December 13, 2005

China, India and the Anglosphere

Some interesting thoughts on the subject from Anton Traversa. Sample quote:

No one on the world produces as many Nobel Prize winners as the United States. No country has as dynamic or innovative a technology R&D program. China has no Nobel Prize winners. It has matured greatly in recent years, but it doesn’t have the domestic capability to compete on a level field against American or even Western European/Japanese innovation. India, on the other hand, is much closer to this goal – its democratic tradition has allowed innovation to flourish, though it still has some ways to go.

In the end, the United States has nothing to fear from India because she sees India as a country with shared values about democracy, human rights, and protection of private property, free markets, and the like. China may be a capitalist dream, but in the end it can only go so far because, at a certain point, the lack of flexible institutions will either turn on the entire system or simply bottleneck its ability to innovate any further.

Posted by James C. Bennett at December 13, 2005 05:46 PM

Can I just say that I feel honored to be linked by one of the finest intellectual minds in contemporary academia?

I've been thinking about Japan lately as a part of the Anglosphere. Operationally, Japan often is considered an appendage to all sorts of other defense, economic, and cultural groupings. ANZUS+Jpn, NATO+Jpn, Anglosphere+Jpn, etc. But would Japan be the second largest economy in the world if it weren't for American proconsulship after World War II?

Something we should all consider...?

Posted by: Anton Traversa at December 13, 2005 08:09 PM

Yes I agree with the idea that China "can only go so far because, at a certain point, the lack of flexible institutions". It's current model will work until it it becomes obsolete and then the world will pass it by. This is like what happened to Japan, In the late 80's early 90's people were saying the US would be eclipsed by Japan. Hah. Japan's economy grew until it's methods were obsolete, then a decade of stagnation.

One of the greatest strengths of the US is it's ability to recognize faults in it's systems, correct them, and then continue thundering along. Examples of this are fixing the fed in the early 80's which was too political under Nixon hence inflation in the 70's, the savings and loan crisis in the 90's and the Enron and related coprorate accounting fraud problems in the early '00's. Many countries never admit thay have problems like these and never try to correct them because corrections would interfere with the self interestes of the ruling elite.

Posted by: imanumbernotaman at December 13, 2005 09:57 PM

I'm a number has got it right. The French Enron is still alive and ticking. Japan in the 80s was like a dog chasing a car. Around 1990 it caught the car (the US, of course), and was so surprised it couldn't figure out what to do with it. That's when it lost its nerve, which it is only now getting back.

Anton's words are very kind. I am, however, not an academic.

Japan is unique for several reasons. For one thing it had independently developed its own high-radius-of-trust culture (see Fukuyama's Trust); secondly, there were interesting parallels to England in its nature as the offshore island -- "Asian, but with a difference" to paraphrase Pocock. On this read Macfarlane's chapter on Japan and Fukuzawa in Making of the Modern world. And Japan drew heavily on Anglosphere models in both the Meiji revolution (although not heavily enough) and the MacArthur shogunate. Now they need a counterbalance to the rising power of China. That's probably us.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at December 13, 2005 11:04 PM

While India certainly has many links with the Anglosphere, I think it's a little premature to assume anything more than potential membership. It's not obvious to me that Anglo institutions will successfully graft throughout Indian society, or channel such ideologies as Hindu nationalism.

Any links to books or commentary on this issue would be appreciated.

In the long run, the future of India may be more important to the Anglosphere than whether or not England becomes more or less integrated with the EU.

Posted by: Paul Nelson at December 14, 2005 08:07 AM

While Japan had the benefit of American pro-consulship from 1945 to 1952, the Philippines had it from 1898 to 1947 and that didn't seem to work out so well. Japan also, from a near standing start in 1868 built a sufficint industrial base to destroy the Russian Navy in 1905 and stand in the first ranks of global naval powers by 1921, all with no help from the U. S.

What all our Anglosphere countries, or at least the ones we want to include in it, seem to have in common is their physical isolation combined with their maritime trading activities. As long as they maintain strong navies they can evolve their own peculiar institutions with minimal fear of invasion by jealous neighbors. What is puzzling is why it is taking the Chinese so long to figure things out. But despite Chinese traders throughout Asia, it has historically operated much more as an autarky than any of the Anglosphere countries.

We should also give Britain credit for recognizing its faults first in the 80s under Lady Thatcher. They took their medicine and showed the US the way. Unfortuantely they seem to be backsliding toward the precipice of Europhilia again in the absence of leadership to continue her resistance.

Posted by: Richard A. Heddleson at December 14, 2005 09:43 AM

James -
Maybe not an academic, but certainly a scholar.

Paul -
I think I disagree with you about India. From what I understand of the Anglosphere concept, it is something that doesn't involve hard definitions to assume "membership." Rather, it is through cultural association. By that judgement, India is a natural part of the Anglosphere group. Their legal system is based on English Common Law, they pass the cricket test (which we do not, thankfully), and they are part of the Commonwealth of Nations (not to be confused with the Commonwealth Realm), among other things. If we were to establish a tiered measure of "closeness", it is unlikely that India would be as close as Canada or Australia. Still, the US, considered the UK's greatest ally, is only some 20% ethnic English. India's burgeoning ties to the United States and Australia should not be discounted either.

I disagree. There have been a lot of spats the Philippines, but currently the United States and the Philippines are as close as ever. We maintain troops (unofficially) and have robust defense/economic ties with that country despite a rather poor history. If the United States were to have a Commonwealth of Nations of its own, I think the Philippines would be a natural addition. This may not make it a core member of the Anglosphere, but certainly there is an indirect affiliation.

Japan is a similar case. You shouldn't forget that the Japanese enjoyed significant western investment and support - much from the United States and Great Britain - that allowed her to grow in strength the way she did. Also, the British and Japanese had an alliance between 1903 and 1922 (I think?). This is at a time, do not forget, that the British were hesitant to formalize defense ties to any of the European countries (even the entente wasn't an alliance). Between the UK relationship and the US occupation, not to mention Japan passing the baseball test (heh), I'd say Japan is too a part of the Anglosphere, even if on the outer orbit.

Posted by: Anton Traversa at December 14, 2005 11:27 AM

"While Japan had the benefit of American pro-consulship from 1945 to 1952, the Philippines had it from 1898 to 1947 and that didn't seem to work out so well. Japan also, from a near standing start in 1868 built a sufficint industrial base to destroy the Russian Navy in 1905 and stand in the first ranks of global naval powers by 1921, all with no help from the U. S. "

I think the difference was cultural distance. Japan was much more different than the Philippines was culturally. The Philippines were pretty Westernized already, mal-Westernized(?), after three centuries of Spanish rule. Japan was virgin soil.

And Japan certainly did not build a navy or a military from a standing start. The Japanese military was highly developed, and formed the basis for a highly efficient managerial class. They had a high level of metallurgical skill and could easily copy mass production techniques. They had their peasant/livestock on a short leash. Japan was hardly some primitive paradise at contact

Posted by: Jim at December 14, 2005 11:31 AM

Paul, you are right on many points. India is at a unique transitional point -- it is too far into the Anglosphere to ever have a completely arms-length relationship to it, yet it is not in or of the Anglosphere in the same way as, say, Singapore is. And, as the Peggy Mohan article recently cited indicates, it is going in the direction of more Anglosphere characteristics rather than fewer.

Yesterday morning I heard a fascinating story on American NPR. It was about the recently-privatized television stations in India running sting operations on government officials, catching them extorting bribes from citizens for just about any and every government function. The case illustrated in the report was a police offficial demanding $600 for releasing the body of a suicide victim to his family. Apparently just about every private station in India is running these sting operations -- and why not? It's like shooting fish in a barrel. So two quintessentially Anglospheric institutional memes -- free competitive media and an expectation of non-corrupt public officials -- have been turned loose in India and are running wild. It is these kinds of changes that wll have a lot to do with the eventual fate of India's relationship with the Anglosphere.

Richard is right about Japan. I think the critical factor was Japan's unique, home-grown wide-radius-of-trust culture, quite different from anything on the Asian continent. In addition, the fact that Japan had achieved, though its own efforts, a state of "Smithian optimality" -- the maximum efficiency available to a market-based pre-industrial economy -- pre-positioned them for takeoff. There aren't very many other non-Western nations where pre-Westernization corporations (such as the 400-year-old Mitsubishi) surrvived contact and adapted themselves to Western-style capitalism. The Philippines' famous "400 years in the convent" under Spanish rule was a diametrically opposite experience.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at December 14, 2005 11:38 AM

Mitsubishi and the other zaibatsu also survived despite the efforts of MacArthur's occupation to eliminate them. The Japanese were very good at taking from the Americans what they thought was of value but only integrating it into what continues to be Japanese culture.

One silver lining of the Korean War was that it ended the American occupation early and boosted Japan on the path to economic recover. Had the New Dealers in the occupation force had their way, things might not have worked out so well nor so quickly.

When the Philippines considers reestablishing Subic Bay and Clark AFB, I will agree that our relations are as close as ever. However, our fifty years of control of the Philippines has left a residue that will take some time to remove.

Posted by: Richard A. Heddleson at December 14, 2005 01:18 PM

It's more about just that though. Japan's constitution, older than France's current, was written by occupation authorities and its legal code is based off Anglo-American jurisprudence.

We need to zoom out a bit. Though Japan has a long history outside of Anglo influence and built an indigenous culture that remains a powerful force, so did the Zulu and so did the Hindi, Dravidians, and Punjabi. That isn't the point. The modern political history and the functional reality of Japan show that it has more in common with the English0-speaking west than any other "sphere".

By the way, no one is arguing that close political ties to the US necessarily mean they are part of the Anglosphere. If that were true, Japan would certainly be in and New Zealand may not. The Philippines, though we have a troubled history, owes much of its current political and econmic reforms/institutions to American influence.

Happy Holidays, everyone.

Posted by: Anton Traversa at December 14, 2005 01:48 PM

James, it goes even deeper than you imagine. Winds of Change.NET has, of course, discussed both the China-India gap (and its MUCH wider implications), and also china's future itself, in some depth.


"The Bush Doctrine As A Global Development Policy," which explains just how deep this rabbit hole goes.

"China's Stresses, Goals, Military Buildups... and Futures" is about how deep China's rabbit hole goes. Let's just say that the vista from the point of view of Beijing's ruling class looks a lot less rosy than it does from outside.

Posted by: Joe Katzman at December 14, 2005 02:24 PM

Things change. Remember that although US industrial might is long-established, its leading role in Science doesn't start until after WWII.

Posted by: dearieme at December 14, 2005 08:05 PM
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