In the spirit of anti-French bashing, I must remind you Anglophones that if you truly despise the French, you must revert English back to Anglo-Saxon! Yup you heard me right; you see, if it wasn't for some Normans who spoke Old French, English would be a language as comprehensible as Icelandic with the cultural reach of Friluian. Think of it no Britain, No empire; no American revolution, no English as a second language classes to teach. So how many of you Anglophones can read Beowulf in the original? Didn't think so!
There goes alphabet and half of the vocabulary must go too. So no pork or mutton for you! I'm sick to death of Anglophones telling the world that their language is sooo easy to learn; yeah if it's so easy than how come every grammar book I own always deals with the language's mechanics; never its history?No one; not my English teachers and not the NET can tell me why city in the plural changes the y to i before adding es. I get the same answer: well that's the way it's always been. Gee thanks! I wanted a simple answer to a grammatical question not a Beatle's knock off song. Better yet, written English aggravates dyslexia in kids! Poor Billy Caxton when he brought the printing press to England, far from stimulating a profound reform of the language's orthography like every other European language, the printing press permanently froze English in its transition from Middle to early modern English. So typically British- an accident of history consolidates a quaint practice- like insane spelling and pronunciation in place.
Collin May has written an interesting review of Robert Conquest's book Reflections of a ravaged century. I'd like to read it eventually but I dislike some of Conquest's prescription especially with his views of the Anglosphere. What disturbs me very deeply is the presumption about the Anglophone countries. If Collin is correct than Conquest's prescriptions smack of imperialism and the worse kind: cultural imperialism. If there's one aspect of the Anglosphere and of Anglophone culture that I deeply loath is their insensitivity towards the Others' experiences. That because they didn't benefit from the Magna Carta and the other felicitous accidents of English history, the Other's political, cultural and economic evolution are all wrong and it's incumbent on Britain; now America to right their wrongs.
I go back to my Latin American studies and I was always struck at how too many American policymakers and thinkers were astounding shallow and prepotent. These 'experts' started from the faulty premise that Latin America's political, historical, religious, cultural and ideological legacies were the root cause of their problem because they were irrelevant and pretty much echoed the same prescription: a tabula rasa that would allow 'modern' (read American) values to fill the resulting vacuum.The fact that Latin Americans have stymied such efforts isn't due to bad faith but that American values are irrelevant to the region.
It was precisely the experiences of the Portuguese, Spanish and Eastern European that prompted the Anglosphere to reevaluate their own political, cultural, legal and historical evolution and realize that behind their democracy lay a very complex network of private and public associations, institutions, values, laws and so on that inculcated the inhabitants with the practices and habits of a democratic citizen living in an open society.
Paradoxically, because the Anglosphere has always had robust civil societies and strong democracies precisely renders them ill-prepared to confront some of the complex global problems that will beset the world. Here's my modest list of where I see the Anglosphere's weaknesses:
1) Liberties, freedom and democracy can be nurtured by legal, constitutional, religious and political traditions that aren't derived from the Anglosphere traditions. As annoyingly obvious as it sounds, I've found in my experience that Anglophones sometimes have a difficult time accepting that deceptively simple point.
2) Political corruption is far more a priority than economic corruption. I'm not saying that the Others aren't as fearful of the latter; it's simply that unlike the Anglophones, the Others fear that political corruption poisons the society while economic corruption is the one of the last manifestations of rot. By contrast, the Anglophone fear economic corruption as that posions the society and political corruption merely exposes the underlying economic rot. That explains, for example, why many European countries have highly developed institutions to inviligate and stop political corruption (i.e. the independence of the Procurer general, recurso de amparo, the Accounting Tribunal, the Electoral commission; while the Anglophones have elaborate anti-economic criminal institutions the American SEC, anti-insider trader laws, strict accounting rules.
3) Capitalism has many varieties and while the Anglosphere is quite successful, efficent and innovative, it's still a highly demanding system of production. So much so that not even the Americans fully adhere to it. After all, they, and other Anglophones, protect certain industries from external competition, engage in questionable subsidies of certain industrial sectors and sometimes impose spurious tariffs. So if the Others are reluctant to embrace Anglospheric capitalism in its fullness, it's counterproductive to berate them; it's by example that'll encourage them to try and be gratified about their efforts in trying capitalism.
Gràcies a un enllaç del professor Instapundit ens cita un article del New Yorker de cóm els europeus des del segle XIX s'han quexiat dels americans i Simon Schama en cita alguns exemples d'autors i visitadores coneguts i menys benconeguts europeus.
Es típic dels americans d'ignorar o de denigrar el criticisme europeu. D'una banda els americans tenen raó, els europeus exageren llurs propis pors o odi i els projecten als Estat-units. Tanmateix, els europeus tenen raó en certes característiques americanes de la qual la més important es la refusa de la tragèdia en la vida. Els americans, perdoni que ho digui, son massa optimistes i vegades ella els inculcula una rejecció de la tristesa. Un exemple molt banal es l'acabament de Wayne's World. Personalment, m'agrada molt el primer final del qual Wayne perd sa novia al rival, sa casa passa al foc i el seu millor amic s'ha ferit greument. Es a dir un final tràgic però commovedor. Doncs, no tot això n'era un malson de Wayne i en actualitat, es casa amb la novia, venç el seu rival i tot s'acaba en el favor de Wayne. M'enfadé moltíssim; però mon germà em renyà , recordant-me que els americans no els hi agraden finals pessimistes.
Potser, aquesta actitud en contra la tragèdia o del pessimisme explica la desmoralització que sofriren els americans quan havien perdut la Guerra del Vietnam. Aquesta neguit era contra-natura i no podria durar per a sempre. Doncs, explica, en part la popularitat de Regean. Tot els americans diuen la mateixa cosa: que ell havia restaurat la dignitat del país i l'orgull de exclamar que son americans a través el món.
Derviada d'aquest optimisme, es la creença que els americans han reinventat la política. Aleshores, abans de contestar que no, diria que sí. No es pot negar que els americans ha popularitzat la democràcia i un estat de dret de fundacions populars. Es un deferència fonamental amb l'Europa que n'es més aristocràtica, realista, integrista, tradicionalista, etc. Nogenmenys, aquesta actitud que els americans projecten d'haver descobert el secret de la felicitat terrestre fastigueja molt el món enter. I vegades el mon té raó.
Tanmateix penso que no es podrà jamés reconciliar el criticisme europeu contra l'optimisme americana; però si s'haurà de recordar que les controvèrsies que sorgien entre els europeus i els americans es degudes a aquesta inculcació pels americans d'un optimisme desenfrenat.
As much as I disdain current French behaviour, I find Johnson's proposal of treating France as an enemy is utterly counterproductive and the most asinine proposal I've read in awhile. France for all of its flaws and faults is still a democratic polity. Treating it as a pariah and isolating it won't induce the ordinary French citizens to change their behaviour or to reevaluate their governments' policies; on the contrary, pride and fear will compel them to become even more recalcitrant and become the enemies that some Anglospherists so desire.
However what real set me off was Johnson's proposal to make Britain, America's offshore island to advance the common interests on the continent. Great, England once again wants to perpetuate its meddling in European affairs and sucker the Americans in helping due to their uncritical Anglophilia at this moment
I deeply distrust the Anglophones when they set their eyes on Europe. Historically the Brits have no compunction of selling out those who no longer fulfilled a strategic requirement in advancing their interests. One of the more flagrant examples is when British abandoned the Catalans to their fate at the end of the war of the Spanish succession. It wasn't the British that had to face the repression unleashed by the Decret de la Nova planta. It wasn't the British that saw their language prohibited and its constitution, its institutions and its liberties repressed. It wasn't the British who had an alien political culture- French centralism and uniformity- imposed on a polity which perverted its political evolution for 260 years because that centralism and uniformity was utterly foreign to how Spain organized its polity.
What does this have to do with the so-called New Europe. The Brits will act as the vanguard and tell the Eastern Europeans how much pals the Americans are; only for the former to be disappointed by the Americans when they don't follow through or do so halfheartedly.
The British had always interfered with the Europeans' natural tendency to recapture unity of the Roman Empire. True, the Europeans have always fought those countries that aspired to be the hegemony within that unity- Spain, Germany and France but the British have always gone much further. No need to adhere to silly conspiracy theories. Barbara Tuchman articulated Britain's policy in rather lapidary fashion: that Britan could tolerate small, weak competing powers in Europe but never one or 2 hegemonic powers. Consequently, Britian has had to treat any European initiative to bring the continent together as a potential scheme to create a rival to Britain.
Today, we see America adopting an eerily similar policy towards the European Union. No doubt because the Eurocrats were too brazen in publicly articulating their desire to rival the United States. My own complaint is that the Eurocrats are too authoritarian and centralists for my comfort; so to substitute domestic centralism for a supra-national one doesn't constitute a positive political evolution.
One last thought, a lot of the Anglospherists assure skeptics like me that we should trust American benevolence and that it really is different from past hegemonic powers. Perhaps but I've read the same self-serving rhetoric as far back as the 1500s under Charles V. The Dutch, the Portuguese, the British and the French disbelieved the Spanish propagandists and fought Spain. How's America any different?
Paul Johnson a écrit un article qui m'amène à conclure que les relations entre la France et l'Anglosphère se sont retournées aux sources: c'est à dire entre 1700-1899 lorsque les Britanniques et les Français se disputaient la domination de l'Europe et pour un vaste empire.
Ce qui me rend nerveux c'est l'appel de Johnson que les Ango-Américains intensifient leur surveillence de la France afin de s'assurer qu'elle ne vend pas de la technologie nucléaire pour financier ses armes atomiques. En plus, il exige que toute nouvelle resturcturation de l'ordre international exclut la France.
Désolé mon gros mais ce n'est pas en excluant la France qu'on lui changera d'avis ou comportement. Au contraire, l'intenstification d'espionnage contre ce pays et le remplacement potentiel de la France par l'Inde dans un nouveau Conseil de sécurité, rapplera au gouvernement français du cauchemar sous Richelieu de l'encerclement de la France par des pouvoirs hostiles. La France régira de façon paranoïaque. Pire, les Français, non sans justification, conclueront que leur remplacement par l'Inde au Conseil de sécurité n'est qu'une preuve que l'Anglosphère veut se perpetuer en donnant l'un de les leurs une siège au nouveau Conseil de sécurité. Personellement je me pose la question comment justifie l'Inde à sieger au Conseil constituté? Parcequ'elle possède un bombe et faite partie de l'Anglophère? Ouais, je pense que Bush a oubli sa promesse au premier Discours de l'état de l'Union de renforcer ses alliance et de fortifier les liens avec les aliés.
Above, I wrote about my own deep skepticism towards the proposals advanced by many Anglo-American commentators that France must be excluded from any future treaties, reconstituted international institutions and spying on the country must be intensified. As I pointed out in my French article above, I'm struck at how Anglophone-French relations have regressed to that of the pre-Entente Cordiale back to the era of Louis XIV.
The latent anti-French attitude that still pervades the Anglophones encourages their commentators to commit a serious blunder of implicitly advocating the encirclement of France. The Anglospheric commentators are so enamoured with Britain that they treat it as America's island with which to penetrate the Eurasian continent and advance American interests as well to thwart. Chirac's undiplomatic outburst towards the Eastern European states was more than hubris, arrogance, vanity or hiding personal skeletons in the closet; Chirac expressed the deep-seated fear of France surrounded by hostile countries. Whether Chirac is entirely to blame or if the American administration's tweaking of French sensibilities encouraged Chirac's pique will be for historians to study
Indeed, reading through Johnson's article, I'm amazed that the English, and their American descendents', have never reconciliated themselves to the end of the Hundred Years' war; hence their attitudes towards the French are permanently hostile despite being latent for centuries since, only flaring up occasionally whenever British (now American) interests conflict. How else explains the visceral, anti-French outburst among the American bloggers? Contrast that attitude towards the French with their reaction that the Turkish parliament has rejected the authorization for Americans troops to deploy on its territory. Indeed, Joel Mowbray even defends their decision on the grounds that the party in power is inexperienced. To be sure, some are angered by the rejection but by and large, the Anglophone commentators are taking the news of the rejected proposal in stride. There's no shrill hysteria by the American bloggers over the Turks' perfidy nor their turgid lecturing on the wonders of Jacksonanism. Not even a call to boycott tourism in Turkey
Update: Lextington Green, one of the Chicagoboyz bloggers: has posted an excellent article on how a sullen France has been a permanent feature of Anglophone-French relations.
I disagree with Lexington. It's not so much a sullen France as an eternally lucky Britain and America. No matter how down and out Britain or America is it always recovers stronger, richer and more powerful than before. A good part of the success stems because Britain and America have always been more open societies with less obstacles for social mobility than others but openness and easy social mobility completely explains the Anglosphere's successes. Further, I share some of the unease that 3 centuries of continued successes has effected the Anglophones
Among my major complaints is cultural- the Anglophones do resist a bit in learning new languages. The most telling illustration is the dearth of qualified linguists within the military, spy and government agencies to translate the various intelligence sources in languages other than English. Another complaint is that the Anglophones are sometimes oscillate between the extremes of hardnosed, pragamatism, quite willing to cut deals with unsavoury people to advance goals with an exasperating idealism advocating angelism in human affairs; or as Donald Sensing arrestingly calls the Jacksonian/Wilsonian temper of America.
Although, this isn't my complaint, the rest of the world is very ill at ease with the Anglospheric capitalism. They regard it as unnecessarily callous, anti-social, due to the ase with which inivdiuals can be fired or entire industries destroyed to make way for new ones, and a work/productivity obsession that comes across as neurotic disregard, if not disdain for, leisure. Too many Americans dismiss those attitudes as tainted by socialism, statist capitalism etc.
Perhaps some of the sentiments are. Yet the fact that those values are articulated indifferently by parties of the right and left in Europe and elsewhere should prompt curiosity from the Americans but never seem to, past IMF/World Bank economic prescriptions have sometimes underscored. My own view is that I'd like to see Europe and Canada embrace a bit more of Anglospheric capitalism but I'd also like to see the Americans do the same with respect to Euro-capitalism. I can hear the sneers from everyone but it's only a presecription not policy.