Karl Gallagher (libertarianhawk) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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Anglosphere Civilization

The Anglosphere Challenge is a very powerful work. It looks at English-speaking societies as a single culture, not just united by a language, but also by a set of traditions for organizing a society. Individualism, common-law, property rights, resistance to central authority, and spontaneous formation of social networks are all common traits. Bennett looks at where this culture will take us, and how we came to be that way.

It might be disconcerting to lead off a book with much historical material by looking at the future, but it's a good way to stress why we should care about Anglospheric culture. Bennett discusses the current wave of technological growth, the upcoming revolutions in bio- and nanotech, and the possibility of the Singularity. He lays out how the capabilities needed to develop this technology are best found in the Anglosphere. This drives home why we need to care about the history that he's about to lay out. This section can be read in the sample chapter on the web.

From that it moves on to defining the characteristics of the Anglosphere, looking at their historical backgrounds, and reviewing the history of how the Anglosphere spread from England to Australia. The boundaries are naturally fuzzy. Canada has a large population who prefer speaking French and using civil law (the USA has a very small one). India has retained some Anglosphere practices from its colonial period but is too different to be considered part of a common civilization. Other former British colonies are also on the edge.

In discussing the inner cultural currents Bennett draws on the Nine Nations of North America and expands on it, showing how the different nations descended from different Old Country stocks, and how they've changed over time. He also discusses some traditions that have been fading away such as the reluctance to support a standing army.

One observation that struck me was that federalist systems work best when they have less than a dozen subordinate bodies. As the number of lower level groups grow they have a harder time cooperating to resist intrusions on their authority and power shifts to the central government. The United States seems to be a clear case of that. As more and more states were added the Federal government grew beyond the limits that the Founders intended.

A Thought Experiment
I wonder if we'd be able to reverse that by merging the fifty states into ten. That would give the new states enough clout that they'd be able to push back on Federal powergrabs, instead of rolling over and hoping for a piece of the pie. The new states can form logically from our existing ones. There's a number of ways to arrange them, but here's one possibility:

The four largest (CA, TX, NY, and FL) are too big to drop into one of the new groupings--they'd overwhem the rest of their cluster. Without them the others can be grouped by following the lines of the 9NNA and red-blue state maps. The Foundry would be the swing state for Presidential elections, assuming the new states kept all their Senators. The current balances in Congressional power would hold (a Constitutional amendment would be needed to make this happen, of course).

One of the ways this could decentralize government power is the military. The ten states would each have enough resources to support a few brigades of their own. The US Army could be reduced to a coordination service while state forces are deployed to fight wars and meet other needs. That would revive an old, old tradition--raising forces specifically for a war.

Go back a century or more and the standing army was only able to handle border skirmishes. For real campaigns the King or President had call for volunteers, or for states or counties to send their own regiments. The movie Elizabeth had an illustration of that--an English offensive failed because the bishops discouraged men from volunteering. Relying on the states to supply troops would be another mechanism for testing popular support for a war.

It might also reduce friction over the war. Let's look at how waging the Iraq War might have worked in the Ten States system. Once congress approved it the states would offer troops--every state except Ecotopia and New England. Once the occupation turned ugly California, New York, and Foundry would pull their troops. That leaves the burden of fighting on those who support it.
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