Friday, 1 February 2008

British History Is Morally Ambiguous

Apparently history teachers, and their pupils, have noticed that the history of Britain isn't all purity and light. This is in reaction to both Gordon Brown and David Cameron calling for a history curriculum that fosters attachment and loyalty to Britain.

As tends to be the case in this issue the normal suspects are trotted out: the slave trade, imperialism and 20th century wars.

The history, then, of the British ruling classes is indeed one of moral ambiguity, if not, on occasion, downright immorality . In the same way the London is not England, the ruling classes are not Britain and their history is only part of it.

I'm not saying that the normal working man didn't play his part in any of the above, but I doubt very much that any of my ancestors were ever in the market for slaves or made money out of trading them. Something I suspect is true for most people I know. As slavery happened at a time when suffrage was far from universal, I'm not entirely sure the whole country should held accountable for it. History does indeed keep repeating itself the whole nation being asked to make up for the mistakes of the rich few, time and again.

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