The British Empire was not evil: Neill Ferguson

To help publicise his new book, and promote the tv series, Niall Ferguson has an article in todays SBPost. In it he argues that many of the effects British rule had on Ireland were positive. I would be inclined to agree. Im sorry I missed all parts of his series since it started on Channel 4, but I will keep an eye out for it. It is something of an admission to come from a British author that

The Irish were on the receiving end of a policy of expropriation and `ethnic cleansing’ every bit as ruthless as that which would be attempted in North America.

In modern usage, ethnic cleansing is exactly what happened to the indigenous Irish people from about the 16th century on. Where I think Irish people nowadays trip up is in using the term ‘Irish’. To me its a very loose word, Ireland was invaded many times over the centuries, and was colonised by a neighbouring power.

I think many Irish people assume that it was ‘us’ against ‘them’ for the entire time since the Norman invasion. In fact, the Normans interbred with the native Celtic peoples, and Ireland became a part of the Norman world – and the same happened up until independence. Much of the history thought in Irish schools portrays Britain as the evil colonial power – Ferguson’s insight is a refreshing answer to many of these over-nationalist sentiments.

3 thoughts on “The British Empire was not evil: Neill Ferguson”

  1. agree partially with what you are saying – just thought I’d add that it is Niall and not Neill Ferguson

  2. Less inclined to agree – in fact not at all. The obvious conclusion that could be drawn would be to; after being informed that I am a Scot; make the assumption that I am empathising with the apparent Celtic roots that I or any Irishman have.

    Well I am not. Disregarding the fact that some countries had been invaded before, what is it that allows anyone to claim that the British Empire was a positive thing. One of the main products of it in modern day is a flock of arrogant xenophobes floating from country to country, buying holiday homes and ‘taking a little bit of Britain with them’ whilst raising house prices and forcing locals to be unable to buy in there own area.

Comments are closed.