Having just watched the movie “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” (I watch movies while I exercise), I was pondering the British Empire—on balance, was it a force for good or evil.
So I thought, once again, I'd throw the question to Ask500People, and see what the world thought.
The overall result: 69% good, 31% evil. That's a pretty positive result, and belies the usual politically correct line. So much for “post-colonialism” and all that guff.
Here's an even more interesting result: a quick scan of the world map shows the opinion of the British Empire is especially positive not in Europe, but in the “Third World”--just the folks who are supposed to have suffered from it. South America and Africa love it. The Middle East loves it. So does India. The negative votes seem clustered in Europe—that is, the one spot that did not actually experience it.
To be perfectly fair, there were two former British colonies in which the negative vote surpassed the positive, though only by 1 to 0: Jamaica and Australia. Ireland posted no votes. In Britain itself, the feeling was perfectly ambiguous: a tie. In the US, the Empire swept two thirds of the vote. The two countries in which the British Empire seemed most popular were Brazil and Argentina. Argentina—Britain's opponent in the Falklands War.