How Short History

An interesting Atlantic piece published today analyzes the failure of then-British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Loyd to foresee the failings of British “empire” and the African independence movement throughout the 1960s and 70s. More important than the colloquial and racial undertones in Loyd’s analysis, is a lesson of punditry, political-prognostication and the bias of the present. In the words of the author:

“Within only a few years of this memo, both Britain and the Africa were dramatically changed, and the assumptions Loyd shared with the power structure around him had become obsolete. History can shock itself like this. Just a few years from now, the idea that China and India would become superpowers — or that multilateral institutions like NATO or the UN would maintain their primacy, or that most of Europe would remain pluralistic and democratic — could similarly read like quaint reminders of the arrogance or credulousness of an earlier age. And by 2060, they could seem like hopelessly deluded relics of a vanished world.”

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