I liked this documentary. There are inaccuracies, such as the rifles the British soldiers are holding: they’re rifles from the Second World War, not the First.
It’s naturally a little British heavy, but I appreciate that there are some limited accounts from French and German letters. There’s a lot of beauty in their written words, which only adds the tragedy of the war.
What’s most interesting is watching the differences in doctrine and strategy which so delineate the British, French and German approaches. They don’t focus on it, but it’s there.
European Imperialism was intrinsically greedy and detrimental.
Not entirely true.
This isn’t me defending imperialism or colonialism. But this is me pointing out that not all imperial ambitions were fueled by land greed and subjugation.
The Spanish and Portuguese characterised their large early empires by looting. They didn’t truly build an empire, they just conquered and pillaged anything they wanted, and often worked the natives to death mining for gold. This is the main reason their empires became destitute and unsustainable.
In early expansion in North America, the British and French had entirely different means of spreading their influence. North America didn’t have the rich mines of the south, but was good land for the cash crops of the day.
The British conquered, built their own cities, and basically did their best to plant England into America. They fought, burned, and signed and broke treaties to their needs. British colonists were often people who wanted to build a new life in America, and would do this at the cost of the natives.
The French saw their exploration into America as a more humane one. They built trading outposts and a series of forts to protect them and the fur trade route, made many treaties with local tribes, and made an effort to ally and learn about them. For the French it was a royal endeavour that was almost a large diplomatic mission.
The two came to a head during what the Americans still call the French and Indian War. This was so named because the French had native allies with them to fight the British colonists.
Europeans call it the Seven Years War, because for them it was a much wider global conflict.
The French lost the war for a number of reasons, but as far as North America was concerned it was a British (and soon American) future.
I consider it one of my cultures as a TCK, even though I’ve never lived there.
But I had mostly British friends growing up, and was educated the British way. When my parents put me into school right at the beginning, they didn’t really know what they were getting into.
They sent my sister to the American school first, and me to the British. To test them out. Eventually they moved my sister to the British one too. They figured that the better discipline would be good for us.
I can’t speak for discipline, but even though they didn’t intend it, I am thankful for the decision. Even though I have almost nothing to suggest that I should be at all proud to be British… I am proud of what there is of it in me.
It would, of course, later lead to a lot of confusion about where I should study, and conflict between teaching styles, what was taught, and academic structure, and… well a lot. But I attribute a lot of my ability to my years at the British International School in Jakarta.
It is by eating sandwiches in pubs at Saturday lunchtime that the British seek to atone for whatever their national sins have been. They’re not altogether clear what those sins are, and don’t want to know either.Sins are not the sort of things one wants to know about. But whatever sins there are are amply atoned for by the sandwhiches they make themselves eat.
Cpt. Blackadder: Baldrick, what are you doing out there?
Pvt. Baldrick: I'm carving something on this bullet, sir.
Blackadder: What are you carving?
Baldrick: It's a cunning plan, actually.
Blackadder: Of course it is.
Baldrick: You know how they say that somewhere there's a bullet with your name on it.
Baldrick: Well I thought if I owned the bullet with my name on it, I'd never get hit by it. 'Cos I won't ever shoot myself.
Blackadder: Oh shame.
Baldrick: And the chances of there being two bullets with my name on it are very small indeed.
Blackadder: Yes, that's not the only thing around here that's very small indeed. Your brain, for example, is so minute Baldrick, that If a hungry cannibal cracked your head open, there wouldn't be enough inside to cover a small water-biscuit.