LOVING AMERICA & BRITAIN
What is it about the Anglo American way of life that makes other people so jealous? I believe its because they know that there is much to be envied. They mock our culture but then buy our films, music, writing, architecture, design and other creativity by the bucket load. Our language dominates the world, and is the commonly accepted big brand for everything from commercial air traffic to finance. If two people from diverse third countries get together, the accepted common language will almost always be English.
It’s that open export of our ideas and our concepts that has made ours the global culture of the world. The internet came out of British and American brains willing to share. Compare this to similarly able French or Italian speakers from largely inward looking cultures and you can see why their countries culture simply is not expanding.
More than this there is a sense of excitement in Britain and the States that is simply missing elsewhere. This comes from more than what some might regard as cultural imperialism. It is what advertising people call buzz marketing. There is a good vibe, a buzz coming out of the Anglo American experience that attracts others to it.
I have been travelling between the two countries for about forty years, and there is something reassuring about being at the nexus of London, New York and Los Angeles. It is where the decisions are made and executed regarding the driving forces of finance, culture and communications and where the prime movers of foreign adventures, both good and bad, are fed from and upon. Perhaps this will change as the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China begin to dominate the global economy of the coming century.
I suspect this will not happen for a multitude of reasons. One is that the prime movers of those economies actually seem to want to live in either Britain or America, and while that’s the case I believe the levers of power and choice will stay in our countries. It is simply more fun to live here. The other main reason is that not only has the Anglo American culture been exported for a long while, but so has our capital. We have always invested overseas in a much bigger fashion than our natural competitors. For example Germany and France might invest more in their infrastructure than we do, for which I am envious, but they have never matched us for long term international investment.
This might sound as if I am primarily interested in the economic benefits of living within the Anglo American context and this wouldn’t be the case. We also have more real democracy, within a stable context, for a longer time. Despite our many faults we are also both inclined to be interventionist countries for what we believe to be the right reasons, to be on the side of the good guys. We are the people who other countries come to for help because we have a track record for helping those that cannot help themselves. We have got some balls, and that’s no bad thing.
I love both places because they’re terrific and I understand them, and they understand me. My family lives in both places, and so have I. There are more reasons for loving these places and that’s where there are some observations on differences between Britain and America that are beginning to become obvious that often go unremarked. The basic shape of America has not changed perceptibly in all the time I have been going there, whereas in the UK everything has changed. There is a consistency to American life, not always a good thing, but largely it is. In the UK we are having to live in what has become perhaps the biggest Western social experiment in modern times. Our laws are evolving so fast no one I know can keep pace. There are so many initiatives supposedly to curtail the ill effects of climate change that they are beginning to change the very fabric of our lives. We now have something approaching five million closed circuit television cameras in place in Britain, photographing the average city dweller up to 400 time a day. We are about to develop biometric identity cards for our people and national data bases dealing with almost every heading. It is ironic that the country who’s author George Orwell bought the world the nightmare visions of 1984 and Animal Farm is also the place where these are apparently coming to life.
My hope is that there will be a massive realization and revulsion of the dangers of these drifts toward a police state in the U.K. Hopefully just as there was a Thatcher to beat back the seemingly unmanageable power of the trade unions there will be another political figure to harness this natural democratic and evolutionary trend in our national character. As the emergence of other great leaders in British history has proven we are capable of finding just the right person at the right time. If we don’t then America might find itself even more politically isolated in future, just when its economy and therefore its military will be much weaker. We need each other to be strong, and we need each other to be free, and so does the rest of the world.