Thursday 2 June 2011

Winston Churchill told it like it was ...

A nice quotation from Churchill on British imperialism/colonialism, in a comment to his British Cabinet colleagues in January 1914:

"We are not a young people with an innocent record and a scanty inheritance... We have engrossed to ourselves an altogether disproportionate share of the wealth and traffic of the world. We have got all we want in territory, and our claim to be left in the unmolested enjoyment of vast and splendid possessions, mainly acquired by violence, largely maintained by force, often seems less reasonable to others than to us."
(cited in John Darwin, 'The Empire Project', Cambridge 2010, p268 - a good book, incidentally!)

The frankness of the remark contrasts with modern day imperial use of 'human rights', etc, as a cover for their actions. However, the comment was in private discussion with his peers. The statement was made some six months before the start of World War 1, in full awareness of imperial rivalry.

Of course, Churchill spent most of his life trying to maintain Britain's control and enjoyment of its vast and splendid possessions.

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