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Friday, January 13, 2012

The Great Illusion: a prophecy for a century

Yesterday a new book came up on Gutenberg; one that I bypassed first time around. 

  There's nothing on the site to indicate what the book they've just released is going to be about. I saw it there once more as I looked through today's offerings, and curiosity got the better of me. After all, the author was a great political figure in the early Twentieth Century, and a Nobel Laureate. What was this great illusion?

Norman Angell
  I skimmed through the first few pages quickly, and confess I haven't yet read much of it, but what I saw as the opening thesis grabbed my attention. The reason for this is that it could have been written as a proposition for the present, yet it was penned a century ago.

  The publication date is 1910. It was startling in its accuracy for 2012.

  Bear in mind that it was composed before two catastrophic world wars, financial and social upheavals the like of which the world had never experienced before. It was a time of unshakeable optimism that the world was in a great period of industrial progress and a wonderful period of human history was beginning. 

 Titanic was about to be launched just months later; in May 1911 - the greatest moving object ever created by human beings. The magnificent ship was a triumph of its age. A vision of Manifest Destiny enveloped the world of Europe and America, yet world war - the world of Europe at least, was just four years away.

  No-one, you would think, could have prophesied what was to come, yet look at the timeless words below. Would that they had been able to drive the European and American vision in the past one hundred years....

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