In my 72 years upon this earth I’ve made my share of poor decisions (perhaps more than my share?).
However, while affecting myself and those close to me there wasn’t any downside to humanity in general.
A while back I purchased a great CD disc called Last Night At The Proms. The front cover features a lot of Cheney-looking Britishers, some with silly hats, and standing with that symbol of a long gone empire in the background, the Union Jack.
At about the same time, on PBS, I watched an excellent program on the reign of Queen Victoria, narrated by the great Canadian actor Donald Sutherland.
The aforementioned double disc contains great music including Elgar, Walton and William Blake’s beautiful Jerusalem (set to music by Edward Elgar). (Although William Blake undoubtedly would have been horrified at the context in which Jerusalem was used (to aggrandise the British Empire).
The PBS program simply told it as it was. When Victoria acceded to the throne in 1837 she was married to Prince Albert, a liberal-minded person who helped to push Victoria on a progressive course. However, with Albert’s death in 1861, she became ultra-conservative favouring Benjamin Disraeli’s ‘in your face’ British Empire imperialism to the more forward looking policies of William Gladstone (home rule for Ireland, etc.). It is said that she utterly disliked the great reforms of 1870 that covered everything from minimum educational requirements to proper sanitation.
After all, the ‘lesser orders’ had to accept their fate, do nothing to score the horses and get their rewards in heaven.
By the end of the 19th century, Britain egged on by that total rogue Cecil Rhodes, was engaged in a brutal war in South Africa.
There the British created the first modern day concentration camps in which some 80,000 Boer men, women and children, as well as — black people died. One can see the seeds of destruction for the British Empire already in their conduct of the Boer War.
As to Great Britain itself, as least one quarter of the population was malnourished. There was no semblance of a New Jerusalem as envisioned by William Blake.
Bad decisions! They can bring down an Empire!