This book examines how ‘the British world” (i.e., British sphere of influence) was established and was transformed into the Commonwealth from the 18th century to the 1970s. It focuses on three different types of ties which constitute the British world, that is, the ties of sentiment (i.e., Britishness), the ties of economy and the ties of military power. It analyses not only the “small” British world such as the Dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, but also the “broad” British world which includes Ireland and India. Ten chapters based on original research aim to consider the process of empire-building and decolonization and examine how the ties were strengthened and weakened respectively and historically.
Ireland has had various ties with England/Britain throughout history, existing at different levels, including constitutional, economic, and emotional. This chapter argues, first, that, despite the strong tendency among several Irish historians to stress dimensions of anti-English (British) nationalism, some of the ties were constructive and hence, welcomed by the Irish as well as the British.
Second, this chapter focuses on a constructive tie of the interchange of militia services between the two countries. The measure was proposed at the time of the formation of the United Kingdom and realised from 1811 to 1816. In these years about 10,000 militia soldiers, plus their families, crossed the Irish Sea from both sides and served in the other country; this can be regarded as the largest-scale migration between the two countries in the early nineteenth century. The Irish militia men in particular demonstrated a strong eagerness to serve in Britain.
Third, this chapter shows that the biggest motive of the proposal of the militia interchange was not a military one, but a political one, in a double way. When proposing the measure, the British Home Secretary observed in parliament, ‘This measure would do away the ignorance under which each nation laboured as to the character of the other.’ At the same time, the measure was expected, as the Irish Lord Lieutenant admitted, to ‘improve the condition of that country which it must be confessed is the less civilised’. In other words, the militia interchange reveals the possibilities and limitations in the early years of the United Kingdom.
Jon Wilson stated in his India Conquered: Britain’s Raj and the Chaos of Empire that British imperial rule in India was not created by “civilising mission” but by force and violence. However, Wilson’s argument is biased because the British not only exercised hard power (i.e., military and economic power) but also soft power (i.e., missionary work and education) over Indian society especially after the end of the 18th century. This chapter argues that, contrary to Karuna Mantena and Thomas Metcalf’s arguments, the vision of British liberal imperialism did not end in Indian Great Rebellion (1857) and still continued to be developed even after the Rebellion. Through missionary work and public education, the British continued to try assimilating Indians to Britannic identity such as Britishness and to create the ties of sentiment between Britain and India, which was the core of the vision of British liberal imperialism. For example, such vision can be seen in the discourses of Charles Grant, T. B. Macaulay, J. S. Mill, W. E. Gladstone, and the evangelical Indian civil servant Frank Lugard Brayne who tried to establish a public school system in the Punjab during the period between 1925 and 1931. The ideology that admires the British Raj was also internalized by Nirad C. Chaudhuri who was an Indian intellectual during and after the Indian independence movement.
This chapter examines the large-scale attempts for standardization and unification of time through the transplantations of time-dissemination technologies in the late-nineteenth-century British world. It begins by discussing the emergence of an imperial network of astronomical observatories established in some growing colonial cities in India, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and other regions. These institutions served for astronomical and meteorological observations, determination of longitude and latitude, terrestrial surveying, measurement of time, and other practices. Almost all these observatories were closely connected to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, from which they derived important information and advice through George Biddell Airy, the Astronomer Royal. Airy’s notable influence can be seen elsewhere too in the management of colonial observatories, such as in the appointment of astronomers, selection of scientific instruments, and the devising of programs of observations. In particular, this scientific connection between the metropolis and colonies effectively operated in an effort to transplant time-signaling and horological technologies into colonial cities. This chapter tries to illustrate how the latest knowledge and techniques for standardisation of time were transferred in the astronomical network, thereby contributing to the discussion relating to the close relationship between time-keeping and imperial expansions.
It is now three decades since P. J. Cain and A. G. Hopkins developed the concept of gentlemanly capitalism and deployed it to explain three centuries of British imperial expansion. Despite heavy criticism, especially in the early days, the concept has entered scholarly and broader public discourse. This chapter offers a critical appraisal of gentlemanly capitalism. It outlines how Cain and Hopkins make three distinct sets of claims about the evolution of the British economy, about the sociology of status, and about the relationship between socio-economic elites and the state. It argues that, notwithstanding the undeniably rich analysis Cain and Hopkins weave around the concept, gentlemanly capitalism relies on a series of conceptual elisions and elusions which ultimately curtail its explanatory power. The chapter suggests however that from this critical deconstruction of the various elements of gentlemanly capitalism a fruitful new research agenda emerges.
This chapter traces the history of the plans of imperial preference that aimed to strengthen the economic relationship between Great Britain and the self-governing colonies, especially Canada.
The plan of imperial preference originated in the Fair Trade movement in the 1880s. Fair Traders presupposed that the self-governing colonies should maintain a subordinate role that specialized in primary industries. Since 1903 Joseph Chamberlain pursued a contrasting vision through his Tariff Reform movement. His primary motive was to prevent Canada’s defection to the United States, so he did not hesitate to make any concession to the demands from Canadian government led by Wilfrid Laurier. However, the Laurier government discarded Chamberlain after the latter was defeated in the general election.
Although the system of imperial preference came true in the Ottawa Conference of 1932, the negotiation over preference rather impaired mutual trust between British and Canadian politicians. In 1935 Canada entered into a trade treaty with the United States, consequently absorbed into American economic sphere.
This chapter concludes that Chamberlain’s vision that strengthening economic bonds through imperial preference must lead to consolidation of the British Empire turned out to be a great illusion.
This chapter considers the strengthening of economic, military, and sentimental ties by the Liberal Party of Canada within the British World in the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. It especially focuses on the economic and defence policies of Wilfrid Laurier, seventh Prime Minister of Canada, and other ministers.
These Liberal ministers consistently aspired to conclude the reciprocity agreement with the United States. Richard Cartwright envisaged that the reciprocity would bring about the development of the Canadian economy and an incidental increase of imports from Britain. W.S. Fielding introduced imperial preference as an alternative to the reciprocity, and strengthened not only economic but also sentimental ties with the Mother Country.
Canada was less interested in imperial defence until the early twentieth century. Laurier denied the financial contribution to the Royal Navy by the self-governing colonies in the Colonial Conference of 1902. He regarded the contribution as a centralised imperial defence, and as against the principle of colonial autonomy. He planned to establish the Canadian Navy for colonial defence and to support imperial defence.
The policies of these Liberal ministers were based on liberal imperialism, which aimed at autonomy within a decentralised Empire. They did not want independence or centralised imperial federation, and developed Canada by strengthening economic, military and sentimental ties with the Empire.
Today’s debate about post-Brexit Britain is partly marked by catchy yet essentially nostalgic projects for the ‘return to the Commonwealth’. A coterie of Conservative Eurosceptics proselytize a closer union of the globally-scattered English-speaking countries under the rubric of ‘CANZUK’, ‘Anglosphere’, or to borrow from critics, ‘Empire 2.0’. Against this backdrop, the present chapter argues that although nostalgic and illusory, the contemporary return-to-the-Commonwealth visions have profound, century-spanning and so-far-understudied intellectual origins. Since the Victorian age, a dizzying array of British metropolitan intellectuals and political elite have advocated the creation of an ocean-transcending spiritual and political community consisting of the United Kingdom, its settler colonies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and southern Africa, and sometimes even the United States. The chapter excavates some of these past schemes for unifying the English-speaking (largely settler) world, chronicling an ideological genealogy with the early-to-mid Victorian projects of settler colonialism at its inception. In so doing it examines the thought of a variety of metropolitan theorists, ranging from E.G. Wakefield, Herman Merivale and J.S. Mill to the late-Victorian Greater Britain proponents including J.R. Seeley, E.A. Freeman, J.A. Hobson and W.T. Stead to the Edwardian British Commonwealth architects such as Alfred Zimmern and Lionel Curtis. The chapter also sheds light on a power of race connections. In the imagination of many thinkers under analysis, a shared ‘British blood’ amounted to the fundamental source of transoceanic spiritual bonds between the citizens in Britain and British diasporas abroad.
This chapter considers the role of radio broadcasting in appealing to and reinforcing Britannic sentiment during the Second World War, and thus mobilising a united imperial war effort. Radio played on the bonds of sentiment in a particularly powerful fashion, because it addressed listeners intimately and with a sense of authenticity, and allowed rapid, regular, and direct communication with audiences over long distances. Imperial broadcasting structures established during the 1920s and 1930s were repurposed for war, under the leadership of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), but bringing in broadcasters (and state information and propaganda agencies) all around the British world. Many different producers, writers, artists, and experts helped broadcast Britishness during this period, appealing to Britannic sentiment in a wide variety of ways. Often they linked Britishness with liberty, democracy, and equality, even if this flew in the face of the realities of empire. The British connection was presented as a living and vital force, bringing people together despite divisions of race. Broadcasters also made a powerful appeal to ideas about a common history and set of traditions. The chapter suggests that such themes offered a significant means of harnessing Britannic sentiment to the needs of war.
In the collapse of the British Empire after the Second World War, say, the process of decolonization in Asia, Great Britain could include India, Pakistan, and Ceylon which would be the newly independent states in the Commonwealth organization succeedingly. This incorporation was indispensable for Great Britain in order to maintain her influences as a hegemony state, while the Cold War regime growing more and more.
The newly independent states, on the other hand, decided to remain in the system of the Commonwealth, because of the political, financial, military advantages. They had to succeed the government system of the old empire, negotiating the settlement of sterling balances, and constructing the security framework of The South and Southeast Asia.
In the late 1940s, Great Britain strengthened the close relationship with the newly independent states through the settlement of the sterling balances for the trades of the military articles, such as airplanes, tanks, and ammunitions, under the antagonism between India and Pakistan. This shows the successive ties between Great Britain and the Asian states. Though India and Pakistan were inclined to purchase the military ones from United States, the latter still seemed to hesitate to intervene in the problems of the South Asia.
Britain made a valuable contribution to the modernisation of the defence forces of India. The post-independent India was also in no position to be self-sufficient in defence equipment, and until the 1950s, the India was dependent on the arms transfer mainly from Britain. However, the Sino-Indian war(1962) and the reorganisation of India’s armed forces marked the beginning of the decline in Britain’s importance to Indian defence. Since then, the relationship between India and the Soviet Union has become closer.
By focusing on the development of the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited(HAL) and the Mazagon Dock Limited（MDL） in the 1960s, this chapter examines ‘indigenisation’ of the Indian military industry from the following three perspectives.
(1) HAL is the largest Defence Public Sector Undertaking（DPSU）and MDL is the leading shipyard amongst all the DPSU shipyards. We examine the extent to which the development of HAL and MDL depended on the arms transfer from abroad including Britain and the Soviet Union.
(2) We clarifies how far ‘indigenisation’ of the military industry in non-aligned India could be achieved by the diversification of arms transfer and the shift from Britain to the Soviet Union.
(3) India could not carry out all the stages of defence production within the country. We examine how and how far ‘indigenisation’ of the Indian military industry could be achieved by not self-sufficiency but by self-reliance in defence depending on external sources.