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  • New Anglosphere Challenge Website

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on November 17th, 2004 (All posts by )

    OK, this is cool. Jim Bennett now has a website to promote his new book The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-Speaking Nations Will Lead the Way in the Twenty-First Century. The website has a synopsis of the book. We’ll let the man speak for himself:

    The Anglosphere Challenge is a new and different look at where globalization and information technology are taking the world, and specifically the USA and the other English-speaking nations. Unlike most of these observers, Bennett believes that these forces will not create a borderless world, nor will the process of globalization lead to a homogenized world culture. Instead, Bennett argues that what is emerging is a series of distinct but overlapping globe- spanning linguistic-cultural phenomena, which he terms “network civilizations”. (The Anglosphere, or English-speaking network civilization, is the first but by no means the last of such entities.) Within these network civilizations, cultures with strong civil societies can cross intra- civilizational boundaries with ease, widening the scope of easy interaction, particularly for smaller, entrepreneurial ventures. The task of the emerging era, then, is one of creating political forms of cooperation appropriate to these network civilizations. Bennett argues that such a form, which he terms the “Network Commonwealth”, is already emerging. Unlike national or imperial forms of organization, network commonwealths are characterized by extreme decentralization and lack of compulsory mechanisms. Network commonwealths will serve to replace the trade and defense functions once performed by large economic states. Bennett’s book contains a detailed discussion of the English-speaking world and why its strong civil society, and resultant entrepreneurial market capitalism and constitutional government will likely result in the Anglosphere’s retaining the lead role in the next stages of development, the multiple and simultaneous scientific-technological revolutions sometimes called the Singularity, and the emergence of the Network Commonwealth..

    The site also has excerpts from the book, and the annotated bibliography. Check these out. They will make you want to get the book if you haven’t already.

    I finished reading the book a while ago. I just need a chunk of time to write up a detailed review. Bear with me.

     

    8 Responses to “New Anglosphere Challenge Website”

    1. Steven Den Beste Says:

      Does he or does he not include Canada in the Anglosphere? I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that it should no longer be considered a part of it, as it is increasingly dominated by its French elements.

    2. Jim Bennett Says:

      Canada is part in, part out. The Anglosphere is not a precisely-defined construct like a nation-state, and many nations are at various degrees of distance from the center. Essentially, the English-speaking provinces are quite unremarkably Anglospheric in opinion, mostly blue-state or purple-state in culture and public opinion, with Alberta being very similar to an American red state. Quebec is in the Francosphere, largely, although it has a substantial English-speaking minority. For example, Jean Chretien’s son-in-law’s ties to the French oil industry are suspected of being influential in Chretien’s decision to oppose the Iraq war. Because of the way the Canadian political system works, Quebec has a partial-veto on many public questions, including foreign policy. Because the Liberal party acts as the center-left in the Anglosphone provinces, and as the right in Quebec, it has been able to straddle Canadian politics and enact a foreign policy that’s substantially to the left of the center of opinion in English-speaking Canada. It’s a bit similar to the old Democratic use of the Solid South to hold an electoral lock on American politics, which worked between 1932 and 1964. Whether events now underway in Canada (mostly the rise of the unified Conservatives, and the sociological trend Andrew Coyne call the “westernization of Ontario”) might change this, time will tell. If you’re intersted, you should look at Andrew Coyne’s blog (http://www.andrewcoyne.com). Meanwhile Canada seems to be what Mark Steyn calls a “semi-detached member of the Anglosphere.”

    3. Charles Says:

      One country I haven’t heard mentioned as part of the Anglosphere is Israel, yet it seems to me that it has many of the right characteristics. English is very widely spoken (on my recent visit it seemed to be an almost universally-spoken second language, among Jews at least, and there are English-language newspapers); the legal system is that of the English common law; much of the world of business (especially the growing high-tech sector) and academia is closely connected with the English-speaking world (especially the US); the parliamentary system is close to the Westminster model (the main difference being the proportional representation party list system, which seems to be a legacy of the pre-State of Israel Zionist organisations). I should be careful not to over-emphasise this aspect of Israel, and many Israelis might not welcome such a label, but if India is considered part of the Anglosphere (a view that makes sense to me), so too is Israel.

    4. Ginny Says:

      Re. Israel. Like Afghanistan, Israelis working on a written Constitution went to the Federalist Papers Forward, March 2003.

      Of course, some institutions (academic and religious, such as the Presbyterian church) clearly treat Israel as the “other”. This seems to me to be a sign, however, that these groups, not too happy with their own identity, want to isolate Israel because of its vulnerable, marginal status in such a grouping. A more positive perspective might be that they hold Israel to Anglosphere standards.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      Charles, I generally agree with you and have made similar points in the past, though I don’t think I convinced Lex or Jim Bennett. Israeli culture is not primarily Anglospheric. However, it has strong Anglospheric characteristics, particularly the widespread use of English, close connections to U.S. business and cultural sectors, and an exceptionally high level of pro-American sentiment.

    6. Charles Says:

      Jonathan, I think the qualified way you in which you put the issue is fair and accurate, as I agree that Israeli culture is not primarily Anglospheric (and did not mean to suggest otherwise). I think the analogy with India is a reasonable one – the British influence is strong, but the primary culture is different (unlike, say, Australia, my own country).

      Ginny, it is interesting that Israelis have been inspired by the Federalist Papers. So too were the Australians who drew up our own Constitution in a series of conventions in the 1890s. The parliamentary system is Westminster-derived, but the federal structure closely resembles and was consciously modelled on that of the US (because, just like the US, Australia was formed from a union of separate, self-governing British colonies).

      Also, I think your remark that certain Western groups “treat Israel as the ‘other'” because the are “not too happy with their own identity” is right on the mark. It is typical of the Left and its fellow-travellers to condemn a robust and forceful assertion of Western values, despite the fact that, ultimately, it is such assertion that protects them and allows them to put their views into practice.

    7. DS Says:

      If you expand and loosen the bounds of a category enough, do you really even have a category any more?

    8. Lex Says:

      DS: Go to the book website. There are excerpts. Then buy the book. In the meantime, this excerpt may be illuminating:

      WHAT IS THE ANGLOSPHERE?

      The Anglosphere is more than the sum of all persons who have learned the English language. To be part of the Anglosphere implies the sharing of fundamental customs and values at the core of English-speaking cultures: individualism; rule of law; honoring of covenants; in general, the high-trust characteristics described by Francis Fukuyama in Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity; and the emphasis on freedom as a political and cultural value. The Anglosphere shares a narrative in which the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, trial by jury, innocent until proven guilty, a mans home is his castle, and a mans word is his bond are common themes. Two persons communicating in English but sharing the narrative and assumptions of a different civilization are not necessarily a part of the Anglosphere, unless their values have also been affected by the core values of English-speaking civilization.

      An interesting characterization of the Anglosphere can be derived from the comments of French foreign minister Hubert Vdrine in his book Les Cartes de la France lheure de la mondialisation, where he defined the following list of attitudes as un-European: ultraliberal market economy, rejection of the state, nonrepublican individualism, strengthening of the universal and indispensable role of the United States, common law, Anglophone, and Protestant rather than Catholic concepts. Its clear that the word M. Vdrine is searching for is Anglospheric.

      The Anglosphere, as a network civilization without a corresponding political form, has necessarily imprecise boundaries. Geographically, the densest nodes of the Anglosphere are found in the United States and the United Kingdom. English-speaking Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and English-speaking South Africa are also significant populations. The English-speaking Caribbean, English-speaking Oceania, and the English-speaking educated populations in Africa and India constitute other important nodes.

      One way to visualize the Anglosphere is as concentric spheres marked by differing degrees of sharing of the core Anglosphere characteristics. The innermost spheres are in the nations populated by native or assimilated-immigrant English speakers speaking the language at home, at work, and in government and naturally immersed in English-language media. The nations where all these elements are present are at the heart of the Anglosphere. Where any are present, the people are part of the Anglosphere. Network civilizations are porous, imprecise, and interpenetrable. A city, region, or state can occupy a position in more than one linguistic area, and may become a member of more than one network commonwealth, but it will have to give one commonwealths metarules priority. Here is a rough anatomy of the Anglosphere:

      Innermost: states with an entirely or predominantly English-speaking population, where English is the primary or sole home language. They develop a legal system based on common law, with trial by jury. There is representative government, and the news and entertainment media are primarily in English, sharing information with the rest of the Anglosphere. This core group includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, English-speaking Canada, and the English-speaking Caribbean, along with assorted small islands and territories. Areas with other official languages and/or legal systems, such as Quebec, Puerto Rico, and Wales, are seen as exceptions, as they are geographically discrete subunits.

      Middle: English-dominant states. These are states in which English is one of several official languages and is one of the principal languages of government administration and commerce. Significant daily media are presented locally in English, but other languages are important. English is a minority as a home language and is confined primarily to an educated elite and perhaps an urban middle and industrial class. These are placed in a more inward circle when the country is not part of a larger, non- English world civilization; in other words, one where the primary connections to the outside world are in English.

      South Africa is on the borderline between the Inner Sphere and the Middle, because of its substantial, but not majority, population of first-language English speakers.

      English speakers in South Africa are essentially part of the Anglosphere; Afrikaan speakers are not. Additionally, South Africas retention of Roman-Dutch law keeps it outside the inner circle of the Anglosphere in an important dimension. Beyond South Africa and Zimbabwe, the non- Islamic, non-Indian former colonies of England in Africa, the South Pacific, and some parts of Asia are perhaps the primary examples; the Philippines might also be considered borderline.

      Outer: English-using states of other civilizations. (Typically, these states have been the core of their own linguistic-cultural sphere; their Anglosphere affiliations are secondary, although often important commercially.) These consist of nations that use English as a governmental or commercial language and have significant local media in English, but use other languages in official communications, business, and media as well and identify themselves with another major world-civilization tradition. India, Pakistan, the Arab states formerly under British control, and the Islamic former colonies of Britain (Malaysia, African states) are all examples of such states. Israel is a special case, because it is the focal point of a wider relationship between the Jewish diaspora and the Anglosphere, but it probably fits better in this category than any other.

      Periphery: States that use English as a language of wider communication. These include ones in which knowledge of English is widespread and English is the principal second language of the nation but is not official. These include Northern Europe, East Asia (particularly Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Southeast Asia), and northern Latin America. Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, and southern Latin America are moving in this direction as well, as French, German, and Russian lose their position as the principal second languages of those areas.

      It is not about either / or. It is about degrees of participation.