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Africa: The Wind of Change

Witness what happens when liberal dreams come true.

“A Manifesto for Renewing Liberalism” is the title of a recent issue (September 13, 2018) of the house journal of liberalism, The Economist.  I read this confessional admission with amazement.  Can the editors mean that liberalism needs to renew its vows?  It is not like liberalism to be crippled by self-doubt.  What went wrong?  Of the myriad answers that swarm to the mind, I name just one: Africa.

Africa continues to refute the ideals of high liberalism.  The continent stands at the head and front of the great liberal delusions, and the last half-century has seen the crushing of liberalism’s hopes and predictions.  For our purposes, the liberal ascendancy reached its apogee in the post-World War II era.  The colonial powers had been greatly enfeebled by the war, which had also seen the rapid rise of anticolonialist independence parties.  And Africa, led by Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana (1957), demanded and got its independence in a rapid series of Western capitulations.  “The wind of change,” in British Prime Minister Macmillan’s phrase (1960), called for no less.  The liberal media orchestrated an unending call for Africans to be freed from the burdens of their colonialist masters.  France, Britain, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Portugal—all fled, pelted by the organs of liberal thought.  The postcolonial independence movements...

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