The world financial crisis has provoked a stark feeling of decline among many in the West, particularly citizens of what some call the Anglosphere: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. In the United States, for example, roughly 73 percent see the country as on the wrong track, according to an Ipsos MORI poll—a level of dissatisfaction unseen for a generation.
Commentators across the political spectrum have described the Anglosphere as decadent, especially compared with the rising power of China. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman praises the “reasonably enlightened group of people” who make up China’s one-party autocracy, which, he feels, provides more effective governance than the dysfunctional democracy of Washington, a point echoed in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by former Service Employees International Union boss Andy Stern. On the conservative side, author Mark Steyn sees the U.S. and its cultural mother in England as “facing nothing so amiable and genteel as Continental-style ‘decline,’ but something more like sliding off a cliff.” Even Australia, arguably the strongest economy in the Anglosphere, is increasingly troubled, with local declinists decrying the country’s growing dependence on commodity exports to developing nations—above all, to China. “We are to be attendants to an emerging empire: providers of food, energy, resources, commodities and suppliers of services such as education, tourism, gambling/gaming, health (perhaps), and lifestyle property,” frets the Australian’s Bernard Salt.
It’s indisputable that the Anglosphere no longer enjoys the overwhelming global dominance that it once had. What was once a globe-spanning empire is now best understood as a union of language, culture, and shared values. Yet what declinists overlook is that despite its current economic problems, the Anglosphere’s fundamental assets—economic, political, demographic, and cultural—are likely to drive its continued global leadership. The Anglosphere future is brighter than commonly believed.