Orwell served as a member of the Imperial Police in Burma from 1922–1927. While it is not clear if the narrator is actually meant to be Orwell himself or if the events he describes actually happened, he would have been drawing on his memories of his time in Burma in...
the 1920s while composing thisessay. In the second paragraph, he states:.
I did not even know that the British Empire is dying, still less did I know that it is a great deal better than the younger empires that are going to supplant it.
The younger empires he is alluding to as he writes this in the mid-1930s are almost certainly the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. In the 1920s, Hitler had not yet risen to power in Germany, and the worst of the Stalinist abuses were yet to come. Orwell is saying that while the behavior of the British imperialists in Burma in the 1920s was not admirable, and that he hated being part of their system of oppression, at the same time, what went on was nowhere near as bad as the tyrannies imposed by Stalin and Hitler.