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Were there any positives to European Colonialism? Show more Show less

European empires from the early modern period to the twentieth century dominated much of the globe. Scholarship on Imperialism has focused on the destruction and exploitation that these European colonies wrought on their subjects and territories. However, were there any positive results from this process?

Yes, there are positives to European colonialism Show more Show less

Empires were vital in spreading global norms which allow for our modern economy and way of life.
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European imperialism created the modern world

Empires were vital in spreading global norms which allow for our modern economy and way of life.
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The Argument

The historian Niall Fergusson argues that European, and particularly British, Colonialism has created the modern world in which we live. In his numerous books and TV programmes Fergusson details how the British Empire spread Protestant Christianity, capitalism, "Western norms of law, order, and government," and the English language.[1] Almost the entire world has embraced democracy and free trade, both ideas spread by European colonial regimes. English has become a global lingua Franca. Imperialism, Fergusson argues, was a vital step in both allowing these ideas to flourish and ending more coercive forms of labour like the slave trade. Imperialism was the midwife to the birth of the modern world.

Counter arguments

This argument really depends on how one sees the modern world, and whether its position is positive or negative. It is also very Eurocentric. Global trade was not a European invention.



[P1] Four main things underpin the modern world: Protestantism, good governance, capitalism, the English language. [P2] These things have created a positive modern world.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] These are not universal values.


Further Reading



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This page was last edited on Friday, 6 Mar 2020 at 09:50 UTC