英帝國主義是一個重要的歷史，它影響了整個世界的進程。 帝國主義雖然結束了，但如今對我們來說仍然是必要和有益的。 它如何處理合理性問題？ 它如何使英國成為世界上的大國？ 本文將討論英帝國主義的正當性問題，并從歷史背景，建立的巨大商業聯系，伴隨英帝國主義進行的現代化及其對英國帶來的文化影響等方面，說明英國如何成為世界上的主要力量。 世界。
British imperialism is an important history, that influenced the whole world process. Although the imperialism is ended, it is necessary and helpful for us to value it nowadays. How can it deal with the problem of justification? How it made British became a major power in the world? This essay will discuss the problem of justification of British imperialism and explains how the British could became the main power in the world from its historical background, the big commercial connection it built, the modernization that accompanied British imperialism and the cultural influence it brought to the world.
During the Industrial Revolution, the British people's living standards rose sharply. At that time, Britain became the center of factories, supplying the world with industrial products, so as to obtain their big income. On the one hand, the rapid progress of the industrial revolution has boosted the economic development of Britain, and on the other hand it has also promoted the development of British industry. As a result, it has increased the employment rate of British citizens and solved many social problems.
“In 1900, the British Empire was still the hub in the circulation of world trade and therefore the commercial element cannot be ignored” (p43). However, this commercial influence on the world deeply related with the Industrial Revolution in Britain, which made it possible the low cost of manufacturing and mass production. As Paul Balroch points out, there is a “yawning chasm” (p44) between the industrialized states and the non-industrialized states. For example, when the income in Europe rose more than 200 percent between 1800 and 1913, it only rose 9 percent in Africa and 1 percent in Asia. The industrial revolution makes the society grown rapidly, with new techniques and great profit. Thanks to this, lots of raw materials and semi-finished product go into Britain. This rapid growth of economy and society made it possible for the expansion of British imperialism.
As mentioned before, the Industrial Revolution provided a favorable environment for British to play an important role in the world trade. The British Imperialism was once a chain that connected many countries’ commercial activities, such as India, South-East Asia and China. As Robinson and Gallagher pointed out, the “informal Empire” (p45), is in the middle of nineteenth century when British Empire continued to expand and dominate the world through trade, but without annexation. For example, the case of “scramble for Africa”, was happened out of the reason to protect trade routes. “They concluded that the British government had sought to establish trade with informal control if possible; trade with rule if necessary” (p45).
Before that, the Opium War already happened in the 1830s. In Britain's view, this war was not out of the reason to occupy China's land, but to open China's door and promote the trade there. The British targeted Hong Kong, which was close to the Pearl River estuary. At that time, there were few people and no resources, but Britain could establish a stronghold there. Britain's global strategy is to occupy as little as possible, but control some key places for trading. In addition to Hong Kong, there are also other places such as Gibraltar, Egypt and Singapore. Britain has a vast market for commodities and raw materials. In the process of colonization, Britain used the resources of the colony to continuously improve its national development and contribute to becoming a world hegemony.
In this trading process, one thing we need to notice is that, the British imperial policy is quite reactive and conservative. For the British Imperialists, they concerned more about their strategic role worldwide and tried to decrease the effects from external world, such as the opinion from public and the lobbyists. All the key decisions should be made by “official mind” (p42).
Take the example of British colonial rule over India. The British Raj refers to the British colonial rule of the Indian Subcontinent from 1858 to 1947. There are opinions about how the imperialism contributed to the modernization of India. It related with many different social aspects, for instance, the anglicizations of education. the abolishment of slavery and suttee. “The British believed they were introducing modernization by the abolition of slavery, suttee and thuggee, they were sustained by a strong faith in missionary work and they saw benefits in the Anglicisation of education and in the opening up of Indian, South-East Asian and Chinese trade” (p36).
It is a very strong justification that totally from the point of view of British, but ignore the local societies. In my opinion, the British Imperialism might really brought modernization to other countries as a history phenomenon, but it is not for their sake and it is neither the true reason of imperialism. In addition, it is hard to say this kind of modernization is good or not, because in this process, the native culture might be judged, ignored and abandoned.
“Culture is undoubtedly a feature of the imperialist landscape that stretches far beyond the narrow horizons of language and power” (p204). Critically speaking, Imperialism is not only a negative phenomenon, it has some positive meaning. It shaped the British spirits and has become part of their social and national identity. The concept of Empire is not only related with trade and conquer, but also relates with “adventure, chivalric duty and sacrifice” (p204).
Furthermore, the big population mobility and migration makes the British culture spread to many parts of the world. The people in Hong Kong still have a lot of habit like British, for example, they prefer breakfast with some British style, and they speak in a way mixed English with Cantonese. On the other hand, the influence of Britain also shows in the taste for cultural consumables from the colonized area, such as the Chinese porcelain, Middle East rugs, and South Asia tea, which helps the prosperous of the local culture as well.
In conclusion, British Imperialism based on the history background of the Industrial Revolution in Britain, and it created huge trade chain all over the world, which brought Britain lots of profit. For the justification, it related with the modernization of the local societies, and also beneficial for the global cultural exchanges. All these elements, made British became a major power in the world in a certain period of history.