Prager U: If You Live in Freedom, Thank the British Empire

Was the British Empire a good or bad thing for the world? To put it another way, is freedom a good or bad thing for the world? Historian and author H.W. Crocker III explains why we may want to rethink the British Empire’s bad rap.

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  1. pkoning
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    The notion of a Constitution that limits the powers of the government (and the legislature in particular) is a US innovation, though. It may have some precedents somewhere — but certainly not in the UK, whose legislature has unlimited power and no constitution.

    It’s interesting to look at the influence of the Dutch Republic, more limited perhaps and certainly not well known. But it’s well enough documented in the Federalist Papers and other writings of that era. There are also striking similarities in approach between the Declaration of Independence and the corresponding Dutch document about two centuries earlier. There’s no evidence the one directly influenced the other, though.

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  2. Barry
    Posted September 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Your point is perfectly taken, Bill — but the Irish also have the benefit if freedom and British style democracy.

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  3. sennacherib
    Posted September 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Though we had a big fight with them, we would not have our democracy stuff if they hadn’t put in 5 or 600 yrs or so of work on democracy stuff themselves.

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  4. Bill Brandt
    Posted September 13, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Other than the Irish I was not aware that the British Empire had “a bad rep”. Compare the countries colonized by Spain – throughout South America, vs the colonies of Britain.

    Which countries have been the more stable with more freedom?

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    • pkoning
      Posted September 14, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      I suspect people in India might not be so positive. And Pakistan is definitely an example of a failed state that was a British colony. But yes, Canada, Australia, those certainly came out well.

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      • Bill Brandt
        Posted September 14, 2017 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

        You only reason Pakistan came into being was because the Muslims hated the Hindus and vice versa. And then why Bangladesh separated from Pakistan I’d have to look it up. So maybe there is Lameck culture was stronger than the British culture.

        India certainly has been a stable state.

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      • Barry
        Posted September 14, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

        The common denominator is parliamentary democracy. The people of India have it.

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