Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Anglosphere Alternative to Chimerica and ‘One World Under Bill’

By Bernie Quigley

- for The Hill on 10/15/09

As the large and rising larger forces in the world gather in Shanghai alleys and other shadowy places conspiring to bounce the dollar out as a reserve currency, here is a thought. We might consider down the road an alternative currency of our own: An Anglosphere currency; a currency converging the U.S. dollar, the Australian dollar and the Canadian dollar. The Canadian dollar is at equity now with the American dollar ($1.03) and the Aussie ($1.09) is getting there. The Anglosphere is made up of English-speaking countries organically related through the tradition of the English-speaking people. Primarily the U.S., Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand.

It is an abstraction worth a suggestion as it leads to the question of who we are and what will become of us in this rapidly changing world. The best heads in public opinion today – historians Niall Ferguson and Zachary Karabell for example – follow the path of economic destiny to China and see the likely world ahead as one called Chimerica, a vast economic union of a sort made up of America and China. Of best practices, this would be perhaps the most fortuitous prospect. But I don’t see it happening.

I am a Buddhist and am one of those called to the East as if to a siren. But frankly, we are a breed apart. I do not see many Americans yielding sovereignty in any psychic or psychological sense to the East. We have converged before, then we defaulted back to our roots and traditions and I believe we will again.

There has been great interest in the things of the East here since the Sixties but the Sixties was in its first initiative an age of peace with utopian features. Its subsequent political manifestations including a kind of messianic capitalism which might be called One World Under Bill – today with Hillary as Secretary of State and James Carville hoping to run Afghanistan behind the puppet Ashraf Ghani – are flighty and partially delusional. At any time, utopian politics reflect an age in transition. And the illusions inherent in these movements, as any reader of Sun Tzu will vigorously nod, provide advantage to our economic competitors.

Obama is smarter and more competent and pragmatic but his world likewise has cult features; Mill High Stadium – the “new Roosevelt,” the “new Kennedy,” the “new Lincoln,” the “new Jesus.” And messianic features; a Nobel Prize for Hope. These come primarily from utopian instincts. The Sixties and Seventies was an age much like the 1820s and 1830s in America when Transcendentalism, which can be considered a kind of New England Taoism or Buddhism, Shakerism and much of evangelical thinking in America today took their awakening. But as Walt Whitman pointed out at the end of that era, those who travel across the Universe come back. The age passed when heartland America found its rustic Andrew Jackson and the northeast yielded back to Victorianism. Likewise, we will shortly leave the utopian dreams and schemes of the Sixties behind because they are primarily generational.

There is an organic cultural cohesion to the Anglosphere and its greatest intensity is on the edges; Australia, a wild child, born free in the desert under the Southern Cross and England, our old mother across the Atlantic. Their first friends in the world are here in North America and possibly we in time will be their only lasting friends.

The current economic crisis is a test. Different countries are getting different marks. China is doing great. The U.S. not so good. But Canada is doing great as well. In banking, the highest scores are going to Canada, vastest realm of the Anglosphere. Of all the people in the world Canadians are most like us. We might learn their methods and get to know them better. Because pretty soon the world is going to have to redraw its circles and it will be time again for some original thinking.