Thursday, July 10, 2008

World Dominance is so 1850!

By Lauren Wood

I am an anglophile.

I trust implicitly anything said in a British accent. I laugh when John Cleese walks, when Stephen Fry wears a false mustache, when Ricky Gervais is silent. I've read and enjoyed The Canterbury Tales, Much Ado About Nothing, Pride and Prejudice, High Fidelity and Harry Potter . I can confidently tell you the names and marriage termination circumstances of the six wives of Henry VIII (Catherine-Divorce-Anne-Beheaded-Jane-Died-Anne-Divorce-Katherine-Beheaded-Catherine-Survived). I worship the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who, and the Rolling Stones. My heroes are Winston Churchill and James Bond.

My every area of interest is covered by natives of this tiny constitutional monarchy. This is no accident, or coincidence. England is simply bloody great. Just ask Henry V. Or Kenneth Branagh.

I did promise Caroline that I would be defending England here, and not Europe in its entirety (Obviously, that's just not fair), so I'll try to exclude any arguments regarding the United Kingdom's proximity to the cultural meccas of Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and (let's face it) Italy in general. However, I don't think either of us can deny that this proximity is highly in its favor. But, for the sake of balance...let's leave it unsaid.

England is so absolutely fantastic because it, unlike America, has History. And not just the arbitrary wars for independence, expansion, union, and defense. For these, while noble and important, are just the basics. England has seen it all. She has witnessed the rise and fall of Empires, including her own. Sure, the England we know today is a mere shadow of what it once was, with her people so rainily resigned to their mediocre, pasty Britishness. But really, what's the use in conquering when you've been there, done that? And this national spirit of rainy resignation leaves it entirely to the people to achieve greatness. The need is not force-fed to school children before they can say the words "manifest destiny" (let alone understand what it means), making it all the more spectacular when a skinny British boy with a lightning scar realizes he's got the magic. Or when someone writes about him and hits it big. Or when Eddie Izzard puts on a dress.

As far as politics go, I shan't attempt to make or break an argument for either nation. I know too little about both systems, and I shouldn't be surprised to learn that England's is just as corrupt and despicable as our own. Politicians are the same everywhere. I do sometimes wish that America had a queen, though. If only to detract from Paris Hilton. That's all I'll say.

Let us not forget, also, that America is a product of Mother England. Almost all that is good or bad in our culture is owed to the Brits. And I don't just mean The Office. I mean the science that makes watching it possible! The scientific enlightenment, while not necessarily British, filtered through to America via these colonial ties.

So, while America is at this moment a dominant power in the world, and England is not, I can only think of what advice our motherland could tell us. Probably "enjoy it while it lasts!" would feature in the conversation, said with characteristic wit, detachment, and, naturally a stiff upper lip.


KC said...

Now while I agree to an extent that world dominance is more a nineteenth century luxury that no one can afford to have in the present day, I must say that I still choose the dominating world power. Britain's dominance ran out as she count no longer control her unruly children. Observations of large families in public places show that negligent mothers often have the worst children, and international history confirms that Britain indeed had some pretty unruly children. The United States, even though it is an interesting concept, also has had its time to shine. Unfortunately large sports utility cars, portions the size of a dining room table, and the high oil prices have confirmed that Americans are fat, greedy and lazy people.

The dominating world power I speak of now is China. Its previous culture of family and honour has been time-tested and modernized for the 21st century. The large possibly workforce in China is very large, and everyone there is productive from the second they pop out of the womb (they make your NIKE shoes) until they take their very last breath (usually being executed by firing squad). Additionally the education in this country is superior to everywhere else in the world. If you believe, as I do, that American pre-medical students are scary, then you have not seen the true potential of Chinese students. They memorize their textbooks for their future life because one day their boss will ask them what the 227th word on page 889 said, or reciting the entire Chinese history may cause the general who ordered you dead to feel a small amount of sympathy. This is mainland China.

I prefer to go for a much less extreme place because my Western upbringing has softened my shell and ability to handle such extreme and efficient ways of life. And by this I mean that I think Hong Kong is the ultimate country.

After all, how many cities create their own international governmental system just because they don't like the rest of the country? This small amount of land has been controversy and trouble for the rest of China since its inception. It caused opium and drug addiction to plight China during the UK's last harrah as the world power and it caused much international scandal in 1997 as Britain returned it to China. However, Hong Kong said "F--- you guys" to both China and the UK and acts as its own independent country. The language, culture and food are completely different. For example mainland China is dirty everywhere, while the streets of Hong Kong are so clean you can eat off of them.

Unfortunately I do not have the luxury to continue on more than this, but this small city was my home for a few months. The people, food, lifestyle and weather are just better than those in the United States--especially in the south. Okay, the weather is only better if we ignore the two to three months of black rain and typhoon storms that occur in the summer. But no place can be paradise, right?

c. grace said...