October 30, 2005

Spherical Comparisons

There are several important cultural spheres in the world. The Anglosphere is one, but it can be argued that the French-speaking nations (La Francophonie) and the Spanish-speaking nations (the Hispanosphere?) are two others. Additional spheres might include the Sinosphere (regions dominated by Chinese cultural influence) and the Russosphere, although in some ways these are less clear-cut (more on that some other time). A bit of research at Wikipedia yields the following suggestive information about the Anglosphere, Francosphere, and Hispanosphere:

Sphere Core Areas Population (million) GDP (trillion)
Anglosphere Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA 410 $16,500
Francosphere France, Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec 75 $2,500
Hispanosphere Spain and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Western hemisphere 390 $3,200

Naturally these are narrow information slices (other interesting statistics might include numbers of patents, published books, universities, private companies, charity organizations, and so on), the "core areas" could be disputed (BTW, Belgium and Switzerland include only the French-speaking areas, but I had to guess on their percentage of GDP), we might look at both core and extended spheres, and so on. But even this small data sample is of interest, I think.

Posted by Peter Saint-Andre at October 30, 2005 09:10 PM

I think the French also get Haiti and a few places in the Caribbean, and part at least of Algeria and some places in West Africa and a few odds and ends in the Pacific. I think there are a few million more in there all-told.

I think there is very much a Sinosphere, consisting of China and its overseas Chinese populations. It is very different structurally from the Anglosphere, but it is certainly bigger than China itself, and it is highly networked.

Jim Bennett and I had a discussion once about what constitutes a "sphere" and what is a "diaspora". Sphere can be used pretty loosely. For example, a "Polonosphere" consisting of Poland and its dispersed population, with a very large node in Chicago. Or the Hibernosphere, a sort-of sub-sphere mainly within the Anglosphere of the Irish diaspora population.

Anyway, what you call these groupings is less important than looking at the facts pertaining to each of them and understanding what is actually happening.

BTW, good to see the Turing key in operation.

Posted by: Lex at October 30, 2005 09:39 PM

For a discussion of the Russosphere, follow the link "Seminar Report: Uses of the Network Commonwealth" on the left of this blog which has a summary of a very good talk by Nikolas Gvosdev on that topic.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at October 30, 2005 11:16 PM

In many ways, India could be considered part of the Anglosphere. My Indian friends say that English is the most common business language in India. It bridges all the regional languages.

Posted by: John Davies at October 31, 2005 12:39 AM

John Davies - You beat me to it. There are 1.2bn people here that this survey unaccountably overlooked, and around 350 million of them are middle class - two and three car families, children in college, go overseas for their vacations, own their own homes, have the latest electronic equipment, etc. That's roughly the population of the entire United States, but all of them educated middle class people.

The entire point of imposing English on India, which before our arrival was a patchwork of princedoms outside the capital and two or three big cities, was to make it easier for trade for the East India Company. This, along with the railroads and the ICS slowly coagulated the sub-continent into one country. In the best tradition of unbridled capitalism, it was all done for trade and it benefitted just about everyone. If it hadn't been for the damage done to the lively, energetic mindset of Indians by Mahatama Gandhi - his message being, "let's all go back to 1782 when we were simple and happy - progress is bad for India!" - and Nehru's daughter Indira (no relation)and her affection for the Soviet Union, India would be one of the world's richest nations by now.

Not "in many ways", John Davies; India is very much part of the Anglosphere. They are part of our tribe. They have our laws and our courts. Their efficient and well-trained armed forces are based on the British template. They speak our language - often with more skill than Americans or Brits.

India also has three or four chains of state-pof-the-art hospitals staffed by some of the best doctors and surgeons in the world, where you can get treatment for 1/4 the cost of the US or going private in Britain. I read they have a success rate in coronary surgery that is slightly higher than that in the US.

I would expect the rupee to be traded on the forex markets in around 10 years.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 06:44 AM

I think the Sinophere is an interesting contract to the other -sphere's mentioned. The Sinosphere exists, but it is almost totally non-political. With the exception of Singapore the the ethnic Chinese of many Pacific rim nations (including the Western Hemisphere) have chosen not to participate in politics very much while coming to dominate economically. It really speaks for the technocratic but capitalist heart of Chinese culture.

Posted by: Brock at October 31, 2005 07:13 AM

Singapore is part of the Anglosphere, not the Sinosphere, if indeed there is such a thing.

Of course, around 90% of Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese, but laws, courts, business practices, the armed services are based on the British model and the language of the courts is English. The official language of Singapore is Bahasa Malaysia, but in practice, the lingua franca is English. There is only one newspaper written in Chinese and I don't believe there's any Chinese television, although I could be wrong.

There was a campaign in the late 80s, early 90s to get Singaporeans to become fluent in Mandarin, but that was because the wily Singaporean government saw huge trade opportunities and also an opportunity for Singaporeans to slot into top jobs like bank presidents, as they are so schooled in capitalism. But Singapore is definitely part of the Anglsophere. Wealthy middle class parents send their children to university in Australia or Britain, and sometimes to the US.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 07:25 AM

And India and Singapore are both successful and prospering members of the Commonwealth.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 07:46 AM

According to Hindu Business Line, India's GDP for 2004 topped $650bn. Growth for 2005 will be around 7.4%.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 07:56 AM

Note: the table header says "Core Areas". Haiti is not a core area of the Francosphere anymore than Jamaica or the Bahamas are core areas of the Anglosphere. Neither is India a core area of the Anglosphere, although it is a very interesting non-core area.

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at October 31, 2005 09:45 AM

Why on earth isn't India a core area? Over a billion people and a GDP of $650bn? But New Zealand, population 4m with a GDP of $64m gets to be a core area? OK, Singapore has a population of almost 4m and its GDP is $121bn. Who is defining "core areas" around here?

Also, with France, you would have to include as core areas Tunisia and Morocco as well as Algeria, as France itself - well, Chirac - does as in "Les deux rives de la Méditerrané".

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 10:27 AM

Why didn't you include Portugual, Brazil and the Lusosphere for comparative purposes?
It's an interesting table but it raises more questions that informs us.
For example, the role of corruption as an impediment to wealth generation, etc.


Posted by: xavier at October 31, 2005 01:06 PM

xavier - Because they're not in the major leagues or even close?

I am stiff baffled by how an economy worth $650bn with a population of 1.2bn is not considered as core as inky dinky New Zealand. Something's askew here. Meanwhile, India remains the only crore region in the world and you can't take that away from them!

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 02:00 PM

Xavier: I didn't include the Lusosphere because I ran out of time. Feel free to look up the numbers and send them along -- I saw this as a first pass, not the final word. I assume that Portugal and Brazil are the core areas/nations of the Lusosphere -- are there any others? What about non-core areas?

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at October 31, 2005 02:25 PM

Verity: My short answer is this: the Anglosphere is one stream of Western civilization, and the core areas of the Anglosphere share a direct cultural lineage back to the English strain of Western civilization (itself somewhat peripheral to the early core of Western civilization in northern Italy, northern and eastern France, and western Germany). By contrast, modern India is a very interesting and increasingly productive mixing of two civilizations: Western civilization (via ~250 years of English direct influence) and predominantly Hindu civilization going back thousands of years. Appealing not to authority but to historical and cultural evidence, I would maintain that India therefore is not a core area of the Anglosphere (as one branch of Western civilization), although it is a very important and increasingly influential area of the globe that has a mixed cultural heritage of Western (Anglosphere) civilization and predominantly Hindu civilization. That doesn't exclude India from productively interacting with the rest of the Anglosphere, but it does mean that we need to recognize the special nature of India and the ways in which it is different from the core areas of the Anglosphere, as well as the important ways in which it is similar (the heritage of common law and use of the English language being foremost among them). To fully explore these connections would take more time than I have right now, but I welcome a longer conversation on the topic so that we can get closer to the truth of the matter (by no means do I think that I have the final word in the matter).

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at October 31, 2005 02:40 PM

I would like to see more discussion on the topic of India. They have a distinct culture but from what I have encountered, Indian and Western-anglo culture seem very compatible.

How much are they and how much to they want to be part of the greater anglosphere?

Posted by: jGeee at October 31, 2005 03:09 PM

Peter - Well Catholic Scotland had a different religion from mainly Protestant England and no one would claim that Scotland isn't in the Anglosphere.

India's values are our values: they're creative and capitalistic; they share our legal system and our court procedures; their military - surely a very important point - is a copy of ours and is very powerful and disciplined. They're energetic. They have a will to drive things forward. (I have a theory that Hindu thinking encourages physicists. I believe they produce the most physicists in the world so we definitely want them in our club!) The East India company started in India (Gujarat) in 1613 - so we have an almost 400 year history with them - longer than with any other country in the Anglosphere which, as a concept, can barely be older than 250 years! So that dog won't hunt, Peter!

Many Indians write and speak the English language beautifully. They have a quick sense of humour. And they must have more English speakers than any other country.

I am mystified by your resistance to including them in the Anglosphere. I simply cannot see how you think they do not qualify.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 03:12 PM

Verity: I'm not resisting including India in the Anglosphere -- I said they they are part of the Anglosphere, just not one of the core countries. There is nothing bad or wrong with being a non-core part of the Anglosphere -- in fact, if you read Carroll Quigley's books on the history of civilizations, you will see many demonstrations of how nations that seem to be on the periphery turn out to surpass the core! (Rome surpassed Greece, the backwater of western Europe surpassed the old Roman core of classical civilization, peripheral England is where the Industrial Revolution happened, North America rather than Europe is the most productive region of the world, etc.) So India's turn may be coming soon. :-)

jGeee: Yes, I agree, we need more discussion about India. I do not have first-hand knowledge of India so in some sense I am shooting from the hip. The modern concept of the Anglosphere explicated by Jim Bennett is something new and forward-looking, so we are just at the beginning of the conversation here. I do hope that people from India or who know it well will be a dynamic part of that conversation.

Posted by: Peter Saint-Andre at October 31, 2005 03:24 PM

jGeee - I agree, our two cultures are very compatible. NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) do very well in our societies when they emigrate. They're great achievers.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 03:25 PM

Canada is run by Francophones with a Francophone foreign policy. The U. K., led by a pair of Scots, is about to become incorporated into a Europe under French leadership. New Zealand is hardly at the core of anything, much less the Anglosphere. Verity is right, we should make the Indians feel right at home in the Anglosphere and for all the reasons Peter has listed.

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at October 31, 2005 06:17 PM

Thank you, Richard! A dynamic people who have moved in their present incarnation into a rather exciting economy ...

No, they didn't spring from our forebears in the strictest sense, but many of our forebears were in India - and were as influenced by India as India was by the administrators of the East India Company. Let us not forget the wealth that flowed from this association. This is one story where everyone's a winner. It's an awesome piece of history.

They were beginning to become members of the Anglosphere around the same time as America was settled.

I do not want to belong to an Anglosphere that would not include the Indian branch of our family because without them, we would not be what we are today. The debt is mutual.

Posted by: Verity at October 31, 2005 07:53 PM

Peter, you forgot the Blogosphere. I would be highly interested in knowing the extent to which this is synonymous with the Anglosphere, the Network Commonwealth. Do we have any stats on this? What percentage of the Blogosphere is Anglospheric? 80%? 90%? Higher even?

Posted by: Michael J. Smith at October 31, 2005 09:46 PM

Hey, great place here. Regarding media in Singapore, we have actually 2 chinese channels, both entertainment and for news. And about three chinese papers, though only one, Lianhe Zaobao, is the only serious one, and the other two are essentially evening tabloids. And even then, chinese proficiency in our young is steadily decreasing, to my dad's consternation and great frustration(he's a chinese teacher).

And I would not consider Singapore to be a 'core' member yet. Our civic institutions are still largely a joke, and while people are generally capitalist, they're too politically apathetic. Maybe that's not a bad thing.

In many ways, this sense of belonging to the Anglosphere is strongest whenever I listen to tales of Singaporeans who've been to China, and come back with horror stories of how they do business over there, the lack of rule of law, and how the Chinese never seem to be able to keep a promise, or any of a dozen things that seemingly distinguishes people from an anglosphere society and a sinosphere one. And sometimes this happens even in Taiwan and Hong Kong. It drives home the point that we've developed fundamental differences in our cultures.

And yeah, indians are brilliant. For the local chemistry olympiad, of the 8 students I'm sending, half of them are Indian scholars. We definitely want them on our side. One of my chemistry profs used to tell me that one reason why the Indians seem to be taking the lead in modern physics is because of the uncertainty that is so prevalent in quantum physics that fits in very well with Hinduism and Buddhism. He didn't identify the pertinent characteristics of the religions though.

But still, wouldn't India(1 billion people) and its own significant diaspora merit a India-sphere of its own?

Posted by: The Wobbly Guy at November 6, 2005 07:54 AM

I know I'm a little late in entering this discussion, but the topic of Anglosphere and Sinosphere is a fascinating issue. There has long been lots of talks about the Sinosphere (in Chinese it is usually denoted as "The Chinese cultural sphere" or "East Asian cultural sphere") in the Chinese-speaking world - probably long before anyone ever raised the modern concept of the Anglosphere. At that time it was considered a network Commonwealth of ethnic Chinese in various South East Asian countries, the Greater China (mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau), and even including countries with heavy Confucian Chinese cultural influence such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. There were glowing editorials about integration of this vast region in Confucian Chinese cultural values in the regions' MSMs including Hong Kong's Ming Pao, Taiwan's China Times, Lianhe Zaobao in Singapore, and how this network Commonwealth will overtake the West in achieving prosperity and prestige in the world.

Of course the 1997 Asian financial crisis came and went, and then the rise of the Internet and concept of Anglosphere is challenging the concept of a Chinese cultural sphere. According to what I read in Chinese-language MSMs, proponents of Chinese cultural sphere either regard the Anglosphere with scorn (for those who are arrogant who think the Anglosphere will be no match) or fear (those who believe the Anglosphere will pose a threat to the Chinese cultural sphere). They consider that Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore sit squarely on the battleline between the Anglosphere and Chinese cultural sphere.

Posted by: Joel at November 20, 2005 11:53 PM
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