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Anglosphere: Why do they hate us?

By JAMES C. BENNETT   |   April 12, 2003 at 6:13 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- Why do they hate us? This question has been asked incessantly since Sept. 11, 2001. Sometimes it is asked about Muslims in general; sometimes about the Arab world in particular.

However, it is worth considering the possibility that the root source of anti-Americanism in the world lies in the deep-rooted anti-modern tradition of Continental Europe.

Just as the Baathist movement lately of Iraq and still in power in Syria is a localized variant of European fascism, the broader anti-Americanism currently fashionable on all continents comes ultimately from what some have called the Industrial Counter-Revolution. This is a comprehensive category for the various reactions in Europe against the program of the Industrial and Democratic Revolutions, or liberalism in the classical sense -- individualism, free markets, and technological and social progress.

Scholars such as Alan Macfarlane have found that individualistic social patterns (such as a preference for nuclear over extended families) have been very deep-seated in England, going back at least to the 14th century, while the reverse has been true in Continental Europe up to the Industrial Revolution.

This might suggest that both fascism and communism emerged on the European continent as a search for the lost security (at the expense of individual independence) of the extended family under the patriarchal rule of the paterfamilias in the traditional Continental society shattered by the Industrial Revolution.

Another explanation, not mutually exclusive with the above, may lie in seeing the Holocaust not as an isolated instance of social madness, but the latter half of a great historical cycle beginning with the emancipation of Europe's Jews during the Napoleonic Wars.

Although the Anglosphere began the Industrial Revolution in the 17th century, the period roughly from 1830 through 1930 saw a very rapid expansion of that revolution in Western Europe, and most particularly in German-speaking Europe. This expansion resulted in the emergence of a brilliant and dynamic civilization.

Given the prominence of Jewish Europeans in that civilization, it must be asked whether one of its principal stimuli was not the excitement of mutual discovery, in which newly emancipated Jews brought their analytical skills honed by their tradition of scholarship and debate, while accessing the much wider world of Western science, literature, and scholarship from which they had previously been closed off?

How can we calculate how much more dynamism was added by the everyday interaction of people who had previously been kept in parallel and uncommunicative spheres? The Germanosphere, including not just the Second Reich, but Austria-Hungary, German Switzerland, and the German-speaking communities of Eastern Europe and the Americas, really might better be dubbed the Judaeo-Germanosphere during that period.

Continental European Jews, because they owed their very presence in the larger civilization to the values of liberalism and modernism, were one of the first and most obvious targets of the Industrial Counter-Revolution.

The collapse of globalization and consequent rise of totalitarianism set the stage for the end of the great Judaeo-German hybrid civilization of Europe and its French counterpart. Those European Jews who were left alive at the end of the war overwhelmingly desired to leave, and they left to two destinations: Israel, and the Anglosphere.

With this emigration, on top of the previous great Jewish emigration to London and New York in the late 19th century, much of the energy, creativity and contributions of European Jews were given to the Anglosphere rather than the Continent. The cost to the Continent, and the benefits to the Anglosphere has never, to my knowledge, been calculated. The cost might never be calculable, but it is real.

Continental Europeans, helped by the Marshall Plan and American investment, rebuilt their countries with vigor after 1945. Led by the last generations to mature in the environment of the hybrid Jewish-European civilization, Europe seemed to pick up where it left off in 1933.

Gradually, however, Europe seemed to run out of creativity, in everything from arts, to academia, to demographic vigor, to the will to political reform. Endless rehashing of elsewhere-discredited Marxism replaced creative political thought. Overt fascism and national chauvinism were banned, but a new Euro-chauvinism took its place, loudly proclaiming the superiority of European ways over crude American ones -- a new chauvinism on a wider scale, based like the old national chauvinism primarily on resentment.

It may be coincidence, but these new generations are the ones who grew up without the experience of studying, working and socializing with substantial numbers of Jews. Can this have no effect on politics?

Consider that the current war has seen the rapid re-emergence of the classical anti-Semitic themes in Europe, and coming from the same classes and types that supported the previous anti-globalization revolt of the 1920s and 1930s. The whitewashing of anti-Semitism as "anti-Zionism" grows more and more transparent by the day. French television has begun to adopt the terminology of the Vichy propagandists in reporting on the "Anglo-American attack" on Iraq. "Neo-con" serves the same code-word duty that "rootless cosmopolite" did in Stalin's anti-Jewish purges.

The widespread anti-Americanism in the world, of which Continental Europe is the ultimate source, has almost nothing to do with the character of President George W. Bush or the current administration, or other such cosmetic issues.

The modern world was first carried forward by two great civilizations. The Anglosphere was one. The dynamic industrializing culture of 19th century Continental Europe, to which the spark of the Judaeo-Christian encounter was so important, was the other. That culture committed suicide in the '30s. Perhaps its successor is not the revival of that culture, but rather its zombie.

In considering the Holocaust, most attention has been given to its direct victims, as is appropriate. However, we must also consider that it was a form of self-administered lobotomy for Continental European culture.

It would not be surprising if the twin anti-modernist themes of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, now rapidly coalescing into a single nasty mess visible in many of the pro-Saddam demonstrations of the past year, become once again the predominant political-cultural theme in Western Continental Europe, overwhelming the decent and positive forces there that had previously prevailed.

And we should not be surprised if such people hate us.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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