April 11, 2006

Dominique Droops, Silvio Falls

Daniel Johnson's Letter from London analyses Italy and France's situation:

The political classes in both Italy and France are still struggling to come to terms with the relative decline of the core states of the European Union. Both elites were suspicious of the New Europe to the east; both still cling to dreams of a United States of Europe, despite the rejection of the European Constitution in last year's French and Dutch referendums. Mr. Prodi may try to exploit his victory to lead a new attempt to revive such dreams of a centralized European federation.

If he does, I predict he will fail.The European Union is not only more diverse but also more divided than ever. France and Italy may have signaled that they reject the Atlantic world of open markets and open societies. But the Poles and other central European peoples are mostly eager to belong to the Anglosphere. So Margaret Thatcher's vision - a Europe of free trade and nation states - lives to fight another day.

Interesting use of the term Anglosphere. I think the possibility is not so much "join" to Anglosphere", but join with us, to become full-fledged members of what I have called the "civilsphere" -- the worldwide set of strong civil societies. Unfortunately, France and Italy seem to be demonstrating that the door into the civilsphere is a revolving one -- as the Eastern Europeans and others come is, they are on the way out.

Posted by James C. Bennett at April 11, 2006 02:31 PM

I fully accept the term Anglosphere and generally the ideas behind it. But I balk at civilsphere.

Yes, the relatively more civil process of domestic political change in the Anglosphere certainly deserves the term, but recent Anglo-American militarism stikes me as rather savage.

Still, I suppose, all words expressing complex ideas have limitations. And, civilsphere need not necessarily imply complete refinement and moral superiority on all fronts.

Posted by: Death Bredon at April 12, 2006 09:22 AM

The term "Civil society" has a long history of use since it was coined by Adam Ferguson; in general, it marks societies that connect its citizens primarily through networks of voluntary association. Prior to the emergence of civil society, ost human societies were connected primarily through kinship netowrks and/or the State; often in such societies the state was merely one kinship network's privileged position over the other. It's been noted by many observers that only a minority of people on the planet live in genuine civil societies, and those societies have a range of intereests in common, and an ability to act in ways that weak or absent civil-society states cannot. These societies form the civilsphere. Whether one agrees with Anglo-American military actions over the past half decade or not, these actions are taken by civil societies in defense of goals long considered legitimate by such. They are not to be compared with the savagery that is characteristic of daily life in many of the world's failed states, which are only more extreme examples of lack of civil society.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at April 12, 2006 06:34 PM

a little word-examination:

When does military action become "militarism?" The term seems to imply the use of military force as a first option instead of necessity. I would think that strictly speaking, that would require a high level of proof.

Posted by: Assistant Village Idiot at April 12, 2006 07:00 PM


Thanks for the clarifying education!

* * *

Village Idiot,

I agree that a high burden of proof should be required before resort to military force.

Posted by: Death Bredon at April 12, 2006 09:24 PM

Very funny Death Bredon. And so clever. But why do you think that Anglo-American military action or militarism is a recent development. Don't know about America (well, yes, I do a bit) but there has been an awful lot of military action in English and British history over the centuries. I guess it may not have been militarism, though that rather depends on the definition that you so wittily evaded.

Posted by: Helen at April 13, 2006 10:05 AM


Spot on! The Anglo-American history of unnecessary military action furthers my skepticism that the Anglosphere and the civilsphere should be considered strictly synonymous, unless of course "civil" encompasses "imperialism with generally good form."

Posted by: Death Bredon at May 1, 2007 07:38 AM
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