Sunday, March 11, 2012

Harper's World Stage: Defined

That "tweet" was from Kady O'Malley who was reporting on the activities at the Manning Conservative Self-Stimulation event in Ottawa. At the time one Daniel Hannen was speaking. His relevance will be made apparent in a moment.

Since Harper came to government he has made a point of prattling on about "The World Stage". In the early days it was "Canada's back".  The question, of course was, back from what?

Despite the fact that prior to Harper's formation of a government Canada had led the G8 in economic performance, had developed an international reputation as an honest broker and had performed a number of diplomatically delicate back-channel operations, Harper felt left out. To him the only way to be respected in the world was to become some kind of obvious power both militarily and diplomatically. The question then would be, "Who would care?" And, in terms of the "World Stage", to which Canada had apparently returned, what part didn't we as a nation already occupy given that, despite our geography, we are a small country?

That's where Daniel Hannen comes in. His speech at the Manning love-in was essentially a regurgitation of this.
The country which, for decades, was a sort of outpost of Continental Europe in North America has convincingly rejoined the Anglosphere.
The Anglosphere is just what it translates into. It is the sphere of English-speaking nations and, (even if Hannen or Harper try to deny it), almost exclusively white. The Hannen definition, however, extends somewhat beyond that very basic description. It is at the very least exclusionist, definitely based on Anglo-Saxon rooted exceptionalism and is undoubtedly race-centric.

Hannen's column (and the speeches he seems to repeat) match the beliefs espoused by Glenn Reynolds, a once Bush-The-Younger supporter and Iraq war cheerleader. One particularly unsavory similarity between Hannen and Reynolds is the fact that they both seem to hold the seriously fact-challenged Mark Steyn in some kind of high regard.

The Anglosphere to which Hannen and Reynolds adhere is described by American conservative James C. Bennett, here. In his 2004 book The Anglosphere Challenge he describes the core Anglosphere as Britain (not really including Wales), the US (with subsequent clarifications), Australia, New Zealand, English-speaking Canada and Ireland.

That's it. 

If you were thinking the whole of the British Commonwealth of Nations, you were wrong. Those cultures which do not fall into the purest hereditary group do not qualify. (It might be worth noting that both Hannen and Reynolds contributed to Bennett's book).

This small group of countries is the Anglosphere, a totally conservative construct and an extension of Thatcherist glory-speak. It presumes that the deep-rooted English-speaking world is superior to all other cultures - especially Islam.

And the reason Hannen anoints Harper as the new leader of the Anglosphere is not because he demonstrates any particular qualities of statesmanship (far from it) but, because in that small group of core countries identified by Bennett, Harper is the only hard-right conservative with any semblance of majority legislative power. The others are led by either liberal democrats or are constrained by coalition arrangements. In the Anglosphere of Hannen, Bennett and Harper, that puts them in a position of extreme disadvantage and non-conformity with the conservative worldview.

That brings us directly to Harper. First, let's cut right to one particular point. Harper, despite his political cunning, is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. His handling of foreign policy is markedly unsophisticated and clumsy. Regardless of his subsequent weak retraction, Harper stomped his feet like a petulant two-year old when Canada did not join the disastrous invasion of Iraq by US president George W. Bush. That might have led one to believe that Harper was simply a typical conservative chicken-hawk.

He continually dismissed the UN as an ineffective body and then huffed and puffed when Canada was snubbed in a bid for Security Council seat. Again, given how he had publicly behaved toward the UN, his chagrin at not winning what had once been viewed as a traditional Canadian post was puzzling. It was also an embarrassment. After all his "World Stage" posturing, Portugal was more acceptable and he clearly could not understand that it was primarily his doing.

His myopic worldview would not allow it.

Hannen exposed, by both his presence at the Manning Big C love-in and his unimaginative speech, what makes up the "World Stage" in the minds of movement conservatives - that small core body which makes up the Anglosphere.

Harper's "World Stage" is narrowly defined as the deep-root-English-speaking national leaders in a globally dominant role. That's it. All others are secondary. Harper believes in the empire of the English-speaking world - domestically and globally.

It is both dangerous and repulsive.

An example worth noting: Harper's behaviour in Brazil is a good example of how he views his place in the world order. It becomes even worse when one adds the fact that Harper is a notorious narcissist.


geoff said...

Just an aside re Steve and his love of toilets. In Brazil Steve and the toilet made great fun for the ordinaries in the population. One of my nieces, her partner is Brazilian, was in the country during our beloved leader's water closet extravaganza and found it difficult, in a good natured way, fending off the endless barbs from the natives re a Canadian dignitary [sic] with loose bowels. To add insult to injury arriving home in Montreal she, a young francophone Canadian federalist, had also to live down her dad, an older francophone separatist, seemingly endlessly, and in numerous clever and fun ways, pointing out to her that what you get in Canada is a guy enamoured with toilets representing you abroad.

Owen Gray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Owen Gray said...

I grew up in Quebec, where French Canadians called us "square heads" -- a term which we earned because we steadfastly lived on our side of the two solitudes.

Canada's prime minister is a confirmed square head.

Steve said...

The Anglos are behind everything wrong with the modern world. Contrast Germany to England and the good guy practices are very clear.

kootcoot said...

"It is the sphere of English-speaking nations and, (even if Hannen or Harper try to deny it), almost exclusively white."

Awesome analysis, you managed to articulate clearly a lot of stuff that has been running through my mind somewhat inchoate state.

I'm already completely out of patience with those who mis-use the word "Tory" to describe these guys and now I'm thinking even the CPC is inappropriate and am considering renaming them the RSFRN (the Racist, Sexist, Fascist Republicans North) Party.

Anonymous said...

Harper is embarrassing at every meeting of the Nations. He is always the trouble maker. Other country's have called Harper a, petty gasbag, stubborn, arrogant, impossible to work with and co-operates with no-one.

Harper is also banned from, the New Trans Pacific Trade Group. I do remember Canada being refused a seat in the U.N....because of Harper.

Ever since Harper's so called majority, he has been steadily giving Canada to China. Harper has permitted China to buy up the tar sands. BC mills were shipped to China, along with their raw logs. China owns BC mines. China is bringing their own people to work all of China's vast holding in Canada.

That's why I laugh at Christy Clark. She is saying, BC will have to bring in foreign workers, to fill the shortfall of staff needed.

There are foreign workers coming to Canada alright, and they are from China.

Mark, Ottawa said...

Hardly all-white. From Mr Hannan himself :

"India's relationship with the Anglosphere will define the twenty-first century

The Anglosphere, for anyone who still doesn’t know, is the community of free, English-speaking nations linked, not by governmental decree, but by shared values. Which nations, exactly? Good question. The UK and Ireland, obviously, the US and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, plus what’s left of the Britain’s extended archipelago (the Falkland Islands, Bermuda and so on). Who else? I’d say Malta, Singapore and perhaps Hong Kong. I hope these territories won’t take it amiss, though, if I point out that, relatively speaking, they’re tiddlers. The elephant – for once the metaphor seems apposite – is India.

The Indian Question dominated a fascinating conference on the Anglosphere in Winchester yesterday, co-hosted by two of the greatest conservative editors on the planet: Daniel Johnson of Standpoint, and Roger Kimball of The New Criterion, and organised by the excellent Social Affairs Unit. Some of the cleverest and most contrarian men in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India were present...

James Bennett, who more or less invented the Anglosphere, saw India as the key. While it might be awkward to talk of a nation of 1.3 billion people “joining” a club of 400 million, the orientation of India would determine the relative power of the English-speaking democracies for the rest of the century.

When passing through Delhi recently, I pointed out that the city feels more familiar, less foreign, than it did a decade ago – partly because the Indian middle class is ballooning, partly because the English language is more widespread and partly because of migration..."

Hoping to include India is the opposite of racist.


Mark, Ottawa said...

And note this Indian view:

"Obama, India and the 21st Century Anglosphere

Along with the United States and the United Kingdom, India could be the major player in a 21st century partnership of the English-speaking countries. Closer contact with the “Anglosphere” would possibly align Indian institutions and regulations closer to those of mature democracies

by M.D. Nalapat
Director, Department of Geopolitics, Manipal University

When Barack Obama comes calling in early November, he will be visiting a country that is even more conscious of skin colour than his own. The frequent references to "fair skin" in matrimonial advertisements in India's numerous newspapers has been much commented upon, as also the country's expanding market for (often toxic) face creams that claim to take nature's tan away from the skin. In its partiality for fairness (at least so far as skin is concerned), India is not alone..."


harebell said...

India is many different countries and given the reaction to immigrants from the subcontinent by the anglos in the anglosphere I'm not sure that the inclusion is altogether a change in philosophy. A certain segment of the Indian population is making hay as the sun shines on them, while the anglosphere tries to bounce back from their stupidity. It appears to me that the anglos look at including the minimum number of a minority of Indians in their little gang as a necessary evil; and is probably similar to that in which a tick views a passing mammal.

Nope this is all about a bunch of guys who don't want to use outright racist language (The Bell Curve), but want to say that they belong to a group that is just so much better than all the other ones.

Pure playground stuff.

Beijing York said...

@Owen. I grew up in a Franco-Ontarian enclave for awhile and us English speakers were called L7 (complete with the hand gesture). :-)

Anyway, I've always felt that Harper had this anglo first tendency. (Frankly I call it racist but I don't want to inflame the conversation.)

As for India, I think Harper and his ilk use it much as they do Israel. Convenient allies but still not equals in the scheme of things.