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Ed Webb

Caribbean Nations to Seek Reparations, Putting Price on Damage of Slavery - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • In a 2008 biography he wrote of an antislavery campaigner, Britain’s foreign secretary, William Hague, described the trade in human beings as an indefensible barbarity, “brutal, mercenary and inhumane from its beginning to its end.”

    Fourteen Caribbean countries that once sustained that slave economy now want Mr. Hague to put his money where his mouth is.

    Spurred by a sense of injustice that has lingered for two centuries, the countries plan to compile an inventory of the lasting damage they believe they suffered and then demand an apology and reparations from the former colonial powers of Britain, France and the Netherlands.

  • Britain has already paid compensation over the abolition of the slave trade once — but to slave owners, not their victims. Britain transported more than three million Africans across the Atlantic, and the impact of the trade was vast. Historians estimate that, in the Victorian era, between one-fifth and one-sixth of all wealthy Britons derived at least some of their fortunes from the slave economy.
  • Caribbean nations argue that their brutal past continues, to some extent, to enslave them today.

    “Our constant search and struggle for development resources is linked directly to the historical inability of our nations to accumulate wealth from the efforts of our peoples during slavery and colonialism,” said Baldwin Spencer, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, in July this year. Reparations, he said, must be directed toward repairing the damage inflicted by slavery and racism.

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  • The current French president, François Hollande, conceded last year that France’s treatment of Algeria, its former colony, was “brutal and unfair.” But he did not go so far as to apologize.
  • Some Caribbean nations have already begun assessing the lasting damage they suffered, ranging from stunted educational and economic opportunities to dietary and health problems
  • “Reparation may be awarded only for what was internationally unlawful when it was done,” Dr. O’Keefe said, “and slavery and the slave trade were not internationally unlawful at the time the colonial powers engaged in them.”
Ed Webb

Britain's colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition - Home News -... - 0 views

  • as many as one-fifth of wealthy Victorian Britons derived all or part of their fortunes from the slave economy
  • Some families used the money to invest in the railways and other aspects of the industrial revolution; others bought or maintained their country houses, and some used the money for philanthropy.
  • The British government paid out £20m to compensate some 3,000 families that owned slaves for the loss of their "property" when slave-ownership was abolished in Britain's colonies in 1833. This figure represented a staggering 40 per cent of the Treasury's annual spending budget and, in today's terms, calculated as wage values, equates to around £16.5bn.

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  • To have two Lord Chancellors in Britain in the 20th century bearing the name of a slave-owner from British Guyana, who went penniless to British Guyana, came back a very wealthy man and contributed to the formation of this political dynasty
  • The database is available from Wednesday at: ucl.ac.uk/lbs.
  • Slavery on an industrial scale was a major source of the wealth of the British empire, being the exploitation upon which the West Indies sugar trade and cotton crop in North America was based. Those who made money from it were not only the slave-owners, but also the investors in those who transported Africans to enslavement. In the century to 1810, British ships carried about three million to a life of forced labour.

    Campaigning against slavery began in the late 18th century as revulsion against the trade spread. This led, first, to the abolition of the trade in slaves, which came into law in 1808, and then, some 26 years later, to the Act of Parliament that would emancipate slaves. This legislation made provision for the staggering levels of compensation for slave-owners, but gave the former slaves not a penny in reparation.

  • in 1838, 700,000 slaves in the West Indies, 40,000 in South Africa and 20,000 in Mauritius were finally liberated
Ed Webb

British have invaded nine out of ten countries - so look out Luxembourg - Telegraph - 0 views

  • "Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don't think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century."
  • The only other nation which has achieved anything approaching the British total, Mr Laycock said, is France – which also holds the unfortunate record for having endured the most British invasions.
  • Mr Laycock added: "One one level, for the British, it is quite amazing and quite humbling, that this is all part of our history, but clearly there are parts of our history that we are less proud of. The book is not intended as any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a light-hearted bit of fun."

    The countries never invaded by the British:

    Andorra

    Belarus

    Bolivia

    Burundi

    Central African Republic

    Chad

    Congo, Republic of

    Guatemala

    Ivory Coast

    Kyrgyzstan

    Liechtenstein

    Luxembourg

    Mali

    Marshall Islands

    Monaco

    Mongolia

    Paraguay

    Sao Tome and Principe

    Sweden

    Tajikistan

    Uzbekistan

    Vatican City

Ed Webb

Britain destroyed records of colonial crimes | UK news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as "Legacy files" – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red letter W.
  • The documents show that colonial officials were instructed to separate those papers to be left in place after independence – usually known as "Legacy files" – from those that were to be selected for destruction or removal to the UK. In many colonies, these were described as watch files, and stamped with a red letter W.
  • As independence grew closer, large caches of files were removed from colonial ministries to governors' offices, where new safes were installed.

    In Uganda, the process was codenamed Operation Legacy. In Kenya, a vetting process, described as "a thorough purge", was overseen by colonial Special Branch officers.

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  • Clear instructions were issued that no Africans were to be involved: only an individual who was "a servant of the Kenya government who is a British subject of European descent" could participate in the purge.
  • Many of the watch files ended up at Hanslope Park. They came from 37 different former colonies, and filled 200 metres of shelving. But it is becoming clear that much of the most damning material was probably destroyed. Officials in some colonies, such as Kenya, were told that there should be a presumption in favour of disposal of documents rather than removal to the UK – "emphasis is placed upon destruction" – and that no trace of either the documents or their incineration should remain.
Ed Webb

Nigeria hostages: Italian anger mounts over special forces operation | World news | The... - 0 views

  • Thursday's raid, the paper said, proved that Britain was motivated by "nostalgia for its imperial glory," that prompted it to act unilaterally. Its treatment of Italy showed it treated the country as "hardly reliable".
  • Thursday's raid, the paper said, proved that Britain was motivated by "nostalgia for its imperial glory," that prompted it to act unilaterally. Its treatment of Italy showed it treated the country as "hardly reliable".
Ed Webb

The British Euro Farce - NYTimes.com - 0 views

  • Since Cameron’s “No,” there’s been much chatter about the return of Britain’s “bulldog spirit.” Self-delusion is a lingering attribute of former imperial nations adjusting to a lesser reality. In fact Cameron, playing the wrong chips without partners or preparation, was not so much opposed on grand principle as eyeing an opportunity to extract concessions for the very City of London financial institutions seen as the villains of the 2008 meltdown and its dire aftermath.

    That was politically inept — less the fighting spirit of the Normandy hedgerows than the self-regarding hypocrisy of the giant offshore hedge fund that Britain often resembles these days.

  • The thing about the Euro-sceptics behind Cameron’s Brussels bungling is they turn past glory into posturing theater. Their nostalgia for British greatness is often no more than the trumpeting of a bunch of insular snobs who seem to have a hard time restraining their inner-fascist.
Ed Webb

Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British by Jeremy Paxman - review | Books | Th... - 0 views

  • periodic spasms of moral self-questioning, which is unusual for empires
  • "The British empire had begun with a series of pounces. Then it marched. Next it swaggered. Finally, after wandering aimlessly for a while, it slunk away."
  • At times he appears to be going along with what he takes to be the 19th-century historian JR Seeley's view, that the empire was accumulated "absent-mindedly". (In fact Seeley said the opposite. Everyone gets this wrong.) To his credit, Paxman repeatedly confesses his own puzzlement: "there was something inherently nonsensical about it … How could the ultimate purpose of colonisation be freedom?" Well, there is an answer to that. He might not agree with it, but he should try to understand it. Dismissing things as "nonsense" is a way of avoiding the bother of explaining them.
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  • nothing here on the economic, cultural or any other roots of British imperialism
  • very woolly about whom he means by "the British" in this context
  • widespread public amnesia
  •  
    Thanks, Ian, for flagging this up for the seminar
Ed Webb

LENIN'S TOMB: Why neoliberalism persists - 0 views

  • Finance has enjoyed hegemony in the past partially on account of its role in the British empire. Britain's overseas trading companies such as the East India Company or the Hudson Bay Company were based in the City of London, and it was the City's activities which financed the planters and traders. The capital's financial centre was the nexus between domestic producers and the colonies. Undoubtedly, finance has a similar role in today's imperialism, the mechanism by which surplus extracted in the 'periphery' is transferred to ruling classes in the 'metropole'. In fact, one of the reasons why the British government started to take a keen interest in consolidating the City's global role in the late 1960s was due to the loss of the colonies and the need to take on rising financial competitors, not least Wall Street.
  • The fact of the matter is that there often hasn't been enough profit to be had in productive investment, while high-risk speculation has consistently delivered, and will continue to do so as long as the public bails the bankers out at moments of crisis. Just how much neoliberalism has delivered is suggested by the fact that by 2006, two fifths of all corporate profits in the US were accumulated in the financial sector - more than double the ratio at the height of 'Reagonomics' two decades before.
Ed Webb

British Identity and the Legacy of Empire | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • the extent to which the legacy of the British Empire continues to influence contemporary politics and society has also been overlooked by most parties. Only the Conservatives have acknowledged it as a policy aspiration, promising in their manifesto that they will ‘strengthen the Commonwealth as a focus for promoting democratic values and development’. However, their intention to establish annual limits on non-EU migrants suggest that Conservative views towards the former empire continue to be infused with elements of colonialism – a confused message that encourages stronger Commonwealth bonds through the promotion of British values and aid whilst restricting of historic patterns of population exchange.
  • The Commonwealth provides stark evidence that imperial withdrawal in some former colonies was not controlled or bloodless and that the post-colonial legacy of the British Empire is far from entirely positive. Sustained efforts to re-evaluate the legacy of empire have proven slight, suggesting a post-empire myopia that can be somewhat attributed to the contentious nature of empire and its inheritance.
  • The extent to which the UK can be seen as a post-empire state must be questioned. For some, such as Robert Cooper, British foreign policy continues to be shaped by an ascription to ‘liberal imperialism’. Moreover, transnational constitutional ties endure, with the Monarch continuing as Head of State of sixteen states - of which the UK is but one – and fourteen British Overseas Territories. The Crown is represented in a number of differing ways within the political systems of the Commonwealth realms, providing a key constitutional role with significant—though often theoretical—powers which reflect the enduring legacy of the British parliamentary model of government. The presence of the Monarch on coins and stamps in various Commonwealth realms, and the continued prominence of other ‘banal’ symbols such as the Union Flag on some national flags, suggest the persistence of a more generous transnational Britishness.
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