The Motives of Scientists

meron at cars3.uchicago.edu meron at cars3.uchicago.edu
Wed Oct 11 18:12:41 EST 1995


In article <813442216.7047 at upthorpe.demon.co.uk>, Oz at upthorpe.demon.co.uk (Oz) writes:
>jmc at Steam.stanford.edu (John McCarthy) wrote:
>
>>When Britain ruled the waves it was not bankrupting itself.  It had
>>the highest standard of living in the world until the U.S. passed it
>>in the 1890s.  I don't know what fraction of Britain's GDP went into
>>its armed forces, but it wasn't large.  What bankrupted Britain was
>>WWI and later its internal class warfare.  WWII was also a blow.
>
>True, but I was thinking of between the wars, and
>particularly after WWII.
>
>What I find most interesting about pre WWI is the tiny
>number of forces the UK had abroad. India, for example,
>never had more than 87,000 troops at any time. I haven't
>read as much as I would like on British colonialism pre WWI,
>but I do get the impression that many of the countries
>preferred UK rule to that of their local lords. Basically,
>the British offered fairly impartial laws, peace, jobs and
>left the local people to get on with making their living.
>Not perfect by any means but probably better than many
>systems about at the time. 

I would add to it the fact that Britain (unlike some other colonial 
powers) was very good at developing the infrastructure of the places 
it ruled.  I know it from personal experience, from Israel.  When 
Israel was established as an independent country it inherited from the 
British Mandate a very nice road and railway network, sea and airports 
(even if the foundations of the Haifa port were laid earlier, by the 
Germans, power and water infrastructure, communication systems, etc. 
etc.  There was enough over there to get the new country going and 
keep it going for quite a while before any of these systems needed 
upgrading.

I also remember reading that most of the vast railroad network in 
India (one of the biggest in the world) was build by the British.  At 
the risk of incurring the wrath of the PC crowd I would venture to say 
that most ex British colonies are considerably better off than they 
would've been would they never become colonies.

Mati Meron			| "When you argue with a fool,
meron at cars3.uchicago.edu	|  chances are he is doing just the same"



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