According to most commentators on world power, China is the future, America is the present and Britain is the past. Inside our November issue, however, Walter Russell Mead argues that the history of Britain and America’s “special relationship” suggests something rather different: that immigration, social change and the financial muscles of the City may just be heralding an era of British revival on the world stage.
Mead takes the long perspective, looking across the 230 years since American independence and finding more trends and continuities than British commentators are wont to—including the central fact that, for roughly three centuries, “the English-speaking peoples have been more or less continuously organising, managing, expanding and defending a global system of power, finance, culture and trade.”
In the end, it’s perhaps surprising that the possibilities he raises sound quite so surprising. Then again, national pessimism has become such an engrained part of the British character that it would be almost impossible for us to take such claims seriously if they came in a speech by a British politician. Is it time for a change?