The vast plethora of PGDM colleges in Delhi NCR must have had the shock of their lives! At Ishan Institute of Management & Technology, one of the top PGDM colleges in Delhi NCR the academicians have in the lectures on economic environment of business chanted hymns in praise of financial globalization and the concept of economic integration but not so much as to overlook the stark realities of an inherently and historically fragile Europe. Yesterday’s round of epic voting has probably undone the ideas, hard work and peace collaborations of the United States of Europe. While it does not sound good from an Indian perspective and the ramifications of this watershed event shall be felt through ages and spaces in the world, it is worthwhile to assess the history of Great Britain and its ties with Europe through ages before coming to the final word of the impact.
The Pre-Human and Ancient History of Great Britain
Great Britain as a land mass and as a geographical entity came into existence as a result of the melting of glaciers during the times succeeding the Continental Drift. Around 6000 BCE, the British Isles were formed on the edges of the Atlantic Ocean. Human settlements followed. Yuval Noah Harari, the critically acclaimed Israeli historian and anthropologist has given a detailed account of the first species of human beings in Europe and particularly in Great Britain. In his book titled “How Did Humans Get Smart?” he writes of the earliest species of human beings and the ancestors of modern day people of European nationalities. It makes sense here to drift to physical anthropology for a while before reverting back to financial integration. Homo sapiens are just one of the many human species that have survived. Europe for that matter and Great Britain in particular was occupied by Homo Neanderthalensis. They were better known as the Neanderthals. Modern day physical anthropologists and scientists working on genome theory have substantiated the fact that Neanderthals, the original inhabitants of Europe do not have much of a linkage with the gene samples collected from modern day Europeans. It is also interesting to note that Homo Sapiens the smartest and the only surviving human species had originated in East Africa and then spread to different parts of the world to edge out competing human species like Homo Erectus in Asia, Homo Soloensis in South East Asia and the Neanderthals of Europe by means of a cognitive learning revolution and community building. There are two lessons to be learnt here. Homo sapiens from East Africa were smarter at organizing themselves as communities and better at processing knowledge. Community building which is a precursor to any kind of social institution formation like family, clan, caste, religion, nation or economic integration was and never has been the forte of the original inhabitants of Europe. In fact gene samples of modern day Europeans show that they have traces of mixed genetic heritage which further proves that globalization and integration in the purely biological and physical anthropological context has been going on since ages when people probably never imagined European idiosyncrasies like nationalism, globalization and economic integration. We had integrated as people sans the formation of Europe and sans the formation of European Union!
The Transition from Pre Human to CE Era of Great Britain
By 5000 BCE trade between Great Britain and Spain was well on its course and the coast of the Atlantic which was widely believed to be the edge of the world had become a channel for lateral communication in Europe but was the last strand standing between Europe and the Americas. In 55 BCE, when Julius Caesar attacked England, England was high linked to France in terms of politics, governance, economy and ethnicity. The Atlantic Ocean was too big a monster to be sized up for the creation of a flat world. By the last centuries of BC, France was integrated with England culturally, ethnically and economically although the identities of French and English nationalities were yet to be shaped. In the first centuries of CE, Rome governed England and Wales and linguistic evidences suggest the influence of Roman language on English. Also there are evidences that assert that it was the Romans who introduced Roman Catholic Christianity to Great Britain by replacing Paganism of the Iron Age era that was common among the Celts, Nordics and Scots. The Germans invaded England in 400 CE and then both the French and the Norsemen plundered England. By the time it was 1100 CE, English kings of mixed French Norse descent had relegated militarily and politically and by 1475, the English King Edward IV had renounced claims on France for cash for self-rule exchange.
The Medieval Era in Great Britain: Weakness Became Strength
The medieval era is hard to demarcate. History and time offer no boundaries. Time as such is a continuous variable. What really sets the medieval era apart from the ancient era perhaps is the invention of large cargo ships? Cargo ships that could carry merchandise and people and hence offered the opening of Trans Atlantic communication and exchanges of ideas, merchandise and people gave way to the integration of Great Britain with the world through the English Channel. Spain and Portugal dominated in the early centuries of naval warfare, piracy and international trade. Yet Portuguese and Spanish rulers plundered their traders for cash, gold and spices that were traded. Mercantilism was in favour with the Spanish and Portuguese monarchs who went to great extents to extract the extra mileage from their traders. Great Britain and its monarchs on the other hand were weak. They were too weak to govern and rule with an iron fist and this gave English traders the opportunity to build a stable and scalable business empire based on political and economic liberalism. It makes sense here to assert that economic liberalism actually allowed Great Britain to become a melting pot and a confluence of business enterprises, communities and cultures. In 1688 the Glorious Revolution occurred and it brought monarchs of Dutch descent to power. By the time the eighteenth century started Great Britain was well on its path to power, progress and growth by leveraging peace and buying time to organize itself. By 1815 Great Britain had well shifted the balance of power and London had become a strong financial hub. The dominance of Great Britain was not premised on tax and plunder of gold from its citizens but through dominance in trade and colonization of different continents.
In the last 300 years Great Britain has kept Germany down, America alongside and Russia out of Europe. In the 17th century Great Britain fought an all out war against Holland. In the 18th century Great Britain fought the Hundred Year War against France. In the 19th century Great Britain fought numerous small wars to colonize non-European nations. In the 20th century Great Britain twice warded off challenges from Germany during the two World Wars. The First World War was won by paying a hefty price and the Second World War saw the coming together United States of America and the erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In the 21st century Great Britain has filed for a divorce suite against Europe and is sandwiched among the BRICS nations. At Ishan Institute of Management & Technology, one of the top PGDM colleges in Delhi NCR, we have said this before and say it now. Globalization is a process and not an ideology to pursue. It will happen as it should. But to say that the world is flat and that the European Union or any other union can sustain itself while traversing against the currents of globalization is incorrect. The BREXIT referendum is not a mandate against globalization. It is a part of the process that is always altering itself. The separation of Great Britain from the European Union is like Brownian movement of sub atomic particles. The end is yet to be in sight but as of now one must confess that European Union is a sinking ship and those who fear for their lives will jump off it, whether the on-boarders like it or not. Not so annus mirabilis!