Tuesday, July 11, 2006

About those "Hidden" French in the Anglosphere...

I guess my off-the-cuff ruminating about the differences between Canada and the U.S. and Australia wasn't so far off. James Bennett mentions the effect that the Quebecois had on the Anglo-Canadians in this much broader post about the differences within the Anglosphere:
Take any broad and internally diverse cultural-linguistic area, and divide it into two or more state regimes. Prior to this division, the different cultural streams in the different regions will strike a balance of interests and attitudes. Alter the proportions of those regional streams, even if all the ingredients are the same, and the political outcome will be different.

One of the important facts about post-World War Two West Germany was that it was substantially more Catholic than Germany as a whole. Thus the Catholic Christian Democrat tradition and ideology was able to serve as a dominant political philosophy for the new republic, under the leadership of Christian Democrats like Conrad Audenauer, who would have not so easy a timee in a united Germany.

In Anglosphere terms, the same effect meant that the quite similar political temperaments of New England and anglophone Canada had substantially different impacts on their respective nations: the New Englanders have always been one part of a mix that also included Southern lowlanders, Scots-Irish, and midland Pennsylvanians and New Yorkers, while the anglo-Canadians have always needed to seek compromise with Quebecois.

From this start, we then add two and a quarter centuries of different state actions, and the different shared experiences of American and Canadians, respectively. (Or the quite different experiences of the various regional cultures in the British Isles and of their descendants in other parts of the Anglosphere.) These add up over time.
There's a whole lot more to Bennett's piece that's worth reading. Particularly interesting are his ruminations about the national narratives of Britain, America, Canada and Australia and how these nations couldn't have taken on their current characteristics-- culturally and geographically--had it not been for a few "Lockean bargains" made between "Burkean communities".

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