Britain in the XX century
- 1) History
2) World outlook and Lifestyle
3) Discovery of Fleming
II) 1) History
The economical and political role of Britain changed through the XX. In the beginning of the century it was one of the 3 leading countries, the other two – Germany and the USA. As for the British empire it still covered ¼ of the world territory
In the middle of the century, after the II World War, Britain lost the majority of its colonies, economically it wasn’t as successful as in the previous period, and up to the 1970-ies it was an ordinary country, economically poorer than many others of Western European ones.
By the end of the century it was enforced by the reforms of Margaret Thatcher. The Britain is today the sixth largest economy in the world and the third largest in Europe after Germany and France.
The biggest trouble for Britain in the XX century as far for the other European countries was the II World War. The British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain tried to negotiate with Hitler. But in 1939 the War began. For Britain it was the war in the Atlantic ocean. The third of the British fleet was destroyed and it was a big blow for the English economy. In the spring of 1940 Germany seized the bigger part of Western Europe. The British troops fought in France. During the Battle of France Chamberlain was replaced by Winston Churchill, who had opposed any negotiations with Hitler.
Helping the French, the British troopes were cut off from the French Army by the German advance. The British army was retreated by the Germans and to the area around the port of Dunkirk. The Germans could have destroyed the British army. It meant that Britain was going to lose its land army. But at that moment the event took place, which got the name of “the miracle of Dunkirk”. For some still unknown reason Hitler ordered the German army to stop the attack for 2 days. It is suggested that he was still hopeful of establishing peace with Britain. This gap in the action gave the British short time to evacuate by sea. Big navy vessels weren’t enough to evacuate the whole army in such a short period. Nobody knew when the Gervans would restart their advance. Churchill ordered any ship or boat available, large or small, to pick up the soldiers. Thousands of private boats crossed the English Channel and about 400 000 soldures were evacuated. “Miracle of Dunkirk” saved British army, but weapons were lost.
Hitler started preparation for land invasion into Britain. The planned invasion was called “Operation Sea Lion”. The German air force began operations to destroy the British Air Force in order to get air advantage before the conquest for the country. This battle is known as the Battle of Britain. Besides, the German Air force bombed the cities in the South of England – London, Manchester, Coventry. Their aim was to demoralise people and to destroy industry. The Germans failure to achieve air superiority over Britain and Hitler rejected invading Britain. It was the 1 victory over Germany in the World War II. After that together with the Alliences the British army fought in Northern Africa, Asia, and in continental Europe.
After the war Britain lost its empire. The independence movement rose in colonies. Besides, the big part of the Britons thought, that it wasn’t good to rule other countries. The main British colonies got independence. But Britain tried to keep its ties with former colonies through the Commonwealth
After the war the economy of Britain as of the bigger part of Western Europe was destroyed. The American state secretary (foreign minister) George Marshall offered the programme of recovering of the European economy. It was called Marshall aid. The USA financed the reconstruction of Industry in Europe, Britain got the biggest part of the aid. The recovered Europe gave the tremendous market for American goods.
After the War socialist ideas were popular in Britain. The Labour party won the elections. «Labour» means “Work”. So they call themselves the party of working people. The labourist government proclaimed the idea of “Welfare state” – the state, which cures about people’s well-being. The free school and free medical treatment were established.
In 1960-ies Britain was a rather prosperous country. Just at that period young people began influence fashion, music and the whole life-style. The 1960s were a time of “youth revolution”. Music bands became the leaders of youth culture. None of them was so world-wide famous as “The Beatles”.
Translate the name into Russian – The group wasn’t popular in the start of its career and was going to think out the name with the double sense. Further John Lennon told seeing the name in a dream. It sounded like “beetles» but was written in the other way. It told about the formation of the word from “beat” – “ритм». The most popular beat of sixties was swing. That’s why the Sixties got the name of the Swinging Sixties.
In 1970-ies British economy declined. The important branches of industry belonged to state and weren’t effective. Britain was behind many European countries. In 1979 Conservative party won the Elections and Margaret Thatcher became a prime-minister. She developed “Thatcher revolution”. She gave main branches of industry to private control, closed ineffective enterprises and lowered the taxes. There were several difficult years with a high unemployment, but as a result business activity grew and Britain restored its leading positions in Europe.
(As for Thatcher, she was the 1 woman who became prime-minister in European history. She remained in her post for 10 years and was the longest serving British prime-minister in the XX)
Having the 6 volume of economy in the world, Britain has the 2 position in scientific achievements. Cambridge is considered the best university of the Europe and in the leading university of the world in preparing of outstanding scientists. More than 80 Nobel winners graduated from it. As for the evidence of usual life, they are not so high in Britain. For example in life expectancy and quality of a life England usually has 27 – 28 places in the world rating lists, conceding the first positions in Europe to the Scandinavian countries, Holland, Austria, Switzerland and France.
Nevertheless people want to sea England and London, and it is the most visited city in the world with 15 million visitors every year (the 2 is Bangkok and Paris is the 3)
2) World outlook and life-style
Before speaking about mentality, it is necessary to consider two things
1) The picture of mentality is always convеntional. We can’t say that all the people of the country have such way of thinking. We can speak only about tendencies, but each separate person is not obliged to correspond it. People are different. The concrete Englishman doesn’t obligatory have typical features usually attributed to the English
2) The way of thinking is better seen from the outside, by the foreigners. That’s why I shall quote many foreigners.
One of the major concepts for English culture is called "privacy".
It means many things
- independent life.
- wish to not be disturbed and not to disturb others
You can see the examples of privacy everywhere
1- In English public places - streets, transport, schools - it is much more silent, than in such places in the other countries.
2 – They try not to break dialogue of any people or conversation of any group. This is the reason of a well-known English habit to leave company without saying goodbye. But the other habit is less known – to enter the room with a company without saying “hallo”. Thus, not saying hallo or goodbye the Englishmen try not to break the common conversation.
3 - It is not accustomed to start a dialogue with fellow travelers, to talk in trains. They call it “to keep privacy”. They mostly read. There is a book by journalist Vladimir Osipov about Britain. He described his travel from London to Manchester and back. He had 10 fellow travellers and spent 10 hours in compartments. Except greetings, not a single word was told.
So they don’t like to talk with unacquainted people, but they would willingly help unacquainted people in need. If you show your desire to speak it won’t be supported, but if you show that you have any real problem you will be helped immediately.
4 – It is impolite to speak about things that can worry people. The famous English habit to speak about weather is partly caused by their wish not to disturb anyone’s feelings.
5 – People love their homes everywhere in the world, but the English are especially devoted to their homes. They say «My house is my fortress». Because the house is a place where privacy is better is protected.
6 – The other well known English feature is restraint which means not to show their original feelings, because they shouldn’t disturb the feeling of another. There is such English definition of a gentleman: «the genuine gentleman is a person who always names cat a cat even if he stumbled at it and fell»
There are many sequences of the concept of privacy or its back sides
As privacy means limitation of emotions in a daily life there are special spheres emotional splashes and expressing passions.
1 - One of them – Sport. Already in medieval London there were places for sports. Some drained swaps became stadiums. For the Englishman to do sports or to fan sports means to express a great amount of emotions which he can’t express in his everyday life.
2 – The other way of splashing out their emotions is the English love of taking challenge. Osipov tells about an experiment of his colleague, the Moscow journalist, who desided to make the Englishmen speak in a train. He entered a compartment and told: «May I introduce myself. I am a Russian correspondent, but I understand English badly, so you can talk about everything, not just about weather». The passenges spoke all the way contrary to their usual habit to be silent. The author comments: to Englishmen felt a challenge, that they were boring people able to speak only about weather. That’s why they spoke and certainly not about weather.
4 - One more consequence of privacy is the love of Englishmen for hobbies. The word derived from hobby-horse – “childish horse”, a toy, a horse head on a stick.
According to unwritten rule each brought up Englishman should have a hobby. Because in some cases it allows not to show bad emotions, but to turn to hobby. It is not decently, from the English point of view to give great value to unfortunate career or failure at examination. Hobby helps not to have a depressed appearance. It is a mean from stresses. That’s why they appreciate amateurs. Sometimes they are surrounded by greater honour, than professionals.