2007 - 2022

British Empire 1.0

We thought this week’s ‘re-imagining’ of Britain and British Empire needed another look. Modern Britain formed in 1707. These are the countries it has been at war with and in since then …

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  1. Richard MacKinnon says:

    And which regiments lead the line on every occasion?

    1. c rober says:

      Breed em out , tax em out , clear them out , then in times of war throw the Scots at the enemy until they run out of bullets.

  2. Joe Gibson says:

    There has never been a decade in the 19th – 20th centrury that THEY have not fighting in.

    I served 23 years and we were always keeping the peace some where.

  3. Ewan Macintyre says:

    When did Highland regiments cease to be Highland, i.e. Gaelic speaking?
    Was it before Waterloo or shortly after?

  4. bringiton says:

    As has been well documented,many of these wars were to fought protect British “interests”,especially in the field of commerce.
    Most activity in recent years has been to bring about regime change in places where Britain/USA interests were threatened.
    This,of course is illegal under international law,unless agreed by the UN but with Westminster and Washington the maxim always has been that might is right.
    The bloody first world war was not fought by the UK to bring about peace (Rothschild and friends) and the second world war was needed to correct policy failures by Britain and France (Treaty of Versailles and the reparations demanded by the European allies) which allowed fascism to rise in Germany.
    Peace keeping it mostly wasn’t but simply looking after vested interests (as with many other European countries).
    Europe,for the main part has moved on but good Olde Blighty is still living in the past and wanting to send gun boats to Africa etc to enforce their will.
    Scottish army regiments,since the time of Wolfe in Canada have been regarded as cannon fodder and expendable by the ruling elites.

  5. manandboy says:

    But good for business. So much so, that British Military history has had Business Class written all over it. Just no bullets in the Boardroom if you please. We’ll make the profits- the Jocks can do the dying.

  6. Seumas MacDhòmhnaill says:

    That’s a fair mony kintras, but A think Britain did invade Australia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi an Botswana an aw.

  7. Alan says:

    I posted this link under Empire 2.0 story previously but maybe more relevant here: Britain’s secret wars. Britain is the only country in the world that has been at war, secretly or not, with at least one other country every year for the past 100 years. Were there any years since 1707 when we were not at war, one wonders?

  8. Alan says:

    And to understand why Britain has always been at war abroad and how this relates to domestic oppression turn to Book 4 in The Wealth of Nations. As discussed by Sankar Muthu:

    The public interest in Britain has already been subverted by the English East India Company and its economic and governmental allies, and thus their actions in India simply mirror their domestic behavior: merchant interests take precedence over larger societal interests, especially so after sovereign power, whether domestic or foreign, is ceded by force or fraud to the Company. Smith argues that when merchants engage in political rule, it can only ever be in the form of a militaristic and tyrannical government. Part of the problem is that “as merchants their interest is directly opposite” to the interest “of the country which they govern” (IV.vii.c.103; 638). But another disadvantage is that merchants themselves, in Smith’s view, lack the authority needed to govern without brutal force.

  9. Doghouse Rielly says:

    So help me out here, Scotland and the Scots were bystanders in empire? Those fancy buildings in the merchant city in Glasgow or the wealth of the banks in Edinburgh weren’t built on the proceeds of the middle passage and the Darien Scheme never happened?

    I think it’s fair to say that the Scottish ruling class were as enthusiastic in thier persuit of the plunder of empire as those of the of the rest of the UK or Germany, or France or Spain or Russia. And the skills of our stone masons and shipwrights were paid for in large measure with the blood of slaves. As they were across most of Europe.

    Trying to rewrite history to create a national sense of grievance or to deny the enthusiastic engagement in plunder by many Scots is dishonest.

    Imperialism and capitalism oppress the working class the world over. They are our enemy.

    1. Stewart Bremner says:

      This animation was made to remind us of the mentality of the British Empire, which parts of the UK Government and establishment appear to have been attempting to revive. Such a blood-thirsty, expansionist mindset as that empire had is very disturbing. There’s no denying the dubious parts of Scotland’s history, yet at the same time no one in Scotland is making any attempts to revive them.

      1. Doghouse Rielly says:

        I think you underestimate the sophistication of capitalism if you imagine that there is any significant part of the British establishment that thinks a return to empire would be profitable or deliverable.

        And I’m any event my point was more about the risks of a rose tinted view of the past.

  10. Andrew Swan says:

    Over 50 territories have declared independence form the B.E. becoming independent states.

  11. Jolly Boy John says:

    Wasn’t ‘modern Britain’ formed in 1921?

  12. Alan says:

    Great take-no-prisoners piece by Adam Ramsay over on Open Democracy: For Britain to solve its economic problems, it needs to stop lying to itself about its past.

    As noted above this is what Adam Smith was onto in his attack on Mercantilism in the Wealth of Nations: the economics of plunder by merchants in collusion with politicians. The trading nation stuff was bs then and it’s bs now.

    1. Doghouse Reilly says:

      Which, I think rather begs the question, how in an unequal world carrying with it it’s history of colonial and imperial exploitation (which nation in the so called developed world is free of that taint?), do we develop trading and cultural relations that are genuinely balanced and free from exploitation?

      Where do we look for examples? Cuba perhaps? Impressive though the role of the Cuban people has been in exporting health care and education around South America I’m not sure “Europe’s Cuba” is an aspiration that will catch on in Scotland or the UK as a whole though I confess I do rather like the idea.

      1. Alan says:

        I think Smith was somewhat conflicted. There are places he’s optimistic but elsewhere quite pessimistic. He was a realist about human behaviour. He wasn’t a Utopian.

        Free trade was an ideal that existed to various degrees. He clearly thought the merchantilism of his own time was corrupt and served only the merchants and the politicians they corrupted with their wealth. But there were other countries that were worse. And there were places that were better e.g. the American colonies especially once they freed themselves from Britain and EIC.

        Real free trade can only exist within a framework of justice that ensures everyone is treated fairly and constrains the rise of groups that can bend the system to their will against the broad public interest but of course justice gets corrupted to the ends of rich and powerful as well.

        Whatever the social system there are always going to be factions that arise, gain an advantage, and lord it over everyone else. Socialism is no exception. If Scotland becomes independent it’s going to be important to fight for a constitution that creates a legal and political framework that checks the rise of factional power whatever form it takes, political, economic, religious, … e.g. by opposing and dividing factions against one another.

        But there is no perfect system. Freedom depends on endlessly resistance against the rise of factions and the domination of the many by the few.

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