November 21, 2005

Orphans of the Anglosphere?

Mihir Bose, quoted in Helen's post below, made the point that the American model of assimilation should not be held out as an exact model for Britain to follow in regard to its own currently-unassimilated immigrant communities. One of the reasons he gave for this was the fact that most immigrants to the UK were from Britain's former colonies, and already shared a history with Britain that had both good and bad aspects, but in any event was as shared history a point of departure. In contrast, he pointed out, America's immigrant communities had no prior history in common with their hosts.

Well, not quite. The principal exception is the Philippines. This country has a unique and mutually ambivalent history with the United States -- the biggest and most significant possession of the US that was neither retained, like Puerto Rico, nor incorporated into the US proper, like Alaska and Hawaii, but kept from incorporation and then recognized, eventually, as an independent state. There is a sizeable multigenerational Filipino-American population in the US, and substantial continuing ties. However, there is no even notional connection between the two nations on the order of the Commonwealth structure the UK and its former colonies maintain.

Because of the widespread use of English in the Philippines, and the growing information-age ties (principally call-center work) between them and the US, similar to the growing IT ties between India and the rest of the Anglosphere, the Philippines hold a unique position in regard to the Anglosphere. (Of course, no two nations have exactly the same relationship with the Anglosphere -- it's not a one-size-fits-all phenomenon.) As has been pointed out before, the Anglosphere is not a club that a person or nation can join or be excluded from, but a condition or status on a network. It is clear that the Philippines cannot be said to be outside of the Anglosphere. Exactly what the relationship is in an interesting subject for discussion. Philippine Commentary blogger Rizalist has some worthwhile thoughts on the matter. Certainly if he wishes to consider himself part of the Anglosphere nobody could gainsay him.

The Philippines are in the frontlines of the war on radical Islamism, and are in a critical position in regard to any potential conflicts that may arise in East Asia or the Indonesian archipelago. It's worth paying attention to what is going on there.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by James C. Bennett at November 21, 2005 12:30 AM

The front-line of the war on terror is right. Robert Kaplan discusses this in his recent book. The struggle is serious, hard, and not going particularly well. Amy Chua's book, World on Fire, has a good discussion of the Philippines as a corrupt oligarchy where Chinese minorities dominate the economy and the vast majority of the country have a tough time getting by, with vast numbers, mostly women, working hard jobs abroad sending home remittances. The immigrant community in the USA seems, like that of Cuba and Bolivia, to be a diaspora of most of the people with education.

The question is whether the overseas community's money coming home, the ties to the USA, the widespread facility with English and any other advantages that may be there will be enough to move the country forward. I sincerely hope so.

For now, absolutetly, Rizalist (and his countryman Wretchard the Cat) show that the Anglosphere can be expanded on a person-by-person basis.

Posted by: Lex at November 21, 2005 05:35 AM

Dear Jim,

My greetings and thanks for this unexpected attention.

Glad you brought up the business of radical Islamism and the global war on terror. The Philippines is, to the Southeast of Asia, what Israel is to the Middle East of Eurasia. This is true in more ways than one, and perhaps will become important as the front develops in the Sulu-Sulawesi Sea and its bordering archipelagos composed of Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines, which is under pressure from Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf groups. Indonesia is the most populous Mulsim nation on the planet. Malaysia perhaps the most Western and progressive Muslim country (despite a certain petulance). And of course there is the Philippines (population 87 million), the only Christian (Catholic+Protestant) country among 600,000,000 Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus (eg Thailand and Bali). The Philippines is a Western country, not Asian. Consider that it's oldest university, the Royal Pontifical University of Sto Tomas is older than Harvard University (though that may be its only redeeming quality today.)

Let me give you another parallel between modern Philippines and modern Israel that has the Anglosphere as a common pivot point. In the Middle East, the West, but specifically Great Britain helped to bring the Jews back from Diaspora in creating the state of Israel (Sept. 11, 1922?) But the Filipinos have been in Diaspora TO the West since 300 Filipino sailors jumped ship in New Orleans in 1762, deserting a galleon that had just come from Manila to Acapulco and was on her way back to Spain. (They didn't want go there!) The descendants of those Filipino pioneers in America, intermarried and and are hardly recognizable as such, but they formed a historical association that exists to this day to attest to that singular fact. Some Filipinos were in America before there was USA in 1776.. And continuous emigrations to Hawaii and California has been underway for well over a century. Filipinos have fought in all of America's wars of the 20th century, and the 21st, both as Filipinos and as Americans. A flower grows in Babylon, and it is watered in part by blood that came from this other Archipelago of the Anglosphere.

I should point out finally that the First Republic of the Philippines is the OLDEST Anglospheric Democracy in Asia. It was founded on June 12, 1898 when Emilio Aguinaldo read the Philippine Declaration of Independence in Kawit Cavite, and first displayed the national flag to the martial tunes of what would become the national anthem. The First Republic ended, as far as America was concerned on December 30, 1898, just six months later, in the Treaty of Paris of 1898. Spain sold the Philippines, her possession of 350 years to America for US $20,000,000, which indeed kept her till 1946. This resulted in the famous characterization of the Philippines as having spent "350 years in a Spanish Convent and 50 in Hollywood." There was also the matter of the unacknowledge "Philippine-American War" but I shan't get into that unpleasantry for now.

Note however that Australia became independent of the UK only on January 1, 1901. New Zealand followed suit on 26 Sept 1907. And Sun Yatsen's Chinese democratic experiment began on Double Ten 1911. All other nations of this region became democratic only after World War II.
July 4, 1946 is commemorated nowadays as Philippine-American Friendship Day , to recall the restoration of the First Republic, which celebrated its First Centenary on June 12, 1998. The fireworks on Manila Bay rivalled its famous sunset...

I think that it is the Democracy that we have today -- such as it is -- that constitutes a "notional connection" at least with America, but I know it goes beyond that. There is also "Hollywood" which accelerated cultural assimilation such that what used to take centuries was accomplished in decades. The stunning thing is, Filipinos feel more at home in America than in the Philippines. Victor Davis Hanson relates seeing Filipinos demonstrating with placards as the US military was abandoning Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base in the wake of Mount Pinatubo's eruption. These read: "Yankee go home! Take me with you!" Four million of them live in America. They are doctors, nurses, lawyers, soldiers...Americans.

Regarding nominal membership in the Anglosphere, I was only addressing my own stated definition of the notion. Under that definition such membership is not a conscious choice. It was simply that there is no significant, literate mental life in the Philippines, no thoughful activity that isnt somehow conducted "in English". That is not a choice. It is simply the historical condition that resulted from the default of Spanish. By the way, there is a lot of vernacular writing and broadcasting. But the idiom is English!

We are "orphans" only in the sense that we are not "claimed" by any of the Anglospheric antecedents that created Hollywood in the middle of Maphilindostan. We were "given" independence in 1946 in the historical narrative of the Anglosphere as told by Americans. That's debatable to me for how could America misunderstand what was going on in 1898 when she herself had given Empire its first push into oblivion in 1776 and ignited the idea of Nationalism yet became Albion's most successful scion?.

But in the end, it cannot be denied that the Anglosphere's nodes are individual human beings whatever higher hierarchies of association might be defined. What connects these nodes are values and ideas and principles with English names that sound the same to them all -- in their hearts. By the way, in my definition, these values, ideas and principles can be good or evil. I am a realist in that sense about the "Anglosphere" which has a noble side and a perfidious side as well, a Right and a Left, as it were.

For now, I am content to be a member of another sphere -- HUMANITY'S ARISTOCRACY OF THE MIND -- Bloggerdom.

Thanks for the citation, Albion!
Rizalist in the other Archipelago
Philippine Commentary

Posted by: Rizalist at November 21, 2005 08:55 AM

It is far more accurate to note that Singapore is the Israel of SE Asia. The population, 4.5m, largely Confucian, Buddhist and Christian, is approximately the same size. It has an Islamic republic two minutes away by car across the Straits of Malacca, and Sumatera (Indonesia) is around an hour's flight away.

Unlike the Philippines, Singapore has an absolutely crack military trained, quelle surprise, by the Israelis. They have the absolute latest in fighting equipment and every man under 40 is a trained reservist. The way they handled the one plane hijacking they have ever had, was exactly how the Israelis handled the hijacking by pro-Palestinians to Entebbe in 1976. They stormed the plane and shot all the terrorists. All the hostages walked off the plane under their own volition. I was living there at the time, and it was incredible.

Singapore's tiny population, its proximity to Malaysia and Indonesia and its military might make it a more apt comparison to Israel.

This is not to take away from the Philippines. But you cannot compare a country with a population of 87m - larger than Britain, France or Germany - with Israel.

Posted by: Verity at November 21, 2005 11:05 AM

The Philippines are more like an island-India, if we must make these analogies. A post-colonial state which has a lot of challenges to work out, on the frontline with the Muslim world, with a large Muslim minority, with strong historic ties to an Anglosphere power, a large expat population. One can only push the analogy so far, of course.

Posted by: Lex at November 21, 2005 11:10 AM

You push any analogy too far and it breaks down. The Philippines have troops on the ground fighting a nasty radical-Islamist insurgency. Some of the Islamists are separatists and view the Christian-majority Philippine state as an infidel occupier. Others of them view the entire Philippines the way bin Laden views Spain -- as part of the Islamic world that was conquered by infidels and must be reclaimed.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at November 21, 2005 11:27 AM

While cultures overlap, I might suggest, "I think Anglospheric, therefor I am an Anglospherist". For if the Anglosphere is an empire, it's an Empire of the Mind, not of flags or marching songs.

Posted by: Ted B. at November 21, 2005 01:48 PM

Well, isn't it also flags and marching songs? What would the Anglosphere be without Old Glory or "British Grenadiers"?

It is more than an Empire of the Mind.

The Anglosphere exists in more places than cyberspace, and is certainly is more tangible than something merely in the mind.

The Anglosphere has institutional reality, and some choice real estate, too.

The Anglosphere is the United States Marine Corps, and the World Cricket Council and the Recorder of Deeds office of all three thousand American counties, and it is the Isle of Man and the Royal Auto Club, and the New York City Water Supply System, and the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League, and the bound volumes of Indian case law that go back to before 1947, and the US-Canada International Boundary Commission, the Old Bailey, and the Chicago Board of Trade and the Selden Society and Silicon Valley, and the statue of James Joyce in front of the General Post Office in Dublin, and the statue of Alexander Hamilton by the Treasury building in Washington, and the statue of Lord Kitchener on the Horse Guards parade ground in London, and the Cross of St. George on the Indian Navy's ensign.

One could go on and on like this.

The outer margins of the Anglosphere exist where someone who wants to live in freedom, or just wants a better life, and who knows a little English, manages to get online, or sets out to arrive in one of our homelands in person.

But the inner core of the Anglosphere is made of very tangible stuff. Thank God. It is a tough world out there. The Anglosphere has delivered the goods. That's why it has survived and prospered, so far.

Posted by: Lex at November 21, 2005 04:17 PM

Does (Do? That nasty English grammar.) the Philippines use common law?

Posted by: Richard Heddleson at November 21, 2005 05:03 PM

Lex - What a great post! The Anglosphere's also "Waltzing Matilda" and "cheers, mate!" and "Tie me kangaroo down, sport" and the (mainly white) NZ Rugby team doing their Hakka (Maori) routine before a game. And the RCMP. And Burns night and a wee dram. And "Auld Acquaintance". And the Gurkhas.

Posted by: Verity at November 21, 2005 05:51 PM

The Philippines may be orphans, but they are not up for "adoption". The real concern should be this. If a leftist or communist govt were to take over Manila, we shall surely see a MAPHILINDOSTAN in that critical expansion area of AQ.

Regarding the analogy to Israel, I only make it to draw some parallels that won't hold up to analogy stretching. I do think the Singapore analogy has merit in terms of relative size to its context. All of Singapore would fit nicely inside the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area if you just include Olongapo City. She has a great military and economy, but Singapore could be taken down with just a couple dozen carbombs I would think. It's too tiny and her business elite would flee to Thailand or Hong Kong or Taiwan, or Canada, under a sustained attack. Of course that is why they also have some of the best antiterrorism experts...they really need it.

Does the Philippines practice common law? Yes and no. The judicial system is hybrid of Roman Law and American case law. But it has had FOUR constitutions (Malolos 1898, Commonwealth 1935, Martial Law 1972, Freedom 1987, and now the Congress of Moral Midgets wants to give birth to the Nation for a fifth time! They want to adapt a parliamentary system like France and federalize the territory to hugely expand government.

The Philippines could easily have a hundred Hawaiis set up with the proper investments, and 7100 Singapores. She is rich in natural resources and her people have proven themselves the equal of others anywhere, Anglospherians included.

But the longest running communist insurgency keeps this country of vast potential pinned down. That is why tourism has never taken off. (Just look at the map and see all those beaches.)

It is the alliance between Left and the Jihadist movements that must be broken. To hell with the analogies.

But on with the conversations, for which I thank our gracious host again...Dean

Posted by: Rizalist at November 21, 2005 06:24 PM

No car bombs would get into Singapore, or be manufactured in Singapore. Trust me. The Singapore secret service is brilliant, and they cover a very small area. There would not be "sustained attack".

The notion of Singaporeans "fleeing" to Thailand, for god's sake, is too off the wall.

I'm sorry, Rizalist; you obviously have intimate and deep knowledge of the Philippines, but the sketchy nature of your knowledge of the rest of ASEAN is a bit of a worry.

Posted by: Verity at November 21, 2005 06:48 PM

The Anglosphere is a world of metaphor. Here is mine. Please break it if you can.

The Polities of the World are riding in a Boeing 747 run by World Economics Airways. The pilot is the American President. The co-pilot is the British Prime Minister. (sorry, that's the way the cookie crumbles.) The crew are the Coalition of the Willing's Militaries. The Core States of the Anglosphere are sitting in First Class. The rest of the West is in Business Class. The Second World, Russia, China and the new democracies, along with most of the rest of the world occupy Economy which they also share with the Third World, But some countries, the "basket cases" like Indonesia and the Philippines, the worst performing, most corrupt in SEA, they are in the Cargo Hold. Taking down the Taliban and Saddam was like taking down some rowdy passengers playing with bombs and crazy ideas NEAR the fuel tanks of the world (the Middle East) and insisting all the women get behind a bourqa. Likewise the Cabin doors have been locked tight to prevent any hijackers from barging in. First Class is fully aware of the dangers. But I think, even a tiny hole in the fuselage in the Cargo Hold is as dangerous to First Class as to the orphans obliviously hanging on for dear life in that cold place with no Cabin service. NEWS: The US Embassy and Philippine govts have installed "special equipment" in the Port of Manila this year for the detection of "nuclear contraband". Google it. Seven million containers arrive at US ports annually. It's a big cargo hold.

Posted by: Rizalist at November 21, 2005 07:09 PM

No secret police is that brilliant, Verity, and the bomber usually gets through. "Trust me" is a Blairite expression. I am surprised you are using it in this context.

I agree with Lex about the flags and marches. Flags, in particular, from the carefully embroidered Mothers' Union or old trade union ones to the colour that is trooped every June - and that is just in Britain.

Posted by: Helen at November 22, 2005 04:07 AM

Helen - I have been saying "trust me" in the ironic sense for 20 years. Maybe Blair picked it up from me.

Tiny Singapore is probably the most closely monitored population in the world.

Posted by: Verity at November 22, 2005 07:39 AM

Singapore is indeed a very closely monitored population. It reminds me more of Calvin's Geneva than of Israel. It also differs in having natural boundaries and a population where JI types will stand out ethnically from native Malays or Chinese, either as Javanese or whatever ethnicity they belong to, unlike Palestinian bombers among Arab Israelis.

Posted by: Jim at November 22, 2005 03:25 PM

Singapore has vulnerabilites that no miltary can guard against. I think its water comes from the mainland. This Californian can see how that is a fatal weakness.

I think the analogy comparing the Philippines and Israel versus Singapore was based on how western both Israel and the Philippines are, where Singapore seems much more like a truly Chinese society, but one run by businessmen rather than bureaucrats. That's pretty Calvinist too, come tho think of it.

Posted by: Jim at November 22, 2005 04:55 PM

The Phillipines is in many ways like Ireland of 130-140 years ago, minus the occupying power. It's people are everywhere, often unnoticed; while things at home are a mess and offer little hope for its natives, despite the willingness to work hard...Some day.

Posted by: ElamBend at November 22, 2005 10:51 PM

Singapore's water vulnerability is probably more theoretical than real. Terrorist attacks can be repaired. A long term threat could only occur if Malaysia decided to try to halt the flow of water to Singapore. That would be an act of war. Moreover, it would be madness. First, they need the trade with Singapore, and being poorer, would suffer worse for its loss. Second, Singapore has a first-rate military and could probably swiftly destroy Malaysia's military and inflict great pain on Malaysia. Additionally, this obvious threat has, I am sure, been the focus of Singaporean defense planning since it achieved independence. So, Singapore would have contingency plans in place to swiftly act in response to any such act or threat by Malaysia. Finally, the Malaysians have to know these facts, and unless they take leave of their senses will not make what amounts to a death-threat to their small but very, very powerful neighbor.

Posted by: Lex at November 23, 2005 10:15 AM


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