The British Empire used to be the largest dictatorship on the face of the earth, with nearly a quarter of the world’s population forced into poverty and denied their basic rights in order to keep the system running, and the Royal family benefited from it every step of the way.
It’s strange to think that this family who are made out to be like a dysfunctional sitcom family (complete with crazy racist grandpa Prince Philip, pot-smoking teenage, stereotype Harry, and the gushing couple themselves) are some of the most privileged people in the world, and that their money, power and status are built on hundreds of years of bloodshed and oppression.
Elizabeth I was the first British monarch to give the whole ‘Empire thing’ a go, using pirates like Francis Drake to steal slaves from rival powers like Spain and Portugal, to fund her newly founded colonies. The empire didn’t properly get going until the 1600′s though, when islands in the Caribbean were taken over, sugar plantations set up, and slaves imported in their thousands to make British merchants and aristocrats richer. Soon it expanded across North America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as our various Kings and Queens gave companies the right to take control of entire countries and ruthlessly exploit them. By the 1800′s the Empire was officially being run in the name of the Royals.
Throughout the entire history of the Empire, more and more money has been squeezed out of conquered peoples in a number of different ways. At first people were literally stolen from their countries, and forced to work for nothing to produce various cash crops, ranging from sugar to opium, which were sold across the world. In Africa mining corporations forced people to work for pennies to extract gold and minerals. In the Middle East companies like the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) made millions for its shareholders by plundering the area’s natural resources. Two of the families who made the most money through the AIOC (now BP) were the Churchills and the Royal family.
Everywhere Britain and its puppet rulers held control wages were low, hours were long, and conditions unbearable. In places like India and Ireland, millions of people were forcibly starved to death while the Empire exported food was from their countries to sell for a profit.
There was no way Britain could have done this if there had been anything even resembling democracy in the empire. Instead a mix of violence, terrorism, propaganda and divide-and-rule tactics were used by the British ruling class to keep the colonial system from being destroyed by the people whose lives it ruined. Certain ethnic and religious groups were given better land, more political power, access to better education, and more freedom, so that they would remain loyal to the British. Scientists, Political theorists and Christian missionaries were all paid to prove that white and Christian people were more rational, more intelligent, and more worthy of freedom than darker-skinned people to legitimise this racist enslavement.
Brutal chiefs were propped up by colonial governments (often run by minor Royals) using propaganda that said that the locals could only be ruled by their ‘traditional’ leaders. When black African peasants’ land was stolen by British companies, they spun the lie that the Africans were too stupid to make good use of it. When more soldiers were needed to invade new territories and continents, British workers were told it was their duty to ensure white people ruled the world for the good of all humanity. It was their job to fight for the British race and our natural rulers in the Royal family.
After World War I mass movements across the world started challenging the ability of the British to hold onto their Empire. Rebellions in Egypt, India, Burma and Palestine weakened the hold of colonialism.
Following World War II Britain was forced out of those countries, but not before they had tried to sew further divisions and weaken the newly liberated countries. India was partitioned into India and Pakistan, leading to a communal genocide between Muslims and Hindus that killed millions and left the continent divided and at war with itself..
Determined to cling onto the Empire for as long as possible, the British state resorted to worse levels of violence and brutality than before. In Malaysia and Kenya ethnic cleansing and concentration camps were used to crush rebellions led by communists and nationalists. There were mass arrests, torture, and the deliberate terrorism of civilians all ordered by the British generals and governments to stop the democratic revolutions.
But Britain was weak after World War II, and couldn’t afford to use armies to keep the oppressed peoples of the world controlled for very long. The brave populations of many colonies, including India, rebelled against colonialism and fought for their independence.
Some of the leaders of the rebellions capitulated to the British, formed dictatorships over the people they said they would free – and in league with the colonialists held back these revolutions from freeing themselves economically, so they would continue to subsidise the commonwealth.
With transport links leading only from mineral mines to British ports, with economies and industry geared entirely towards what was beneficial to Britain, rather than their own peoples’, with very little healthcare and education systems to speak of, without a social revolution, their economic enslavement was to continue, even they werte now formally “independent” nations. That’s why Russian revolutionary VI Lenin named them “semi-colonies.”
A series of friendly puppet states were created and the Queen even visits these countries to give the tyrants and fake democracies a touch of class. The revolutions in the semi-colonies have yet to be completed to this day, but as the mass movements in the Middle East and North Africa show –– they can and they will be free.