It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


How Liberal Elites ruined Britain as a hyperpower.

page: 1

log in


posted on Oct, 23 2005 @ 08:32 PM
Could America meet the same fate?
An interesting article, and for some, may well be worth a read.

WHAT DOES MODERN HISTORY have to teach us about the age of American empire? The final chapters of the British Empire offer lessons and parallels aplenty. Empires don't last forever, and the combination of martial victory, popular ennui, and liberal anti-patriotism is a dangerous mix for a superpower.

Virtually the entire article discusses/depicts how the British population was swayed towards liberal pacifism in 1918, by the end and after to WWI [similiar to the US and it's leanings towards isolationism], and ultimately towards attitudes, and policies thereof, by the 1930s.

But after the conclusion of the first World War, Britain's imperial psyche began to fracture. "After the survivors of the Western front came home," Manchester writes, "Britons wanted nothing more to do with war; most of them hoped never again to lay their eyes on an Englishman in uniform, and they were losing their taste for Empire." Winston Churchill despaired of this change. "The shadow of victory is disillusion," he noted. "The reaction from extreme effort is prostration. The aftermath even of successful war is long and bitter."

A deep desire to avoid conflict, even at the price of letting the Empire dissolve, permeated British society. In 1931, the House of Commons passed the Statute of Westminster, the first step toward independence for Britain's dominions. In 1932, a poll found that 10.4 million Britons supported England's unilateral disarmament, while only 870,000 opposed it. Historian Alistair Horne observes that, after World War I, it took just about 10 years for the "urge for national grandeur" to be replaced by "a deep longing simply to be left in peace."

The article then goes on to point out how the British liberal elites guided the process from an appeasement view towards an anti-patriotic one.

In 1933, the Oxford Union - a debating society and one of the strongholds of liberal elite opinion - held a debate on the resolution "this House will in no circumstances fight for king and country." The resolution passed. Margot Asquith, one of England's leading liberal lights, wrote that same year, quite sincerely: "There is only one way of preserving peace in the world, and getting rid of your enemy, and that is to come to some sort of agreement with him. . . . The greatest enemy of mankind today is hate."

Churchill disdained the new liberalism, mocking one of his opponents as part of "that band of degenerate international intellectuals who regard the greatness of Britain and the stability and prosperity of the British Empire as a fatal obstacle. . . . " So deep was this liberal loathing of empire that even as the first shots of World War II were being fired, Churchill's private secretary, Jock Colville, witnessed at a theater "a group of bespectacled intellectuals" who, to his shock, "remain[ed] firmly seated while 'God Save the King' was played."

These elites could see evil only at home. The French intellectual Simone de Beauvoir did not believe that Germany was a "threat to peace," but instead worried that the "panic that the Right was spreading" would drag France, Britain, and the rest of Europe into war. Stafford Cripps, a liberal Labor member of Parliament, feared not Hitler, but Churchill. Cripps wrote that after Churchill became prime minister he would "then introduce fascist measures and there will be no more general elections."

One has to wonder if this is a political conspiracy that is being manipulated and guided...for a purpose. Who would those liberal elites be? Is the British populace aware of this manipulation? Is this political transformation something that is slowly infecting and changing America and it's status as a hyperpower?

The article asserts:

In an important sense, the British Empire's strength failed because its elite liberal citizens stopped believing in it.

The parallels with 21st-century America are striking. In little more than 10 years, England went from victory in World War I to serious discussions about completely disarming herself. Talk of a "peace dividend" began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and culminated 10 years later with a major draw-down of forces and the abandonment of the two-war doctrine.

Where the Great War robbed England of a generation of its best and brightest, in America the baby boom generation was lost in Vietnam or, perhaps worse, in Canada, in the Air National Guard, and in the universities, where they learned to hide and not lead. This has taken its toll. Our two baby boom presidents have been exceedingly imperfect. (As Edmund Burke once cautioned, "A great empire and little minds go ill together.")

Rule America?

No, as a student of History, I do not necessarily believe in the notion of history repeats itself, but I do believe in similarities, contrast and comparisons, and historical coincidence.

As such, is this simply a coincidence or a conspiracy?


[edit on 23-10-2005 by Seekerof]

posted on Oct, 23 2005 @ 08:57 PM
I think they were worn out by war and the demands of being a world power but this seems to have started with the Boer war, not WW1.

I read through an artice a couple of months ago that compares Britain of the 1900's with the US of today and there are a lot of similarities.

Stagger on, weary Titan

If you want to know what London was like in 1905, come to Washington in 2005. Imperial gravitas and massive self-importance. That sense of being the centre of the world, and of needing to know what happens in every corner of the world because you might be called on - or at least feel called upon - to intervene there. Hyperpower. Top dog. And yet, gnawing away beneath the surface, the nagging fear that your global supremacy is not half so secure as you would wish. As Joseph Chamberlain, the British colonial secretary, put it in 1902: "The weary Titan staggers under the too vast orb of his fate."

The United States is now that weary Titan. In the British case, the angst was a result of the unexpectedly protracted, bloody and costly Boer war, in which a small group of foreign insurgents defied the mightiest military the world had seen; concern about the rising economic power of Germany and the United States; and a combination of imperial overstretch with socio-economic problems at home. In the American case, it's a result of the unexpectedly protracted, bloody and costly Iraq war, in which a small group of foreign insurgents defies the mightiest military the world has seen; concern about the rising economic power of China and India; and a combination of imperial overstretch with socio-economic problems at home.

Iraq is America's Boer war. Remember that after the British had declared the end of major combat operations in the summer of 1900, the Boers launched a campaign of guerrilla warfare that kept British troops on the run for another two years. The British won only by a ruthlessness of which, I'm glad to say, the democratic, squeamish and still basically anti-colonialist United States appears incapable. In the end, the British had 450,000 British and colonial troops there (compared with some 150,000 US troops in Iraq), and herded roughly a quarter of the Boer population into concentration camps, where many died.


posted on Oct, 23 2005 @ 10:02 PM
I don't believe that there was a "vast, left-wing conspiracy" that brought down the British Empire.

It is merely that, at certain pivotal moments in history, peoples' ears are attuned to certain sentiments they would otherwise ignore or laugh at. Think about those fellows not rising for "God Save the King," and compare it with the reports of the news of Waterloo hitting the British financial press 90 years earlier. Two opposing moments in UK history.

In the US (and in the world), I believe we are entering a new era; in many ways, a "post-liberal" era. I suspect that, in the future, Bush will not be seen as hopelessly reactionary, but as a bit "too moderate, too willing to compromise with the old left."

You hear phrases like "Neo-con" bandied about by everyone. You even hear the term "old left." Notice that left is portrayed as standing for what is old, and right is seen as new and potent.

I posted on ATS once last year, about how the Networks had agreed in 2000 to switch the colors used to identify US political parties. GOP had always been blue, while the donkey was traditionally red. I also posted on ATS about Tom Brokaw mentioning this fact on election eve 2004; that journalists thought voters might subconsciously connect the democrats with communism. . . .

I think in their own ways, Bin Laden and Bush both represent the end of the liberal era, the 20th century. More people in the US self-identify as republicans than as democrats for the first time in history. And in the developing world, ideologues no longer hold up western "model democracies" as the path to national (or muslim) liberation.

Does history repeat itelf? No, but sometimes it rhymes.

As HG Welles wrote, history is the sound of hobnailed boots marching up the staircase, and silver slippers padding down.


posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 12:32 PM
Perhaps it was the British people themselves, and not just some nefarious "liberal elite", that decided Empire was no longer worth the effort? Perhaps two horrific World Wars had something to do with it?

In the end, what's so wonderful about the exercise of power over others?

Britain today is a wealthy country, largely at peace. In giving up their empire, what precisely have they lost?

The bragging rights of the schoolyard bully?

[edit on 10/24/05 by xmotex]

posted on Oct, 24 2005 @ 12:57 PM
The Empire didnt fall through liberal trachery but financial realism, world war one cost the UK £10 billion, more than any other power, and in addition to that we had gone from being the worlds creditor to a massive debtor.

The empire flourished while around 30% of the worlds trade took place in London, allowing us to support colonies around the world, especially India and the Dominions. Following the end of WW1 and the restructuring of global finances England no longer had this power so could no longer support the loss making colonies of Africa and S.E Asia.

The final blow came with the need to fight WW2 England had to either keep the Empire and accept a Nazi Europe or spend another fortune, lose the Empire and fight for liberty. To pay for a new war chunks of land would have to be handed to the USA to buy equipment and buy support. Plenty of government figures (Halifax) favoured giving Hitler free reign in Europe, but decency prevailed and the Empire was sacrificed to free Europe.

Not a liberal conspiracy but financial realism combined with the misfortune to fight two devastating wars.

top topics

log in