Do you feel good?

LAST WEEK saw the “Britain in the World” conference in London, a jolly beanfeast organised by the government and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The ‘cream’ of bourgeois society was determined to hammer home a ‘feel-good’ factor without regard for objective reality. No wonder the whole proceedings had a distinctly Alice in Wonderland feel to them.

Douglas Hurd told the assembled stretch-limo’d fatcats that Britain’s decline had ended. We have touched bottom and are rising again from the ashes, like the phoenix. The great can be put back in Great Britain.

Good stirring stuff, no doubt, but self-deluding propaganda of the first order. Not that it fools many people. The Observer curtly remarked, “Britain’s reality... is that we are now a middle-ranking economic nation with a wide geographical history but very shallow purse” (April 2). Quite. British imperialism has been in a state of relative decline since at least the 1870s and, paradoxically, the end of the Cold War has speeded up this process. With the disappearance of the Soviet Union, US imperialism views its junior partner as less important.

Prince Charles, one of the moodiest and most introspective figures you could ever encounter, lectured us on the evils of a “mood of introspection” and denounced “an approach to life which appears only to denigrate, to decry and to destroy”. Britain’s unrelenting decline is blamed upon snipers, whingers and whiners. All in all, pathetic stuff, which would leave an imbecile unconvinced.

The fact that the “Britain in the World” conference had to rely upon second-hand, second-rate, quasi-Freudian explanations for British imperialism’s decline amply demonstrates the crisis of confidence within the ruling class.

Frank Vincent