January 17, 2007

Welcome, Barone readers

Thanks to Michael Barone for his link! readers wishing to find out more about our outlok are invited to check out my book website, which includes substantial excerpts from the book available to read on line or download.

Michael poses an interesting question:

The Index of Economic Freedom for 2007, sponsored by the Wall Street Journa and the Heritage Foundation, is out. Here is Mary Anastasia O'Grady's article in the Journal on it, and here is the Heritage website entry, the data, and the rankings. Only seven countries receive "free" ratings, with a score above 80, and every single one of them is primarily or substantially English-speaking: Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. The next nine countries, with scores between 75 and 80, are mostly smaller European countries: Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Iceland, and Finland. Canada, of course, is primarily English-speaking, and my impression is that knowledge and use of English is widespread in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Iceland.

Why are English-speaking countries at the head of this list? Because they–we–ar the inheritors of England's traditions of representative government, rule of law, an economic freedom.

A question that has interested me ever since I first studied these types of statistics is that the large (roughly, five million plus inhabitants) nation that occupy the head of these lists tend to be mostly or entirely Anglosphere. The smaller states are a mix of Anglosphere nations and others, primarily the Scandinavian/Baltic states and the "Calvinist bookends" of the Germanosphere -- Switzerland and the Netherlands. All of these states are characterized by having strong civil societies -- marked by a high radius of social trust (willingness to trust strangers, treat strangers fairly, and expect fair treatment from strangers) and extensive networks of association that are neither based on blood kinship or organized by the state. But the non-Anglosphere states are always quite small. It seems that one can be small, free and prosperous, or large, bureaucratic, and stagnant. But not large, free, and prosperous -- unless you are English-speaking and use Common Law. In the middle are a group of nations that have reasonably strong civil societies and are reasonably prosperous, are relatively large, and have effective federal systems -- Germany is the best example of such.

The why of this is an interesting riddle. It's what much of the discussion on this website is about. I've been busy with other things over the past few months so I've posted hardly at all over that time. But that should change soon, and meanwhile other of our Seedlings (the name is an homage to David Hackett Fischer's book Albion's Seedlings have interesting things to say on the matter.

Posted by James C. Bennett at January 17, 2007 10:14 AM

In most other places in the world, people rely on their extended families for protection from injustice. The chicken or egg question is: Did northwest Europeans, especially the English, stop relying on their relatives so much because they had invented a better system of justice, or did they invent better laws because they didn't like their extended families?

Posted by: Steve Sailer at January 18, 2007 02:39 AM

I would like to answer the question of Steve Sailer. I work so much on the family life and its implications by an anthropological and social approach. I know the work of the anthropological history group of Cambridge, U.K., (Alan Macfarlane, Peter Laslett,…), but initially, I study the French school of Frédéric Le Play.

I will try to write in english, you already noted that it is difficult for me .

Initially, let me to introduce myself, I am called Pascal, 37 year old Frenchman. I read with great interest, the book of James C Bennett, the Anglosphere challenge, I also read Claudio Véliz, David Hackett Fischer, Francis Fukuyama, Alan Macfarlane, Samuel Huntington… I know well Canada, England and the United States.

For 10 years, I have tried to understand why the French civilization is not any more on the same level as Anglo-Saxon civilization whereas in the 18 ° century these two great civilizations invented the world.
I do not know if J.C.Bennett read the work of the great French sociologist of the 19° century, Frédéric Le Play, and its disciples Henri de Tourville, Edmond Demolins. Their work is very important. Le Play ans his disciples based the analysis of the social facts according to the study of the family structures in all Europe. Henri de Tourville wrote a “history of the particularistic formation” since the fall of the Roman Empire. This history is in fact the history of Anglo-Saxon civilization. Edmond Demolins wrote in 1897, “A quoi tient la supériorité des anglo-saxons ”. This book is remarkable, by the way, there is an English translation.

To answer the question of Steve Sailer, the Anglo-Saxon nuclear family (the opposite of the extended family) was born,according to Henri de Tourville, in the Norwegian fjords between the birth and the fall of the Roman Empire. In my opinion, the nuclear family is thus one of the bases of Anglo-Saxon civilization. The Anglo-Saxon legal system is thus quite simply an emanation in the manner of living impelled by the nuclear family and the social organization made from the 5 century after JC in Great Britain.

Posted by: Pascal at January 20, 2007 09:15 AM

I have not read Le Play or Tourville or their colleagues, and I thank Pascal for pointing me to them. Steve's question is also a useful one, although like many chicken-and-egg questions I suspect the answer is that something started off a self-reinforcing cycle, or to put it another way, the first chicken egg was a mutation laid by an almost-chicken.

All the fingers point to Scandinavia. The "forest Germans" described by Tacitus were clearly in our institutional ancestral line, but of course the Franks who founded France, (as opposed to Gaul) were also descended from such people. The Anglo-Saxons seem to have been, or became in England, a bit more individualistic than the Rhine Germans. The Vikings who came to northern England were more individualistic than the Anglo-Saxons, per Hackett Fischer. So clearly something was going on in Scandinavia, and perhaps Norway was the source.

The "Old European" (i.e., medieval-constiutional) society of Northern France was Frankish in origin and affected by the Normans. It had a lot in common with medieval English society. Fukuyama in Trust, and Downing describe how the military-bureaucratic state that evolved in response to the needs of the renaissance revolution in military affairs changed French society, changes which reinforced those created by the adoption of Roman civil law. England's insular status and reliance on naval power continued to drive it in a distinct direction. But I agree it started with family structure and the psychology of the individual.

Posted by: Jim Bennett at January 22, 2007 04:26 AM

What are your thoughts on the role of the "periphery" ? For example, the Scots-Irish in the development of the U.S, or the Scots in Canada? Australia?

I like to think of this as the Anglo-Celtic Sphere rather than just Anglosphere, though the foundational concepts - "rights" etc - clearly have north Germanic/"English" roots. America's constitutional thinking has its intellectual origins in the Scottish enlightenment (Hume et al)

Unless ofcourse, the Celtic folks don't mind being grouped together with the "English".

Posted by: Raj at January 23, 2007 05:50 PM


Posted by: bcxbgcbc at April 10, 2007 03:26 AM
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