Upon what basis, the moral high ground?

Hello again
And for my second posting. . . I was wondering upon what historical basis do we the British base our moral crusade in today’s world?

I read this extract this morning and without putting too fine a point on it, I was absolutely disgusted. Read on and form your own view. . .

“The Opium Wars between Britain and China in the 19th century forced China to open its doors to trade with the western world. Thomas De Quincey describes the pleasures of opium like this: “Thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle and mighty opium”. The Chinese had banned opium in its various forms several times, citing concern for public morals, but the prohibition was ignored. The East India Company held a monopoly on the production of opium in British India. Private British traders continued to smuggle large quantities of opium into China. In this way, the opium trade became a way of balancing a trade deficit brought about by Britain’s own addiction…to tea.

The Chinese protested against the flouting of the ban, even writing to Queen Victoria. But the British continued to trade, leading to a crackdown by Lin Tse-Hsu, a man appointed to be China’s Opium Drugs Czar. He confiscated opium from the British traders and destroyed it. The British military response was severe, leading to the Nanking Treaty which opened up several of China’s ports to foreign trade and gave Britain Hong Kong. The peace didn’t last long and a Second Opium War followed. The Chinese fared little better in this conflict, which ended with another humiliating treaty.

So what were the main causes of the Opium Wars? What were the consequences for the Qing dynasty? And how did the punitive treaties affect future relations with Britain?”

1 thought on “Upon what basis, the moral high ground?”

  1. It seems to me to show an attitude by Imperialist powers through history to assert their policies on others, justifying it under the mantle of ‘progress’. This is happening again, in my opinion in Iraq, where we deem it necessary to impose a western style system of government on a country that clearly is not desiring it. What gives them the right to do this? Where is it written? In ancient times, the powerful simply invaded and conquered the weak because they thought their ideologies where better than the other. Now in todays civilized world, invasion and conquering is performed less with the sword and more with the bank account. Capitalism is modern war, only this time everyone is a part of it, the strong survive and the repercussions for the weak are far more devastating than the effects of any war.

    I think that is what is meant by the term ‘Nationalistic Hegemony’.


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