Yes. Any student of world history will tell you that if he had to pick a single nation to pin all the world's troubles on, Britain is far and away the obvious choice. There is plenty of precedent of countries paying off their victims in cash. The Nazis had to pay off the Jews. The U.S. government has settled with many Indian tribes, offering them land, lucrative casino rights, and in some cases, cash. We, the International Coalition for British Reparations, are asking that the greatest criminal nation on earth—the British—pay up as well.
Sure, Britain isn't behind all of the world's problems—at least not directly. The old Soviet Union, for example, is estimated to be responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of its own citizens, to say nothing of the havoc its aggressive foreign policy wreaked abroad. But most of these deaths happened by way of prison camps (a British invention) or machine guns (another British invention). All roads of human suffering, particularly in the 20th century, lead back to Britain.
No. We don't believe this is due to any inherent defect in the character of the British people. Stretching more than a millennium to the crowning of Alfred the Great in 871, the British Monarchy is simply one of the oldest continuous governmental bodies on earth. For centuries, its power over its citizens was nearly absolute. By the dawn of the 20th century, it controlled nearly one third of the globe. But while other totalitarian reigns have been put on trial and forced to make amends, the British crown has maintained its grip on power, and so avoided being called to account for its numerous crimes against humanity.
Where to begin? By our analysis, the crimes of Britain fall into four major categories:
Genocide. Modern Britain was founded through the systematic erasure of indigenous culture and language. The English rounded up natives, seized their property, and forced them to relinquish their heritage and take on British language and culture as their own. Anyone who dissented faced extermination. This practice began in Scotland, Wales and Ireland and soon spread all over the world, where the British Empire plundered natural resources and enslaved native peoples then left without building the stable infrastructure or governments necessary for self-sufficiency.
The Industrial Revolution. Beginning in the 18th century, Britain began making our lives worse through the introduction of machines in the workplace. The health, safety, and wages of workers took a back seat to owners' greed for ever-higher output and profits. The skies above the city—first London, then the world—were filled with black smoke. Waters were poisoned with noxious chemicals. Under the careless watch Britain's elite, the Industrial Revolution got off to a horrible start, the consequences of which have continued to ring down through the centuries. The melting of the polar icecaps, the loss of countless plants and animal species, and the imperiled condition of the human race on a planet made poisonous by misapplied technology are all a consequence of British negligence and hunger to accumulate wealth at any cost.
Global Misrule. The terrorist threat has its roots in British mismanagement of the Middle East, particularly Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Britain's imperialist past has so enraged Muslim extremists. Now America is deploying our sons, daughters, and tax dollars to clean up the mess that Britain made. The deaths caused by all the major wars of the 19th and early 20th century could have been prevented, or at least lessened, if the British hadn't waited until their backs were up against the wall before getting into the action. Most of the worst tyrants in power through the end of the 20th century were put there by the British, or came to power by filling the power vacuum the British Empire left behind.
Bad Inventions. Machine guns, slums, prisons, child labor, bad hygiene, the Black Plague, concentration camps, you name it. If it hurts people, the British probably came up with it.
Strangely enough, Britain has been very aggressive about making other countries pay for their historical misdeeds. Like a herd of raging soccer hooligans looting their rival's capital after a victory, they've extracted exorbitant reparations payments from Germany, France, and China, among others. Now it's their turn to pay.
Britain has long controlled our patterns of thought through the modern university, an English invention. They control what we say through their hold over English, the global master language. More recently, they've bought the minds of some of our best and brightest—including numerous top U.S. politicians and public thinkers—through the Rhodes Scholarship, thus insuring that the false innocents of Britain's public image never has to face scrutiny.
Thirty-one trillion pounds is a fairly arbitrary figure. Really, one could easily make the argument that Britain owes much more. But we came up with £31 trillion as a starting point by adding up the following costs:
First Iraq War: $71 billion (As estimated by the Department of Defense. The need for U.S. intervention in the Middle East is a direct consequence of Britain's early support of the House of Saud and conflicting promises made to the Israelis and Palestinians).
Second Iraq War: $282 billion+ (As calculated by Congressional Appropriations. The irrational anger of radical Islam as embodied in Saddam Hussein's rogue state, is the expression of a deep grudge that started with the slaughter's inflicted by the British crown during the Crusades and later, Britain's ruthless treatment of the old Ottoman Empire.)
Opium War Refund: $32.6 trillion ($21 million that Britain extorted from China through the Treaty of Nanking in 1842, with interest, compounded annually. Strange that China should have to pay up after it was Britain who got millions of her citizens hooked on opium.)
Versailles Refund $25 trillion ($26 billion that Britain extorted from defeated German government after World War I, with interest, compounded annually, an unfair and punitive settlement that was one of the primary causes of World War II.)
Everyone has suffered the consequences of the Evil Empire. We proposed to distribute the reparations monies equally between all the people of the world. Dividing a £31 trillion settlement between 6.5 billion people gives us roughly £4,770 or $8,350 for every man, woman, and child on earth. It's far from enough, but it's a start.
First of all, the Iraq war and Darfur genocide are not separate issues. They are two of the numerous consequences of the British Empire's mistakes. They can be traced directly back to the British Empire's shortsighted imperialist policies in the Middle East and Africa. Second, letting the British Empire get away with savaging the world's culture, economy, and environment without having to pay any price sets a terrible precedent, both for the present governments of the world and for future generations. Third, we believe the situations in Iraq and in the Sudan would be greatly improved if each citizen were to receive the full cash settlement of $8,350. Everything else being equal, people are less likely to fight when they have something to lose.
Steven A. Grasse is a cultural studies analyst and media communications expert, who has extensively studied the British Empire. He is also the spokesperson for the International Coalition for British Reparations (ICBR), a massive global initiative for reparations from England worth 58 trillion dollars. This is his first book.
Simply click on The Petition and add your name to become a full member of our organization.
After obtaining a sufficient number of signatures to show the depth of international support for our proposed settlement, we plan to present a full copy of the petition, in person, to Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.
They could start by selling the priceless antiquarian collections of the British Museum, much of which were looted illegally from former British colonies. After that, we would propose selling Buckingham Palace, leasing Westminster Abbey, and auctioning off the numerous treasures, objects d' art, statuary found therein. This will likely provide less than a tenth of the money necessary for full settlement, but with an annual GDP of $1.8 trillion, we are confident Britain will be able to come up with the money, particularly if they are permitted to space payments out over a period of 50 to 75 years.
With enough pressure from the international community—both at the grassroots and highest diplomatic levels, we fully expect Britain to comply with the terms of our proposed settlement. Anyone who considers the full scope of Britain's offenses will quickly realize that while the 31 trillion figure may seem like a lot, when weighed against the historical record, it's a terrific bargain.