Suggested answers: questions 3, 4 and 5
Here are some general points, but this is not meant as an exclusive list. Different people emphasise different aspects of imperialism.
Empire as service, and colonies as beneficiaries:
· colonies received what we call development aid
· people from colonies could study in Britain and return to key jobs
· ethnic minorities in colonies were protected
· colonies were expensive: Britain spent more than she won back
· some Britons spent most of their working lives in sweaty jobs in colonies
· trained colonies for democracy
Empire as victim; Britain as exploiter:
· most profits went to Britain, not to local populations
· trade had to fit in with Britain’s trading patterns
· existing injustices were reinforced by Britain governing through local élites
· imperial rule was intrinsically racist
· British army recruited colonial soldiers for Britain’s wars
· capital investment in colonies brought profits to British investors
· good land in some colonies was taken over by British expatriate farmers
· anti-democratic and authoritarian
How you answer this depends on your definition of “empire”. Britain still has a few small colonies, although there is nothing to stop them being totally independent if the people living there want that. Many people called the old Soviet Union an empire, but it disintegrated in 1990-91. Russia still has large ethnic minorities, some of whom consider themselves victims of imperial rule. The USA is often seen as “imperial” in its military intervention in places as distant as Afghanistan (2002) and Iraq (2003).
There are other “empires” today, such as the media empires of people like Rupert Murdoch or the financial empires you find in booming regions of the world.
There was violence in Kenya and Cyprus between British forces and native nationalist forces. Elsewhere the transfer of authority from Britain to local leaders went fairly peacefully. To say, however, that it was a tidy transfer of power ignores the fact that many of the new nations that had earlier been colonies inherited some very difficult problems, especially those between India and Pakistan, and in the Middle East. There were also severe political complications in Rhodesia.