L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

14 March 2007 Blog Home : March 2007 : Permalink

The Evil Empire

My fellow Englishman, the one with the castle, has found an excellent book to be published soon called "The Evil Empire, 101 Ways That England Ruined The World". I don't know what the 101 ways were but I can think of a few failings, such as a failure to terminate Karl Marx with extreme prejudice and, for that matter, coming up with the Fabian society and all the wishy washy socialism that has followed from it that I consider to have ruined the planet.

I'm not sure if he is serious about this or not but it has to be said that England has been far from perfect. It got its major start in world affairs thanks to piracy by people such as Sir Francis Drake and there are any number of other things that the English have done which are distinctly dodgy. Sir Isaac Newton nicking the calculus of Leibnitz for example, not to mention all those people who enriched themselves in India and the people who sacked entirely harmless nations like Ethiopia. I'm sure it is fairly simple for the author to find 101 bad things done by the English and many of them (e.g. the exploits of Drake or Newton) are things that we English are proud of because of the way they have bene spun by our historians and writers.

Indeed it isn't as if the concept of political spin is a new invention, arguably the best spinner of all times was Shakespeare who turned crude Tudor propaganda into art so well that thes days we fail to realize just how well he libeled people like Richard III.

Yes the English are without doubt the secret master race in a way that should make any anti-semitic ranter change his mind about who really runs the world. After all by failing to deal properly with its revolting American colonies it allowed the US to become the current world leader, clearly a devious plot to let some other nation take the blame....

However despite all this I am proud to be associated with my English ancestors - even the upper class global oppressor ones.

I think that it is worth thinking what England added to the world. The first three are the concepts of toleration, the rule of law applying to all equally and the inviolability of property rights. I agree that all three have been frequently breached by the English when it suited them but the concept that everyone from the King down has the same rights and responsibilities, and the right to their own thoughts and beliefs, were first codified in England to our great advantage.

While it was Italian, Dutch and Jewish financiers who got most of the basics of finance, insurance, stock markets, etc. going it was London that took their ideas and made them work better, based as a general rule on the previously mentioned core foundation of law and property. And England (with some Scottish assistance) certainly did most of the spade work in economics - even though some of the name (Ricardo) don't sound very English. To a great extent the English pioneered free trade and the same goes for both the industrial and possibly more importantly agricultural revolutions. Together free trade and these two revolutions moved humanity definitively away from the hand to moouth subsistence lifestyle which was the how the majority of people have lived.

Of course as a result we created slums, but we also created the concepts of hygeine and public sanitation and numerous inventions in these fields from the flush toilet to vaccinations and the statistical tools to help identifiy the causes of killers such as cholera.

I could go on. I shall merely note that almost all sports in the world first had their rules codified by the English (baseall and basketball being I believe the most prominent exceptions). If you think sport is bad then perhaps this belongs in the negative column, I perfer to put it in the positive one.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin