Many articles expound the hypothesis that just as the 19th century was
Britain’s and the 20th America’s, the future century will be China’s; perhaps,
but there are significant flaws in the theory.
Consider this: Beginning with the
Magna Charta in 1215 a new concept paralleled the development of the English
speaking world, no human being is supreme,
not even the King. This concept grew
and spread within English culture. In
1588 Sir Walter Drake defeated the Spanish Invincible Armada ending a century
of Spanish domination and gradually English hegemony spread over the entire
globe. His sovereign Elizabeth I discouraged religious persecution
and in 1689 The English Bill of Rights was enacted: all human beings had certain rights. By 1700 the sun never set on the British Empire.
However in 1775 that empire had begun to fragment. Distant colonies became restless and many separated
politically, but not culturally from Mother England. Although England no longer dominates the
planet, her collective progeny do. Of
the G20 countries, which account for 85% of the words economy, 4 are English
speaking, 7 count English as an official or national language. English is widely spoken in nearly all 20! Of the G7 3, 42% are English speaking. English is an official or national language
of 53 countries. English is the most widely spoken language in history and is
the predominant language of science, engineering, commerce and navigation.
Worldwide air and marine traffic control is conducted in English. The 23 language EU is considering having all
patents in English only. More people may
grow up speaking Mandarin, but they almost all live in China. English language newspapers, the BBC and CNN
influence opinion everywhere. Al Jazeera, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and even Pravda
have an English edition.
Basic concepts of personal freedom as embodied in The English Bill of Rights, The Declaration of
Independence (1776) and US Bill of rights
(1791) get spread everywhere. They in
turn have lead to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Internet and cable television bombard the
world with English language entertainment, values, and culture such as it is. Even
though the films may be made in Nigeria!
Where a language goes the culture goes. Just as the English language is very flexible in absorbing words from other languages the Anglo-American culture absorbs and redistributes customs: Just Another American Saturday Night (Brad Paisley). Fourteen of the G20 countries are multi ethnic with rights assured in the Anglo American tradition. Only 1 lacks a representative government (two of them do it poorly). In America you can find traces of almost every language or culture from Athabascan to Zulu, and almost every religion from Zoroastrian to Atheist. Almost all of them tempered with mainstream American “I don’t agree with you, but I’ll pray for you” attitude.
America, with only 5% of the world’s population, controls about 75% of its television programs. Combined with the influence of brands and products such as Hollywood, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, jeans and Coca-Cola, American culture has permeated almost the entire world.
China may rise in many ways, but no matter whose economy may be judged temporarily foremost the cultural values that started in England and flourished in America and other colonies have so pervaded the world that one might say “There will always be an England.” It’s just that the capital Anglo-American culture is no longer political, or a physical location.
Like a Medieval monarch the party cannot tolerate political dissent, because that would tarnish its self image of infallibility. When dissent occurs an oligarchy inevitably responds by tightening its grip. Oligarchies like
may seem more stable than messy democracy, but they are not immune to failure,
in fact they are susceptible to abrupt revolution often leading to total chaos. Does anyone remember the USSR, The Qing Dynasty, the Shah,
When you are the first to reach the top of a mountain you notice that the other climbers are catching up, that does not mean you are falling behind.