Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Overcoming Cultural Self-Hatred

John O'Sullivan reviews A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 by Andrew Roberts

'LES Anglo-Saxons," argues Andrew Roberts, were united by the English language and by the Common Law. Still more links were listed by Winston Churchill in 1943: "Common conceptions of what is right and decent, a marked regard for fair play, especially to the weak and poor, a stern sentiment of impartial justice and above all a love of personal freedom . . . these are the common conceptions on both sides of the ocean among the English-speaking peoples."


Unfortunately, as Roberts demonstrates, major obstacles persistently obstruct our staying together.

For the first three-quarters of the last century the largest such obstacle was America's anti-imperialism. This began as the result of a national myth that exaggerated the oppressive character of George III's rule and exalted America as a revolutionary power hostile to all imperialism but especially the British sort.

In fact, the British Empire was a liberal one. And though the United States was self-consciously anti-imperialist, its "grand strategy" bore a strong resemblance to Palmerston's definition of British imperial policy: "Trade without the flag where possible; trade with the flag where necessary."

In other words, the United States and Britain were pursuing similar policies in practice, but their rhetoric and self-understanding were different and even opposed. And these theoretical disagreements were not strong enough to prevent the rapprochement that began in 1895 and was cemented by World War II.

Still, the effects of U.S. anti-imperialism linger. Because the demise of the last European empires coincided with the Vietnam War, the charge of imperialism was quickly turned against the United States itself.

More significant, since Americans still like to think they are anti-imperialists, the charge of imperialism has the effect of hobbling U.S. foreign policy: Either Washington shrinks from necessary interventions or it shrinks from staying long enough to ensure that difficult interventions succeed.

A second obstacle to Anglo unity, fully and worrisomely acknowledged by Roberts, is the emergence in the English-speaking countries of a cultural self-hatred. There is now a substantial lumpen intelligentsia of teachers, clergymen and "knowledge workers" whose first reaction to almost any international controversy is to "blame America (or England, or Australia, etc.) first."

It might be easier to recover from this malady were it not for a third problem: the appeal of competing identities.

A few years ago, all the English-speaking countries seemed to be spinning outward into new identities based in part on geography: Britain was said to be becoming "European Australia embracing an "Asian" identity; the United States choosing a Hispanic-flavored multiculturalism; the Canadians constructing a "new Canadian nationalism" rooted in anti-Americanism, etc.

This boded ill for any prospect that the English-speaking world would continue to operate with its old cohesion. But, with the sad exception of Britain (still being absorbed against the popular will into a regulatory European state based on Roman Law), these fashions have gone into sharp reverse owing to 9/11, the challenge of jihadism and the worldwide communications revolution (which has raised culture above geography).

Can the English-speaking peoples overcome these obstacles to continue playing their hegemonic role of the 20th century into the future? The prospects are not good, if we are thinking of the traditional definition of the English-speaking peoples - i.e., the United States, Britain and the "white Dominions." But another definition is at hand, namely the Anglosphere.

The Anglosphere includes nations such as India, where the English language and culture may be emerging as the single most important element in a multiethnic society. It's perhaps the first monolingual multicultural identity in history and as such able to encompass diverse groups within itself.

This civilizational identity is matched in practical politics by strategic developments such as an emerging Indo-U.S. military alliance. And, thanks to some geopolitical Fairy Godmother (who looks oddly like Osama bin Laden), almost all the candidates for Anglosphere membership have had war declared on them by the jihadists. So the fourth great challenge - jihadism - may deepen, extend and prolong the life of the English-speaking world.


Matt Bondy said...

Very interesting post, Palmerston.

Reads a bit like John O'Sullivan's recent bit on the Anglosphere and the appropriateness of India's inclusion.

I have an opinion column with the Guelph Mercury - the city of Guelph's daily newspaper. My forthcoming column on the Anglosphere is scheduled to appear on April 24th. I wonder if The Monarchist would be interested in posting this column next week? I'd be delighted to provide you with the text on the day that the column is printed.


Palmerston said...

This is O'Sullivan's piece, or at least much of it.

Matt, we would be delighted.

Matt Bondy said...

Sounds good. Looking forward to it.

(at 9:30am, it is crystal clear that the post *was* on the O'Sullivan piece. One wonders why it wasn't so obvious at 2am.) said...

I'm not so sure why the "English-speaking" would want to continue hegemony. Oswald Spengler was very accurate, IMHO, when he identified imperialism as a loser's game. You accend, you strut around for a time, then you decline--mainly due to the multicultural baggage you've picked up out in the wide world.