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6.11.2012

Just finished Empire

I'll say it again, read Niall Ferguson's Empire. And the documentaries may be great, but I would say read the book. The Ascent of Money too. Both compliment each other.

And this is not coming from somebody who is just learning world history. In fact you need to already know world history to get from Empire (and Ascent of Money) what I'm trying to get at in these recommendations.

There is so much that goes on in our lives, in society, that is derived from the various social and political dynamics caused by the British Empire. And not just in the former colonies and in the countries, or 'white dominions', like Canada or Australia, but in the U.S. too, because really the world doesn't distinguish much between the United States and the now British Commonwealth nations in terms of the British Empire. We are getting blowback, for instance, here in the U.S. for what the British did in the Middle East long ago. That's what I mean.

But all the racial stuff we all have to deal with. The white race being up, then being down, being mocked, and all the pretending (political-correctness) that other peoples aren't "half devil, half child" as Kipling put it. All the *attitudes*, the whole catalogue of them, that are found among the 'master' race, whether mocking their own or having a quiet respect for their own, or whatever it is, all the *white guilt* and the various ways that it manifests, and all the game playing of the non-white peoples living in white nations, the sexual game-playing, etc., derive from all the same dynamics engendered during the ups and downs of the British during their empire. Not that the British were the *only* empire builders, but they became the *Empire* de facto.

You get so much perspective on everything. For instance, Ferguson goes through the World War II part of the history from the angle of Britain trying to not lose its empire, yet finding that it is in a trade off between defeating *worst* empires (Japan and Germany) and losing their own. The *fact* of the British Empire is so ubiquitous and foundational to all modern world history that it is really *legitimate* to write history from its perspective. You'll see, if you read it. I'm not overstating.

And - important point - it doesn't take away spiritual causes of things that have gone on in history. Because the British Empire, with all its flaws, was a force for good in that sense, though it gave up on the missionary aspect early on, still, after it gave up, that is seemingly when Christianity really took hold in many parts of the Empire's world in big numbers. That's all the work of the Spirit anyway. (This paragraph is confused, but I'm getting at the fact that forces in history like the uprising of the Kingdom of Satan in various ways, Islamic jihad, collectivist totalitarianism, the constant spirit within free nations where people want to undermine and destroy and institute tyranny in various ways, that all is not effected as historical forces when you see modern history from the angle of the British Empire. That may require more than a paragraph to explain, but I'll leave it at that.) - C.

ps- One last justification to that last email... Can we really say the history of the British Empire is so foundational to everything we see around us, etc., etc.? Well, look at it and where it existed. China, India, South America, North America, the Pacific, the far east, Africa, Australia, and I'm probably forgetting big areas, maybe even a continent or two... Geographically it can't be denied. Then, culturally and in terms of a unique civilization, law, language, economic system, communications, etc., etc. (and again I'm probably forgetting major categories of things). It's not a shallow influence. But you just have to read the book. It's unique as a work of history and Ferguson knows he is writing a uniquely angled work of history that nevertheless is straight-arrow mainstream and true.

pps- I mean, some historical subjects and themes give greater and wider perspective, and the fact of the British Empire, its history, goes under the radar in that sense. For us now especially, in a time that is so close to it historically, yet for various reasons for it to be out-of-mind, sort of too boring to talk about or think about. Ho hum, yet it is like the medium we are living in and we are as unaware of it as fish are unaware of water. (It, by the way, has dominated the themes and subject matter of our arts, popular and otherwise, which is telling.)

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