Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Anglo-Saxons are better than Your Anglo-Saxons

While the term “Anglo-Saxon” is used in France as a way to extend the B-word (Boches!) to the non-French, many Boches themselves see it as a compliment since it reflects well on them, and is often considered a global export on the order of, say, Champagne.

From the “Social Europe Journal” of all places, we find historian Heinrich August Winkler quoting historian Gerald Stourzh.

When we speak of the European Union as a community of values, what we really mean is that Europe is a community of states that embrace Western values. No one expresses the difference between Europe and the West as incisively as Viennese historian Gerald Stourzh when he writes, ‘By itself, Europe is not the West. The West extends beyond Europe. But Europe also extends beyond the West.’ The West’s identity as a community of values comprises the great Anglo Saxon-influenced democracies of North America, the United States, and Canada, as well as Australia and New Zealand, and, since its founding in 1948, Israel. Large parts of Europe, by contrast, have not shared in the development and adoption of values and institutions typically associated with these nations.
Never mind the little white lie about the European Union being the height of the Enlightenment. It’s not, especially what it promotes by example.

But even in this context I’m trying to figure out the angle of the insult, but I think it could be this: while some in the Francophile yack-space use the phrase as a way of distancing outlying events from their presumed nationally shared world view, what they’re really trying to say is that their better than someone else, and if not, they are otherwise special and not to be compared with those wild and crazy Anglo-Saxons wearing horned helmets and eschewing the codpiece of the civilized man. Instead when they call something “Anglo-Saxon” they want you to think of this as if Asterix and Obelix were still fighting off the dreaded European foe (albeit a “Latin” one). It’s auto-tonsil-hockey, and history demonstrates otherwise. In fact the best indicator of just who it is who will manage to make the worst out of enlightenment ideas, turn them on their head, and convince you that their new brutal -ism is okay, is being a European thinker.

P.S. – This edition of the journal also features Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who warns the notoriously deaf European left that Capitalism actually works if you can stand it. He points to some reasons to hold your nose, but one thing I respect greatly about him is his defense of the free market model and where it fits into a free society.

As if the fixation with the US wasn’t enough, they also include a chart with reasons why they’re better than Americans. Some of their factors in their recitation that singles us out include a “robust, state run media”.

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