As you know, our podcast series is now available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google podcasts, We also have an RSS feed for the podcasts. Please subscribe and enjoy on the go! There is a new podcast scheduled for this week. We sometimes feel that we are not even managing to keep up with the tide of idiocy sweeping the country. The latest, as reported by the Telegraph, is that the National Railway Museum at York is conducting a research project entitled ‘Slavery and Steam: steam power, railways and colonialism’.
The impetus, as seems to be almost invariably the case, comes from museum staff and universities, not from the public. The aim is to see how railways facilitated imperial rule. Perhaps we can help them save some time and money: yes, of course railways were part of empire. So was almost everything you can think of, from manufacturing army boots to building hospitals. Putting it another way, the empire promoted economic development. Post-imperial states show not the slightest desire to reverse this. Coincidentally, two of our recent articles look at this very subject. Our previous newsletter discussed Professor Tirthankar Roy’s Economic History of India 1707-1857, which shows British rule enabling economic modernization ‘drawing strength from railway building’.
This week, a thorough review of Sathnam Sanghera’s Empireland, by Dr R.P. Fernando, points out that Sanghera ignores all the positive results of empire—including of course railways—which our reviewer lists in detail under the headings of education, healthcare, justice and democracy. Another example of idiocy is the decision by Imperial College London to ‘decolonize’—though not by changing its name, presumably too valuable a property for wokeness to touch. David Abulafia turns to satire—but the problem is that almost every day comes some new development that defies parody.
Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain, by Sathnam Sanghera Empireland has been widely praised and has reached the bestseller lists. As an immigrant from Sri Lanka (once part of the British Empire), I consider much of this book illuminating. But the author focuses entirely on the deplorable episodes of the British raj. Whatever good Britain achieved is ignored. This is an extraordinary argument.
Read More »Decolonizing Imperial College: a few suggestions
Activists at Imperial College are targeting Darwin’s colleague TH Huxley. They want to rename the building named after him. But what about the name of the college? Activism is full of contradictions.
Read More » Professor Tim Luckhurst argues that negative analyses of newspapers and their role in history, which has become standard in university Journalism, Media Studies and Cultural Studies courses, is damaging to democracy and to students. Why this negative view? Partly because academe is increasingly dominated by ‘a strand of ideology that makes little impact at the ballot box’—a failure which its exponents blame on the press. The highlight of the week is an inspiring podcast with Ruth Dudley Edwards, who draws on her experience of the repression of free thought in Ireland to emphasise the importance of standing up to the new enemies of free thought in Britain. Podcast: Ruth Dudley Edwards – Defending Free Speech
Written by History Reclaimed
Ruth tells how she left Ireland and her Roman Catholic upbringing to take residence in England where she felt the culture allowed her more freedom to think for herself and challenge the orthodoxies she had grown up with, which were often full of “hate and lies”. Read More Readers will also be interested by a significant report by Trevor Phillips, ‘Principles for Change’, on how to restrain the growing trend to alter public history and heritage without due process. He suggests principles by which due process should be applied. We also recommend a lively short piece written for Halloween by HR member Elizabeth Weiss, responding to the ever-growing lists of ‘inappropriate’ costumes for children to wear. This she calls ‘The Invasion of the Freedom Snatchers’, against which children need to be defended.
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Regards from, Robert Tombs and David Abulafia
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