As at other levels, education has a vital role. World history should be taught, giving European achievements their due but also recognising the achievements of others and the extent to which Europe’s prosperity has been and continues to be the fruit of others’ labours. It can start with something as basic as the fact that many world maps show the northern hemisphere stretched out of proportion and that other, more equitable projections are available.
The maps show how we in Britain and Europe have a distorted view of our true position in the world. This distortion continues particularly in the UK due to the hangover of Empire. Too often the right wing of British politics, with their media promoters, harks back to images of Empire to over-play how important Britain still is today. Unfortunately, this ignores how small Britain has become. At its peak in 1938 the British Empire had a population of 531 million (Guinness Book of Records) which made it the largest empire in world history by population, with almost a quarter of the world’s population and the largest single political entity on the planet by far. Today, with a population of 67 million, the UK ranks 21st in rank of state populations (with just 0.8% of world population) and forecast to drop to 30th by 2050 to account for only 0.6% of global population.
The UK only holds its place amongst the world’s “leading” states due to its economic size, built largely on the back of exploiting (and polluting) much of the rest of the world. Even that is shrinking; from being the 4th largest economy in 2000 it had already declined to 6th position in 2021 Many economists (eg Pricewaterhouse Coopers) forecast that the UK will not even be in the top 10 largest economies by 2030.
WR knows it is time for a major re-appraisal of our importance and relevance to the world and of the debt we owe those countries we exploited in the days of Empire and still exploit under the guise of Free Trade which in almost every instance favours established Western commercial giants at the expense of developing nations. WR does not agree with reparations having to be made. The current population of Wessex, mostly themselves struggling to find rewarding employment, should not be held responsible for the acts of long dead colonialists nor the actions of exploitative modern economic beasts. What we do have to do is recognise the need to share our good fortune with the developing world both through vastly increased real foreign aid and by sharing our skills base for the betterment of others. Those Little Englanders who want to stop immigration need to learn that by sharing our wealth (financial and technical) with other states we empower people in those countries to grow and improve their position whilst staying at home. How can we justify importing doctors and nurses from less well developed countries of either Eastern Europe or African or SE Asian countries when their own health services desperately need them to stay? It was reported that Malawi which has a well developed and widely respected training scheme for nurses lost so many qualified staff to richer countries such as South Africa, Australia and the UK that it created a shortage of nursing staff and lead to an increase in infant mortality in Malawi. That is exploitation.
Rather than increase the price of food in Britain (or reduce the profits of the large food processors and supermarkets) we have grown reliant on importing seasonal staff from poorer countries who will work for low wages. That is also exploitation. WRs policies on local production for local use under local control; on reduction in waste; on control of advertising which stimulates false demand, would all counter that exploitation whilst our aid policies would help to fill the gap in the income of those countries whose people continue to exploited under current central government policies. Free movement in Europe was originally meant to be based on the free movement of equals where individuals only moved to progress careers or personal choice not because of lack of choice; with enlargement it has become yet another tool used by large corporations to extract wealth from the poorest sections of society.
(See also the page on Migration.)