Brendan Keenan: History shows us things built in fit of distraction don't last
Published 11/11/2010 | 05:00
A Victorian historian famously commented that the British Empire was created "in a fit of absence of mind".
Apparently he meant that through multiple disjointed ventures, such as looking for a place to send convicts, or attempting to find gold, the British one day awoke to discover they ruled over 20pc of the world.
It sounds a bit like recent developments in Europe. There have certainly been multiple disjoined ventures. The resulting developments are indeed remarkable, although they come, not so much from absence of mind, but from having the mind on other things.