Anthony Webster
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The future of Britain's imperial history?
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This chapter offers a sturdy defence of the British imperial record, on a number of counts. Firstly, Ferguson contends that the British empire of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was pivotal in the creation of an international system of free trade which facilitated the huge growth of the world economy during the period. Secondly, Ferguson dismisses the notion, supported by many of the 'New Left', that the British empire 'underdeveloped' its colonies in Africa and Asia. He argues that under British rule, their potential for growth and development was realised to a high degree, and where results were disappointing this was frequently due to limitations of climate, terrain or resource availability - problems which were marginally susceptible to alleviation by the actions of the colonial state. Thirdly, in the twentieth century, the British empire offered an infinitely preferable system to the rival imperialisms of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.

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