End of An Empire?


AT the turn of the 20th century, toward the end of a brutal and surprisingly difficult victory in the Second Boer War, the people of Britain began to contemplate the possibility that theirs was a nation in decline. They worried that London’s big financial sector was draining resources from the industrial economy and wondered whether Britain’s schools were inadequate. In 1905, a new book — a fictional history, set in the year 2005 — appeared under the title, “The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.”

The crisis of confidence led to a sharp political reaction. In the 1906 election, the Liberals ousted the Conservatives in a landslide and ushered in an era of reform. But it did not stave off a slide from economic or political prominence. Within four decades, a much larger country, across an ocean to the west, would clearly supplant Britain as the world’s dominant power. 

-David Leonhardt, The New York Times, Oct. 11, 2008

3 comments

  1. Apt. #34 says:

    I read that this weekend - scared the crap out of me!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I think this is true.

    I wonder what comes next?

  3. columnist says:

    I have to say there is a lot of weight to this theory. I think the power is shifting to Asia. I thought it would take a few more decades, (and perhaps it will), but the movement has definitely begun. Whoever wins your presidency will have a plateful of problems, but one who seeks out friends, rather than rattles sabres, will probably fare better in my opinion.