February 26, 2012


The State of the Anglosphere: The decline of the English-speaking world has been greatly exaggerated. (JOEL KOTKIN AND SHASHI PARULEKAR, Winter 2012, City Journal)

Not surprisingly, Anglosphere countries retain close cultural and economic ties with one another. In making foreign direct investments, the United States shows a strong preference for Anglosphere countries, especially the United Kingdom and Canada (see Chart 3). The same is true for Australia, a nation whose economic future might seem to lie with Asia's budding economic superpowers. Notwithstanding its worries about becoming a mere attendant to a rising China, Australia tilts its overseas investment heavily toward the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

Anglosphere countries possess overwhelming military superiority to protect their economic interests. While the United States dominates military technology and hardware, Britain ranks fourth in military spending, with both Australia and Canada ranking in the top 15. The U.S. is headquarters to the world's three largest defense companies: Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing. America's Anglosphere ally Australia has joined informally with Singapore and the Philippines (both are nations where English is spoken widely) to provide a potential regional military counterweight to China.

Anglosphere economic and military leadership is reflected in, and grows out of, the English-speaking world's remarkable technological leadership. The vast majority of the world's leading software, biotechnology, and aerospace firms are concentrated in English-speaking countries. Three-fifths of global pharmaceutical-research spending comes from Britain and America; more than 450 of the top 500 software companies in the world are based in the Anglosphere, mainly in the U.S., which hosts nine of the top ten. Out of the ten fastest-growing software firms, six are American and one is British. Internet giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon have no foreign equivalents remotely close in size and influence.

English is an ascendant language, the primary global language of business and science and the prevailing tongue in a host of key developing countries, including India, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia, and Bangladesh. Over 40 percent of Europeans speak English, while only 19 percent are Francophone. When German, Swedish, and Swiss businesspeople venture overseas, they speak not their home language but English.

Long-run trends in the developing world also point to the expansion of the English language. French schools have been closing even in former French colonies, such as Algeria, Rwanda, and Vietnam, where students have resisted learning the old colonial tongue. English is becoming widely adopted in America's biggest competitor, China, and it dominates the Gulf economy, where it serves as the language of business in hubs such as Dubai. The Queen's tongue is, of course, broadly spoken in that other emerging global economic superpower, India, where it has become a vehicle for members of the middle and upper classes to communicate across regional boundaries. In Malaysia, too, English is the language of business, technology, and politics.

With linguistic ascendancy comes cultural power, and the Anglosphere's remains uncontested. In total global sales of media, movies, television, and music, it has no major competitor. Its exports of movies and TV programs dwarf those of established European powers like France and Germany and upstarts such as China, Brazil, and India (see Chart 5). Exports from Hollywood and the cultural capitals of other Anglosphere countries are growing enormously in developing countries: Hollywood box-office revenues grew 25 percent in Latin America and 21 percent in the Asia-Pacific region (with China accounting for 40 percent of that region's box office). The hit movie Avatar made over $2 billion outside North America; in Russia, Hollywood films earn twice as much as their domestic counterparts. Anglophone preeminence extends to pop music, with Americans Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift, along with the U.K.'s Susan Boyle, ruling global charts. Japanese, Korean, and Chinese pop artists do have large followings in Asia, but the biggest global stars continue to originate in the Anglosphere. 

Globalization consists of nothing more than the universal extension of the Anglosphere.

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Posted by at February 26, 2012 8:07 AM

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