The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

British Imperialism:
Violence against Most of the World

Jun 6, 2022

The British monarchy is the symbolic head of an empire that once took over three quarters of the world, supposedly bringing “civilization” to 700 million colonial subjects. The wealth brought back to England’s royalty and politicians and business investors from centuries of empire actually make current billionaire fortunes look paltry.

The British rulers pretended they were bringing the rule of law to lawless people, a barely covered description of their own murderous, racist repression of millions of people, especially in Asia and Africa.

This current celebration of British monarchy and empire glosses over a long history that includes the enslavement of African people, whose lives were shortened by brutal exploitation while producing sugar and cotton in the Caribbean and the soon-to-be United States. It ignores 250 wars ignited by Britain, particularly during the reign of Queen Victoria. The celebration ignores the short war to force China to continue to buy huge quantities of opium produced under the British in India, to the great enrichment of the British crown and the British merchant class. It overlooks the British internment of hundreds of thousands in Malaysia in prison camps or a million Kenyans fighting to free their country of British rule after World War II. Britain could be said to have written the manual on national propaganda, dirty tricks, bold-faced lies and elaborate tortures during their colonial “glory.”

History is written by those who win, so British history books mention Indian soldiers rising up during the so-called British raj, that is, against British rule over India. But there is much less written of how the British raj destroyed Indian agriculture, so the population went hungry in order to produce raw cotton and opium pods for the British trade. Nor do history books talk much about the famine that killed or deported half the population of 19th century Ireland, caused by British agricultural policy.

When Queen Elizabeth II’s grandson William went to the Caribbean last month to celebrate her jubilee, he was greeted with protesters demanding apologies and reparations for what British rule meant to the peoples of those nations, now considered part of the British Commonwealth, the poor part.

Much of the world’s population could join these protesters. Leading the way could be the working class throughout the British isles under the current rule of Parliament and the City, which is what the British people call their Wall Street capitalists.