However, a number of countries still have Queen Elizabeth as their head of state including New Zealand, Australia and Canada – a hangover of the Empire.

The long-term devastation, the results of 400 years of British rule are clear. With a no more stark example, India – British rule demolished India through, taxation on anything made in India, and the exportation of raw materials, which caused a plentiful amount of famine, and throughout all of this, the British deliberately, kept most of India uneducated, and those they did educate, most were forced to become interpreters for the benefits ‘the Empire’. Britain gained hugely from ruling India, but most of the wealth created was not invested back into the country.

The British Empire had numerous impacts that outlived its existence. … however, The empire effects were not all negative and affected both Britain and her colonies. The empire introduced new technology agricultural and sanitation practices, industries infrastructure, education, religion, administration systems and court systems. Good or bad (for who, who benefited the most)?

Imperialism benefited the rest of world more than the colonies – New languages, religions and a new way of life were introduced. The imperialists countries gained cheap, efficient workforce. Food production increased due to better farming methods.

We, in ‘the West’ got (even more) wealthier by exploiting cheap labour. The Age of Imperialism widened the gap between the developed nations of Europe and all the underdeveloped regions, as imperial powers exploited the lands for their own economic and political gain.

The history of British imperialism during the nineteenth century describes a process of expansion and consolidation, its success all the more remarkable for its unpromising beginnings.

The end of the nineteenth century saw Britain’s involvement in the second Boer War (1899-1902), the culmination of a long period of conflict in southern Africa. Volunteers from across the Empire fought on the British side, and the war ended with the annexation of two Boer republics.

It was a victory achieved at a high financial cost, and the British “scorched earth” tactics and use of concentration camps caused great loss of life among the Boer population, both military and civilian. Initial enthusiasm for the war among the British public and the wider Empire quickly gave way to disaffection.

There was no immediate threat to the Empire, which was to undergo yet further expansion in the decades following, but in a conflict that has been described as ‘the first of the twentieth century’s anti-colonial guerrilla wars, we can see early indications of the political, military and cultural forces that would eventually bring about its demise.

The idea of empire had lost much of its attraction at the latter end of the eighteenth century, following revolution and war in North America and the loss of the thirteen American colonies.

Maintaining an empire was no longer seen as a prerequisite for developing and protecting Britain’s international trade, and the influential economist Adam Smith argued in 1776 that ‘Great Britain derives nothing but loss from the dominion which she assumes over her colonies’. 

Even as he wrote, however, new forms of colonial domination were emerging at different locations around the world. From across the British Isles, large numbers of settlers travelled to the main “white colonies” (Canada, Australia and New Zealand), establishing institutions and forms of government that mirrored those of Britain. In India and Africa, a relatively small cohort of colonial administrators and armed forces imposed British rule in territories where British influence had previously been weak or non-existent.

The beginnings of a new era, the new age of ‘political economics’ – Capitalism v Socialism shadowed by an emerging Marxist ‘Specter’ – Communism. New super-powers, fueled by their own, hungry aspirations.

Ordoliberalism (Post-war German economics),

Ordoliberalism, Law and the Rule of Economics.

– Governing through Order or Disorder,

– Neoliberalism,

Institutionalizing Neoliberalism, Neoliberalization

Market Sprawl,

Social Policy &

21st-Century Capitalism

Thanks for Reading



Published by Riff

Husband to my inspirational, (long suffering,) wife Gail, father to two, amazing (adult) children, Aubrey & Perri, teacher, former guitarist. When I started this blog I quickly became granda(r) to my beautiful, first grandson Henderson. Grandparenting, something I was relishing but had began to believe I would not get to experience. I now have three incredible grandsons, Henderson, Fennec and just days ago Nate. I Love people. I love my family, my incredible friends, I have love(d) what I do (my Job), I love Music, Glastonbury Festival, Cars, Everton .... I love many things but, most of all, I fucking love life.

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