Talk:British Empire/Archive 7

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Indian Famines

I removed this paragraph for the second time [1]. Perhaps I should have raised it here first rather than removing it, but anyway, I did what I did. There are a multitude of "good" and "bad" things that resulted from British colonial rule, with the definition of "good" and "bad" depending on who you ask. Of course, noone would suggest a famine was good, but why single this "bad thing" out, and in particular, this single interpretation of its causes? In Imperialism & Orientalism by Barbara Harlow & Mia Carter [2] the various explanations by "historians, economists, administrators and statesmen" are discussed, one of which is the effect of colonial policies, but others attribute blame to the actions of Indians themselves or Mother Nature. Who is correct? I don't know, but this article is not the place for that debate. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 23:43, 9 November 2008 (UTC)

In general I would agree with you, but I think it is also fair to say that the article paints a fairly rosy picture of empire and does not list some of its horrors. Yes there are controversies over Indian and Irish Famines to take two, less so these days over the opium wars or the concentration camps in South Africa. Maybe a new section (up and down sides) is needed, or an agreement on (citable) material but region not to be taken to excess? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Snowded (talkcontribs)
I think such a section could be a slippery slope to a whole lot of arguments and disputes. This article should not, in my opinion, attempt to list the judgements of historians which will range from outright jingoism on the one hand to accusations of murder and pillage on the other. Such subjective analysis is fine for Lawrence James and Niall Ferguson to engage in in their own books, but not for this overview article. I would describe some of their conclusions and wording as "rosy", but not this article. I'm curious in fact which statements you think are rosy? The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 01:12, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm surprised you removed that paragraph. It looks well sourced, accurate and perfectly encyclopaedic to me. I'll have more to say later. Badgerpatrol (talk) 10:41, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Your surprised, have you even seen the name of the book it’s quoted from `Late Victorian Holocausts`. Red Hat is correct that analysis from an overview (by the authors he mentioned) is fine, not a one-sided book ranting from an author trying to cause controversy to sell a book.
Having said that i agree in part with both Snowded and Redhat, these issues should be briefly mentioned and their links to other wikipedia pages incorporated, which shows the issues in more depth, and the whos faults etc dealt there, not in this page which will in the end never be resolved and end up taking over the article.--Rockybiggs (talk) 11:01, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't necessarily characterise the article as rose tinted. By the same token, it barely touches upon the less savoury aspects of Imperialism. It's certainly true that there are good and bad aspects and that opinions are mixed. The role of this article however should be to reflect this. I wonder why Red Hat chose to remove the offending paragraph completely rather than rewrite it? Mike Davis is a tenured professor at a major US academic institution. It is a perfectly valid reference, whether you like the title or not. So is the Harlow and Carter reference, although the latter is actually a collection of primary source documents linked by very short introductory overviews. So why not expand the paragraph and include both? We are getting pushed for space, but I certainly think that some kind of additional critical evaluation, either in text or in a separate section is perfectly valid. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:38, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
I've been asked to weigh in here by Rockybiggs. As someone who has written most of the articles on Indian famines, let me say for now that I am aware of user:Editman's edits (since the same ones have been made or attempted on a host of other articles). I'm sure s/he means well, however, using only Mike Davis's book is not the most balanced way to contribute to Indian famines. In my view, Davis is not an expert on Indian famines by a long shot; he is an academic maverick, with a definite ideological slant, who in this latest incarnation has written a trade paperback on Victorian-era famines, one entirely based on secondary sources, in the same way one writes a Wikipedia article. In other words, I feel the book is a highly selective reading of the sources; however, as Badgerpatrol observes, by Wikipedia rules, it is a perfectly valid source itself. If there is consensus here to add a few sentences on disasters in colonial India, I am happy to write a more balanced description. As to whether this article itself is an optimistic account of the Empire, I'll have to take a rain check on answering that question until such time as I've read the article. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 13:06, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
PS Overall, I'd say, I agree with Badgerpatrol's and Rockybigg's last posts. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 13:10, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
This is a serious can of worms we're dabbling with. Should the B.E. be judged by today's standards, or the standards of the times? (Deporting large numbers of French speakers from Canada after 1763 would be called ethnic cleansing today). Should the B.E. be judged in isolation from, or in comparison to other European colonial empires? (Arguably the British Empire was the "least worst" of them all). If the colonisers are judged, what about the native rulers who the British either ousted or ruled through? (Africans sold other Africans into slavery, and what kind of welfare state did the Indian Princes run?). If the massacres committed by the British are judged, what of the massacres committed by the colonised? And this is even before we get into situations where a causal connection to the British Empire is a matter of interpretation, such as famines. My suggestion is that the article should avoid this quagmire. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 03:11, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

⬅`Avoiding the quagmire is to take a political position on that quagmire. The whole article is written from a modern perspective, in so far as it quotes modern authors. We are not taking about minor matters, to add one more: herding aboriginals over a cliff in Tasmania, not acknowledging them as human until 1967, one of the longest periods of sustained genocide in the history of the human race). When I was at school we were taught the myths of the British Empire being the best ever, economic etc, bringing civilisation to primitive barbarians. OK there is some fact in there but there is also much deception. The argument that the "native rulers" were or would have been just as bad is sometimes true. Yes the triangular slave trade picking up on an existing practice, but oh boy did it scale it up to something which has a profound and major impact on modern society. OK lets not go over the top on this, but any article on any Empire needs to acknowledge ALL the consequences of Empire. Best to agree some principles and get on with it. --Snowded TALK 03:43, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Should History of the United Kingdom have all the "bad things" that were ever done in the name of the UK? The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 03:47, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Gentlemen, we cannot avoid treating a subject simply because it is the occasion of controversy. Arguing controversial editorial issues is precisely what these discussion pages are for. I do feel that this article presents a squeaky-clean image of the Empire. It does so, so some editors have argued, on the grounds that it is not the purpose of Wikipedia to raise points of controversy that are subject to conflicting interpretations. Firstly, I have never come across any Wiki-policy to that effect. But more significantly, this 'neutral' presentation is no neutrality at all. By avoiding the more sordid aspects of the Empire the article is actually making a political statement about the Empire; that it was (is?) somehow beyond reproach, not answerable for the bloodlettings and injustices perpetrated in its name. Its a bit like those stodgy lessons about the Roman Empire we heard at school. We were taught how great and glorious it was: how it generated Western civilisation. But it was also the author of some of the worst crimes against humanity the world has ever seen. By all means, let's have this discussion about Indian atrocities. It is honest. --Gazzster (talk) 04:17, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Agreed - and to Patrick, history needs to be balanced, it does not mean that this article or the UK one needs to be a catalogue of sin, but neither is it right to avoid it. Please be proportionate in your response. --Snowded TALK 04:26, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree strongly with both the above comments, particularly Gazzster, who puts the case far more eloquently than I could. Red Hat, I can't help but think (with respect) that you are perhaps using a little bit of sophistry to justify what may be something akin to patriotic puffery. There is no debate over whether to apply "modern" or "contemporary" standards. A crime is a crime. Massacring hundreds of innocent people at Amritsar - is a crime. In 1919, in 2008, in 3008. Allowing through action or inaction millions of people to starve to death in India and in Ireland is a bad, bad act (and that's not to mention the later atrocities in Ireland and elsewhere). The treatment of the indigenous populations in Australia (and across the Empire) was fundamentally founded on principles of racist brutality. Whatever way you look at it, that is not a good thing. And there are many, many examples. We shouldn't forget that we are talking essentially about a political instrument based on the subjugation of subject states by an external, Imperial power, often against their will. Very few people would state their support for that method of government. Equally, it is certainly true that Imperialism brought economic benefits to much of the world, spread the value of education, built up infrastructure and technology, and in the 20th century at least played a key role in the elimination of various other evil empires that were far, far worse in every way. There were good points and bad points. So we need a balanced treatment, which I think is achievable. We shouldn't forget that there were many positive aspects of British imperialism, but neither should we whitewash the negative aspects. That would not be in the best traditions of the principles of free speech that I'm sure many of us would agree to be one of the better legacies of British imperialism across the globe. So let's be fair, be balanced, and be honest. There is indeed no Wikipedia policy against that. Badgerpatrol (talk) 10:38, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

(Going off the mark, but a point can be argued that Australia committed its one crimes, and were nothing to do with the British Empire, if anything London reigned in the Australian treatment of the Aborigines, which if they hadn`t could have been even worse.) Moving on, obviously something needs to mention about the downside to the Empire, BUT it mustn`t take over this page, as for example the Indian Famines are mentioned in greater detail on their own pages.--Rockybiggs (talk) 09:32, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Empire`s Downside/Negatives of Empire Section

I think we are all agreed that something needs to be mentioned or a new section added regarding the Empires downside. Any suggestions on what subjects should be mentioned, the length of the subject, any guidelines etc, etc.. --Rockybiggs (talk) 11:00, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Can anyone please post here some sentences that are not NPOV? For if it is not balanced, it means NPOV is not being adhered to. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 10:56, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Can I just say that the accusations against Red Hat of bias and wanting to whitewash the effects of the BE, well, are utter hogwash. I don't contribute here any more because I don't think I can work with him as I find him rude, confrontational and argumentative. But having let us say, interacted, for nearly two years I can honestly say accusations of bias, POV and glossing over the worst excesses of the Empire are nonsense. Justin talk 11:07, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
No personal attacks please Justin. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 11:18, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
The article has to be neutral. Not individual sentences. I think we all understand the requirement for balance and proportion, as the above measured and sensible discussion quite clearly demonstrates. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:09, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

I am totally opposed to an upside downside section. I'm no opposed to adding mention of significant events in the BE in the relevant sections without judgement, e.g. Amritsar. Let the facts speak for themselves. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 11:18, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Personally, I wouldn't be fundamentally opposed to a stand-alone, balanced, "criticism" section. However, if that's not the consensus, then yes, the way forward would be appropriate mention of various massacres, famines, genocide etc as they fit into the chronology, combined with some kind of commentary in the introduction and "Legacy" segments. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:55, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Redhat. The article is actually quite neutral (at least the person who did the tentative GA review thought so anyway). It does not boast about the empire's "achievements"; it does not criticise its "faults". In the comments above User:Snowded lists some of the "myths" he was taught in school. I do not see these sorts of comments here. If a controversial event is a significant part of the history of the empire then it is included in the appropriate place - that's the rationale for mentioning it. A separate section drawing out positive/negative elements could never be objective and would be a constant source of argument over balance. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:15, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
A photograph of a bird shooting party in Mandalay, soon after the conclusion of the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1886 when Burma was annexed to British India.
Didn't have this on my watchlist, so didn't realize that a lot had happened since yesterday morning! Yeah, I'm not sure that we need a separate section. The downside can be indicated in many ways. For example, I noticed that the illustrations accompanying the article are uniformly stylized (old paintings or cartoons). Here is a proposal: Why don't we replace the well-known cartoon of Disraeli offering the Crown to Victoria with an image that might represent the downside of the Empire, rather than of late 19th-century politics in Britain. (As is well known, Gladstone and the Liberals were firmly opposed to the title, "Empress of India.") I just uploaded an image, which I am attaching here. You don't even need to say anything particularly incriminating in the caption. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:35, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
hmm. Given that the above conversation has made fairly extensive mention of famine, genocide, war, brutality, persecution and conquest, I think your image may be a little bit more subtle than perhaps we need overall... Badgerpatrol (talk) 16:55, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
After a quick scout about (a very quick scout about, I'm sure there are better images to be had if we look harder) the commons already includes e.g. this, this, this (not very good one, bit unclear), and this. Any of these would be decent additions, although some may be better quality than others. We also already have the Irish war memorial, which probably falls under this category too. I do think the main priority is adjusting the text however, either in-line or as a separate section. Badgerpatrol (talk) 17:11, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
No one has mentioned Genocide and persecution except you --Rockybiggs (talk) 21:53, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Not really 100% sure what you mean by that - everyone has mentioned persecution of indigenous populations. "Genocide" is a more ambiguous term, and looking above perhaps I am the only one to have used that particular word, from a quick scan of the discussion (Gazzster below uses "systematic extermination", which is roughly the same thing)... so are you trying to say that e.g. this didn't happen? We can argue over semantics and wording - that's what this page is for. Hopefully we can all agree however that these are very, very bad things, whatever we want to call it. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:10, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Stolen Generations was Australians own internal policy, and even before Dominion status these policies were enacted by Australians. As with other incidents in Canada of racism Komagata Maru incident. --Rockybiggs (talk) 11:28, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I think you're a bit confused Rocky, or maybe I am - was Australia not a part of the British Empire then? Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:53, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
As long as the article state Australia pursed its own internal policy of Genocide im happy with that, if you must put it in. But as an overview article of the British Empire i don’t feel this section belongs here. As this gives the impression that this was British imperial policy to rid the world of the original inhabitants, which it wasn`t. The British Empire was unlike any empire before, as there were no General policies for the entire empire. This covers the imperial expansions take a bit here and there, to overall policy, with some controlled directly from London (which i would consider the real Empire orders), and those Who controlled their own affairs. (Why didn`t Kenya go the way of South Africa, because the governors refused to impose polices in the early 1900s similar to that of South Africa.)
Secondly i feel you’re also putting your personal judgements, misgivings and applying the standards of today and comparing them with the past.--Rockybiggs (talk) 12:27, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
[Unindent] - Everyone has their own personal opinions on things Rocky - what mine are don't matter, although on matters of absolute morality I don't think any of us in this conversation would differ on the basic fundaments. The point is to let go of our own opinion, in so far as we are able to, and make recourse to the reliable sources that underpin everything on Wikipedia. I'm not sure if you can really have a "pro" or "anti" blanket judgement on something like British Imperialism - it's really a mixed bag of good and bad points, and the article should reflect this.
As for the other point - the British Empire was the British Empire, the United Kingdom is the United Kingdom, the two are not the same thing and shouldn't be confused. By the same token, parts of Australia were under direct rule until 1890 and, certainly until the 1930s, the post of Governor-General (and of state governors) was basically a British political appointment (Governors and the Governor General had/ve, technically, extensive executive plenipotentiary powers - although these would never be used today, they have been in the past). The policies could have been stopped from London, probably - although I'm not sure what relevance that actually has to the article, which is about the British Empire as a historical entity, not about Britain as one part of that empire. Badgerpatrol (talk) 12:57, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Reads slightly different from this source. [3]--Rockybiggs (talk) 13:19, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Does it? In what way? Badgerpatrol (talk) 13:25, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

1. Self Governing from the 1850s 2. It states the term Genocide is wrong.--Rockybiggs (talk) 13:29, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

From your source: 1. "the Australian continent was divided into 6 separate British colonies, mostly self-governing from the middle of the nineteenth century...": Western Australia became self governing in 1890, per my above statement ("parts of Australia were under direct rule until 1890.."). 2. It does not state categorically that the term "genocide" as applied to the 19th century is wrong, although it does come down roughly on that side of the debate. It states (correctly) that there is debate among scholars over the application of this term, as I also have stated repeatedly in this discussion (whilst going on to state unequivocally that a genocide took place against the aborigines in the early 20th century - whether Australia was part of the British Empire at this point or not, and fundamentally subject to British political control or not (in my view it was, at least until around the 1930s) we can discuss separately). Badgerpatrol (talk) 13:45, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
The book basically states the 19th Century demise of aborigines was not Genocide, and even more so when considered with the exploits of the belgians in Congo Free State. As per my previous point, it was Austrialla`s own internal policy of Stolen Generations and this source effectively states that, but im sure theres others. No doubt this will be debated further if this situation on this negatives of the B.E is agreed upon below--Rockybiggs (talk) 14:13, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
"Genocide" isn't a relative term, so the Congo doesn't have a great deal to do with it, all things considered. The two fundamental points are: 1. The source states very clearly that there is legitimate debate over the use of the term "genocide" with regard to the Aboriginal population, as I stated. Some would call it "genocide", based on the evidence. Others wouldn't. That's what history is all about. There's no easy answers and nothing is black and white. 2. Whatever way you look at it, Australia was part of the British Empire. Whatever way you look at it, horrible policies were enforced against Aborigines during Imperial times. That's not in debate. Whether these policies were mandated from London, or could have been stopped by London, is a moot point really - accusations against the Empire are not de facto or de jure accusations against the British government. This article is about the Empire. Badgerpatrol (talk) 14:30, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Where would these images fit into the article? I mean if you include any of the mutiny-related images you've listed - perhaps on the left side of the page - you'd need some balancing images, say, of the murdered British children buried in the well in Bibighar, on the right side of the page. Would that make the article better? I don't think so. I like the image above because it's quite ambiguous. A picture tells a thousand words; You could read a lot into it either way depending on your perspective. The caption simply describes what the picture shows without prejudice. I think the article should be the same way. By all means mention critical events if they are relevant, but this article should not (and WILL not) descend into some sort of tally sheet of imperial crimes vs imperial successes. Tag bits if you think they are subjective. Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:58, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

I'm glad we're discussing these things instead of brushing them under the rug with the remark, 'we musn't - it's POV'. Wiki-Ed raises a wonderful point about the power of images.One of the myths about Wiki editorship is that it should be NPOV. This, as experienced editors realise, is complete nonsense. No literature, written or visual, is ever neutral. History especially, as any historian will declare. History is written from a particular perspective. The perspective will vary according to who is interpreting and what facts the interpreter refers to. What is important, in an encyclopedia such as this, is that the POV is as balanced as possible. To want to make an article, particular about history, as neutral as possible by not exploring controversial ideas, balks against the spirit of scholarship and honest enquiry. For it in effect presents a one-sided view of a subject. In this case, by tiptoeing around issues such as this Indian famine, the massacres (on both sides) during the Indian Mutiny, the systematic extermination of the Tasmanian Aboriginals, etc, we're actually saying, 'the BE was a pretty controversy free institution'. So, by all means, let's air the dirty laundry here. Where to put these things, though, is another topic. I don't like the idea of a 'pro' and 'con' section. Comments should be organically incorporated. And we should make concise references to controversial topics. They should be treated in depth at other articles. The Tasmanian massacres, for example, could be mentioned here, but dealt with in depth at Australian Aboriginals or Tasmania, or its own article.--Gazzster (talk) 22:52, 11 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes. There are two things to note about NPOV - a) "Neutral Point of View" does not mean "No point of view", it does mean that POV should be balanced, but it doesn't mean that every picture of Indian rebels being hanged must be balanced up by a picture of British civilians being murdered, in the same way that we don't have to balance every picture of the gas chambers at Auschwitz with images of German cities being carpet bombed - which relates to the second key point -> b) it requires that significant contrasting viewpoints should be mentioned in proportion basically to the strength of weight that those opinions carry in the study of history, it doesn't require that every contrasting viewpoint be stated. If we can find a number of significant academic sources for example that contest that the Amritsar massacre was a proportionate response to a potential rebellion, then of course we ought to state that, backed up by the sources. If we can find reliable sources stating that the retaliation following the first Indian rebellion was proportionate, then we should state that, and so on with all the other issues. I certainly am not arguing for a "catalogue of sin", and nor I think is anyone else. But we are dealing with an organisation that effectively was based on subjugation of indigenous people on racial grounds, by force. As a base point of view, that fundamentally is not a good thing - although equally, there were a) many positive legacies of Empire; b) as I think we all agree, the British Empire certainly wasn't the worst offender and by historical standards (Spanish, Romans, Nazis, maybe even Americans etc.) was probably comparatively benevolent. But airbrushing out aspects of history just because they are shameful or unpalatable is not, without meaning to be twee, the British way. This article doesn't have to be a litany of crimes, because that would not be a balanced viewpoint. It does have to be objective and honest though. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:10, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Firstly, I'd just like to point out some quotes from the article to those above who have suggested this article is unbalanced, or tiptoeing around issues. I'm not saying it mentions everything it should, but it does suggest to me that not everyone has read it in its entirety:

  • Until the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, Britain was responsible for the transportation of 3.5 million African slaves to the Americas, a third of all slaves transported across the Atlantic. For the transportees, harsh and unhygienic conditions on the slaving ships and poor diets meant that the average mortality rate during the middle passage was one in seven.
  • The borders drawn by the British to broadly partition India into Hindu and Muslim areas left tens of millions as minorities in the newly independent states of India and Pakistan. Millions of Muslims subsequently crossed from India to Pakistan and Hindus in the reverse direction, and violence between the two communities cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
  • British withdrawal from the southern and eastern parts of Africa was complicated by the region's white settler populations, particularly in Rhodesia where racial tensions had led Ian Smith, the Prime Minister, to a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the British Empire in 1965.
  • Several ongoing conflicts and disputes around the world can trace their origins to borders inherited by countries from the British Empire.
  • Tensions remain between the mainly British-descended populations of Canada, Australia and New Zealand and the indigenous minorities in those countries, and between settler minorities and indigenous majorities in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
  • British settlement of Ireland continues to leave its mark in the form of divided Catholic and Protestant communities.

Note these are factual statements, mentioned because they are relevant to a 400 year overview article like this one, and not simply and solely because they were negative, in order to add some perceived balance. Indeed, no judgement is cast, it is left up to the reader to decide whether they were bad. Again, I would not object to the addition of more statements like these ones, but only if they really are major enough to have had a non trivial impact. Otherwise, mention should be made in the subarticles. The most glaring ommission for me at the moment is a factual statement on the interaction between the settlers of America and the native population. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 01:18, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

Unfortunately, that isn't what NPOV means. It is neutral point of view - NOT "no point of view", as you seem to be suggesting. It isn't a requirement to let the reader make up their own minds based on dry factual statements, it's a requirement for the article to reflect what the prevailing historical consensus is on these issues. I think that some if not most of the statements you pick out above are the very definition of "tiptoeing round the issues", which is an excellent and apt phrase for what we have here. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:23, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
This is getting ridiculous, I find myself agreeing with Red Hat again. He points out the article is portraying the British Empire warsts'n'all with a coverage balanced for an overview article dealing with such a massive subject. How you can argue this doesn't reflect the prevailing historical consensus is beyond me, clearly it does. And no it does not tiptoe around the issues but brings them out into the open. Justin talk 12:35, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't think there's as much distance between the various positions as you seem to be saying - however, we could consider getting an external viewpoint (or ideally, several) from a disinterested party or parties? Badgerpatrol (talk) 14:10, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Mmm, not so, you dismissed Red Hat's comments as the very definition of "tiptoeing round the issues", which for the reasons outlined above seem to me as somewhat specious reasoning. Factual statements at a level appropriate to an overview article at relevant points seems, to me at least, an entirely reasonable approach. It brings issues out in the open and leads the interested reader to look at the more detailed articles. Justin talk 15:47, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Justin. WP:MORALIZE: "Let the facts speak for themselves and let the reader decide." The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:41, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Be careful with that last one. The genocide of the native Americans in North America was mostly post-independence; indeed the colonist's attitudes towards the natives were a major cause of the war. (Oddly I doubt this is mentioned in the article on the USA, but hey.) Wiki-Ed (talk) 09:53, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
Yes - it's true that, if anything, the Imperial attitude to the native populations was probably significantly more benevolent than that of the Americans. As for the Americana analogue (although I don't think it's a good comparison between this article on the Empire itself and the US article about a single country)- I actually think that United States deals with the issues regarding Native Americans, slavery and civil rights reasonably well in the short space they have available for a historical overview. But it doesn't really matter what happens to that article, it matters what happens to this one. An honest appraisal is always the best appraisal. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:23, 12 November 2008 (UTC)
"Probably significantly more benevolent" - by what measure? Forgetting for a moment that English colonists dispossessed Native Americans of land that had been theirs for centuries, do you call the actions of colonists towards the native population during King Philip's War or Bacon's Rebellion benevolent? The colonists in Carolina used Indians to enslave other Indians and went on slave raiding trips themselves to the Indians in Florida - is that benevolent? You see, already you're judging the relative "badness" of the Empire vs something else, you have chosen the yardstick of the United States. But why use that measure? Why not judge against the actions of the Indians themselves, or the French, the Portuguese, the Spanish? Or the Huns or the Romans or Imperial Japan for that matter? And indeed, given that the United States was a product of the British Empire - its population, after all, consisted of the people and the descendents of the people that actually did the colonising in the first place - whose fault were the crimes of the United States? If Britain - and its Empire - were absolved of the crimes of its American colonists because of independence, at what point did that transfer of blame occur in Australia? As I said, a total and utter can of worms. This can all be avoided by following WP:MORALIZE. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:41, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
"By what measure"? By the measure of my individual opinion. I should perhaps have made that clear - I thought I had? But as I'm sure you will agree, it doesn't matter what I think, because I'm not a historian and I haven't published any books on the subject, which is why I stated my opinion very briefly on this talk page, rather than in depth in the article proper. I think, with respect once again, that you are misreading NPOV policy slightly, and perhaps taking very small segments out of the context of the overall policy. In the context of the above much-discussed example - "The policy towards Australian aborigines was a genocide" = not appropriate. "The policy towards Australian aborigines has been described as constituting "genocide" [One major viewpoint:REF, REF], although scholarly opinion is divided over whether this term is apt [Contrasting major viewpoint:REF,REF] = totally appropriate. My reading of WP:MORALIZE (a tiny component of the much larger NPOV policy) is that it predicates against moralising, i.e. coming to definitive but subject moral judgements, i.e "The policy towards Australian aborigines has been described as constituting "genocide" [REF,REF], which was a really bad thing" (obviously a simplified example). That is, indeed, not the function of an encyclopaedia, and no-one is suggesting that we should do anything even remotely like that here. Badgerpatrol (talk) 05:52, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Right - but everyone will have "their worst crime" and you'll always find some author - whether British or a citizen of a colonised nation - who will judge the crime in and that WP:RS will become editor's' proxies. Moralizing via WP:RS proxy, if you will. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 11:08, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Fortunately, WP:NPOV is there to help us in that regard, in that only significant strands of thought need be mentioned - extreme minority views, whether we agree with them or not, do not have to be included. I think we have had quite a sensible, full and productive discussion here and I would urge any editor seeking to make major edits to the article to discuss them here first, as you yourself did following your initial removal of the famine paragraph, to your credit. Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:46, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Editingman here. The issues expressed here seem to be misplaced. I think that it should not matter if Britain's famine in India was frankly, even good or bad. It is just that it was very significant in the context of the section that I edited it in. So it should not be deleted on the basis that this article is not a critique of the empire, which would be unmanageable. According to B.M. Bhatia's "Famines in India: A study in Some Aspects of the Economic History of India with Special Reference to Food Problem"(1985), there were disproportionately more famines in British India than at any other time in its history.(The rate of famine was 25 times more) The fact that some of history's worst famines occurred during British rule is worth mentioning in at least the one sentence that I edited. How much the British administration is guilty is different. That they were ruling over and held responsible for, as a government, such an event is relevant. I only mentioned the agreed truth that the famine is often attributed to them, for right or wrong. We definitely do not want to have a separate section of positives and negatives of the empire as that encompasses too much. It is best if any sins of the Empire be mentioned in its appropriate section only if it is, just like any other fact, significant and important enough in its context. Can I incorporate the info back in again?Editingman (talk) 02:19, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
It should be in British Raj, not here - the article is too broad in its scope. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:45, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm finding it very difficult to understand this whole debate. It is very clear that the British Empire has been responsible for some pretty bad things over the years. The Australian example is a clear consequence of empire and the local australian government just carried on where the empire left off. Attempts to claim that the British Empire was somehow or other better than other empires are dubious. Deatils etc. belong in specific articles, but that has to be some references here if the article is not to be a whitewash. The obvious thing to do is to check by section to ensure that a sanitised view of Empire is not portrayed, equally that the article does not become a polemic against empire. --Snowded TALK 04:23, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
No, RH, it should be here. We have found significant room for the First World War (about 1.1 million casualties from Britain and Empire), the Second World War (about 4-500,000 thousand casualties from Britain and Empire) and the Irish wars (a few thousand casualties from Britain and Ireland, max). But we for some reason can't find a quarter or half that room for famines which killed millions of people? Are you saying that's not an important enough topic to include here? Surely not?
Again, I find myself agreeing with Snowded. I also am struggling to understand this debate at this stage, although again, I do get the sense that we are actually not particularly far apart - I think, to boil things down, Red Hat and others are worriedly envisaging some kind of radical restructuring of the article to a definitely subjective "anti-Imperial" moral stance. That is not what I have in mind, would not be appropriate for WIkipedia, and I doubt if it's what anybody else has in mind either. As I mention above, perhaps the opinion of an external dispassionate observer could be useful? Badgerpatrol (talk) 05:52, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I now totally see Red Hat point earlier made regarding negatives/positives of British Empire being made on this page. Judging by the way this discussion has so far gone. Also judging by the way future discussion will go that will never end and no doubt incur edit tiffs too. I now go back on my earlier comments and withdraw my support for a new section and maybe new additions to this British Empire page. Also point to Red Hats earlier stand that negatives are already mentioned and maybe expanded.--Rockybiggs (talk) 09:30, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Expanding the negative aspects and putting the various debates and points of view into a proper scholarly context is all anybody is actually talking about, Rocky. So it looks like we're all in agreement after all? Badgerpatrol (talk) 10:43, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

I sincerely hope we can avoid a new section. Perhaps we can begin by listing some ommissions here that we propose to add inline, and then we decide what is or is not appropriate for this B.E. article? The criteria should, I believe, be that the events had a significant causal impact on the direction of the empire, not their level of awfulness as a crime. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 10:57, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Certainly we should not engage in 'Empire-bashing'. Balance is what we need. I think there is a general consensus that a balance of perspectives is what we need.--Gazzster (talk) 11:06, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
As I say above, and as Gazzster outlines above, I really think that there is not a great deal of distance between our various positions. I don't see a logical basis for your criterion above, and I'm not sure I agree with it, but I will hold off on a full commentary until I see exactly what sort of things you would dismiss on the basis of your suggested measure of relevance. Currently, the word "famine" appears nowhere in the article, from what I can see. The word "Aborigine" appears nowhere in the article. The word "Amritsar" appears nowhere in the article. The words "race" "racial" or "racist" occurs once, in a discussion on Zimbabwe. I want to stress that these are initial thoughts, and everything is up for reasonable discussion. But those aspects at least deserve mention, regardless of what impact they had on the direction of the Empire (in my view, they all did have a significant impact anyway). Badgerpatrol (talk) 11:46, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Please go-ahead with your proposed additions. For Indian related material, i feel User:Fowler&fowler should be invited to write these sections, as he has written most of the inidan related articles (not just empire related) and i would consider expert status for this subject.--Rockybiggs (talk) 11:57, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
Mention of the Amritsar Massacre will be slightly complicated by the fact that a group of editors managed to move it to a name that is somewhat obscure in the English Language. But thats just an aside, what do you actually want included in the article and where, bearing in mind it is intended to be an overview article and its already rather large? A new section isn't warranted but as people have already indidcated additional inline comments would be appropriate. You keep saying its not balanced but offer no concrete suggestions for improvement. To be blunt what do you want to do? Justin talk 12:18, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
"Amritsar massacre" redirects here, so I'm not sure what you think the problem will be in that regard... I think I have already outlined the sorts of issues that should be addressed, and the sorts of language that ought to be used (although I am only one contributor to this discussion, and others will also have their own thoughts). I'll make some edits tonight and these can be discussed/reverted/adjusted as per the consensus, as is the Wikipedia way. I agree that there is no consensus for a separate section. Badgerpatrol (talk) 12:31, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
My point was not a major one, the incident is known in the English Language as the Amritsar Massacre but for various reasons it was moved unilaterally to its present location, then never returned. Thus a link on this page would direct it to an unfamiliar name. Rather than editing the article, wouldn't it be better to propose changes here first? Justin talk 12:52, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
No. I think that much of the heat and light in this discussion has perhaps been due to the fact that some participants are envisioning much more major changes than I think are actually being proposed. It has been discussed in reasonable depth I think what kind of topics should be addressed, and what sort of language should be used. It would be better to actually edit the article now, so that people can see some of these changes in context and decide whether or not they want them. If the changes do not have consensus once the edits are made, then everyone is free to rewrite them/remove them/amend them, and we can then discuss them iteratively once again as required. Text here, in isolation, would I think be misleading at this point. Badgerpatrol (talk) 13:55, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
No I disagree, you say there is heat and light then suggest the best way to resolve it is to dive straight in and edit the article? Sounds like a reciped for an edit war to me, particularly when there is an effort to get the article back to GA status. The best way to do this would be to suggest edits and achieve consensus prior to editing them in. Justin talk 14:07, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

We may have vehemently disagreed in the past, but on this matter Justin and I seem to be firmly in agreement on everything. Why don't we work on getting the article in a state to be renominated for GA, see what the GA reviewer says (preliminary review suggested the article had "fair representation without bias", BTW [4]), see how much of a problem it is perceived to be by "outsiders", and then deal it? (I still find it sad that the people here shouting for neutrality, or this or that map/flag, are nowhere to be seen when help is needed fixing the more mundane matters.) The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 01:22, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm... mention the GA work and everyone scarpers like a bunch of schoolkids discovered smoking behind the bike sheds by the headmaster. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 23:28, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Well as I said earlier, you'd have a willing helper but... Justin talk 23:34, 14 November 2008 (UTC)


Pat you have a real ownership problem with this article. You added some good material on Ireland but removed the Easter Rising and removed key material. Maybe the troubles bit is elsewhere and could go but you don't decide what is right or wrong in this article. I restored the prior position (with some of your amendments) on one point in what were otherwise a good series of edits. Just reversing those edits demonstrates the ownership issue. --Snowded TALK 20:25, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Wiki-Ed had already raised the matter of the length of this section above ("the Irish Free State is far too detailed - larger than the equivalent section on the independence of India/Pakistan"). This is not me acting unilaterally. Oh, and please don't confuse the amount of my personal time (which by now frankly stretches into man-weeks) I have devoted to improving this article with me thinking that I own it. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 20:42, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Look I more than most respect the time you put into this but you really do have to live with other editors getting involved and not just revert them the minute they disagree with you. Removing the section heading on the Irish Free statement makes sense, but not the Easter Rising and some of the detail on the composition of Northern Ireland. I will attempt to reduce the size a bit now, but please try and remember that this is a co-operative enterprise. --Snowded TALK 20:46, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
I readded this bit [5], as you had removed mention of the creation of the IFS and of its relationship with Britain (this is an article on the British Empire, not Irish history...) The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 20:59, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
Good point, I was originally restoring the religious split (four Protestant, two Catholic) however I think that is probably not essential in this article as it is covered elsewhere and the main constitutional aspects are covered. --Snowded TALK 21:03, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
OK. Anyway, I should take a cup of WP:TEA. Too long editing = increased levels of stress and aggression. Apologies. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 21:07, 15 November 2008 (UTC)
I plan a glass of malt rather than tea - no need to apologise we got there. --Snowded TALK 21:09, 15 November 2008 (UTC)

Okay. I see two problems here: (1) "Ownership" - Red Hat makes a lot edits. These are generally positive, but it does put off other editors because whatever they add gets immediately reverted/rewritten. Hence the lack of interest from others. (2) I did indeed say that the section on the Irish Free state is too large. It still is. A huge number of things happened in the world during this period; economic, social and political changes had a significant effect on the Empire and, indeed, the wider world. And yet for some reason a third of this section is taken up by Ireland. The inter war section needs to bridge the gap between World War 1 and World War 2. It needs to explain:

  • How burgeoning nationalism changed relationships within the empire (it does this already) on one hand, and encouraged fascism/militarism/racism in the Axis powers on the other.
  • How the economic slump further weakened the empire relative to other powers and the US/British isolationism encouraged expansionist plans in the Axis powers.
  • How political relationships and the failure of the League led the way to war.

It is impossible to re-write the WW2 section (which needs doing) unless it is supported by a focused inter-war section, but I know what will happen if I start tinkering with it. Wiki-Ed (talk) 00:26, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Wiki-Ed - please do go ahead. I apologise if I put you off. I think your suggestions are good ones. Just please add references as you go and I promise I will restrain my inner tinkerer. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 01:34, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
I think the Irish section is not too far off what it needs to be, and its important during that period in history. I think the issue here is to build up the other sections a bit to get the balance right. The subjects Wiki-Ed suggests make sense although there are some minefields there. For example, was Nationalism purely a reaction to Empire (reflecting back Imperial values) of something more profound?. Overall articles like this need editors like Pat and despite three run ins with him in general we have ended up with better results at the end. --Snowded TALK 06:06, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
The Irish section might be important in Irish history, but it is not so relevant for an article on the whole history of the British Empire (that is, it does not require such a large proportion of a given section). Nationalism is tricky, but it is only one element of several that need to be raised. I will try and draft something. With references (TM). Wiki-Ed (talk) 11:35, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Well that is a point of view. It was as important as any other rebellion, in a sense more so as it was a part of the "United" Kingdom. Overall its about balance so lets see what you come up with. --Snowded TALK 11:40, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Loyalists, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

I'm getting the hint that I'm being too overbearing here - so I'm raising this issue here first rather than rewording it myself. The following statement has been added to the article, without a supporting reference: "The Loyalists were unwelcome in Nova Scotia, so in 1784 London created the colony of New Brunswick..." I do not believe this to be correct. The Loyalists settled part of Nova Scotia, and pressed for their own government, so that part of Nova Scotia was broken off as New Brunswick. Supporting references as follows:

  • From the New Brunswick entry of the Historical Dictionary of the British Empire (see Olson ref in the article), "Between the 1760s and 1784, the New Brunswick area was administered by the British as part of Nova Scotia. British settlement of the area began slowly in the 1760s, but, after the American Revolution, approximately 14,000 loyalists moved into the (area) and established the town of Saint John. The new arrivals felt that the distance to Halifax, Nova Scotia, was too great for effective government, so they petitioned for their own administration. In 1784 the British government separated the area from Nova Scotia and named it New Brunswick".
  • In Canada and the British Empire p44 (see ref section) "Continuing controversy between Loyalist newcomers and the government of Nova Scotia resulted in the creation of New Brunswick as a distinct and separate colony..."
  • On the Halifax Gov website [6] "Discontentment with the government in Halifax led to the establishment of the areas north of the Bay of Fundy as the new Province of New Brunswick in 1784."

So this needs to be corrected - the current wording suggests that the loyalists were ejected from Nova Scotia - and then supporting references added. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:37, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Agree with the above - on a related issue, the section on the war of 1812 is written as if it was the fault of the British. Now they were at fault, but the US also had ambitions to extend north if I remember my reading aright. --Snowded TALK 06:08, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
re New Brunswick, the source (Oxford Companion to canadian History) says: "The 14,000 or so who had landed at the Saint John River [in Nova Scotia] felt particularly aggrieved and isolated from the halls of government in Halifax [Halifax was the capital of Nova Scotia]." and our text reads "The Loyalists were unwelcome in Nova Scotia" which seems to say the same thing. re the war of 1812 our text says "both sides tried to make major gains at the other's expense" which does reference both US ambitions to take over Canada and British ambitions to take over the Louisiana Purchase and Maine. There is only so much we can squeeze in a sentence, but the topics are fully covered in War of 1812. Rjensen (talk) 08:34, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
On 1812, you are correct to say that sentence you quote is balanced, but before that we have "as Britain tried to cut off American trade with France, and boarded American ships to impress into the Royal Navy men of British birth" with no reference to any US provocation or intent. Its not balanced to say that both attempted to exploit the way, but imply that only one provoked it! --Snowded TALK 08:55, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
well I suppose we could say the US Navy seized hundreds of British merchant ships, kidnapped 6,000 British sailors for service in the US Navy, and supplied arms to Indians fighting against the British in Canada. But actually it was just the reverse. Which British grievances should we mention? Rjensen (talk) 09:43, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Ah sarcasm, how useful. The sentence quoted above represents the formal reasons given by the US government for declaring war. It does not represent issues around the Napolionic War and American expansionism (although I realise that is controversial between US and Canadian historians) which are covered in a more reasonable way in Origins of the War of 1812. The statement as it stands is devoid of context and might be better as a pipelink.--Snowded TALK 10:11, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Any suggestion that the British were outraged at expansionism is pretty unlikely--they were very busy building their Empire, after all, as this article makes clear. (the expansion plans of US and GB were war plans, not causes of the war, Latimer makes clear) The British, Latimer says had only one goal: "Britain's sole objective throughout the period was the defeat of France." (p.8) If America helped France then America had to be damaged until it stopped, or as Latimer says, "Britain was prepared to go to any lengths to deny neutral trade with France." and "All this British activity seriously angered Americans." Rjensen (talk) 10:29, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
No disagreement with any of those statements and the war of 1812 was a minor issue which was exacerbated by communication and other issues. I make no suggestion that the British were outraged at expansionism (your phrases) but rather than expansionism was at least in part a motivation for the US. Even if we ignore that the current sentence is devoid of the Napolionic context. Please address the issue I am raising rather than the issue you think I might. --Snowded TALK 10:39, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
The issue you raised was, what were the American provocations or British grievances. American expansionism was not a grievance the British had. London only wanted to stop France and they were angry that the US was helping France. (Actually, the US was on the verge of war with France too--the British misunderstood what was happening.) The business about US capturing Canada was for three reasons: cut off food supplies to the British West Indies (Stagg's argument); get a negotiating club at the peace treaty; stop the Indian raids being led by Tecumseh and his allies. The US had plenty of land but the Brits were blocking expansion into Ohio, Indiana, Illinois by arming the hostile Indians there. Rjensen (talk) 10:55, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
The issue I raised was the the phrase is a bit one sided, representing only the declared US reasons for war. That's all. I didn't use the words provocation or grievance. As it is you summarise my point wee above. It was confusing and there were errors on both sides in respect of understanding the intention and purpose of the other, and there were reasons why both parties were prepared to risk and engage in war which were not a simple matter of one side (the US) being provoked by the other (GB). I think this only needs a minor edit with a pipelink. Oh and just for the record, arming hostile native americans might have to go down on the "good" side of the British Empire's ledger.  :-) --Snowded TALK 11:12, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Rjensen, no your wording does not say the same thing as the sources. It gives the impression that the "unwelcomeness" was one-sided, that the Nova Scotians did not want the Loyalists there, when in actual fact, it was the Loyalists that were pressing for their own government. It also suggests they first moved to Nova Scotia, and then 14,000 moved to the newly created colony of New Brunswick, again wrong (they moved to Nove Scotia, they did not move again, their area of settlement became New Brunswick).The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 14:32, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the recent edits Patrtick, they satisfy my need for context. --Snowded TALK 18:06, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
The unwelcomeness of Loyalists in Nova Scotia was two-sided. As Hallowell (2004) explains on p. 369, "Influential and articulate Loyalists, such as Harvard-educated Edward Winslow , believed that as the natural leaders of their communities they should be recognized for their rank and that their loyalty deserved special compensation. Fifty-five ‘of the most respectable’ merchants and professionals therefore petitioned for 5,000-acre grants each. Resistance from ‘ordinary’ Loyalists and authorities in Halifax encouraged Winslow to press for the creation of a Loyalist colony—an asylum that could become ‘the envy of the American states’. In 1784 Nova Scotia was partitioned." Colonel Thomas Dundas wrote from Saint John, New Brunswick in 1786 that ""They [the loyalists] have experienced every possible injury from the old inhabitants of Nova Scotia." (quoted in S.D. Clark, Movements of Political Protest in Canada, 1640–1840, (1959), pp. 150-51) Rjensen (talk) 02:59, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Reference citation style - please stick to the convention

Please, everyone, when adding references, stick to the convention used. The GA review brought up the fact that the references need to have a standard style. So, I spent the better part of an hour methodically going through and correcting this - probably the most boring and painful hour of my life. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 14:29, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Indian Famines

Story in the Penny Illustrated, London, reporting Queen Victoria's donation in aid of the Bengal famine of 1874. Although there was great mortality in other famines in 19th-century India, the relief efforts organized in 1874 by Sir Richard Temple were successful and mortality was avoided. The Queen is referred to as "Empress of India" two years before she formally added the title.
A number of famines occurred in 19th-century India during the British Raj; all were preceded by El Niño-driven droughts. The Great Famine of 1876–78, which began in the same year Queen Victoria was crowned Empress of India, was one of the most devastating. A contemporary print shows the distribution of relief in Bellary, Madras Presidency. (Illustrated London News, 1877)

The Cambridge Illustrated History of the British Empire discusses the subject of famines in a very balanced way. page 132 We don't need to resort to authors putting the British on the same level as Nazi Germany for references here. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 17:42, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

I've been asked by User:The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick to add a few sentences on the famines in 19th century India. I will come up with the two sentences later, but my first thought was, "Why not refer to the famines in the caption of an illustration. So, here are two candidates (images appended on the left and right). The most obvious place for them would be as replacement for the Queen being offered the Crown (Tenniel's "Alladin" cartoon). The illustration on the left is not the clearest, but it really gives you a feeling for how things were reported in an inexpensive weekly paper. Please let me know what you think. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:51, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
The Cambridge History is a good reference. Thanks for reminding me about it. I had seen it a while ago, but then completely forgot about it. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:59, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Sorry I jumped the gun there. My reading of P J Marhsall's work (and, he is (was?) Emeritus Professor of Imperial History at the University of London, so his account should be given a lot of weight) is (a) famines happened before the British arrived (b) yes, the EIC did not shoulder its responsibilities as the administrative power (c) the British Raj, however, was actively putting into place policies to prevent famines, so - to the chap that repeatedly adds this Holocaust reference stuff - I find it difficult to see how it caused the famines. Anyway, Fowler&fowler, I look forward to your two sentences, if you feel the ones I added should be reworded. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 18:03, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
ps I think those image captions contain too much information compressed in there. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 18:05, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
No, your sentences are fine. Marshall, though, is the editor. Here is the correct reference:
Oops.  :-) The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 19:28, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

Pacific section

I don't have time right now except to note the absence of information on the Columbia District, VI/BC/QCI colonies, the British bases in Chile and Peru, the protectorate on Hawaii, the naval disaster/fiasco at Petropavlovsk etc.....the Pacific Station, the near-wars re teh Oregon, San Juan and Alaska disputes etc etcSkookum1 (talk) 17:49, 16 November 2008 (UTC)

There are many events this article does not cover. It is a four hundred year overview. Attempting to mention everything would just lead to an utter rambling mess (like Spanish Empire, in fact), with bitty paragraphs. (Mummy, I want bitty!) The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 19:33, 16 November 2008 (UTC)
Make your mind up. The whole article is infested with bitty paragraphs. I've tried to avoid this in the (inter-war) section and you've left a message on my talk page criticising the use of conjunctive sentences that link paragraphs. Due to the nature of the topic the article should use a narrative style and flow neatly, but instead it jumps around in a very disjointed fashion. I think this is at least partly due to the insistence on referenced snippets, which works against a narrative structure. Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:59, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
I'd be mightily impressed if you can interconnect 400 years of history. It involves more than beginning each paragraph with the words "also", you know. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 11:16, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

On the maps the territory of New France (Quebec) is part of the british empire, I guess its an error since quebec has always been a french territory yes? Maybe it could be corrected? —Preceding unsigned comment added by I am Mike-e (talkcontribs) 21:40, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

If you read the article you'll find out the answer. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 00:19, 20 November 2008 (UTC)
FYI, perhaps if you didn't insist on limiting the amount of content in the article in essence making it informationally-anorexic by taking away the supporting content of certain points then just maybe there wouldnt be so many of these "bitty paragraphs" that seem to "infest" the article? Just a suggestion. Taifarious1 11:36, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
As I've repeatedly said here, the British Empire stretched across six continents and four hundred years. If everyone padded out their favourite bit or area of expertise then we would have an article that was too long. The Treaty of Waitingi and New Zealand are linked to - there is no need to go into massive amounts of detail on the history of either - that is what the links are there for. And to anyone who thinks this article is bitty, try reading the Encarta British Empire article The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 11:57, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
Oh yes. God forbid an encyclopaedia has TOO MUCH information and as you say the "British Empire stretched across six continents and four hundred years" then should that not warrant it a lengthier-than-normal article? Taifarious1 12:01, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I'm not saying that the encyclopaedia has too much information. I am saying that the ARTICLE has too much information. Why not put everything in one huge article entitled "The Universe"? The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 12:02, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
Times like this I wish the world had more thinkers like you, people who subtilize to support an arguement. Don't be silly, although following your logic, if I did mean the encyclopaedia when saying it had too much information, would that not include the articles contained within said encyclopaedia?? Do you see how annoying that is. And if there was one big article about the 'Universe' there would be no need for links, unless the article itself was just links and no information, much like this article. And yet you don't like people putting in information because it takes up space, even if there were links in that information?? Hmmm. . . ? Taifarious1 12:13, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
And in case you hadn't noticed, when you edit the article, it tells you at the top "This page is 87 kilobytes long. It may be appropriate to split this article into smaller, more specific articles. " The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 12:06, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
Whilst i do think some things should be gone into in a bit more detail (British Empire and the slave trade for example) i agree with RedHat that it is impossible to go into huge detail about everything that happened in a history of 400 years of empire. Far better to try and include all the major points with links to separate pages which deal with the detail than flood the page with a huge essay of information. Although i dont agree the page should be split up any more. BritishWatcher (talk) 12:10, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
BTW, what I went into was hardly 'huge detail'. Taifarious1 12:16, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

Woah guys. Calm down a bit. I left a message on User:Taifarious1's talk page before the revert asking if he would shorten it so that the coverage is proportionate. If we gave as much coverage to all the other countries/periods then the article would become VERY long (at least 20 times its current length I reckon). However, reverting it to snippets is not the answer either. Compromise required. Wiki-Ed (talk) 13:41, 21 November 2008 (UTC)

It was not a wholesale revert, and I'm not sure who you think needs to calm down, but I am feeling as calm as can be. This edit [7] doesn't sit well if you read it carefully. This edit remains [8] (even though, in my opinion, the number of signing chiefs is not really relevant). The rest is far too much examination in detail of the treaty and subsequent land confiscations. The British Empire was a four hundred year exercise in taking land from other people - that's what empires are about. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 15:19, 21 November 2008 (UTC)
I too was calm, perhaps a little snippy but not ill-tempered. And I can agree that perhaps there was a bit too much detail added but not so much that 90% of it had to be removed, I think that the part about the French establishing a colony in 1840 in NZ is important and should be in the article. The French colonisation of North America is mentioned throughout the article, there is little difference between that and the aforementioned. My intention was to mention things like that, but it seems a was a little excessive in my efforts. But I at least think a compromise could be reached, because I think the pacific section is still seriously lacking. Taifarious1 21:50, 21 November 2008 (UTC)


I am getting really fed up of Red Hat's ownership issues on this page. We have already discussed and agreed changes to the section on Ireland, and now it is arbitrarily changed and reversal results in abuse on my talk page. The elimination of the Lloyd George quote removes substantial context and should stay. OK the minor changes on India make sense but the real issue here is ownership. --Snowded TALK 15:09, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Just to make my position clear on the content. I think the introduction can be shortened, but the lloyd George quote should be retained. I accept the changes to the Indian section. I think the Irish section should stay as per the agreement reached only a few days ago. --Snowded TALK 15:17, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

So you simply revert the entirety within seconds? This is unacceptable. You have no more right to decide what should stay than I have, and if you can't deal with my being a major contributor to this article, then I'm sorry but I'm not going to stop because you don't like it. Had I not devoted hours of my personal time to this article, it would still be the piece of s__t that it used to be a couple of years ago (look in the edit history). If all everyone did was revert, like you seem to do, WP would go nowhere. Edits are not set in stone, and you have no more right to decide what should stay than I have.

Now, to examine some of the language added recently:

  • "The end of the war brought peace" - this is a tautology, and therefore adds no value.
  • "...and opened up the threat of political revolt." - who against whom?
  • "Contemporary politicians like David Lloyd George noted that the “whole existing order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned” - more than one politician said this exact quote, did they? Or just Lloyd George? Obviously the latter, so it's incorrect language.
  • "This was the last phase of empire-building, but some had already begun to question their status within the empire." - who, how, why, what status? You can't just throw statements out like this without context.
  • "The incorporation of new territory was accompanied by a bid for independence in the oldest territory." - what value does that add?

I could go on, but I'm not going to. The problem is that the language here is more akin to Ferguson's and James's (notably, the works used as references), but the style of these books is not appropriate at an encyclopaedia. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 15:27, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

The vast majority of your edits go un-reverted so please try not to be paranoid. I dare to revert you and you issue intimidatory (and inaccurate) warnings on my talk page and accuse my trying to make the article into a "piece of s..t". As you say I have no more right to edit the page than you do. Try and apply that rule to yourself. You make a change I disagree, it goes back to the original until we (and other editors agree). You are aware of that basic aspect of WIkipedia? Just look at your language "large amounts of my personal time", "major editor". Can't you see the ownership issues?
Now to the edits. I am not going to repeat the arguments on Ireland - we discussed and reached agreement on that only a few days ago. I think that should be unchanged. Given the role of Lloyd George in WWI (he was British remember) and the consequences of WWI, the settlement etc. then quoting him makes a lot of sense and the quote is a good one. Other changes to that first paragraph and to India seem to me reasonable. If you made specific edits separately it would be much easier to amend individual aspects but its all or nothing with you, and your reaction excessive.
Now as I have said before I have a lot of respect for the work you do (although not for the way you treat other editors). How about a deal - you respect recent agreements (like Ireland), you make changes to sections as separate edits. I will agree to attempt to amend text if I disagree rather than revert, or if I think reversion is necessary suggest it (other than in extreme cases) on the talk page first. --Snowded TALK 15:41, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Please list the key Ireland aspects that you allege were removed here. I rather think that you did not read the edit at all, and simply jumped on the revert button. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 15:42, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
(edit conflict) :: PS, your restoration of some edits is perfectly acceptable. Thank you for responding to my points. --Snowded TALK 15:44, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Again, you accused me of going against the consensus on Ireland. So please list what I supposedly removed, for I fail to see it. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 15:49, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Your words

The outbreak of World War I had delayed the implementation of home rule in Ireland, leading to the 1916 Easter Rising. In 1919 members of Sinn Féin, a pro-Irish independence party that had won a majority of the Irish seats at Westminster in the 1918 British general election, established an Irish assembly in Dublin, and declared Ireland an independent republic. The Irish Republican Army simultaneously began a guerilla war against the British administration.[1] The Anglo-Irish War ended in 1921 with a stalemate and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Original words

The incorporation of new territory was accompanied by a bid for independence in the oldest territory. Following the delay to the implementation of Irish home rule and the 1916 Easter Rising, Sinn Féin won a majority of the Irish seats at Westminster in the 1918 British general election. The subsequent declaration of independence and the Anglo-Irish War ended in 1921 with a stalemate and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. The twenty six counties of the south were formed into the Irish Free State, a Dominion within the British Empire, with effective internal independence but still constitutionally linked with the British Crown,[2] whilst the six counties of the province of Northern Ireland which had been established in 1920[3] remained a part of the United Kingdom.

See the difference? I do like your first phrase however so have made that as an edit --Snowded TALK 15:54, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Oops. My removal of the sentence "The twenty six counties of the south were formed into the Irish Free State, a Dominion within the British Empire, with effective internal independence but still constitutionally linked with the British Crown, whilst the six counties of the province of Northern Ireland which had been established in 1920 remained a part of the United Kingdom." was a mistake. Those were actually my words in the first place [9]. You see, you could have just readded material that you thought should not have been removed instead of assuming bad faith and wholesale reverting, and we would not have got into this little war of accusations and reverts! The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 16:04, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
That's not the only difference Red Hat, and as I say smaller edits would have made it easier. Either way hopefully we have now got somewhere we agree? Are you on for the deal suggested above? --Snowded TALK 16:09, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
The deal sounds fine, but please note I never accused you of trying to make this article a P.O.S. - as you will see if you read my comments carefully. Also, that mistakenly removed sentence aside, I fail to see what information I removed from Ireland. If anything, I was readding material and a reference that was removed: the fact that an assembly was declared, the background to who Sinn Fein were/are, and mention of the IRA.
I still think that "my" version is better, because it adds context. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 16:24, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
I already put one aspect of it in (the first sentence). Look its midnight here in Singapore (I am away from the UK at the moment and I am tired and suffering from flu which may account of some of my irritation). I'll look at the two versions in the morning and attempt a synthesis (without increasing length). OK? --Snowded TALK 16:29, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

Try Project British Empire

Hiya folks. Next time, bring your disputes to the corresponding WikiProject. Perhaps, we can help break future logjams. GoodDay (talk) 16:35, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

If you check GoodDay, its resolved --Snowded TALK 00:41, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Already noted (thus the line time...). GoodDay (talk) 00:45, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Disputes on content belong on the talk page GoodDay, the project is for wider issues --Snowded TALK 00:53, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I just meant, Project members (if notified) may help break any future logjams (except me). GoodDay (talk) 00:58, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
I think in this context such a move would have been seen as provocative. The dispute lasted about half an hour and was resolved. If it had gone on for a day or so and other editors had not engaged, then it might be a option, --Snowded TALK 01:02, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
If future disputes occur under those circumstances (which you've pointed out). Don't hesitate to call. GoodDay (talk) 01:05, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
And who do we turn to when we have a dispute about whether we have a dispute? :-) The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:33, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Mediation routes. GoodDay (talk) 14:23, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Inter-War Period Problems

I have the following problems with the inter-war period section.

The conflict during World War I undermined the pre-1914 economic stability, created a generation of disillusioned veterans and opened up the threat of political revolt. David Lloyd George noted that the “whole existing order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned” and doubts about the empire began to grow in Britain itself.

This paragraph just throws too much out there. The economic stability of what - the world, the BE, Europe? And what is "economic" stability, as opposed to any other kind of stability? Political revolt by who against whom? What was the relevance of DLG's comment to the British Empire per se? If we are going to quote something, it should be specifically about the BE (compare vs the Suez quotes). What were these doubts that grew? This paragraph should really only briefly discuss changing attitudes to the empire caused by WWI.

British hegemony was also weakened at sea. The Royal Navy ended the war with almost as many capital ships as all the other navies combined, but this soon changed with the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. Despite the signing of the Four-Power Treaty, a new balance of power was created in the Far East as Britain accepted naval parity with the United States, terminating the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance and allowing Japan to develop a substantial fleet of its own.

Aside from the needless injection of "also", again here, the emphasis is wrong. At this time, it was becoming apparent to the British that they could not possibly defend the entirety of their global empire at once. They had in fact relied on Japan's navy in the Pacific during WWI, and then had to play a balancing act between the USA and Japan in subsequent decades. The strength of the empire was really an illusion that could come crashing down as soon as it was challenged (as it was in WW2). This paragraph should concentrate on this matter. It is discussed extensively in chapter 11 of [10].

The balance of power also changed in Europe. The war had generated huge debts and it proved impossible to reintroduce the gold standard. This and other factors led to the Great Depression of 1929. Although the effects were comparatively mild in Britain, some parts of the empire were badly affected. The British came to rely more on the markets of the empire, tightening economic bonds even as political ties were weakened. In Europe, however, the economic downturn was generally severe and helped right-wing political parties to power. Militaristic expansionism in Germany and Italy threatened the status quo, but in Britain defence spending did not become a high priority until the Second World War was clearly visible on the horizon.

Another "also". But again, this paragraph does not relate matters directly to the British Empire. So what about the Gold Standard - what did that mean as far as the BE was concerned? The Great Depression affected the whole world, but what did it change specifically about the BE? "tightening economic bonds even as political ties were weakened." - for the dominions, yes, but for a lot of the empire, there was no such weakening of political ties at this point. And what was this "status quo" that was disturbed by Germany and Italy?

In summary: the new version of this section attempts to bite off more than it is possible to chew, and rectifying that was the reason for my edits today.

The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 17:22, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

I wondered how long it would take. Frankly it just sounds like you don't like it.

*The economic stability of what - the world, the BE, Europe?

  • Presumably Keynes meant all of them. They are interconnected after all.

And what is "economic" stability, as opposed to any other kind of stability?

  • Well I'm sure I have my opinions and you have yours, but this is just taken in context from a source. Interrogate the source.

Political revolt by who against whom?

  • The "existing order" mentioned in the subsequent sentence.

What was the relevance of DLG's comment to the British Empire per se? If we are going to quote something, it should be specifically about the BE (compare vs the Suez quotes).

  • Says who? Whether this quote refers directly to Britain, its Empire or the wider world is not relevant. It is accurate for each of them. In any case I suspect your criticism is anachronistic. He would have understood the "existing order" to mean the post-Congress of Vienna political balance of power and the established social order. This section is discussing how that all changed (this is why it is a good quote).

What were these doubts that grew? This paragraph should really only briefly discuss changing attitudes to the empire caused by WWI.

  • Says who? And I would humbly suggest that one sentence is fairly brief.

Aside from the needless injection of "also"

  • "Also" connects us to the previous paragraph, which was talking about hegemony, and tells the reader that we are continuing on a similar theme, thus reducing the need to start again and create one of those nasty bitty paragraphs found elsewhere.

the emphasis is wrong. At this time, it was becoming apparent to the British that they could not possibly defend the entirety of their global empire at once.

  • No that's not right. It never could have been and I don't think I've read anything suggesting anyone ever thought otherwise. Imperial defence strategy relied on having a navy that was more powerful than the next two nations' navies combined. That does not mean that it could have succesfully defended itself against two powerful contemporary empires in 1839-1845, any more so than in 1939-1945.

They had in fact relied on Japan's navy in the Pacific during WWI, and then had to play a balancing act between the USA and Japan in subsequent decades. The strength of the empire was really an illusion that could come crashing down as soon as it was challenged (as it was in WW2).

  • I think you mean "seriously challenged". It had been challenged many times, but not by an equally powerful naval nation since Trafalgar.

This paragraph should concentrate on this matter. It is discussed extensively...

  • Yes. An extensive topic certainly, but not one that needs to be discussed here. We are trying to explain how the Royal Navy was no longer pre-dominant without going into huge amounts of detail about comparative naval strengths and strategies. How the illusion came crashing down belongs in the next section, which I have not yet started on.

Another "also".

  • Yes. We were talking about changes to the balance of power in the previous paragraph.

But again, this paragraph does not relate matters directly to the British Empire.So what about the Gold Standard - what did that mean as far as the BE was concerned? The Great Depression affected the whole world, but what did it change specifically about the BE?

  • The Empire did not exist in isolation. As before, the emphasis is on explaining ongoing changes without getting bogged down in tangential detail.

"tightening economic bonds even as political ties were weakened." - for the dominions, yes, but for a lot of the empire, there was no such weakening of political ties at this point.

  • India, the "jewel in the crown", was not a dominion, neither was Egypt, but ties were weakened in both of them. I daresay there was no change in Pitcairn Island or Tuvalu, so yes, I hold my hands up and admit that I was generalising, but I figured we could skip over that.

And what was this "status quo" that was disturbed by Germany and Italy?

  • That would be the "existing order" mentioned in the first paragraph.

In summary: the new version of this section attempts to bite off more than it is possible to chew, and rectifying that was the reason for my edits today.

That you don't like the language and replace supposed tautology with phrases like "the conflict in World War I" is simply hypocritical. Where there are small grammatical errors feel free to correct them, but that does not mean rewriting whole chunks of the article under the pretext that the you don't like the style (incidentally it's my own and not Olson/Ferguson/Lloyd with the words mixed up). Also, I realise you like the bitty self contained paragraphs, but (since I don't) I often end a paragraph with a hook to the next, or start one with a hook to the previous paragraph - and that's where you find the context. Recently this article has become very segemented, based around citations rather than history. These "bits" might have a reference, but they are not connected and with no narrative the article starts to contradict itself. Finding a quote that says the UK had become an "American satellite" does not mean that it was, and later paragraphs clearly illustrate the nonsense. History studies cause and effect; events do not happen in isolation and the sections of this article should flow. Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:22, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
First, don't take this personally. Second, if everyone levelled the "I don't like it" accusation in a disagreement, then we'd never get anywhere. You don't like my style. I don't like your style. So both of us "don't like it", but we're going to have to figure out a compromise. Submitting the article for GA review would have been a good step in that direction, but you didn't want to. Third, you may want to read more widely than the two books you have read on the subject. I have already pointed you to a whole paper (that chapter 11 reference) which discusses the matter of Britain's inability to defend the global empire. I will post relevant quotes here soon to show what I mean. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 21:35, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
  • In William Roger Louis's Ends of British Imperialism p.303 - "To (Sir Warren) Fisher's...mind, there was one obvious and imperative truth about the defence of the British Empire. It surpassed all others; it recurred in his writings. 'We cannot simultaneously fight Japan and the strongest European naval power' Fisher the stakes could not have been higher or the issues clearer. Britain's survival against Germany depended on a benevolent or at least neutral Japan. With an insight that proved to be historically accurate, he saw that the British Empire could not survive an onslaught in Asia while fighting for survival in Europe and the Middle East." If this was so "obvious", why is the author pointing out Fisher's views? Later: "Neville Fisher..recognized...that Britain could never be adequately prepared to wage war simultaneously in Asia and Europe...Chamberlain believed that trouble with Germany would come, and that Japanese friendship might determine the future of not only Great Britain but the whole of the British Empire." Later, "The collapse of British power in the Far East ended an era in which the political influence of the British had outlived thei military strength. 'We lived on bluff from 1920-1939', Sir Alexander Cadogan wrote in July 1940, 'but it was eventually called'. Though a few perceptive observers had been uneasily aware of the discrepancy between British power and British pretension, most people in Britain, not least Churchill, believed that the prestige of the British Empire still counted as an intangible and powerful force in Asia. The word 'prestige', as Sir John Brenan once pointed out, is an abused word. In its contemporary usage it meant, in his phrase, 'respect inspired by military strength'. The sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse, along with the fall of Singapore, brought an end to the illusion of both the power and the prestige of the British Empire in the Far East."
  • In Brandon's Decline and Fall of the British Empire, p.334, in a chapter entitled "Englishmen Like Posing as Gods", after describing the mighty picture that Britain liked to portray of its empire following WWI, Brandon says " was propaganda. It was an emblem of the endeavour, which intensified between the wars, to enhance British prestige in order to compensate for the relative decline of British power." Later, "At breathtaking speed Japanese bayonets were to inflict lethal damage on British power in the Orient. This was because it had become a hollow shell. Britain was still wealthy...but it was no longer strong...Impotence sapped self-assurance, a vital element in prestige."
  • In Dalziel's Historical Atlas of the B.E. p.114 "The First World War had established that Britain was no longer able to rule the waves, and inter-war naval treaties reflected this decline...No longer able to exert worldwide dominance, the Royal Navy came to rely more on colonial and allied support even in 'home' waters." The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 22:20, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Reading widely - and I can assure you I have - does not make a difference to this issue. You often seem to forget that secondary sources are just opinions and authors writing popular history books don't often worry too much about their general readership questioning the logic of their assertions. That Britain could not simultaneously defend the Empire against two equally powerful nation states in different parts of the globe was not a new thing and it should not be presented as such. In previous wars between great powers Britain always fought as part of an alliance. There was one occasion when it did not. What happened?
You mention Fisher, Churchill and Chamberlain. They were all products of the Victorian era but if they believed - as per your sources - that the Empire had been invulnerable during that period then they were demonstrably wrong. For a century following the Congress of Vienna the balance of power had been tilted in Britain's favour but despite this it had trouble defending the Empire against even second-rate powers or internal insurgency. The article explains this, or would have done if you hadn't deleted some of the material covering it (eg. the Pacific and Baltic (pretty much "home waters") elements of the Crimean War).
What was different during the inter-war period was the emergence of equally powerful nation states following a long period of relative British hegemony. This made it less strong relatively, but not absolutely. Citing quotes like "Britain was still wealthy...but it was no longer strong" invites a comparison with the past, suggesting that the Empire had been more militarily powerful in the past. You won't be able to prove this because it is not correct. If it "lived on bluff from 1920-1939" it had done so a century earlier as well when it was much less well organised. You cannot divorce bits of this article from one-another and treat them in isolation. I agree that it's a complex area, but shifting the emphasis as I think you are proposing is misusing the sources to support a contradictory line of logic. Wiki-Ed (talk) 11:49, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
William Roger Louis's book is a collection of his published papers over the years, it is not a "popular history book" in the same vein as Ferguson's. It goes into great depth on specific topics. What you have come back at me with, much as you did during our discussion on Suez, is a lot of original research and not one source, let alone a reliable source. Remember the policy, verifiability not truth - if what you say is true, you'll be able to verify it. You're a seasoned enough editor to know now that attempting to rubbish sources with words like "they were demonstrably wrong" cuts absolutely no mustard with someone who understands WP:NPOV. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 13:39, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Also, sources aside, I just don't understand your argument. During the Pax Britannica, Britain was in pole position - it did not need to rely on other nations' navies to defend its empire: it was the period of "Splendid isolation". WBy the turn of the century, this was no longer the case (hence the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance), which proved to be critical in WWI. After that, Britian decided to side with the USA - because it had to. This is a very different situation to the 19th century. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 14:57, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

More quotes:

  • from the Ox Hist of the BE vol 4, p.2: "The Royal Navy had traditionally attempted to maintain a fleet that could predominate over all others combined, but by 1897 Britain had lost absolute naval supremacy. In a development of paramount significance, the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance in 1902 eventually allowed the British fleet to concentrate in European waters."
  • p.280 " the years prior to 1914, the mismatch between strategy and actual power did not seem to be of fundamental significance."
  • p.667 "Imperial overreach was evident in the Pacific from the turn of the century."
  • From The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1902-1922, "The Anglo-Japanese Alliance was important both for reasons of style and substance. For both signatories, the single fact that they agreed to act as allies seemed to mark public shifts in their global position. For most of the nineteenth century the British had openly espoused a policy that, while perhaps not as grand as the phrase "Splendid Isolation" would imply, indicated that the British Empire would provide for its security without a formal reliance on any other significant power. Now, however, the British government was admitting that the cost of maintaining forces, particularly naval, around the globe capable of protecting every element of the empire was no longer feasible."
  • James, p.455 "...with hindsight, it is..possible to argue that for some years before Munich, and certainly after, British prestige had become a facade that masked a structure which was becoming more and more rickety. What had happened was that Britain's reputation as a global power had somehow outlived its actual strength in terms of wealth and economic capacity." The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 18:41, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Again you mistake a paragraph describing a line of logic with "original research" because each word doesn't come with a little citation to "prove" it. Consider whether any of the quotations provided are actually coherent. The Royal Navy had traditionally attempted to maintain a fleet that could predominate over all others combined, but by 1897 Britain had lost absolute naval supremacy.

  • When did it have absolute naval supremacy? Here? or here? Seems someone has been generalising. It was not absolutely supreme. Can we prove it could have held out against a combined attack by other powers? No. It didn't happen so we cannot prove a negative. The contention is, however, illogical and we could reasonably assume, on the basis of what we do know, that it could not have survived.

" the years prior to 1914, the mismatch between strategy and actual power did not seem to be of fundamental significance."

  • Change of tune. It is now acknowledging that there was a mismatch.

"...Now, however, the British government was admitting that the cost of maintaining forces, particularly naval, around the globe capable of protecting every element of the empire was no longer feasible."

  • When was it feasible exactly? Explain 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. I stopped at 'B'. Forgive my "original research", but it doesn't look very secure to me. The Crimean and Second Boer Wars illustrated its limitations, even if neither tested them as severely as WW2.

Various other sources you've quoted have talked about illusions, bluffs and facades. The section needs to be clear that the balance of power had changed, but it must not fall for those illusions and make it seem that the Empire had been stronger than it actually was. That is what I am trying to argue. Wiki-Ed (talk) 20:32, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Wiki-Ed, please... rubbishing reliable sources one by one on the basis of your own logic is original research at its finest. You are trying to establish truth rather than verifiability. The policy is, as I know you are fully aware, verifiability not truth. We can take it to the NOR and V noticeboards if you like, but you know as well as I do which side the community will come down on. That said, I actually don't feel we are that far apart. It is clear from the sources that (1) the British Empire was able to survive without the assistance of other navies during the 19th century (2) there was a fundamental shift in British policy at the turn of the century because (1) was no longer true and (3) the British Empire did survive on bluff in the East until it was called by Japan. This is all completely verifiable in reliable sources and it needs to be mentioned. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 00:35, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Proposal : halt all major edits and submit for GA review

I suggest that we agree to halt all major edits now and submit this article for GA review, given that the initial problems outlined have been addressed. Then we can see what "outsiders" feel about the prose style, and address it accordingly. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 21:38, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

I requested a peer review instead. [11] I hope I have neutrally described the disagreement. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 03:22, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough. I don't think I was the one that originally contended it was "bitty", but this pretty much covers what I was trying to explain a few months ago. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:10, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
After I listed the article for peer review, the bot suggested User:Tony1/How_to_satisfy_Criterion_1a be checked out. I don't want to jump the gun before the page has been reviewed, but having read this advice, I do feel it vindicates "my" preferred style (although I realise I've fallen into the same traps myself in many of my edits).
  • In "Eliminating redundancy" - "Additive terms—"also", "in addition", "moreover" and "furthermore". Every sentence is additional to its predecessors, but most of us, including otherwise good writers, have got into the habit of sprinkling these terms through our writing, because they give us a vague feeling of adding to the cohesion of the text (the strength with which it all hangs together). However, only occasionally (e.g., the second sentence in Dominik Hašek) are these additive words required for textual cohesion; the flow is usually stronger without them."
  • In "Achieving flow", "Apart from writing your Wikipedia article in sections, paragraphing is the largest scale on which you'll need to structure your text. A paragraph break allows your readers to tie up the idea that they've just read about—to "download" it more deeply into their memory—and to start afresh on a new idea or a new aspect of the same idea."

The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 18:22, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

Spain & France LOST the war of spanish sucession?

did they really lose? they kept the bourbon kings but Spain only lost its european territories (which would regain years later) --EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 21:31, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

British Empire Threw (sic) Out History

I've reverted the map change. Afghanistan and Tibet were not British colonies (more spheres of influence), and nor was the entirety of Borneo (the modern-day Indonesia portion of it was Dutch). Senegal was French, not British. There are no boundaries between the British colonies. Reference: Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire and of course our old trusty friend, this map [12] The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 12:23, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

I will not try cartograpghy at this point; you're all having far too much fun. I will say though that while Tibet was indeed just a sphere of influence (despite Younghusband's hopes), Afghanistan was a protected state, bound to follow British guidance in foreign policy, until 1918. It is thus shown shaded on some maps of the Empire.

New Map!

This RED-COLORED map I created is a better (WAY BETTER!) map than the brown-colored map of before , i decided to modify it in order to make it look better , for example : Gibraltar is very small and doesn't occupy a huge(!!) dot on the Iberian Peninsula, same with Bermuda Island , its very small and its not the size of Ceylon as it looked on the brown-colored map ,also the Lousiana Territory borders are now more detailed and less erronous as it appeared before , i hope you guys like the map:)--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 22:46, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

Actually I disagree that its way better than the previous map, the previous map was much closer to the traditional colour used for the British Empire on maps. Sorry but I also dislike the garish shade of red used. Justin talk 22:56, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

got it mate! i didn't actually colored the map red because of a personal preference or something , i just RE-MADE the map to show places that belonged or to correct lands that didn't belonged to the British Empire . Lands like the British Virgin Islands , or the Lousiania Territory borders have been corrected in a much more detailed way , or parts like Gibraltar and/or Bermuda Island . I made a new map (again) with the color that resembled the brown-colored map but its borders and lands have been changed (correctly so) :)

--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 23:24, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

I reverted this map. There is a large community of editors here who will want to comment. This is not the Spanish Empire page (where I have been having problems with you uploading maps based on original research). My main objections are (1) that you have now made Gibraltar and Hong Kong virtually invisible (of course they are not to scale - the fact that they are a perfect circle should alert you to that fact) and (2) its title is "Britania" - not only is that spelled incorrectly but it's an inappropriate name. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 00:36, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Whichever map is agreed, it needs to be checked carefully for errors. Uganda is missing from two of these maps, and the Solomon Islands from all three - there are probably other errors but I'm not an expert. Ghmyrtle (talk) 08:46, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Ferrick i give you the Hong Kong and Gibraltar part , but other than that you are just trying to be an ass**** (no attack), i spelled Britania in purpose , i thought the name Britannia might be taken and why does the name really matter ? its not a big issue to die over. I'll correct Uganda and Solomon islands . And how is the new map more erronous than the old one?! do you guys known what the louisiana territory border looks like?! --EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 21:45, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Isn't it more usual to have the Empire shown in pink?
Howard Alexander (talk) 12:48, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
We had this discussion previously about Pink vs Red. Its actually Red but called Pink, confused? I was.
As noted above the "new" map is inaccurate and there are errors in the original. I'd suggest that the original map is corrected, the "new" map has too many things to fix on it. Any issues with that suggestion? Justin talk 17:40, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

ok i made a new map , this one is very precise , if anything is wrong with it (which i doubt) please make it clear , New modifications : 1)Gibraltar & Hong Kong enhanced , 2)Uganda/Solomon Islands .--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 22:01, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

I hate to be pedantic, but have the Shetland Islands been left out? GTD 22:07, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

well....its not even on the old map so i dont think they really matter , they are too small to even be noticable , but if you want go ahead and change it--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 22:48, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

Sorry, it's me being overly fussy! It's only noticeable on the largest version of the image - if I get chance, I'll add a dab of red there, but it's not a priority! All the best GTD 01:21, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I overwrote the map with your new version, EuroHistoryTeacher [13] The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:45, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Is Menorca on the new map ?, as i don`t think it is--Rockybiggs (talk) 14:33, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
You could also add Argentina on that basis as the British Empire occupied Buenos Aires in 1806/1807. Justin talk 15:09, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Hardly think an occupation of 2 years counts in the case of Buenos Aires. Menorca was British by treaty for roughly one hundred years.--Rockybiggs (talk) 16:04, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Menorca can be hardly considered part of the British Empire (as i have never seen or read being part of the Empire) , it was more of military occupied , if you go by this standard , then the British section of Germany , Italy and Japan (post-ww2) must be also shown , not really much sense then right?

One question to Red Pat Ferrick , im the AUTHOR of that map , why does it say its Cameron? i created the map from scratch , using a blank-world map ,so i think i should be given credit .--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 21:13, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

If you guys want to add Menorca thats fine , but i have never really seen it in books counting it as part of empire, but like i said go ahead and add it , im too tired right now to add it sorry:)

Buenos Aires NOT. Military occupying a city is not forming part of a empire , they were never british subjects anyways. Also if you want to go that way , then many countries can use that principle to artificially add land to their empire. For example , Spain had troops stationed in Mexico (after independece) but is that really a colony or empire? another example , USA has troops and occupying this a colony or forms part of a "American empire" too?--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 23:36, 3 December 2008 (UTC)


Breaking this into a new section:

Menorca was ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1715; the same treaty that gave us Gibraltar. The Royal Navy had held it since 1708. Although the French captured the island later in the century, it was returned to Britain in peacetime. Menorca was only retroceded to Spain in 1802, in the Treaty of Amiens. It was never regained. (Port Mahon served as a base for the Royal Navy later during the Peninsular War, but as Spanish territory, under a treaty of alliance with Borbon Spain.)

Menorca could therefore be included on an anachronous map.

Howard Alexander (talk) 23:30, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

If you guys want to add Menorca thats fine , but i have never really seen it in books counting it as part of empire, but like i said go ahead and add it , im too tired right now to add it sorry:)

Buenos Aires NOT. Military occupying a city is not forming part of a empire , they were never british subjects anyways. Also if you want to go that way , then many countries can use that principle to artificially add land to their empire. For example , Spain had troops stationed in Mexico (after independece) but is that really a colony or empire? another example , USA has troops and occupying this a colony or forms part of a "American empire" too?--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 23:34, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

So we agree on something then. Buenos Aires, no, Menorca, maybe. (I have never seen a map of the B.E. with Buenos Aires, but I have Menorca - Colin McEvedy's atlases do so). Also, if Menorca is shaded, so too should the Ionian Islands. But I personally would err on the side of not shading either. Buenos Aires definitely not. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 00:30, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually that was kind of a tongue in cheek comment to point out there are plenty of places that the British Empire at one time had an outpost. Including them all could end up being ridiculous. Menorca I'd suggest is left out, by maybe can see how it might be included, and as for Buenos Aires, most definitely. BTW you missed the Pitcairn Islands, Tristran Da Cunha, St Helena, Ascension Island, British Indian Ocean Territory and the British Antarctic Territory off the map. Justin talk 00:40, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Don't forget Mauritius, Christmas Island, the Maldives, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and - how could we possibly forget this one - Rockall! The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 01:09, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Look Justin and Red Hat Ferrick , those islands you are most welcome to add , but not Buenos Aires because it was never part of the British Empire , would you want to include the British section in Germany after ww2 as being part of the empire too? lol , lets be realistic , do you know how many posts the dutch conquered in their imperial history? it would be ridiculous and never-ending naming them all :)

As for the antartic territory , is Chile , Argentina , Norway among other nations empires too because they hold a piece of land which is covered in ice with no native or/and stable population ? If you want add the british antartic claims but it would look ridiculous (big-time)--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 01:27, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

If you read our comments, you'll see that neither of us are suggesting we include Buenos Aires and we are actually agreeing with you. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 01:30, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

I know you agreed , and so did I with you , so go ahead include Menorca , i was actually really referring to Justin even though i wrote your name--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 01:47, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Bemused, bewildered and confused. Neither of us are suggesting you include Buenos Aires. Edit warring over the image name is ever so slightly childish, this is a co-operative project after all and British Empire red.png fits better with the article. Justin talk 08:53, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
To compare the Menorca situation to the Allies occupation of Germany is folly, as stated by Howard Alexander, Menorca was British by treaty for the best part of 100 years. Let’s not forget if it wasn`t for treaties like that in those times Trinidad and Tobago would have remained Spanish and would not be on the map. It further could be added that it is better suited in the map than Oregon, though i do think Oregon should still keep its place on the map--Rockybiggs (talk) 10:32, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

I do want Menorca to be added , it was part of the UK empire , but you guys change it , im very tired right now . I wasn't comparing Menorca to the british section of Germany after WW2 , i was comparing british occupation of Buenos Aires to the british section in Germany. Btw its not that i wanted my map over somebody's elses , i just wanted my map to show im the author (correctly so) because Usder Red Hat Ferrick had placed my map under another user's name , something i didn't like...--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 23:04, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

I credited you when I updated the map version [14] so I don't really see what you are complaining about. All you did was hit "fill" in a Paint program, someone else did all the hard work of drawing the continents and borders, didn't they? The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 02:25, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
It's just as well no-one mentioned Weihaiwei, Calais, Normandy, Guyenne... (Albeit that the latter three were gone before one could say the British empire really began.)
Howard Alexander (talk) 17:21, 5 December 2008 (UTC)

Yea they were all gone before any British Empire took shape. In continental Europe , only Gibraltar should be shown as british territory .

For Calais, Normnandy you should create a "English Empire" article hehe--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 20:40, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

I noticed that Minorca was missing from the map, and am pleased that this has been noted on this page. If the map is intended to be a map of all British Empire territories, then it's not only the case that Minorca *could* be included, but that it *should* be included. It's also the case that the (now Greek) Ionian Islands, most notably Corfu, were a British protectorate from 1815 to 1864 - see United States of the Ionian Islands - so should also be coloured red Simhedges (talk) 12:59, 21 December 2008 (UTC)

Victorian golf?

Ball games that were invented in Victorian Britain – football, cricket, rugby, lawn tennis and (from Scotland) golf[4] – were exported...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought golf was invented quite a long time before the Victorian age. (talk) 13:54, 6 December 2008 (UTC).

You may be right. I was responsible for these words. I used the "Sports and British Imperialism" entry in the Historical Dictionary of the British Empire [15], which on closer inspection, refers to the "development" of golf (+the other sports) in Victorian Britain. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 13:59, 6 December 2008 (UTC)


Can we semiprotect ths article so only established users are allow to edit?? too much vandalism...--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 01:42, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

I (we) have been granted granted a semi-protect "bill" for 1 week , so we should put as much correct info and fix as much as we can on the article. 1 week to get this to a GA status if we can!--EuroHistoryTeacher (talk) 03:55, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Peer Review by Finetooth

Finetooth very kindly peer reviewed the article, report is here Wikipedia:Peer review/British Empire/archive2. I am going to tackle the suggestions this weekend, unless anyone beats me to it. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 23:43, 12 December 2008 (UTC)


As I've made a series of non-minor changes [16], I thought I should explain myself here lest anyone think I am attempting to hide them amongst a series of edits following on from the peer review:

  • I moved the Versailles empire changes to the WWI section. These were a consequence of WWI and did not happen in isolation in the inter-war period.
  • I removed these sentences:
    • "The conflict during World War I undermined the pre-1914 economic stability, created a generation of disillusioned veterans and opened up the threat of political revolt."
      • What additional information is this providing to the reader about the British Empire per se? It is more appropriate for the WWI article.
    • "David Lloyd George noted that the “whole existing order in its political, social and economic aspects is questioned”"
      • That quote from Lloyd George is actually referring to the internals of Europe, not the Empire. [17] The quote actually continues " the masses of the populatation from one end of Europe to the other".
    • "and doubts about the empire began to grow in Britain itself."
      • Doubts about the empire had already been growing since the late 19th century (can provide many references/quotes if anyone would like to see them).
    • "First World War placed enormous financial strain on Britain and its empire with resources, cash and foreign assets being diverted for the war. In 1914 Britain had £750,000,000[5] invested in the United States; by 1918 much of this had been sold in order to pay for the war effort."
      • This appears to me to be engaging in a little synthesis, albeit innocent synthesis. If you look closely, the only referenced material is the $3/4B investment in the USA, which I can verify as I have the book in question. However, it is discussed in a paragraph about British investment overseas in 1914, not in the context of the financial cost of WWI. There is no mention that most of this figure had been sold by the end of the war. So I have removed it, pending material that can be properly sourced (NB I'm not denying the truth of the claims made here). The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 13:53, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

I have also made this edit [18], condensing the salient points of the last two paragraphs of the section (navy, economic downturn, importance of empire for trade, rise of militarism) into a smaller word count within the context of British imperial policy. The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick t 23:08, 13 December 2008 (UTC)

  1. ^ Brown, p.143
  2. ^ Olson, p.58
  3. ^ Olson, p.822
  4. ^ Olsen, p.1051-1056
  5. ^ Lloyd, p. 258