I’m visiting Dublin in the emerald isle for the first time, realizing that this place was under British rule for 700 of the last 750 years. I can’t help but realize that colonial rule doesn’t end well. It isn’t good for the natives, and in the end it causes lots of problems for the colonial power. Northern Ireland is still a terrible sore spot for both countries.
The people of Ireland were poor and starving under British rule. In about sixty years of independance, they have made this a prosperous land. I expect that Ireland will be, over the next sixty years, a better trading partner with England than it ever was as a colony.
Only those few who got rich by the suffering of others made out well in the previous regime – at the cost of their souls.
We have countries that are truly nations. Sweden, Norway and Finland are stereotypical examples, in that they are geographically integral areas that have a people who are linguistically, culturally, religiously and ethically similar. These nations also have sovereignty: the power of self rule.
Even these examples include interesting variations – For example post world-war two Finland needed to maintain its soverignty in the face of an overpowering neighbor: the Soviet Union. The Finnish President Paasikivi had to make a Faustian bargain. It’s foreign policies were constrained under a restrictive agreement with the Soviet Union that remained in place until the fall of communism. Finland, under this bargain was able to maintain neutrality, peace and control its own affairs at the price of standing by while much of eastern Europe was swallowed whole. In spite of Finlandization no one would identify Finland as anything other than a nation.
Empires are by definition not Nations. They are an amalgam of diverse cultures brought together for economic power, usually by force.
The British Empire brought together a wide variety of cultures through force for economic development and power. The mixture was untenable in the long term because there was too small a common shared interest. For example: Although many Indians learned English, most were Hindu or Muslim, and shared little of their worldview with the imperial Christian British.