Where David Olusoga Goes Wrong Over Slavery And The Violence Of Empire

If you want someone to call you a traitor or accuse you of hating Britain, try suggesting that Britain is a normal nation or that our history is remarkable but not exceptional. If you’re feeling really thick-skinned, you could also mention slavery or the violence of empire. You could point out that other nations, the Dutch for example, have managed to come to terms with the fact that their golden age kind of petered out.

On that slavery thing. We were the first dominant society on the planet not to have slavery. Sure, the Danes pipped us to the squeak in abolishing the trade but before the steam engine slavery was a commonplace of every society, the strong enslaving the weak. The conjunction between the words slave and Slav tell us a certain amount, no? That Dublin did it’s time as Northern Europe’s largest slave market, the origins of the Mamluks – ringing any bells for an historian there David?

The violence of Empire? Every society that has had the technological capability has conquered its neighbours and then some. Alexander wasn’t doing a cultural tour of the Middle East now, was he? The Dutch East Indies Company was rather more vicious that the British version over nutmeg and mace.

And overseas empires petering out. St Maarten is a non-disappearing remnant just as Anguilla is, no?

That is, we can say that our history is remarkable but not exceptional – OK then, let’s stop beating ourselves around the head over it. Or, we can say that we were indeed uniquely evil, oppressive and all that – which means that the history was exceptional.

What the British history cannot be is both pretty normal and also something that we must uniquely be so ashamed of.

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Quentin VoleLeo SavantttamimisledusQ46 Recent comment authors
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Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

Britain was exceptional in, for no pecuniary reward, expending vast sums and many lives combating maritime slave trading.

Britain was exceptional in freeing millions of slaves on the sub-continent of India.

Britain was exceptional in closing Tanzanian slave trading through Zanzibar.

Of course Britain’s efforts were only partially successful, 100 years after her campaign against servitude communists and national socialists were still enslaving millions, but Britain also played a part in ending that.

Rather than being berated the British should be celebrated for this morally unimpeachable contribution.

Bravo Britain, you led the world out of darkness and towards the light.

tamimisledus
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tamimisledus

Hundreds of years of British exceptionalism, and slavery is still sanctioned by _allah_ of islam as worshipped by so many descendants of slaves.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Lady Wyndham (Ursula Jeans): It’s easy for you to mock us. We’re used to that. Half the world mocks us – and half the world is only civilised because we have made it so.
North West Frontier (1959)

Leo Savantt
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Leo Savantt

When the British film industry had real cinematic vision, before slipping into the mawkish sentimentality of Four Weddings and a Funeral. I remember the film vividly for two reasons, firstly enjoying seeing it as a boy . Secondly for, after return from a deliciously cool visit to Badrinath Temple high on the Himalayan Indo-Chinese border, my wife an I took an extremely hot train journey, just days before the summer monsoon, from Lucknow to Varanasi. We rumbled over the impossible dusty plains in a non-air conditioned and ill-described 1st class compartment. Grinding to a halt in the middle of nowhere… Read more »

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

Nice story, Leo! I had a ride in an Indian “1st class” carriage in the 80s, but only from Agra to Gwalior, so I know a little whereof you speak.

Q46
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Q46

He is not a student of history it is clear.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

The Danes ‘abolishing’ slavery is an early example of Scandinavian virtue-signalling.