(This piece is written by an English-speaking Englishman and is not directed at English-speaking people anywhere in the world. Rather it is directed at the leaders of the English-speaking Peoples, and more especially at the leaders of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, who, over the last couple of hundred years, have come to assume they are the only ones who know – and have the right to dictate – how the affairs of the world, and indeed the affairs of sovereign peoples other than their own, should be run.This is a polemic against a contagious arrogance that has caused and may cause again unnecessary suffering, conflict and death in the name of imposing ideals that are themselves suspect. In the 1930s, the western world sighed a sigh of collective relief when the new Soviet Union opted for socialism in one country and stopped actively exporting its form of government as Lenin had declared it should do after the Russian Revolution of 1917. A similar declaration by the heirs of the English and American revolutions of the 17th and 18th Centuries might at last lead to real peace and mutual tolerance, and bring to an an end the dangerous rhetoric that trumpets the English-speaking world’s rightness and threatens conflict from Russia to Iran, from Syria to China. People must change how they are ruled when and how they want to, not be encouraged, subverted or forced into doing so by others. No one, and no one system, is always right for everybody.)
The British called it the spread of civilisation and saw the mission of the British Empire as civilising the uncivilised world. They civilised Australia, Canada and New Zealand by ignoring and killing, or demeaning and corralling, the indigenous populations and then colonising their conquered territories with English-speaking people who were euphemistically called ‘settlers’ rather than ‘occupiers’ – the latter being a negative word reserved for Britain’s enemies who, unlike the British themselves, always sent ‘armies of occupation’ and ‘occupied’ rather than ‘civilised’ and ‘settled’. If they wanted to stay in the new dominions, these colonial settlers from the British Isles and the other countries of continental Europe were expected to spread the use of – or, if needs be, learn – English and English ways.
Once the United States was born, the newly independent, English-speaking Americans did much the same, harassing indigenous people into submission on reservations then declaring their country a haven for the oppressed of Europe and those wishing to make a quick buck. As the 20th Century dawned and the British Empire crumbled, with only a core of English-speaking dominions remaining reliable allies, America took up the standard of English-speaking arrogance, called its mission the propagation of freedom, liberty and democracy and began to harry and hassle non-English speaking peoples into behaving like Americans and doing America’s bidding whether it was in their best interest or not. With brief periods of isolation (and the honourable exception of a relatively altruistic participation in WW2, when two regimes in Europe and Asia, more predatory and oppressive than its own, threatened to dominate the world) America spent much of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries invading and killing in Central and South East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, or subverting and sanctioning viable sovereign states, who, in its opinion, did not live up to the limited democratic ideals that the wealthy founding fathers propagated in 1776.
In short, just as English-speaking ‘civilisation’ was imposed by the Victorians regardless of the cost in human lives and suffering, so America’s founding values have been (and are still) used as justification for the sanctions, invasions, subversions, bombings and endless regime changes that have been the hallmark of English-speaking foreign policy for centuries. In America’s case, despite a professed opposition to colonialism, the booty in earlier bouts of ‘settlement’ (places such as Hawaii, Puerto Rica and, for a while, the Philippines) was taken and kept as an American possession. Today, in 2014, America has by far the largest military capability in the world, with troops stationed in or occupying one hundred and fifty four countries worldwide and military expenditure in the trillions. The economic and geopolitical agenda in this spreading of light and liberty has always been cloaked (just as it was by the British in the 19th Century) in a veil of arrogant rhetoric that vigorously weaves together vague notions of liberation, moral superiority and the plaintive cry of ‘we are always right’.
Indeed, the English-speaking Peoples – with the honourable exception of Ireland since independence and, to a lesser extent, New Zealand, with its no-nuclear-weapons-in-our-ports policy and occasional refusal to join in with US military escapades – have been an arrogant, belligerent and bellicose lot in the world for much of recent history. They have also, at key moments in modern times, been instrumental in blocking possible constructive solutions to situations that have developed into costly conflicts. The British (along with the French) refused to ally with Russia in the spring and summer of 1938, a move that might well have saved Czechoslovakia, hemmed in Hitler and (had he persisted in his invasions) led to his defeat in a much shorter time. They feared egalitarian Communism more than racist Nazism and wished to contain the Russian bear in its communist resurrection, as they had the Tsarist bear during the Crimean War. In March 1952, Soviet Russia proposed creating a re-unified Germany that would be neutral, disarmed and a buffer between East and West – a model already functioning well in Austria. Again the US and UK’s suspicion of Russia and the wish to contain and control post-war Germany – a desire still apparent in the joint approach to Ukraine policy today – meant the offer was written off as phoney and (West) Germany was shepherded into NATO, where, despite its natural affinity with Eastern Europe and Russia, it was bound to the Anglo-Saxon, English-speaking sphere of influence until this day.
This English-speaking sphere is an exclusive club, however, and those like Germany who do not have English as an official language or mother tongue are kept at arm’s length. SIGINT, the most subversive security set up in the world, is an elite club of five English speaking nations: USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It gathers confidential information, on friends and enemies alike, and circulates that information between the core English-speaking members rather in the manner of a close friends-only Facebook post. It is part of a network of treaties between the world’s English-speaking Peoples that also includes the 1958 US/UK Mutual Defence Agreement, updated in 2014 to extend nuclear weapons cooperation for twenty years. Australia is locked in as the United States’ English-speaking poodle in Asia – Australian PM Abbott’s recent immediate participation in the bombing of ISIS shows how symbiotic that relationship is – and Canada, despite an attempt at an independent foreign policy under the French-Canadian Trudeau, is now more than ever the trusty ally of America as well as being its satellite and northern neighbour. If Russia ever made an attempt to detach Canada from America in the way the US is now trying to detach Ukraine from Russia, the English-speaking hounds would bay for the Russian bear’s blood.
The English-speaking Peoples (less Ireland, and perhaps, soon, Scotland) are a tight-knit club bound together by a common and chequered colonial history and, in many cases, the fighting of common colonial wars – WW1, the most competitive colonial war of all, has been co-opted as a core part of the white Australian, Canadian and Kiwi identities. The ruling class in those three countries, and in the United States, are often the children of the original occupiers or settlers and are bound to the mother country (as well as the surrogate English-speaking, American mother) by family ties and a common colonial guilt, or original sin: all of England’s English-speaking offspring nations were reared on the backs of indigenous peoples in conquered territories.
That those same English-speakers have managed to convince the world they are the saints and not the original sinners is, perhaps, why they have got away with such arrogant and domineering behaviour to this day. ‘We are always right and you are always wrong’, they cry and anyone who contradicts them is branded a tyrant, a rogue or a conspiracy theorist.
Rule Britannia, Rule Americana – but not for much longer we must all hope. Because the ability to genuinely talk and compromise, to sow peace and harmony as opposed to division and destruction is not in Perfidious Albion’s gene pool, not part of the English-speakers’ ruling class repertoire – they are, and have always been at heart, marauders, privateers and wheeler dealers. Since the late sixteenth century only the presentation has changed: now we have smooth talking, smart suited deviousness that passes off a lone hostage taker as a terrorist conspiracy and uses a group of rebels that it helped create as a reason to impose draconian laws at home; makes weapons of mass destruction out of thin air; pulls, at will, the rug from underneath foreign economies that do not bend to its will; refers to its use of torture as enhanced interrogation then has the gall to preach to others about the rule of law.
How has this state of affairs come to pass?
Perhaps, because, in a world where neither Britain, nor America, nor Australia, nor Canada, nor New Zealand has ever been occupied or lost a major war – and, therefore, never had to question their country’s foreign policy, or the double standards in their modus operandi as a cosy post-colonial club, never had to reflect on a sometimes authoritarian approach to liberty at home – they, the English-speaking Rulers, have always been right, and we, the English and other language speaking Peoples have always been wrong. Only once in a while, if admission of wrongdoing happens to suit the rulers’ plan, do they admit we were right, pat us on the head, then send us back to the padded nursery of repressive tolerance, and lock the door.