Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The danger of Australia mindlessly aligning with the “Anglosphere”

Australia’s dangerous obsession with the Anglosphere, The Conversation,  Dennis AltmanProfessorial Fellow in Human Security, La Trobe University, 22 June 18 

Over the past three weeks the ABC program Four Corners has presented special reports on American politics, which involved one of our best journalists, Sarah Ferguson, travelling to the US on special assignment. I watched these programs and I enjoyed them. But in part I enjoyed them because they covered ground that is already familiar.

If the same effort had gone into bringing us in-depth special reports from, say, Jakarta or Mumbai they would have been less familiar, but perhaps more interesting. Most important they would not be stories already covered by major English language media to which we have extraordinary access.

As we struggle to make sense of a changing world order, in which the role of the US seems less defined and dependable, our fascination with things American continues to grow. It is one of the ironies of current Australian life that preoccupation with “the Anglosphere”, a favourite phrase of former prime minister Tony Abbott’s, is in practice shared by many who regard themselves as progressive.

What is the Anglosphere? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as “the countries of the world in which the English language and cultural values predominate”, clearly referring to Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A surprisingly recent term, it was coined by the science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, and then picked up by a number of conservative commentators.

The Churchillian notion of near-mythical bonds created by the English language and British heritage has always attracted Australian conservatives

……… Despite 50 years of governments talking about Australia as part of Asia, now somewhat rebadged in the concept of the Indo-Pacific, our cultural guardians continue to behave as if nothing has changed. We may be wary of Trump’s America, and a little bemused by the reappearance of Little Britain, but we still look unreflectively to the US and Britain for intellectual guidance……..

Australia is not Britain or the United States, and there is a paradox that we are more and more obsessed with them even as their relative importance in the world, and certainly in our region of the world, declines. …….

Australia has a bipartisan record of sending troops overseas to win the gratitude of our “great and powerful friends”.

With an American president who seems uninterested in traditional alliances and unmoved by appeals to protect democracy or human rights, one might expect the government would be more conscious of the reality that US and Australian interests will not always converge. On the contrary: they seem to be working harder to align us with the United States.

……… culture and foreign policy meet: alarm bells about Chinese influence  ignore the far greater sway of American, to a lesser extent British, influence on our everyday lives. Yes, China is a repressive authoritarian state which is trying to increase its global influence. Yes, we should be cautious about their expansion. But too often we view this through an American prism, rather than making the effort to understand how the shifting power relations are being understood in countries in our region……..

The danger of aligning ourselves with the Anglosphere is that it distorts the complexity of the greater world and aligns us with policies that are neither in our national interest nor that of a more just world. Just as republicans can enjoy the spectacle of a royal wedding without abandoning the idea of an Australian head of state, we need to remind ourselves that Trump is, literally, not our president. https://theconversation.com/friday-essay-australias-dangerous-obsession-with-the-anglosphere-97443?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%20104769250&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%20104769250+CID_d2601f3250ee129a2a85691211523ae8&utm_source=campaign

 

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June 22, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international

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