Empire as transformative agents: French and British colonial empires
First ignored and classified by French and British historiography as non important colony were brought back to front talk s with the rise of “empire bringer of development and modernity”, but that image is scratched by the violent issue of discrimination, exploitation and slavery in colonies.
The French empire is used by theauthor to illustrate the ambiguities of citizenship at the imperial level, and the British Empire to illustrate the ambiguity of the relationship of imperialism and capitalism.
For the French the focus of contestation was how to reconcile the dimension of inclusion and differentiation in the space of an empire state. Although some thought the ambiguity resolved by the distinction8subject/citizen), the situation was always more complicated and unstable. Such as the Algerian case supposed to be a part of France doomed to be a failure from the start. The criterions (selection) to become a citizen were constraining and few could fit it, so people were kind of forced to remain subjects. Subject being involuntary incorporated member and citizen a participating member of polity.
Claims havebeen made on the principle of citizenship especially when France needed help and collaboration form the “local” to produce more resources and defend the empire. At first promises (education, economic, liberty,...) were not kept but to the WWII needs and context of anticolonnisation France opted for more inclusion over differentiation in a trial to keep France indivisible. Thus giving birth to theFrench union. However French power soon realized that imperial citizenship was not affordable due to the burden and the costs off it.
For British Empire, here the relationship between empire and capitalism is going to be studied as it embodies good and bad aspects. Slave plantations and The “Atlantic System” can be considered as basis for European capitalism system as it involved logistics,financials, and labors coordination’s on a large scale. Britain economic success was a mixed between an efficient management of the empire and military expansion added to the progress made in financial institution allowing an accumulation of capital and production of low cost commodities and lately led to free trade. We have to notice that Britain center conception of empire emerged from an imperialhistory (Great influence of the loss of the 13th colonies), rather than an imperial history building on a national one. Lately Britain had to face critics and struggles against slaves too.
Growing economic strength Britain was able to benefit from what Ronald Robinson and Jack Gallagher called the “imperialism of free trade “. They were able to exercise overseas power sometimes by terror , aswell as taking advantages from their developing financial and commercial institutions that putted them on the Carrefour of the entire economic system.
The British situation concerning slavery was complex but their imitative to abolish slavery and to push over’s to do so (using diplomatic and naval power) was successful mainly because of the willingness of the elite to show their ideology ofpresenting wage labor into a natural part of life and in anther hands in an attempt to whitened British flag.
Even after emancipation racial discrimination remained, reaching the point of “scientific racism” creation and the complex situation of antiracism and anti-imperialism arguments. Though commerce was developing in coastal zone of Africa , the unequal balance of military power fatally led toconquest.
There were a lot of power and factor involved in the scramble for Africa , political and military power thinking of Africa as a source of resources that had to be conquered before the others could get the best portion of territory. The fact that the few important “players” were not nation states but of empire may have played a role.
The most unstable international system is the...
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