By Richard Norman
A new book, God and Glory: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World, by Walter Russell Mead was discussed a couple of weeks ago by the author at the Council on Foreign Relations (video here). A summary quote:
I want to say quickly that in the book I don’t argue that Britain or America triumphed because they were purely laissez faire. In fact, what I’ve said is that they have an ability to have incredible intense competition but also rules and clear regulators. They’ve managed to mix it. It’s very interesting: almost every sport that’s played today around the world is played under rules developed in either Britain or the U.S. in the nineteenth century. And the idea in developing rules–whether it’s the Marquis of Queensberry rules in boxing or the tennis rules or soccer–is that they wanted a combination. They wanted rules, but they wanted the rules not to suppress competition but to encourage the keenest possible competition. So the idea that rules are antithetical to competition is not part of this Anglo-American genius.
A little more on the book from the CFR site:
[Mead makes it] clear that the key to the predominance of the United States and England has been the individualistic ideology of the prevailing Anglo-American religion. Mead explains how this helped create a culture uniquely adapted to capitalism, a system under which both countries thrived. We see how, as a result, the two nations were able to create the liberal, democratic system whose economic and social influence continues to grow around the world. The stakes today are higher than ever; technological progress makes new and terrible weapons easier for rogue states and terror groups to develop and deploy. Where some see an end to history and others a clash of civilizations, Mead sees the current conflicts in the Middle East as the latest challenge to the liberal, capitalist, and democratic world system that the Anglo-Americans are trying to build. What we need now, he says, is a diplomacy of civlizations based on a deeper understanding of the recurring conflicts between the liberal world system and its foes. In practice, this means that Americans generally, and especially the increasingly influential evangelical community, must develop a better sense of America’s place in the world.
Above photo: Mead -Richard