The "Anglosphere": yes or no?

Over in the Blame Canada thread, Sam Stone makes passsing mention of a hypothetical alliance or merger of all the English-speaking peoples. I’d vaguely heard of such an idea before, but it had never tripped my interest meter. But sometimes just the right name can completely change the perception of something. Sam called this hypothetical organisation the Anglosphere… when I read that, it was like a lightning flash.

If I understand the idea, the Anglosphere would include those lands where English-speaking settler-colonies were established outside England… and survived.

The Anglosphere would not be the same as the former British Empire or the current Commonwealth, because it would not include those territories formerly ruled by the Brits, where English did not permanently take hold, such as, for example, India. (Yes, I know that English is still widely spoken in India, but my impression is that its use is on the decline there. If I’m wrong, please correct me.) So it would include England and the other nations of the UK, as well as Ireland, Canada, and Australia.

The Anglosphere would also include the USA, which broke away from the Old Empire and is not now in the Commonwealth.

I can think of only a few other language-communities that might support similar Spheres. First on my list are Spanish and Portuguese, what with their settler colonies in the Americas. Next might be French and Chinese because of their widespread use, though French settler colonies were taken over or ceded (Quebec, Lousisiana, Algeria?, Indochina?), and I’m not aware that China had settler colonies far outside its borders in modern times*.

Now, this Anglosphere raises all kinds of interesting questions:[ul][li]What territories would be in it?[]What bonds would join its members? Trade treaties? Cultural exchanges? Citizenship? []What of non-English speakers within those territories and English-speakers outside it?[]How would this Anglosphere difer from a worldwide language-community with only one geographic territory of power, such as Icelandic?[]How would this Anglosphere difer from a worldwide language-community with no geographic territory of power, such as Esperanto or Kurdish?[]How likely would the formation of a formal Anglosphere be?[]How would the formation of an Anglosphere affect the current status of English as a worldwide entertainment, trade and technology language?[/ul]I feel a strange attraction to the idea of the Anglosphere, but there’s a little voice in the back of my head that keeps telling me that it would somehow be a dead end. [/li]
The challenge these days seems to be how to deal with linguistic and cultural diversity, and ultimately how to forge unity out of them.

Continental Europe seems to be in the midst of that struggle now. If the UK dropped out of the affairs of the European mainland, and turned towards its English-speaking relatives, it would definitely be taking the easier path, but it would lose its influence on the mainland and probably elsewhere.

In other parts of the world, the same struggle goes on. Here in Toronto we live it every day: somehow we have to build a working city out of people of a hundred languages and cultures.

Even if an Anglosphere formed, perhaps alongside competing language-Spheres, we would still have to deal with the issues of communication and diplomacy among languages and cultures.

In the larger scheme of things, I fear that the formation of an Anglosphere as any sort of political entity would usher in an era of ‘linguistic separation’, as other linguistic spheres formed in reaction, and boundaries hardened. People would again be forced to choose sides, and the great twentieth-century experiment of multicultural tolerance, always vulnerable, would come to an end.

As an example, the formation of an Anglosphere would, IMHO, force the UK to a point of decision: whether to be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of a politically-unified Europe**. That is to say, whether to restrict itself to the English world, or open itself to the rest of the world as well. I suspect that this decision would choose what road the UK would follow for at least a generation.

Ultimately this worldwide linguistic separation would only delay the real work: how to live in a world where people of every culture are your neighbours, and you bloody well have to work out ways to get along with them… or, ultimately, die for want of trying.

Comments Questions? Flames?

Let the debate begin. :slight_smile:

[sub]*And I hope that weaseling gets around the issue of Tibet, which it is not my intention to debate in this thread.
**With the arrival of the euro, this is already a hot debate. [/sub]

I’ve heard it called the anglo-american empire.

Sounds like Eurocentric, Afrocentric all over again.

I can’t claim to be the originator of the term. I believe it was coined in National Review or some such mag. Can’t remember the source offhand.

I’m not sure I really agree with it, either. Certainly I can see a new alliance in which the core of it is predominantly English speaking, there would certainly be plenty of countries that aren’t English-speaking that would be part of it. Mexico, for example. Japan.

A new alignment would also contain remnants of a ‘new world/old world’ split. The Anglosphere is dynamic, visionary, and relatively young. The European core nations feel old.

Another dividing line seems to be Muslim populations. One of the reasons France seems to be pulling away from the U.S. and Britain is that it has a very large and increasing Muslim population.

Well, I’m not sure it was original with him, but it was a core part of Winston Churchill’s foreign policy to establish what he referred to as the “English-Speaking Union” – the U.K., the U.S., and the Dominions, united and leading the world towards freedom and democracy.

I’d say the “Anglosphere” is already in full effect, and that the only thing preventing it from being official is the lack of free emigration/immigration, which I think we should get on right away.

However, the nation state is dying, borders are becoming increasingly irrelevant and will only continue to do so, because well, borders are arbitrary and make no sense. So making a “larger” nation state is counter-intuitive.

However, as you used the term “sphere” we might see much more of this type of influence, just as we see secular arabs trying to consolidate, and religious arabs trying to consolidate, as well as Europe trying to consolidate. I think that we’ll see a bit more of that sort of consolidation as people find more commonality with those that they feel are “like them”, and language is one of the final barriers we will have to confront in a world that was segregated by geographic boundaries that used to be important and are now, more or less irrelevant.

Sam Stone: I don’t agree with your estimation of “younger” vs “older” countries. From what I see, America and the UK are MUCH MUCH MUCH more conservative than Europe, that Europe is out there trying new political systems that will shape the future of the world’s power structures. In terms of politics, it’s the progressive areas that are the “younger” nations. My DNA is just as old as every other person’s.

America has become the establishment, we are no longer progressive.


Sorry to frustrate this part of the argument, but Britain also has a “very large and increasing muslim population”.

And before anyone starts flaming, I’m about as liberal on immigration as it is possible to get.

It does seem that in a conflict between English and non-English-speaking forces, the U.S. tends to support the anglophones. Maybe it’s cultural and military ties. But take the Falkland Islands. Did we really in our hearts believe they were not the Islas Malvinas, or were we supporting a traditional ally?

The Anglosphere isn’t Eurocentric as we usually use the term. There is indeed something that seems to be shared between the English-speaking nations, a world outlook that’s similiar, an informal alliance that rears its head every so often.

I oppose any and all mutual defense pacts, but if it’s just an informal friendliness and requires no interventionist policy on our part, being friendly to the Anglophones is A-OK with me. Alot of our political heritage is owed to the Brits, and they’re alot more like us than they are unlike us. We’re capitalist comrades-in-arms, which is to say we stole the economic system of the Dutch and adapted it to our own purposes :wink:

I think that the common law of England, which we adopted, has a certain respect for rights and individuals which is sorely lacking in many nations. I think this respect is what to some extent sets us apart from the other nations on the globe. It isn’t that those nations are incapable of adopting a classical liberal position and progressing as we have, but we have the tradition to fall back upon and to support us in times of doubt. That shared tradition shouldn’t be the excuse to get us to meddle, as we did in the European theatre of WW2, but it should be enough for amiable relations and the recognition of common purpose when such exists and is not anathema to the philosophy of liberty.

You stand corrected.

/from India.

Why on Earth would you do that? You opposed NATO during the cold war? The allied agreements of WWII? American support for Taiwan and South Korea?

Yes I oppose all those things. They create wars that do not serve the interests of the people of the United States, and therefore are unwanted IMHO. We can take care of ourselves, we don’t need help, so why get ourselves locked into such agreements? If we followed a properly isolationist policy, we’d never have the troubles that end up needing foriegn assistance to solve.

My grandfather fought in Korea, he’s my personal hero for any number of reasons, and I’m tempted to support the war he fought, but I cannot. It was intervensionism, plain ol’ meddling.

It’s GI Joe, against Cobra and Destro
fighting to save the day
he never gives up he’s always there
fighting for freedom over land and air

Why defend human freedom against COBRA when it costs us so much? Let’s abandon these pacts and look out for ourselves, frankly we have enough problems without interjecting the need to defend the entire frickin’ world from the forces of evil.

MarkSteyn discusses this issue here, while considering whether the US should quit the UN…

Like Mswas he points out that the anglosphere is already up and running. He also warns against institutionalizing it - setting up a structure and bureaucracy and all the other crap that makes the UN or EU so self-important and pointless.

Oddly enough (in my experience), the greatest skeptics about this idea are from English-speaking countries. People from elsewhere almost take it for granted that it already exists - which perhaps it does.

In fact, the issue is not settled yet. We’ll recover them some day.

Anglosphere seems a name invented by Goebbels. The world shouldn’t make the mistake of forming an alliance system just as the one that led to the first world war. Granted, that system also existed after world war II but it was the hope of many that after the end of the cold war we would advance to a truly “global” world.
Of course countries not only have interests but also feelings, I can understand the fact that no matter what, the relationships between england and U.S.A will always be special. In fact the same happen down here. We have (Argentina) an special relationship with Spain, Italy and the rest of Latin America. That is something americans administrations never seem to realize, what better example than Cuba? To us it will always be our little sister being bullied by the Big guy from across the street :slight_smile: no matter what.
I think that Nato (and similar defence alliances like TIAR) should go the same way as the Warsaw pact… to our history books.

All we really need to confirm the Anglosphere is to invite Ireland and the USA to rejoin the Commonwealth of Nations- until the last admission (Mozambique), one of the requirements was that English should be one of the accepted languages of the country joining.

Of course, Ireland has reasons not to join and I can’t imagine the US becoming one amongst many without being primus inter pares (even the UK makes no claim whatsoever to ‘lead’ the Commonwealth.)

Oh, and perhaps we should invite Holland to join as I suspect that they have a greater proportion of excellent English speakers than most English speaking countries!

a) The Falklands, and invasions of, are a completely different topic and not appropriate for this thread.

b) I see no real reason why the US/UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand are still different countries, but then that’s probably because I don’t really believe in countries in the first place.

Sam you must have missed this gem.

[ul]:wink: [sup]If we hadn’t we would not be speaking of an “Anglosphere” but instead the Germanic Union.[/sup][/ul]

All we really need to confirm the Anglosphere is to invite Ireland and the USA to rejoin the Commonwealth of Nations[/quopte]

Why would we want to join? How does it help us? If you want a free immigration pact, then i’m afraid its your going to be surprised. After 9/11 noone is going to get a an easy time into America.

The term Anglosphere is well known to bloggers. Check out the following links

To name but five.

Update: there’s an full-page opinion article in today’s Toronto Star (Sunday 9 Feb 2003) that mentions the Anglosphere. Under the title “Bush fuelled by punditocracy’s fiery words, faulty advice”, David Olive describes a breed of ‘firebreathing neoconservative political pundits’ who cheerlead the current President’s pro-war policies and trivialise those with different opinions, including such traditional allies as Canada, France and Germany. He goes on to say:

The article traces the phrase to ‘neo-con pundit’ Andrew Sullivan, who quoted

The article goes on to explain the pundits’ view that the English-speaking nations, when banded together, have always acted to promote human liberty. (I’m sure that not a few people on the SDMB would have words about that…) The article goes on to criticise the pundits:

It cites the pundits’ lack of personal experience with war as a reason for encouraging it, contrasting them with Colin Powell, who was “a conspicuous dove for most of the Iraq drama, and not coincidentally the only top administration official to see action in Vietnam.” It mentions their encouragement of the military actions in Afghanistan, and their silence on the consequences, the cleanup, or the current conditions there.

If the Anglosphere is to be another hegemony, with the English-speaking nations formally ruling the world ‘for its own good’, it will be a disaster. The world will rebel, seeing nothing more that the powerful out to grab all that they can, even more than now.