Sunday, December 28, 2014
So, I was looking around on YouTube, as one does, and I found something that taught me something new—as one does. The video above is from Archives New Zealand, and within it is something I’d never heard of before. And how many times has THAT happened?
Beginning at about 2:16, the video talks about a meeting in Wellington by the Colombo Plan, and I immediately thought, “wait, what?!” I’d never heard of it.
It turns out, the Colombo Plan was conceived in 1949/50 among nations in The Commonwealth as way to combat the rise of communism in Southeast Asia. It focused solely on economic development, ignoring the social and economic inequality that communists exploited. However, this was central to conservative thinking, then as now, that “a rising tide lifts all boats”, so if the economy does well, everyone in it does, too. That’s nonsense, of course, but in the 1950s, it didn’t seem so (and it still doesn’t to those of antique beliefs…).
The conference in Wellington was held in May, 1956. The Prime Minister at the time would have been Sidney Holland. He stepped down and resigned due to ill health the following year. The video mentions “the Legislative Chamber” which then was the chamber of New Zealand’s former upper house, the Legislative Council, which was abolished in 1950. Their chamber has been used for special and state occasions ever since—and it’s actually quite small.
The Colombo Plan—named for the city in Sri Lanka where it was formed—still exists, though its mandate has extended into the Pacific. Founding members Canada and the United Kingdom both left, in 1992 and 1991, respectively. Vietnam technically left in 1975 when South Vietnam was defeated, then the current Vietnam was a member until 1976, and is now again a member. For some reason I cannot begin to guess, Saudi Arabia became a member in 2012.
So, here I am, a reasonably well-educated person, someone who studied not just political science but also international relations, and yet I was completely unaware of the Colombo Plan until tonight. And that meant only one thing: I had to share it in case others didn’t know about it, either. Secretly, I’m hoping others haven’t…
The things you find on the Internet can be very enlightening.