AnglospherePrimer

Skimmed this essay today:

Anglosphere Primer

Mildly interesting, especially for its discussion on the characteristics of a civil society. Poor choice of name; although the author is as pains to note that what he is cheerleading is a memetic, not a racial group, I'm sure many will misinterpret. Note that the author recognizes that English-speaking nations are not the only civil societies, although he says "on almost any ranking of the characteristics of successful civil societies – prosperity, political freedom, social trust, new company formation and innovation – the Anglosphere nations form a significant cluster at the top, accompanied only by the Scandinavian countries and a few outliers such as Switzerland."

I'll quote the parts that I think are most worth reading (which correlate but do not coincide with what I agree with), and attempt to summarize them(by the way what's the best way to do a many-paragraph blockquote in our WikiMarkup? is there a better way besides manually putting a colon before each paragraph?). The summaries are first, and the quotes are below.

Summaries from "Anglosphere Primer"

Fundamental customs and values of English-speaking cultures include:

Properties of civil societies:

Things which may appear to be civic socities or civic states but are not:

Historic causes of civil societies:

Connections between civil societies and democracy:

Connections between civil societies and market economies:

Sojourner status proposal:

Relevant passages from "Anglosphere Primer"

On civil society:

A civil society is one that is built of a vast network of networks. These networks start with the individual and the families, community organizations, religious congregations, social organizations, and businesses created by individuals coming together voluntarily. Continuing up through the local, regional, national, and international networks, the tying together of local organizations creates civil societies, which in turn beget civic states. Such states are based on the notion that authority begins at the local and community level and is gradually built upwards to deal with wider-scale issues. Civic states rely on community assent and a feeling of participation in a local, regional, and national community. Law is generally accepted in civic states, as are the common rules of society. The authority of the state is upheld not by constant exercise of force, but by the willingness of citizens to comply. Civic states are thus opposed to "economic states" in which loyalty is primarily pragmatic and based on expectation of benefits through cross-subsidization.
It is important to make clear that at the root of civil society is the individual. People who define themselves primarily as members of collective entities, be they families, religions, racial or ethnic groups, political movements, or corporations, cannot form the basis of a civil society. Individuals must be free to dissociate themselves from such collectives without prejudice and reaffiliate with others. Societies that permanently bind individuals under the discipline of inherited or assigned collectives remain bogged down in ethnic, racial, or religious factionalism, nepotism, and economic systems such as the "crony capitalism" so prevalent in East Asia and Latin America.
It is likewise important to make clear that a family in a civil society is a voluntary association, even though it is built on inherited connections. It should not place loyalty to its members above moral obligations to the rest of society, such as fair dealing, and should have no power over its members other than the sanction of withdrawal of help or association. Similarly, its individuals may choose to join associations marked by inherited ties, such as ethnic or religious organizations, but are not penalized for declining to join. The state deals with those individuals independently, rather than as members of that collective. Thus, would-be advocates of civil society are often fooled into seeing family-dominated societies as civil societies, when in fact they are the opposite. Other observers see societies in which the state deals with everyone as members of ethnic, racial, or religious communities (such as the vilayet system of the Ottoman Empire) as civil societies, whereas in fact they are authoritarian societies corrupted by the lack of choice.
The "family values" of a crony society are not the same as the family values of a civil society, nor are the ethnic- or religious-based voluntary associations of a civil society the same as the ethnic or religious compartments of an authoritarian society. One of the quiet success stories of strong civil societies, particularly the United States, has been the manner in which the compulsory family and religious affiliations of immigrants from the Old World were transformed in the New World into voluntary associations of civil society, and the immigrants themselves changed from members of traditional societies into self-actualized individuals. This took place within the same generation in some families and in no more than two or three generations in others.
Most societies have some elements of civil society, but their strength differs greatly from society to society. Some states, generally the most peaceful and prosperous ones, are civic states, or possess elements of the civic state, but others have little or no civic nature: totalitarian states, personal dictatorships, and kleptocracies. The latter exist primarily to permit the persons in control to steal from those subject to its power. Most of the poorer and strife-wracked states of the world are in the latter category. The relationship between civil society and prosperity, and civic statehood and domestic peace, is not coincidental. However, the causal link has often been misunderstood.
It is now quite clear that prosperous states are rich because of the strength of their civil society, and that peaceful states are peaceful because of the strength of their civic statehood, not the other way around. States that have inherited vast natural wealth relative to their populations have been able to spread wealth around, but this has not generally strengthened civil society or the coherence of the civic state. When the Iraqis invaded Kuwait, the sons of the rich Kuwaitis fled to Cairo, while their parents negotiated the price of Western intervention. This is not a strong civic state.
Also misunderstood are the concepts of democracy and the market economy. Democracy and free markets are effects of a strong civil society and strong civic state, not causes. Over the past century, there has been a misdirection of attention to the surface mechanics of democracy, to nose-counting, rather than to the underlying roots of the phenomenon. We know that a society containing strong networks of voluntary association also develops means of expressing the interests of those networks to the state. It is the need for effective means of expression that gave rise to the original mechanisms we now call democratic. Later, intellectuals in states that did not have a strong existing civil society, especially pre-revolutionary France, looked at states that did, especially England, and attempted to distill an abstract theoretical construct that captured the essence of that experience. These intellectuals called this thing democracy, but they subsequently focused attention on their model (and its misunderstandings) rather than the essence of the thing they actually admired.
England's strong civic state had its roots in the local expressions of civil society in the civic realm, a process that may or may not be traced back to the era before the Norman Conquest but was certainly well-rooted by the fourteenth century. These include the grand and petit jury systems, the election of various aldermen and other local officials, the quasi-official role of many civil institutions, and the heritage of common law administered by an independent judiciary. Selecting members of the House of Commons was one of many different mechanisms by which local communities gave or withheld their consent to the state.
Today we tend to focus on the many ways in which pre-modern England differed from contemporary norms. The restricted franchise, the "rotten boroughs" which elected members of Parliament with a handful of voters, the lack of a party system, and the open purchase of votes for money or favor all seem very undemocratic. But it is a mistake to ignore the many ways in which England's system created a far more effective means of assent and dissent compared to other state systems of the times. The lesson from English history is repeated many times over, up to and including contemporary events in Taiwan and South Korea. When civil society reaches a certain degree of complexity, democracy emerges. Absent that civil society, the importation of mere mechanisms of democracy only creates one more set of spoils for families and groups to fight over at the expense of the rest of society.
Similarly, the market economy requires more than merely the absence of socialism or an overweaning government. It is the economic expression of a strong civil society, just as substantive (rather than formulaic) democracy is the political expression of a civil society and civic state. Democratic mechanisms no more create civil society than wet streets cause rain. There is theoretically no reason why democracy needs a market economy, or vice versa – but in practice they are almost always found together. Entrepreneurship in business uses and requires the same talents, and often the same motives, that go into starting a religious, nonprofit, or political organization. The society that can create entrepreneurial businesses tends to be the same society that creates the other forms of organizations as well – often the same individuals start several of each form at different stages in their lives.
The market economy also requires a civil society with general acceptance of a common framework of laws, practices, and manners. Without a general acceptance of fair dealing, an agreement on what fair dealing means, and a system that can adjudicate disputes, a true market economy cannot exist. Just as post-Soviet Russia's politics demonstrated that the mechanics of democracy alone cannot create a civic state, its economy demonstrated that market formulas cannot by themselves create a market economy or a civil society. They are necessary but insufficient conditions in each case.
The Link to Science and Technology
These realizations have immense implications for the next stages of the Scientific-Technological Revolution. It is highly likely that the current information revolution will continue to be a source of innovation for the next stages of growth. They will emerge in an entrepreneurial environment marked by the rapid creation of teams and capitalization through venture money and public markets possible only in a strong civil society. The crucial role of non-company organizations (such as professional and industry associations and informal networks of acquaintance) in creating the Silicon Valley phenomenon also indicates that this form of entrepreneurism is a strong civil-society phenomenon.
Looking at the geography of the next stages of this scientific-technological revolution, it is no accident that it is emerging first in the United States. Strong civil society has its roots in medieval Europe, as a result of the society being built of a mix of tribal, feudal, local, church, family, and state institutions, characterized by the lack of a single, overwhelming power that could impose its will. Gradually the different interests established negotiated relationships of power and influence, none of which involved full submission of one element to another. At first these institutions were for the most part neither free nor voluntary in nature. However, the multiplicity of institutions eventually permitted some liberty, and eventually many individuals to establish a substantial freedom and independence through astute negotiation.
England, by virtue of its being the strongest part of an island at the periphery of Europe, was insulated from many of the more centralizing influences that eventually eradicated the complexity of emerging medieval civil society. In particular, its security from invasion after 1066 and consequent lack of need to maintain a large land army shielded it from the royal absolutism that continental monarchies fashioned in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Thus, England was free to continue combining medieval institutions such as Parliament, juries, and corporations into effective forms of complex civil societies. These forms were present throughout Western Europe, but faded or changed into instruments of state power over civil society on the continent, while still flourishing in England.

Sojournership proposal:

The Network Era model of transnational personal movement is sojournership. A sojourner is one who moves from one country to another to reside and engage in economic activity, but does not give up his previous identity, returns to previous countries of residence frequently, and remains in constant communication with his home network …. The sojourner often serves to cross-pollinate activity from place to place, accelerating ties begun or continued via Net and Web….
Existing immigration law is poorly adapted to such activity. The levels of state benefits attached to citizenship have risen to such levels during the Machine Age that an immigrant's slot becomes a valuable prize, particularly for persons from poorer countries. Yet the sojourner does not seek to fill a citizen's slot. The immigration machinery and provisions of most of the world's industrialized states are designed to ration these entitlements by rationing citizenship. Sojourners face the choice of trying to fit the immigrant's slots or to abuse tourist, student, or temporary worker provisions, none of which are appropriate to their needs.
….
A sojourner agreement among English-speaking nations would create a reciprocal right of sojourning for citizens of the adhering nations, permitting those citizens to travel to, reside in, and to perform economic transactions in all member nations. Sojourners would not be eligible for state benefits and would pay core taxes, but not taxes earmarked for state benefits….
…. concerns about competition for formal employment slots may create a barrier to agreement. More important, and less controversial, would be a provision permitting sojourners to conduct business, including acting as contractors and consultants. As such, they would be in line with the emerging economic trends. They would not have political rights in the host nations, though there is a reasonable argument for giving long-resident sojourners who pay local sales and property taxes a vote in local elections, as the European Union does.
Most importantly, sojourner status would not be rationed; it would be freely available to any applicants, subject to a basic check for criminal record….
Despite the theoretical availability of a sojourner-like status throughout the European Union, young Britons and Irish have made relatively little use of it. Large numbers of both nations' young (and those of the other principal Anglosphere nations) come to the United States to live and work, often by abusing immigration statuses designed for other purposes. Sojourner status would turn current violators into constructive economic participants.
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