What if … ?

Commonwealth Realms Map

The discussions on the United Commonwealth Society group on Facebook got me thinking. They are talking about the future of the English speaking world, not including the USA. As a longtime Anglospherist, this is a topic of great interest to me.

The following came out in a single gush, with minimal editing. It is a lot of ideas that I, and Jim Bennett, and others, have been kicking around for a long time. I am not sure what it is. A sort of manifesto? Reveries on the future of the Anglosphere?

What if … ?

What would a history of the British Empire look like if it did not use the “rise and fall” metaphor?

What would that history look like if it examined not just the political framework or just the superficial gilt and glitter, or just the cruelty and crimes, but the deeper and more enduring substance?

What if someone wrote a history of the impact of the English speaking people and their institutions (political, financial, professional, commercial, military, technical, scientific, cultural), and the infinitely complex web of interconnections between them, as a continuous and unbroken story, with a past a present … and a future?

In other words, what if we were to read a history that did not see a rising British Empire followed by a falling Empire, then a rising American Empire which displaced it, but an organism which has taken on many forms over many centuries, and on many continents, but is nonetheless a single life?

What if we assume that the British Empire was not something that ended, but that the Anglosphere, of which the Empire was one expression, is something that has never stopped growing and evolving, and taking on new institutional forms?

What if it looked at the unremitting advance, the pitiless onslaught, universal insinuation, of the English speakers on the rest of the world, seizing big chunks of it (North America, Australia), sloshing up into many parts of it and receding again (India, Nigeria, Malaya), carving permanent marks in the cultural landscape they left behind, all the while getting wealthier and more powerful and pushing the frontiers of science and technology and all the other forms of material progress?

What if jet travel and the Internet have at last conquered the tyranny of distance which the Empire Federationists of a century ago dreamed that steam and telegraph cables would conquer? What if they were just a century too early?

What if linguistic and cultural commonalities are more important than mere geographical location in creating political unity in this newly shrunken world?

What if we imagined the prospects for future configurations of the English speaking countries without any undue idea that the current, deeply flawed arrangements are permanent, or ought to be permanent, or even can be permanent?

What if the Second Elizabethan Era now approaching its end, is an Elizabethan Interregnum, which will turn out not just to be the sunset of an empire, but of the firm rooting of separate nations, a predecessor to a confident and equal participation in a larger union, a new dawn?

What if this era is the necessary predecessor to renewed and reinvigorated institutional forms for the former Empire and Commonwealth, especially the Commonwealth Realms?

What if the next era will not be one of continued fragmentation, and cultural dissolution into the geographic regions where each Anglospheric community happens to lie, but a United Realms of the Commonwealth, a new union of the major English Speaking countries (The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), comprising more than 125 million people, which will respect the sovereignty of each, while joining their strengths for the benefit of all?

What if instead of a largely symbolic Commonwealth of Nations this central core or cluster came to have many communities accrete to it by distinct agreements, specific to their own circumstances, regarding trade, defense and movement of people, for their mutual benefit?

Churchill once referred to “…the whole manpower, brain power, virility, valor and civic virtue of the English-speaking world, with all its galaxy of loyal, friendly or associated communities and states… .”

What if that metaphorical galaxy still exists?

What if the story we have all been told for so long is wrong?

What if these strengths, these virtues, this galaxy of peoples, has not declined or fallen?

What if those peoples are even now shrugging off a period of scattered growth and development, and will soon waken to a new life of unified strength, freedom and prosperity?

What if the history of tomorrow is unwritten?

What if the chapters to come can be different than most people think possible?

What if it is up to the current generation to write it?

34 thoughts on “What if … ?”

  1. The British Empire, like the Roman Empire, made the center an attraction for all the subjects to seek and travel to. It was an inspiration unlike the Soviets, or the Persian Empire. People were willing to fight and die to avoid becoming members of the Persian and Soviet Empires. The same applies to the brief empire of Napoleon.

  2. I consider the idea of “The City” (capital T, capital C, “capitol” city) to be intrinsic to the idea of “Empire”. London, Rome, Paris, Peking, Byzantium…

    The U.S. really doesn’t have a City of that sort. And I think London is no longer such a city.

    Is there a City in the Anglosphere?

  3. How about capital “A” for autonomous. If culture, resemblance, and affinity will matter more than geographic proximity then city-states will be more like what we’ll see emerge, like Monaco, Singapore or the Vatican, all bound together in a latter day English speaking version of the Hanseatic League.

  4. Grurray, they need to defend themselves. For that you need scale, you need mass. To gain that plus the benefits of small size you need a federal structure and decentralized political power. Probably not as diffuse as the Hanseatic League.

  5. This is already happening at the intelligence services level. FVEY or “five eyes” includes information sharing between USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

  6. It is genetics.


    You’ve made strong assertions about genetics yet you ignore requests for evidence. Why should anyone accept your assertions?

  7. Lexington Green,

    Could you give us the names of the books you’ve read on genetics, or at least basic sociobiology?
    I’m curious to know why you consider the most obvious reasons for our success and the failure of multiculturalism to be idiotic.

  8. East Anglian,

    That dodge won’t hunt. Another commenter makes sweeping assertions about genetics, then disappears when I ask for evidence. And your contribution is an appeal to authority in order to impugn Lex’s qualifications to discuss this stuff? Nice.

    We have evidence in the form of a long history of immigrants from often-dysfunctional, racially diverse, genetically diverse societies who moved to Anglosphere countries and became successful. Did their genes change in one or two generations? The more parsimonious explanation is culture. If you and other genetic determinists made a serious attempt to explain your views I would take you more seriously, but all you do is assert “genetics” as though it were self-evidently valid.

    Genetics and sociobiology fill gaps in the understanding of some individual behaviors, but culture explains better the phenomena we’re discussing. What exactly distinguishes the genotypes of Anglosphere residents from everyone else, and in particular from people of the same respective racial and ethnic heritages in the old world?

  9. If I remember correctly, the white Europeans have IQ’s near to the top of the chart, while African blacks are near the bottom. Perhaps that is all that is meant, white Europeans did more because they could. English culture then managed to come out on top of what was already the leading “race” of people.

  10. “Why should anyone accept your assertions?”

    Actually, that is what Steven Pinker’s books are about, especially The Blank Slate , which refutes the assertions of Stephen Jay Gould in The Mismeasure of Man. Gould asserts that culture is all there is, therefore suggesting the possibility of “The New Soviet Man.

    I think I have read all of Pinker’s books which begin with what language teaches us about the human brain. My leftist daughter, after she graduated from UCLA with an Anthropology degree, was a Gould acolyte. We were on a trip when I was reading The Blank Slate and, when I finished, I suggested she read it. She refused , saying she would read it when I had read Gould’s book. I had read it and had it in my library but she still wouldn’t read Pinker’s.

    He has a whole series of examples, including twins raised separately who marry women who look alike and choose the same occupations, etc. It’s very impressive. I agree you can screw up a smart kid but most behavior is genetic.

    I think this is behind a lot of anti-Jewish feeling, especially in Europe. Asia has a similar hatred of Chinese. I don’t have a Jewish or Chinese bone in my body but I like achievement. And don’t care who it is.

  11. Jonathan, that’s not what his books say. There is a Gaussian distribution of genes and genetic behavior. All he is saying is that behavior is mostly inborn and not modifiable by conditioning. Gould proposes that we are born with a “blank slate” and that later behavior depends on conditioning. It is the dream of communism and lesser leftist theories.

    Charles Murray is the one who got into so much controversy by studying intelligence and how it is distributed among races. His chief concern was that lower IQ people seemed to be having more babies and high IQ people were restricting choice of mates to other high IQ people such as the tendency of Ivy Leaguers, now that the colleges are coeducational, to marry each other. I see another phenomenon which is medical students marrying each other. Doctors used to marry nurses but now they marry other doctors.

    The argument about Arabs and cousin marriage attributed their social malfunction to this inbreeding effect. It is also a fact that European Jews, because of social discrimination, tended to marry within a smaller pool, namely other Jews. Many believe this resulted in a higher IQ average among Jews. I was merely commenting on the idea that one inbreeding effect lowered intelligence and another raised it, which seems contradictory. Small populations, like the Amish and Mennonites, have inherited genetic errors in higher numbers. So do Ashkenazi Jews with Tay Sachs disease, for example. Most of Arabs problems seem to me to be social because of the “shame-honoir” system and a history of lawless society that put all emphasis on family. I don’t think it is genetic. Pakistanis in England are importing a whole, village society via cousin marriage, bringing illiterate girls from Pakistan into British cities. British education is also creating a whole cohort of ill-educated teenagers, many of whom live on the Dole. There are pathologies in northern British cities where whites have similar behavior problems to our black inner city ghettoes.

  12. >>There are pathologies in northern British cities where whites have similar behavior problems to our black inner city ghettoes.

    The wonders of socialism and Leftist brainwashing. What a mess they’ve created.

  13. Mike K: “I was merely commenting on the idea that one inbreeding effect lowered intelligence and another raised it, which seems contradictory.”

    Not at all contradictory. Inbreeding will concentrate whatever gene pool you are working with. I am a dog breeder/exhibitor, not a geneticist, but have worked in a line with an extremely limited gene pool for 40+ years, in a breed that has a very limited gene pool to start with. If you are working with good genes you will typically produce more good genes; if you work with bad genes, again, you will produce more of the same. Inbreeding has the effect of reducing genetic diversity, thereby increasing the chances of expression of those genetic traits being line bred on. Not going to go into the pro and cons of line breeding here, but wanted to touch on why different results are possible, even likely, when inbreeding occurs in different situations.

  14. “Not going to go into the pro and cons of line breeding here, but wanted to touch on why different results are possible, even likely, when inbreeding occurs in different situations.”

    Oh, I know but it still seems odd to attribute population success or failure on inbreeding. Small populations are at risk both ways but the Arabs and the Muslims in general are big gene pools.

    Remember that the entire human genome could have been wiped out by the Toba super eruption. And also that .5% of men are descended from Genghis Khan. Now there was a stud !

  15. I think with population genetics you have to look at the bigger picture which goes back many thousands of years and includes migrations, climate, environment (Toba), disease and any number of other factors that would certainly have impacted regional populations over time. The farther away from the original population the genetic material travels, the less diversity is found, so I suspect there is far more “inbreeding” going on than we realize, if the truth were known.

  16. Michael, I’m not saying that culture explains everything. I’m saying that the simplest and most obvious explanation for the cultural distinctiveness of the multi-racial, multi-ethnic Anglosphere is its cultural inheritance, not genetic differences between populations as vague as “Europeans”, “Arabs” and “Africans”.

  17. >>And also that .5% of men are descended from Genghis Khan. Now there was a stud !

    Not in the way you might think. His hordes depopulated entire regions of Asia. Everyone was killed with the exception of of the most desirable women, who he took as wives. I read an estimate that Genghis Khan and his grandson Kublai, between them during the 13th century, killed around 10% of the population of the earth. The infamous Mongolian Hordes. The invasions reached all the way into Eastern Europe.

  18. Nature v. nurture is not as simple as that. Cultures do not arise in a vacuum, they arise from the people themselves, and you can not separate them completely. Referring to Michael Hiteshaw’s comment above, and this is just one event in fairly recent evolutionary terms, killing off 10% of the population will have an effect on the genetics of a given population. Neither can one look at today’s populations and assume they are large and diverse. What matters is the founding population in the various regions. If the founding population is limited, the genetics are as well, no matter how many times they are multiplied into a larger population. With regard to the breed of dog I work with, the Lhasa Apso, one might assume that there is a large and diverse population given the numbers we see around the world, but in actuality there are only 14 founding animals in the population of registered breeding stock, only 8 founders in my particular line. With the dogs, I see even the most minute mannerisms inherited from one generation to the next and so must assume it is much the same with people.

  19. One possible explanation of the success of the American experiment has been the diverse population of immigrants. That worked but it does not mean importing another population of illiterate peasants from Mexico will have a similar result. We were very lucky that Europe was full of people who were intelligent and motivated enough to take ships to the New World. Crossing the border from Mexico is nothing like that in terms of intelligence or motivation. Asian immigration does resemble European immigration in the degree of planning and effort necessary.

  20. Mike K: “One possible explanation of the success of the American experiment has been the diverse population of immigrants.”

    Agreed, America’s foundation is the best possible situation from a genetic standpoint, in the mixing together of such a diverse number of regional populations. I would argue, however, that illiteracy is an inherent trait. Regardless of where one comes from, it still requires a certain amount of intestinal fortitude to leave behind ones homeland and start anew in a different country. You might even say that this is the foundation of American exceptionalism.

  21. Leaving ones homeland is different if thousands of miles of water are a barrier. Mexican immigrants the past 30 years go back and forth and many plan to retire in Mexico.

  22. Jet aircraft and low-cost phone and Internet communications have greatly reduced the irrevocable-committment nature of immigrating to America. Even if you come here from Asia, halfway around the world, regular contact with friends & family is quite possible, along with fairly frequent visits.

    Contrast with immigration in 1850 or even in 1910, where the likelihood was that you’d see those left behind maybe once or twice more over your lifetime, and communication would only be by letter.

  23. East Anglian, I don’t take homework assignments from you or anyone.

    Start your own blog to promote your ideas.

    In the meantime, enjoy the dialogue here with people who apparently want to talk to you.

  24. “Even if you come here from Asia, halfway around the world, regular contact with friends & family is quite possible, along with fairly frequent visits.”

    Oh, I agree. Many Asian immigrants are from prosperous families, unlike my Irish great-great grandfather who arrived around 1820. Most of them were illiterate and from peasant backgrounds but still had the ability to survive and thrive. Today, when we Irish-Americans visit Ireland, the Irish are not that happy to see us because, as an Irish physician friend once told me, “They know the cream left.” Those who remain are those who did not have the, possibly genetic, wherewithal to leave. Maybe that is why Americans have such a propensity to move around. I have read that many Italian immigrants went back in the 1920s.

    I didn’t mean to imply that all behavior in large populations is genetic. In the case of immigrants, maybe those genetically inclined to move or to be restive when denied opportunity, were more likely to emigrate. It doesn’t seem to work in Europe among Muslims, though. The religion, itself, may be the barrier.

  25. >>Referring to Michael Hiteshaw’s comment above, and this is just one event in fairly recent evolutionary terms, killing off 10% of the population will have an effect on the genetics of a given population.

    Just to be clear, that’s was 10% of the total population of Earth. There were whole sections of Asia where everyone was killed. Everyone.

  26. An example of the hope that urban planning and conditioning would led to the “New Soviet Man” is in this piece on city planning.

    As is sometimes asserted by urbanists today, the new socialist cities were about more than mere economic growth; they were widely posed as a means to develop a new kind of society, one that could make possible the spread of Homo sovieticus (the Soviet man). As one German historian writes, the socialist city was to be a place “free of historical burdens, where a new human being was to come into existence, the city and the factory were to be a laboratory of a future society, culture, and way of life”.

    And the culture would fix any genetic tendencies to independence.

    With this assumption, Soviet planners made some logical steps to promote density. They built nurseries and preschools as well as theatre and sports halls within walking distance to worker’s homes. Communal eating areas were arranged. Also, wide boulevards were crucial for marches and to have a clear path to and from the factory for the workers. The goals of the “socialist city” planners were to not just transform urban planning but human behavior, helping such spaces would breed the “urban human”.

    How did it work ?

    Alexei Gutnov and his team set to create “a concrete spatial agenda for Marxism”. At the center of The Communist City lay the “The New Unit of Settlement” (NUS) described as “a blueprint for a truly socialist city“. Gutnov established four fundamental principles dictating their design plan. First, they wanted equal mobility for all residents with each sector being at equal walking distance from the center of the community and from the rural area surrounding them. Secondly, distances from a park area or to the center were planned on a pedestrian scale, ensuring the ability for everyone to be able to reasonably walk everywhere. Third, public transportation would operate on circuits outside the pedestrian area, but stay linked centrally with the NUS, so that residents can go from home to work and vice versa easily. Lastly, every sector would be surrounded by open land on at least two sides, creating a green belt.

    Sounds like the Obama school of planning.

    The planner’s main concern was ensuring social equality. This was seen in their preference of public transportation over privately owned vehicles, high-density apartment housing over detached private homes, and maximizing common areas. These criticisms of suburban sprawl have some resonance in the writings by planners advocating “smart growth” today. Both see benefits to high density housing. For one, they argue it is more equitable so everyone, no matter what social class they belong too, can live in the same type of buildings.

    Especially with Black Brunch protestors.

    None of that “urban sprawl” for New Yorkers. Hilarious.

  27. Michael Hiteshew: “Just to be clear, that was 10% of the total population of earth.”

    Yes, that was very clear in your original comment. Losing 10% of the available genetics would definitely have had an impact on the genetic diversity in the remaining world population. Other events, such as the catastrophic pandemics in Europe also significantly reduced genetic diversity, with perhaps 50% of the European population succumbing during the Plague of Justinian, and another 25 million killed by the Black Death.


Comments are closed.