January 30, 2005

Blogcritics review

An interesting review of The Anglosphere Challenge on Blogcritics.

The reviewer is clearly focused on the geopolitical aspects of the book. Importantly, he does get the idea that the Anglosphere is not just the alliance of the US and the old white Commonwealth nations, but rather a new kind of thing that is emerging, what I termed a "network civilization" in the book. And it includes a wide variety of the formerly colonized, who are now discovering that in a disintermediated world, they are suddenly placed close to the center of the action.

Anglosphere: Part I
Anglosphere: Part II
Anglosphere: Part III
Anglosphere: Conclusion

Thanks to James McCormick for catching it.

Posted by Jim Bennett at 04:04 PM

January 25, 2005

The Cricket and Baseball Alliance

Collin May of the blog Eursoc has written an interesting post on the tsunami relief effort as a preview of future lines of alliance in Asia. In looking at an "Anglo-Saxon" + India + Japan team as a major future alignment in Asia, May arrives at essentially the same conclusions I did in my National Interest review essay that was posted in mid-December, just before the tsunami.

This "Cricket and Baseball Alliance" seems to be in the air these days.

Update:

Here's Larry Kudlow's comment on the May piece.

Further Update:

Here's a piece by Jonathan Rauch that covers some of the same territory.

Posted by Jim Bennett at 05:22 PM

Kling in TCS on TAC

Arnold Kling's new column at Tech Central Station discusses the current problems of the Democratic Party in the context of The Anglosphere Challenge.

A perceptive and enjoyable discussion, in general.

Two points come to mind:

In regard to the future of the Republicans and Democrats, what my attention is shifting to is the question of whether the Republicans can maintain their ability to keep coalitions together, as a consequence of their successes. People forget that even though the Republicans have dominated the White House since 1968
(or even 1952, depending on how you see things) they have only attained even a minimal full control over all three branches of government since 2002, or more accurately, since the beginning of this month. It's a lot easier to maintain an essentially negative coalition aimed at blocking or repealing what the other team has done or wants to do; it is much harder to form an acceptable agenda for a governing coalition of disparate parties.

Bush's Opportunity Society initiative is an interesting attempt at formulating such an agenda. It will be interesting to see how it fares.

The second point is a historical one. Lexington Green of Chicago Boyz in a private email, took exception to Kling's description of England's "lack of a strong central monarchy," pointing out accurately enough that the English monarchy was far more effective, and far more centralized than Continental monarchies for a long period of time.

I think we are seeing an endemic problem in discussing this issue in English-speaking discourse. When we say "strong central monarchies" our image is of Louis XIV's France -- pervasive and intrusive government. Its opposite in one sense is a weak, decentralized monarchy, which would be (to give the classic example) pre-partition Poland. But the English monarchy was also the opposite of the Sun King's autocracy in a different plane -- it was strong and fully able to enforce civil peace in England from a very early time. But in terms of intrusiveness into English life, it was amazingly unlike Continental states -- no real police, no standing army. This model -- effective where needed, absent where not -- was the model the founders drew on for the Federal government. And Lex is right, this model has been critical for the success of our civil society.

Posted by Jim Bennett at 11:48 AM

January 12, 2005

Dreaming Europe

For those who haven't seen it, here's the link to my article Dreaming Europe in a Wide-Awake World.
Right now there's a new wave of Europhoria in the publishing world, with Rifkin and T.R. Reid's new books out. I wish I had been able to include Reid's in my review.

Posted by Jim Bennett at 06:30 PM

January 06, 2005

Where have all the fascists gone?

Anglosphere: Where have the fascists gone?

By James C. Bennett
From the International Desk
Published 4/19/2003 10:56 PM

WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- The term "fascist" has become one of the most overused terms of political abuse throughout the world. Judging from usage, its current meaning is something like "one who does not agree with me."

More specifically, it means "someone not nice." For those striving for laser-like semantic precision, a fascist must have something to do with nationalism, war and theories of racial
superiority.

Expanding on the latter definition, a psycho-social explanation of fascism has become generally current in popular-culture discussions of politics. According to this explanation, fascist politics arise from personality deformations, probably caused by allowing boys to play with toy guns.

These deformed personalities naturally clump together, forming fascist movements, according to this theory, especially in times of stress when governments aren't permitted to raise taxes high enough to support the social programs our wise guardians know would make us all happy.

This theory is nonsensical and ignores the actual history of fascism altogether. This is dangerous for two reasons. For one, it allows the overuse of the fascist label to misunderstand undesirable, but quite different phenomena, like the Ku Klux Klan.

The second is that a lack of understanding of fascism and its historical origins can blind us to resurgences of the same sentiments and drives that created fascism the first time around, and may be creating equally undesirable phenomena today.

A parallel myth has held that fascism was primarily an aberrant phenomenon of Italy and Germany in the post-1918 era, where disillusioned veterans at loose ends reacted to post-war depression and political unrest banded together to form fascist parties.

After the Germans invaded and occupied most of the rest of Continental Europe, this myth contends, they recruited a few isolated losers and opportunists to form puppet governments, which were hated by the great mass of the population, most of whom supported the resistance.

After the war, goes the myth, this handful of collaborators was punished, and in Germany and Italy themselves, the great mass of the population who had gone along realized their errors and became ardent democrats.

What this myth (promoted partly to allow the construction of NATO) ignores is the fact that fascism, and the proto-fascist movements from which the historical fascist parties emerged,
was an integral part of the Continental European cultural and political scene for several generations prior to its political-military victory of 1940, and represented a major current in
Continental political and social thought.

It was not confined to Germany and Italy: wherever the Germans went on the Continent, they found substantial like-minded political movements, who did not view the Germans as
occupiers so much as an effective means of defeating their domestic political opponents and carrying out their political goals.

To be a fascist in Continental Europe in the decade before World War II was not to be marginalized or aberrant. A European fascist could feel immersed in a large, self-contained purposive universe, with fascist organizations for women, children, university students, labor unions members -- even automobile owners.

You could go to international fascist meetings and meet German Nazis, Italian Fascists, Spanish Falangists, French Cagoulards and Croix-de-Feu, Belgian Rexists, Hungarian Arrow Cross, Romanian Iron Guards, Norwegian Quislingites, and many others, all marching together toward the future they considered rightfully theirs.

These movements looked back over several generations to the first stirrings of proto-fascist movements in the late 19th century. The typical young Vichyite militiaman rounding up Jews in 1943 or waiting to fight the Anglo-American invaders in 1944 was probably not an opportunist recruited on the spur of the moment.

His papa had probably been a fascist street-fighter in the 1930s; grandpapa had probably been in the anti-Dreyfusard riots in the 1890s. And it would not be surprising if grandpapa's parents and grandparents had been ultra-nationalists and anti-Semites in the previous generations.

As I discussed in last week's column, fascism must be considered as one particular expression of a wider Industrial Counter-Revolution against individualism, constitutional government, free markets and global trade.

It is a specific historical movement, rooted in time and place, and expressing a specific set of grievances and prejudices. That Counter-Revolution is far from over, as globalization and the spread of competitive free markets continue to disrupt local elites and undermine the ruling narratives upon which their local hegemony depends.

European fascism was like a large river, flowing and carrying along millions of willing and enthusiastic adherents across the European continent. The question now is, where did this river disappear to in 1945? These people and their underlying sentiments were the culmination of generations of political evolution. It defies reason to believe that they simply changed their minds, all of them.

A few -- only a handful, really -- were punished afterwards. Many had begun to see the handwriting on the wall by 1943 or 1944, and had begun some form of cooperation with resistance forces. After the war they came forward reborn as Resistants. In the Soviet-occupied countries, most simply joined the Communist Party. You can now see in a Budapest museum the special application form for former fascist secret policemen to join the new Communist police.

In the West, many merely laid low for a while; others sought to find the closest equivalent to the old comfortable world of fascism they had left behind. If they could not have the whole package, they would try to find some of the pieces of what they had previously supported, and devote themselves to those. For more than a few, the closed world of Communism had that familiar and comfortable quality.

Integral to the fascist message were the hatred of individualism and free markets and hostility to the Anglo-American culture that they saw (accurately enough) as the source of those values in the modern world. They hated the popular culture that they saw as eroding respect for the traditional forms of European cultural authority. Of course, they despised the Jews as agents of modernism among them, but that current was muted in post-war Europe, since the fascists had successfully achieved their agenda of destroying the Jewish communities as significant economic and cultural forces on the European continent.

Above all, fascists everywhere enshrined the role of the state as the focus of national life and the source of meaning and value. This separates fascism from other movements of political violence and racial caste conflict (like the Klan, for example) and unites it with the superficially liberal but state-exhalting European nationalist movements of the 19th century of which fascist movements are ultimately mutated descendents. This value also unites fascism with the purposive and directive state of European bureaucrats today.

Particularly, they resented the loss of political power by Europe to America, and sought to revive the integrated European economy they had achieved from 1940 to 1944 in order to recreate a European counterweight.

They also continued to build on the 1940-1944 theme of an underlying cultural commonality among Continental Europeans, which they counterposed to the "barbaric" American culture: the theme of "Coca-Colonization."

With the end of the Cold War, many of the more repressed elements of European fascist culture were able to come out of hiding and return to political respectability. Of course, they avoided the old symbols, and generally continued to substitute a pan-European cultural identity for the old national chauvinisms pre-war fascists had displayed, a process well underway by 1944. Even anti-Semitism came back in the lightly disguised form of anti-Zionism and solidarity for Palestine.

Where have all the fascists gone? The answer seems to be that the river of fascist sentiments merely flowed underground for a few decades, and now they are seeping back to the surface. Looking at the pro-Baathist demonstrations that swept Europe in the last month, it is clear that these sentiments have regained more overt respectability that at any time since 1945.

One wonders whether our Vichyite militiaman, now in his dotage, was part of the third of French public opinion that wished for Saddam to defeat the Anglo-American forces.

I rather suspect he was. One also wonders how many of his values, passed already over a number of generations, have not continued in some form or other to be handed down to the
subsequent generations, to be expressed anew in the new language of European resentment.

The fascist stream was not the only stream of European public opinion, nor ever the majority stream. Others, genuine adherents of freedom and democracy, hated them and opposed them with every weapon they had. The descendants of these streams remain the majority streams of political philosophy in Europe.

But we must not let our sympathy and respect for these positive forces disguise the reality that the currents of fascism did not disappear in 1945, and that their re-emerged currents today are not just the small bands of pathetic losers that openly recreate the symbols and names of the past.

Fascism is an organic development of strains of political thought that have been endemic in Europe since the Industrial revolution. Fascism as an organized movement under that name no longer exists, nor is it likely to re-emerge as such. But the sources of fascism are still alive; new expressions of the same underlying sentiments are regaining more respectability and political presence than at any time since 1945.

(The views articulated in James Bennett's weekly Anglosphere column for United Press International are his own and are not necessarily shared by UPI.)

Copyright 2001-2003 United Press International


Posted by Jim Bennett at 05:05 PM

The Judeao-Germanosphere


Anglosphere: Why do they hate us?

By James C. Bennett
From the International Desk
Published 4/12/2003 6:13 PM
View printer-friendly version

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- Why do they hate us? This question has been asked incessantly since Sept. 11, 2001. Sometimes it is asked about Muslims in general; sometimes about the Arab world in particular.

However, it is worth considering the possibility that the root source of anti-Americanism in the world lies in the deep-rooted anti-modern tradition of Continental Europe.

Just as the Baathist movement lately of Iraq and still in power in Syria is a localized variant of European fascism, the broader anti-Americanism currently fashionable on all continents comes ultimately from what some have called the Industrial Counter-Revolution. This is a comprehensive category for the various reactions in Europe against the program of the Industrial and Democratic Revolutions, or liberalism in the classical sense -- individualism, free markets, and technological and social progress.

Scholars such as Alan Macfarlane have found that individualistic social patterns (such as a preference for nuclear over extended families) have been very deep-seated in England, going back at least to the 14th century, while the reverse has been true in Continental Europe up to the Industrial Revolution.

This might suggest that both fascism and communism emerged on the European continent as a search for the lost security (at the expense of individual independence) of the extended family under the patriarchal rule of the paterfamilias in the traditional Continental society shattered by the Industrial Revolution.

Another explanation, not mutually exclusive with the above, may lie in seeing the Holocaust not as an isolated instance of social madness, but the latter half of a great historical cycle beginning with the emancipation of Europe's Jews during the Napoleonic Wars.

Although the Anglosphere began the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, the period roughly from 1830 through 1930 saw a very rapid expansion of that revolution in Western Europe, and most particularly in German-speaking Europe. This expansion resulted in the emergence of a brilliant and dynamic civilization.

Given the prominence of Jewish Europeans in that civilization, it must be asked whether one of its principal stimuli was not the excitement of mutual discovery, in which newly emancipated Jews brought their analytical skills honed by their tradition of scholarship and debate, while accessing the much wider world of Western science, literature, and scholarship from which they had previously been closed off?

How can we calculate how much more dynamism was added by the everyday interaction of people who had previously been kept in parallel and uncommunicative spheres? The Germanosphere, including not just the Second Reich, but Austria-Hungary, German Switzerland, and the German-speaking communities of Eastern Europe and the Americas, really might better be dubbed the Judaeo-Germanosphere during that period.

Continental European Jews, because they owed their very presence in the larger civilization to the values of liberalism and modernism, were one of the first and most obvious targets of the Industrial Counter-Revolution.

The collapse of globalization and consequent rise of totalitarianism set the stage for the end of the great Judaeo-German hybrid civilization of Europe and its French counterpart. Those European Jews who were left alive at the end of the war overwhelmingly desired to leave, and they left to two destinations: Israel, and the Anglosphere.

With this emigration, on top of the previous great Jewish emigration to London and New York in the late 19th century, much of the energy, creativity and contributions of European Jews were given to the Anglosphere rather than the Continent. The cost to the Continent, and the benefits to the Anglosphere has never, to my knowledge, been calculated. The cost might never be calculable, but it is real.

Continental Europeans, helped by the Marshall Plan and American investment, rebuilt their countries with vigor after 1945. Led by the last generations to mature in the environment of the hybrid Jewish-European civilization, Europe seemed to pick up where it left off in 1933.

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones -- a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.

It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?

Consider that the current war has seen the rapid re-emergence of the classical anti-Semitic themes in Europe, and coming from the same classes and types that supported the previous anti-globalization revolt of the 1920s and 1930s. The whitewashing of anti-Semitism as "anti-Zionism" grows more and more transparent by the day. French television has begun to adopt the terminology of the Vichy propagandists in reporting on the "Anglo-American attack" on Iraq. "Neo-con" serves the same code-word duty that "rootless cosmopolite" did in Stalin's anti-Jewish purges.

The widespread anti-Americanism in the world, of which Continental Europe is the ultimate source, has almost nothing to do with the character of President George W. Bush or the current administration, or other such cosmetic issues.

The modern world was first carried forward by two great civilizations. The Anglosphere was one. The dynamic industrializing culture of 19th century Continental Europe, to which the spark of the Judaeo-Christian encounter was so important, was the other. That culture committed suicide in the '30s. Perhaps its successor is not the revival of that culture, but rather its zombie.

In considering the Holocaust, most attention has been given to its direct victims, as is appropriate. However, we must also consider that it was a form of self-administered lobotomy for Continental European culture.

It would not be surprising if the twin anti-modernist themes of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, now rapidly coalescing into a single nasty mess visible in many of the pro-Saddam demonstrations of the past year, become once again the predominant political-cultural theme in Western Continental Europe, overwhelming the decent and positive forces there that had previously prevailed.

And we should not be surprised if such people hate us.

Copyright 2001-2003 United Press International


Posted by Jim Bennett at 05:02 PM