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August 16, 2004



While not planning to read the item you criticize, your comments have a few inaccuracies on their face -- whatever their underlying merits. Of the 6 nations noted, two (UK and Ireland) are not "composed entirely of immigrants". Nor are immigrants anything close to a majority in either. Further the very large majority of the population in Australia and New Zealand is composed of descendants of immigrants of British and Irish origin, with some others of Northern European origin in the majority mix. Only in the last 20 or so years have non-Northern European ancestry individuals been permitted to emigrate to these two countries in more than token numbers. (As reflected in the expanding culinary options in Sydney.)

In addition, English is NOT the official or major language in any country on continental Europe, including the ones you note, although it has become a lingua franca around the world as the most common "second" language in many locations and is used to bridge major linguistic splits in places like India, Pakistan and, yes, South Africa where the majority population is not born speaking English as its "mother" tongue. (See, Zulu, Africaans, for examples).

Racial lines are not good methods of classification. Cultural lines often are. Strong shared cultural common strands do tie the 6 countries identified, although each has unique elements on its own as well.

By the way, the major trading partner of the US is Canada, one of the 6.


The sentence was actually "either composed entirely of immigrants under the aegis of British Empire, or have such substantial non-Anglo populations as to make the epithet "Anglo" laughable." The "or" part of the sentence was specifically referring to the UK - Ireland isn't technically made up of Anglo-Saxons (a point that wasn't lost on 18th century English landowners). And if Britain ever attempts to enter into a racially oriented union with other white Christian countries, the 1.6 million Muslim Britons will surely have something to say about it.

English is the official language of both South Africa and India, and is the ad hoc official language of Pakistan. In any case, building an alliance around a common official language doesn't make sense when that language is the major business language of the entire world. I can see maybe building something around Chinese, which is far more culturally and geographically specific than English.

I don't believe that you can draw a line and say that since 20 years ago the predominant population in Australia was white and English speaking, that the most recent wave of immigrants have to knuckle under to the prevailing views (even if they happen to be the majority at the moment). Why not go back to 200 years ago and call (correctly) the Aboriginal peoples the "original" population and throw the white settlers out?

In Australia people like Pauline Hanson are arguing that all Asian immigrants should be kept out of the country on the basis of race, and this view ignores the very real contributions made by immigrants to the culture and economy of the countries they settle in. I find these arguments solely on the basis of race and "shared culture" very scary and very easily distorted.

The argument in the article is not for classification, it is for an "axis" or alliance between these so-called "Anglo 6" countries. The author was trying to break the UK away from its far older association with European countries, on the basis of shared "cultural" (read: racial) characteristics.

Point taken about Canada, although what I was trying to say was not that none of these countries is a major trading partner, but refuting the article's claim that ALL of these countries are major trading partners.

Having been a de facto 2nd class citizen for 13 years in Hong Kong solely on the basis of race, I am very sensitive to suggestions of axes based on "shared cultural values". There are transcendent values shared by every culture, and those are what should bind people together instead.


PS Please be nice to me today, as I am terribly, TERRIBLY hung over and still had to come in to work this morning...


Well put, Zoe--especially your clarification in the comments.


If you take Ireland out of the list, there's a lot of common history between the remaining five countries over the past 80 years or so. All on the same side in the two world wars, close allies during the Cold War (as opposed to many Commonwealth countries, which went Non-Aligned), that sort of thing. Winston Churchill would have smiled.

That said, economics draws Britain closer to the European Union, just as Canada draws closer to the US (insofar as the two countries aren't really a single economy under two governments already), and Australia/New Zealand have to seek their accomodation with the growing economies of ASEAN and the like.

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