Monday, March 24, 2003

The Terminology of the Anglosphere, or the Lack Thereof


A nice piece in the Sunday Boston Globe on the emergence of the "Anglosphere" as a viable international relations concept makes a couple of interesting points. One, the article indirectly shows that the language which has been used up to this point to describe rapidly changing political perspectives is neither settled nor clear. I've been talking about "liberal nationalism" and "anti-imperialism," but does liberal nationalism lead to "liberal imperialism"? Or does it lead to "neo-Wilsonianism"? And is there any difference? It may, depending on if you're using these terms to make a "conservative" point or a "liberal" one. The fact is, we simply don't have consensus in these matters--there has been no George Kennan "X" article to establish the basic terms yet, and until and unless we do, neoconservatives and liberal internationalists are likely to misunderstand and perhaps misrepresent each other.


Two, that a great many advocates of this shift in international relations thinking are either non-Americans or Americans who have roots in or prolonged involvement with another country, often one which was once part of Britain's 19th-century empire. This sort of cultural-historical pigeon-holing (frustrated Brits, Canadians and Australians trying to rebuild what London lost through Washington D.C.!) really doesn't appeal to me too much, but it's fun to contemplate. And, I suppose, add to: you might want to claim that American defenders of liberal internationalism will always need these "Anglospheric" allies, at least intellectually, since Americans themselves have too much of the classic republican heritage--small government, popular democracy (more or less), community isolation and/or independence, and an attachment to "revolutionary virtue"--shoved down our throughts by our own history to ever effectively play the liberator role solely on our own.