September 29, 2005

Anglospheric Differences

Similarity does not imply homogeneity. One of the reasons why a network commonwealth makes sense as a formal expression of Anglosphere identity is that there are real and important differences between (and even within) the core nations of the Anglosphere. That point was brought home recently in two articles by technology commentator Stowe Boyd: Hypomania: The Key Difference Between US and British Entrepreneurialism? and Social Capital: De Tocqueville, Putnam, and the Future of New Orleans. Call me an optimist, but I see those differences mainly as an opportunity to cross-pollinate various parts of the Anglosphere rather than as a challenge to the identity of the Anglosphere itself. For example, perhaps exchange programs are in order between higher-entrepreneurship and lower-entreneurship (or higher-trust and lower-trust) areas of the Anglosphere, both within and across national boundaries. Seeking voluntary, bottom-up approaches to strengthening civil society is the Anglosphere way, after all!

Posted by Peter Saint-Andre at September 29, 2005 03:05 PM

Mr. Boyd would likely find Macfarlane's Riddle of the Modern World (with its extensive consideration of de Tocqueville) very interesting.

As for exchange programs, unfortunately the UK has been exporting its entrepreneurs for several centuries! My ancestor came to Nova Scotia as a teenager on his own 200 years ago. Nothing but a minister's letter of recommendation in his pocket.

Posted by: james mccormick at September 29, 2005 03:59 PM

Those are both excellent articles, Peter.

I had never previously heard of Stowe Boyd.

Posted by: Lex at September 29, 2005 04:57 PM

Yes, the differences within the Anglosphere are just as interesting and important as the similarities. (And if you want to get a feel for both, try an intra-Anglosphere marriage.) However, most commentators tend to focus on the differences and take the similarities for granted. Intra-Anglosphere commonalties have become the dog that did not bark in the night. In reality it is equally interesting to figure out why a similarity exists as why a difference emerged.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at September 29, 2005 06:01 PM