September 23, 2005

"Elevator Ride" Version of the Anglosphere Message

In a recent discussion I tried to briefly set out "the heart of the Anglosphere 'discovery' that Jim Bennett is bringing to light." I came up with this:

The fact is that there is an English culture which CAN be given a fairly specific definition and distinction from other cultures. The critical modern researcher on this topic is Alan Macfarlane. He has demonstrated the existence of certain unusual attitudes toward individual rather than collective property ownership, trust among non-kin, love and marriage as individual choices, intermediate institutions and voluntary groupings between the individual and the state, a comparatively peaceful and orderly society, a capacity to generate and endure dynamic change. These can be elaborated in more detail. They are real and they are measurable by comparative survey data and by historical comparisons. These things, plus the institutional superstructure of common law rather than roman law, representative institutions (if not always democratic ones) and the continuity of English institutions and others can also be elaborated. The problem is that much of this distinctiveness is either not recognized or is merely "felt". But it can be articulated and specified, and the awareness created of a distinct civilization or sub-civilization among the Anglophone peoples. That is the key thing that needs to be done, the foundational thing.

Of course this distinctness is very far from uniformity, and there is great variety within the Anglosphere family -- David Hackett Fischer and Walter Russell Mead and Kevin Phillips are all very clear on this.. Still, nonetheless, there are overarching unities which make the Anglosphere distinct from our cousins in the Roman law portions of Western Europe, or our Slavic neighbors who have lived under Byzantine civilization, or farther yet from our neighbors who have lived under Islam, or the ancient civilizational inheritance of China.

This is all utterly un-PC. It is also true, and truth has a way of getting heard, or being convincing when it is heard.

Consider this one more iteration of the "elevator ride", short version of the Anglosphere message.

Posted by Lexington Green at September 23, 2005 09:31 AM

Last week I reread George Orwell's 1941 essay, "England Your England." There's one quote I'd like to share:

"Like all modern peoples, the English are in process of being numbered, labelled, conscripted, "coordinated." But the pull of their impulses is in the other direction, and the kind of regimentation that can be imposed on them will be modified in consequence."

Beautiful, huh?

And per your interest in Roman Catholicism, I'd lke to learn more about the influence England's church movements might have had on Anglo "destinctiveness." So I hope your blog group will expend some bandwidth on that here.


Posted by: Steve at September 23, 2005 02:18 PM

Steve, good quote. Orwell was very astute. He is a great favorite of mine. He and Waugh are my two favorite writers.

The impact of religion on the development of the Anglosphere is an immense topic. I am sure that it will be discussed here by me and others.

Posted by: Lex at September 23, 2005 02:38 PM

Orwell was a romantic and even he found it difficult to bring together all the various contradictions that were all "English". Which is great. But you guys should read George Mikes's "How to be an Alien". He notes that one of the great English features that he had never seen anywhere else, is the ability to form orderly queues all the time. That was a matter of pride for a long time. These days you rarely get orderly queues (sorry, lines) at bus stops though you do in post offices and shops (largely). There is a lot of tut-tutting about the erosion of English queues, as a result of all those immigrants and foreigners bringing in their own habits. Whereas, it is probably a reversion to earlier and traditional English anarchy, forgotten as a result of the Peelite reforms and the influence of non-conformist moral precepts.

Posted by: Helen at September 25, 2005 01:35 PM