November 19, 2005

Why Do We Need An Anglosphere Historical Narrative, Anyway?

What do I mean when I refer to an "Anglosphere historical narrative"? I mean the study and understanding of the history of England, then its daughter polities such as the USA, and its former colonies notably India, and the global, networked Anglophone cultural and economic space which is emerging -- as a unity. I mean looking at the development of these communities not from within the too-small boxes of national history, or the too large boxes of world history or Western Civ. I mean seeing that the legal, political and cultural ideas and institutions which arose in England and spread throughout the world have their own distinct identity, which is becoming more apparent in a world increasingly linked by technology. This may or may not lead in the future to a new institutional form for the dispersed-but-networked Anglosphere, perhaps the "Network Commonwealth" which Jim Bennett has sketched out in his book and in other writings.


This approach to understanding the history and identity of the Anglosphere is relatively new, though it has had precursors and false or partial starts in the past. Developing this history and understanding its implications is a current and ongoing project, with Bennett as a founder of sorts, and others of us participating in it as we can, and with the idea taking on a life of its own in cyberspace and beyond.


Of course, history is not only an academic discipline existing in an "ivory tower". History is self-understanding, which defines the scope of what is accepted as legitimate, which has political consequences. If a particular historical understanding becomes widespread, then this has implications for what types of political and cultural direction a country's people will be willing to go. Orwell was not necessarily overstating the case when he has O'Brien the thought-policeman say "he who controls the present controls the past, and he who controls the past controls the future." In a free society, no one "controls the past". However, certain views can gain a hegemonic position and become the accepted, general view. This occurs through university teaching and then the training of school-teachers, among other means. This hegemonic position in historical studies has the effect, sometimes intentionally, of promoting positions in contemporary politics and cultural life. A community's historical self-understanding will therefore ultimately impact the exercise of political power and the direction its culture will go. Therefore, what is taught is can be extremely important, and what contrary or challenging views gain acceptance is important as well. So, potentially, a lot is at stake if the idea of the Anglosphere take hold, and gains acceptance, and begins to spread.


The question sometimes arises,, from well-intentioned conservatives, usually: Why ask people to buy a new and different "Anglosphere" narrative? Isn't it a distraction from the crucial work of reviving and restoring the traditional American (or British, or Canadian) narrative that we remember from childhood, that was good enough for our parents and grandparents? Isn't the main thing to revive a healthy national patriotism and reawaken awareness of national history in these countries? Why bother with this newfangled way of looking at things?


Let me count the whys. Because restoration of a former narrative is impossible to do, as a practical matter. Because the old narratives appear to have lost acceptance because they did not satisfy the felt needs of the time, not just because of political correctness or corruption in the education establishment, though these malign forces had a lot to do with it. Because contact with the larger world and development of a global economy has shown us more and more clearly what makes us distinct from certain other communities, and what we have in common with certain others. Because it is more and more clear that those continuities which we share, and which shaped us, go back fifteen centuries, at least. Because the British narrative was founded on Protestant triumphalism, and Britain is no longer Protestant and Protestantism is no longer triumphant. Because the British narrative was founded on Imperialism and expansion, and that version can no longer stand. Because the British narrative can be and should be accurately reconfigured into the true story of England as the "homeland of liberty", the birthplace of the common law, and the seedbed of free institutions. Because the British story, told thus, will be both true and globe-spanning in a way which can supplant the old imperialist narrative and restore a justified pride to the British people. Because this more accurate narrative can be a guide and a source of communal feeling for formerly conquered peoples of the Commonwealth. Because such a narrative is shorn of religious and ethnic bigotry it can show the people of former colonies, either living in those countries or emigrated to the metropole, the value of what they have inherited -- and shared in and fought for --without asking them to celebrate their own subjugation. For Americans, an Anglosphere narrative restores to us a huge slice of history as our own. Because American exceptionalism in a radical form is not an "ancient" American narrative, but is a 19th century creation. The older and more accurate American narrative incorporates history back into the mists of the Saxon era. In that sense a more Anglospheric American narrative is a restoration of an earlier understanding of what America is and where it came from.


All that aside, the reason for a new narrative is the best one of all: Because it is clearer than ever, now, that as a matter of historical fact, the Anglosphere narrative is more accurate and more complete than the older narratives. The Anglosphere narrative is simply a more accurate statement of the truth, of the facts. The old narratives have served their time, based on the understandings of their times, and they responded to historical conditions which no longer pertain. What is true and good in them will be incorporated into the larger narrative. The older narratives of national history won't be replaced, they will be clarified, refounded, and enlarged. The Anglosphere narrative is strong because it is much more based on fact than on myth. Better facts mean a more refined and more compelling and more binding narrative for everyone.


This all leaves to one side the question of how this superior understanding of the past and present can be widely disseminated to the point that it reaches general acceptance. That is probably the work not of years or decades, but generations. But I trust I am not being naive in believing that a superior grasp of their historical heritage by the citizens of the Anglosphere will lead to better policy decisions and a more prosperous, free and peaceful world, not only for the Anglosphere but for everyone else as well.


There ya go. The big picture.


Cross-posted on ChicagoBoyz.

Posted by Lexington Green at November 19, 2005 10:42 AM
Comments

In that sense a more Anglospheric American narrative is a restoration of an earlier understanding of what America is and where it came from.

After answering where America came from and what America is the logical question is what comes next.

Any thoughts?

Posted by: Bill White at November 19, 2005 05:53 PM

'Up and out' is the answer you are looking for Bill - if you are the same 'Bill White' who posts on Simberg's Transterrestrial Musings.

It would be to our culture's lasting benefit to make sure the dominant culture out there is descended from or a part of what we could call the Anglosphere. Might be to our species benefit as well.

Walk softly around that topic however. O'Neil was labeled fringe for proposing space colonies in the 70s - had he lived until after (say) 2030 he might have seen his reputation resurrected and labeled visionary. People who go public in a big way before it's time to railroad are going to not be taken seriously.

'Up and out' might be something we all know is or should happen - much the same as Jackson and his ilk could see - in 1814 - how a United States could only be secure by growing to fill the continent. They didn't really talk much about this - they just made it implicit in their culture and made it happen.

Posted by: Brian at November 19, 2005 08:23 PM

Up and out would be fine with me. I personally don't think the colonization of space is going to ever happen, because there is nothing worth going there for in person. But, I'd be happy to be wrong.

There is plenty of "what next" to be answered and done down here on Earth anyway.

Posted by: Lex at November 19, 2005 10:04 PM

Lex - The Anglosphere narrative seems to emphasize the history of law and government. I would agree that this is important. But I think it may run into difficulty insofar as it emphasizes the medieval period, treats the early modern as a detour into continentalism, and then sees in the modern era a reaffirmation and extension of a longer and more exceptional pattern.

Although an ordeal in some ways, the Tudor-Stuart period was crucial to later English-speaking civilization. Its great legacy was the triumph of a Via Media in both religion and public life. Since then, the wider Anglosphere has become less Anglican but the idea of a middle way has I think shaped all of its component societies.

Posted by: David Billington at November 20, 2005 12:27 AM

Perhaps, you should include the Philippines. Though she was orphaned early...
no body in particular...just passing through.

Posted by: Rizalist at November 20, 2005 06:00 AM

Speaking of 'up and out'....

It's quite possible that we won't HAVE to go in person to gather the resources space offers; decently autonomous robots should be able to do all the heavy lifting for us. Still, it's always nice to have people on-site, for those times when the robots screw something up.

That's beside the point, though. People won't go because they have to; they'll go because they want to.

When the cost of space travel comes down to a more reasonable level (space elevators, nanotech, etc) it will be possible for private groups to start financing settlements. Expensive, but doable. The motivation won't be the economics of it; it'll be the potential for political freedom, and the opportunity to experiment with new forms of polities. And, of course, the sheer adventure of it.

In the long run - over the next several hundred years - those cultures that thrive in space will come to be the dominant ones, even if their total population remains a small fraction of the earthbound. With easy access to resources (cheap power, minerals and organics from the asteroids), and possession of the ultimate military high ground, they'll have all the trump cards. And, yes, I happen to agree that our culture - and probably the species, assuming the species as we know it is still around - will benefit enourmessly if that culture speaks a variant of English.

Posted by: Matt Shultz at November 20, 2005 07:34 AM

I tend to agree with Matt. Space is a potential habitat, and it will be inhabited as soon as the cost of reaching it becomes affordable to people who hav various motivations to live there -- religious, political, aesthetic, and eventually economic.

I also agree with David Billington -- the good fortune of the Anglosphere was not just that it didn't succumb to early-modern Contintnal authoritarianism, but that it forged a new synthesis from the roots of medieval constitutionalism, and this new synthesis included concepts such as genuine religious tolerance, that had never existed as the foundation of a major medieval society. Also true that this was co-evolving in parallel strong civil societies like the Netherlands, but it was the Anglosphere that spread the idea to the world.

And I agre with "Rizalist" - -the Phillipines definitely have some kind of place in the Anglosphere, especially now that the information economy is tieing it in in a manner similar to India.

I guess I'm in an agreeing mood today.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at November 20, 2005 09:42 AM

I do not see the Anglosphere as a mediaevalist in concept only. How exactly is it to be understood if its period of consolidation (Tudor), the period of parliamentary development (Stuart), the British enlightenment and scientific revolution (later Stuart) and expansion (eighteenth century onwards) is to be ignored.

Looking at the discussion from a British perspective, the problem we Anglospherist face is slightly different: a loss of nerve. This shows itself not just in the clinging to the European model, though that is enormously important. Much of what one considers to be core Anglospherist thinking and structure is disappearing in Britain.

But the alternative, what one might call the eurosceptic thought is not much better in that it all too often clings to past structures, while acknowledging that we need to trade with the whole world, India and China are forging ahead, all the other blah. Thus, when I mention Anglosphere, people happily say that yes, indeed, they have alwayst thought the Commonwealth is the way to go. They usually shut up when I mutter Zimbabwe.

Anyway, I have posted a brief note on EUReferendum and linked to Lex's posting.
http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2005/11/narrative-for-future.html

Posted by: Helen at November 20, 2005 01:28 PM

May I submit my definition of the ANGLOSPHERE:
It is that scale-free network of HUMAN BEINGS who happen to think in English.

Such a network would be roughly congruent with those countries that were "borne" of England: the entire United Kingdom and its colonies, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, the United States and its one and only ever colony, the Philippines. But only roughly.

But the definition I offer has some advantages, it clarifies that the Anglosphere is not a geographical but a cultural entity that exists in space and time and is governed by all the mathematical laws that rule "scale-free networks" like the WWW.

Posted by: Rizalist at November 20, 2005 07:31 PM

Rizalist said: May I submit my definition of the ANGLOSPHERE: It is that scale-free network of HUMAN BEINGS who happen to think in English.

I'd go wth that with the qualifier that in coming to speak in English the speaker absorbed certain key assumptions and parameters of the broader English-speaking civilization.

I'd be interested in Rizalist's opinion as to what percentage of the population of the Phillipines would fall into that category, and also what percentage of the under-30 population would fit that definition.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at November 20, 2005 07:45 PM

100% think in English because the "noosphere" in the Philippines, from Right to Left is dominated by media that transmit OR translate from sources that are invariably written by Anglospherians. Other things than thinking are done in other tongues and dialects. For example the various genre of propaganda.

But my broader point is that any characterization of ANGLOSPHERE will be to some extent metaphorical. What we need is a definition that is useful in the real world, for example of politics, globalization, the war on terror.

What for example, might the DIAMETER of the Anglosphere be? It is most likely SIX, because those studies of the human population indicate a topological dimension of six degrees of acquiantance.

But what SHOULD it be and COULD that have important implications for things like, WHAT HAPPENS next in the world.

I think it does. Reducing that diameter means increasing the connections among the nodes in the Anglosphere network of human beings.

My ideas are only partially original. There's more of this at Zenpundit

Thanks for indulging these thoughts..

Posted by: Rizalist at November 20, 2005 08:24 PM

"Lex - The Anglosphere narrative seems to emphasize the history of law and government."

Also culture, economics, civil society, science. But if you don't have political and economic freedom, to some degree, nothing else is going to work, or not as well, or not the same way. I do not suggest monocausasality. I do suggest that a critical, observable distinction between the Anglosphere and its immediately closest neighbors in Western Europe resides in this area.


"... emphasizes the medieval period, treats the early modern as a detour into continentalism, and then sees in the modern era a reaffirmation and extension of a longer and more exceptional pattern."

Either I wasn't clear or you are not getting me. First, "emphasizing" the medieval period is not the point. The point is to show that at that time, much of Europe was very similar, and had similar notions of rule of law, limits on the king's power, proto-represenative govenment, but that these things only survived in England. The point isn't the Medieval period, it is now. In England there was no such "detour" -- Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James I all tried to push things that way, but never quite succeeded. England avoided the detour. "Reaffirmation and extension" is not quite right. Think in terms of legal precedent. A body of precedent grows over decades and centuries. It is not a reaffirmation, and it is not really an extension -- rather it is a process of organic growth and adaptation to new conditions.

"...the Tudor-Stuart period was crucial to later English-speaking civilization. Its great legacy was the triumph of a Via Media in both religion and public life."

The great triumph in this period is the common law-based opponents of the crown held their own and resisted Continental-style despotism, often at the risk or loss of their own lives. I don't know what you mean by a via media in religion. This was the period of an established church enforced y drawing and quartering.

"... the wider Anglosphere has become less Anglican but the idea of a middle way has I think shaped all of its component societies."

You have lost me here. Anglicanism in the UK has about 1% weekly church attendance. The Anglican communion worldwide is a moderately important church amongst mainline Protestants. The dissenting churches have had a much bigger impact. But, I may just not understand what you are talking about.

Posted by: Lex at November 20, 2005 10:50 PM

Don't underestimate Anglicanism, Lex, as opposed to the Anglican Church as represented by bickering bishops and a trendy archbishop. A very large number of people in Britain and around the world see themselves as Anglican and have a reasonable if slightly vague idea of what that means. (Yes, I know, this is a side issue and your debate is about something else, but it is important to take it into account.)

Posted by: Helen at November 21, 2005 04:24 AM

May I submit my definition of the ANGLOSPHERE:
It is that scale-free network of HUMAN BEINGS who happen to think in English.

I can readily agree with this. Being a Bard -o- phile I would also assert that Shakespeare has played an enormous role in the formation of the English language.

I would add that the English language is famous (notorious?) for stealing words from other languages and assimilating them or making up new words altogether.

None of that nonsense about "linguistic purity" that so plagues speakers of French. ;-)

= = =

On up and out, Walk softly around that topic however. O'Neil was labeled fringe for proposing space colonies in the 70s - had he lived until after (say) 2030 he might have seen his reputation resurrected and labeled visionary. People who go public in a big way before it's time to railroad are going to not be taken seriously.

True enough.

Posted by: Bill White at November 21, 2005 10:06 AM

>>Either I wasn't clear or you are not getting me. First, "emphasizing" the medieval period is not the point. The point is to show that at that time, much of Europe was very similar, and had similar notions of rule of law, limits on the king's power, proto-representative government, but that these things only survived in England. The point isn't the Medieval period, it is now.

I think James Bennett's caution about maintaining a sense of proportion with respect to the rest of European civilization, the Francophone area in particular, is vital to preserve if we are talking about the present. If we are talking about the past, the question is what weight to give to the history of law.

>>In England there was no such "detour" -- Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James I all tried to push things that way, but never quite succeeded. England avoided the detour.

My point is that what happened in the early modern period was not just a matter of avoiding something but also of innovating things that were genuinely new and unprecedented.

>>"Reaffirmation and extension" is not quite right. Think in terms of legal precedent. A body of precedent grows over decades and centuries. It is not a reaffirmation, and it is not really an extension -- rather it is a process of organic growth and adaptation to new conditions.

In some respects I agree that this happened. But in other respects it did not. The Cromwell regime was not an organic growth: it was a radical break with the past. The 1660 restoration was an attempt to reaffirm the monarchy and the Anglican Church. Locke's natural law theory of society and the notion of social contract was also a departure from the kind of organicism that was understood and defended in Elizabethan times. Of course, none of this knocked the common law out of the central place that it held. But the early modern period saw lasting innovations that were without earlier precedent.

>>The great triumph in this [Tudor-Stuart] period is the common law-based opponents of the crown held their own and resisted Continental-style despotism, often at the risk or loss of their own lives. I don't know what you mean by a via media in religion. This was the period of an established church enforced by drawing and quartering.

The regicides of 1649 were not the people who came to power in 1660. All I'm trying to argue is that the story was more complex than a simple struggle between common law and despotism. By via media I mean the theology and ecclesiology of the Anglican Church as formulated by Cranmer and Hooker, the spirit of Locke's essay on religious tolerance, and the practical tolerance typified by the rise of Freemasonry. The removal of disabilities on non-conforming Protestants, Catholics, and Jews would not have followed over the next two centuries without the early modern idea that tolerance was a good thing.

The stability of British (and Anglosphere) public life after 1689 expressed a desire to restrain religious and political differences. It is not an unbroken tradition but in the long run the pendulum seems to return to a swing radius somewhere in the middle of whatever the larger context happens to be.

>>You have lost me here. Anglicanism in the UK has about 1% weekly church attendance.

The Anglican Church has indeed declined (in its older core areas) in allegiance and attendance. But taking the last three centuries as a whole I think it can be argued that the spirit of Anglicanism has had a greater influence than its formal ecclesiastical position then and now would indicate.

I am glad you have raised the question of what a historical narrative for English-speaking civilization as a whole could include and the common law is one of the themes that lends it unity across time and place. Nor would I argue for reductionism to some other single factor like religion. I agree that there are a multitude of factors that shaped the civilization we have today. These can and should be debated as to their importance.

Posted by: David Billington at November 21, 2005 12:53 PM

On the "fringes" of calls to expand the Anglo-sphere "out there" into space is Mike Griffin, current NASA Administrator, who testified before the House Science Committee as follows:

What the U.S. gains from a robust, focused program of human space exploration is the opportunity to carry the principles and values of western philosophy and culture along with the inevitable outward migration of humanity into the solar system. Is this valuable? The answer must depend on one's worldview, I suppose. But consider a map of the world today, and notice the range of nations in which English is spoken as a primary language, and in which variations on British systems of justice, politics, culture, and economics thrive today. Was the centuries-long development of the British Empire, based upon Britain's primacy in the maritime arts, a misguided use of resources? I believe not.

Consider also that Great Britain's influence, achieved through its mastery of the oceans, was not restricted merely to affairs in the colonies, the new lands. By virtue of its nautical superiority, Britain wielded a dominant influence in the Old World as well, an influence hugely out of proportion to its size and other resources.

Can America, through its mastery of human space flight, have a similar influence on the cultures and societies of the future, those yet to evolve in the solar system as well as those here on Earth? I think so, and I think our descendants will consider it to have been worth twenty cents per day.

Sounds like an expansionist Anglo-sphere policy to me and the guy was confirmed nearly unanimously.

Posted by: Bill White at November 21, 2005 05:38 PM

There’s an “up and out” scenario which could happen relatively soon. It could begin immediately after (choose one: Steven Spielberg / Richard Branson / some other billionaire entertainment mogul) does lunch with (choose one: Paul Tagliabue / Bud Selig / Gary Bettman / some other former lawyer in charge of a game with English origins) and (choose one: Robert Zubrin / Marshall Savage / some other space-minded visionary of your choice). Then we’ll be able to fire up the 42-inch plasma screen and catch the very first game of…

Moonball.

Think of the potential profits. How many billions do pro sports generate every year? Live broadcasts of players inside the Moondome (with only a half second delay), jumping six times higher than they ever could on earth, playing a sort of real-life Quidditch, would probably generate several billions more.

Think of the positive externalities. After you built the sports arena, and living quarters for the players, and figured out how to deal with the not inconsiderable cost of getting them safely to the moon and back – well, you’d have a monopoly on the lunar transport, entertainment, and hospitality businesses. Think of all the lucrative knowledge that would generate.

We already have the technology to do all this, so it seems to me it’s largely a question of crunching the numbers. How many billions would you have to spend initially on the infrastructure? How many would you get back, and how soon, and what advantage would you gain from being the first mover? If the numbers work out, the possibilities are enormous. And moonball won’t depend on being taken seriously, any more than “Lost” or “Desperate Housewives” or the NFL need to be taken seriously. It’s just technology plus entertainment plus profit. In other words, an Anglospherist trifecta.

Posted by: Carl Hollywood at November 21, 2005 06:21 PM

Lunar NASCAR with methane/LOX rovers.

Posted by: Bill White at November 21, 2005 07:59 PM

"Lunar NASCAR with methane/LOX rovers."

I think we just found our first Commissioner of Moonball!

Posted by: Carl Hollywood at November 21, 2005 08:12 PM

There are lots of great reasons to buy the Anglosphere narrative, and Lex stated many of them. Here’s my own partial list. Some of the items overlap his… but we lawyers love our restatements.

1. Expanded possibilities of collaboration. The Anglosphere narrative provides an understanding of how important it is to have shared cultural references. The lack of them isn’t insurmountable, but a shared culture (transmitted along with the English language) makes communication and understanding easier. This, plus the rise of ever-better communication technologies, raises the possibility of collaborating with a much wider group of people, who have more in common than one might have previously suspected.

2. A model for less developed countries to follow, and for us to cherish and maintain. Macfarlane and others explain how the model works. We can analyze the factors and figure out how to make the model work in Iraq and other locations. (In most places, this will probably be the work of generations… but Japan developed rapidly on the Western model thanks to Yukichi Fukuzawa.) (I can’t avoid thinking of the process in Baghdad as “putting the IRAC in Iraq.” Sorry.)

3. An increased appreciation of the subtle revolutionary power of consumer goods and services. Claudio Veliz’s The New World of the Gothic Fox provides a brilliant metaphor for thinking about Western capitalism and the constant production of new items designed to appeal to consumers. In particular, I’m thinking about Ruskin’s Gothic cathedral, to which “workers” (i.e., producers of goods and services) are always adding “rooms”. Consumers can decide to enter these rooms or not, and they provide value to some regardless of how many others dislike them. In the Anglosphere, there is a celebration and use of imperfection. Even the mediocre has value and is appreciated by someone, somewhere.

And so we have 300 kinds of breakfast cereal, and Britney Spears singing “Baby One More Time” while wrapped in a boa constrictor. William Carlos Williams fans may kill me now, but

so much depends
upon

a writhing boa
constrictor

wrapped around Britney’s
shoulders

before an admiring
audience

Is Anglospherist pop culture mediocre… or is it beautiful? Regardless of your position on this (me? I love it, but Travis’s version of “Baby One More Time” wipes the floor with Britney’s), any Salafi jihadist will tell you it’s utterly revolutionary.

4. An improved concept of the network (or network commonwealth) as a tool for information processing. The Anglosphere is decentralized as a rule and believes in local knowledge, incremental (not radical) improvement, and flexible adherence to shared values. It gave us the common law, and it can make better use of ideas like the wisdom of crowds and smart mobs than other organizational models can.

5. A new way for lawyers to see themselves. I’ve always liked my day job, but many of my colleagues either started out cynical or got there fast. If they knew how important their work is to the English-speaking peoples, and by extension to everyone else, they might cheer up a little. They might view themselves as trustees of the common law system that’s preserved essential institutions like trial by jury and free transferability of property, for centuries. Like item #2 above, this reverses the widespread “we’re so awful” meme and replaces it with justifiable pride and reality-based optimism.

6. A great set of tools for analysis. Mr. Bennett’s reading list is awesome. Alan Macfarlane’s books pack the heavy intellectual firepower of the justly renowned Cambridge school of anthropology. Fischer and Fukuyama provide a completely new and revelatory way of looking at the Anglopshere and the rest of the world. For example, now I think of Chinese culture as a mixture of Puritan traits (like emphasis on literacy and education in general) and backcountry traits (like sticking to your extended clan and trusting no one else for various historical reasons). As Fukuyama and others have noted, long-term progress for the Chinese may depend on the ability to dissolve tight family bonds and associate more freely with people outside the family circle.

7. A solid background for scenarios, like the ones reviewed here and described here. Mr. Bennett recently posted about alternative histories, which are not only fun to read, but also allow the reader to better visualize how events come about and which actions are likelier to lead to the desired results. Visualizing the future is a wonderful tool for strategic planning. What if the UK pulls out of the EU? What’s the significance to other core Anglosphere countries if the Conservatives take over in Canada next January? What are the possible ways for Anglospherists to meet the challenges presented by the Singularity? (Some are suggested in the books on Arnold Kling’s essential reading list.)

8. The pleasure of knowing where we came from. I mean “we” in the cultural, not the genetic sense. When I first saw the connection between East Anglia and New England, in the way David Hackett Fischer describes it, I felt the same pleasure a schoolboy feels when he first learns about Pangaea and continental drift, after years of staring at a world map and wondering why the coastlines of South America and Africa are so similar.

My two-year-old loves to chant ”Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee”, and I like to think he’ll experience the same joy later on, when we fill in the details of what happened between the first Willie and the second Elizabeth.

Posted by: Carl Hollywood at November 22, 2005 10:48 AM

Back in American Rocket Company days, we used to joke about the Lunar Basketball Association as the real economic driver for space. It was not entirely a joke.

Of course if you put the NASCAR races on a methane-atmosphere moon, the cars don't only need fuel, just an oxidizer and an air scoop.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at November 22, 2005 01:28 PM

A new way for lawyers to see themselves. I’ve always liked my day job, but many of my colleagues either started out cynical or got there fast. If they knew how important their work is to the English-speaking peoples, and by extension to everyone else, they might cheer up a little.

The bastion of our freedom and economy is found in the County Clerk and Recorder of Deeds. Title insurance? Essential for our way of life.

Or at least Hernando de Soto tells us no less.

= = =

300 kinds of breakfast cereal? Yup. And bottled water at $2.00 a pop and a culture that learned how to brand sand.

I happen to believe strongly (contra Rand Simberg) that any group that genuinely initiated the permanent settlement of space could link that effort to the creation of new consumer brands and bring in billions of dollars per year. Canon is the official camera of the Chicago Cubs and Canon believes that honor is worth spending money on.

Have I any "evidence" that companies linked to space settlement could create brand value? - - well no. Just my intuition and my faith in Yankee ingenuity and the Yankee ability to sell snake oil.

Posted by: Bill White at November 22, 2005 02:45 PM

And Hernando de Soto is right!

Posted by: Lex at November 22, 2005 02:52 PM
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