Isaiah Berlin and the Anglo-American Predicament Chapter uri icon


  • During almost three centuries Britain managed to create and maintain a vast worldwide empire. (Gamble 2003: 5) In mid-Victorian period Britain was the dominant sea-power, the leading colonial power and the world’s industrial giant. (Reynolds 2000: 8) However, in the middle of the 20th century its world supremacy was practically extinct. Britain had lost nearly all its overseas possessions and its industry and economy were on the verge of collapse after two World Wars. The Second World War marked the irreversible decline of Britain and the loss of India in 1948 was the first step to decline. (Aldred 2004: 2-3) The solution lay on the co-operation and alliance with the United States of America, one of the superpowers resulting from the war. Despite being on the edge of bankruptcy, Britain also tried to act as a superpower (Reynolds, 2000: 2), but it could only behave as such with the diplomatic, intelligence and economic American co-operation. In addition to finding itself involved in a difficult balancing act between claiming great power status and needing American help, (Hopkins 2005: 1) Britain also had to determine its post-imperial role. The British still shared feelings of imperial nostalgia and insular parochialism which had been appointed as some of the causes for decline.

publication date

  • 2011