WS 2011/2012 exam translation (advanced) (Staatsexamen Herbst 2004) text # 6
It is not only Britain which is having to contend with
the vicissitudes of a declining Atlantic-centred history, white or black. As the
axis of power shifts globally, and the civilizations of the Pacific displace
those of the Atlantic, the gravitational centre of American life imperceptibly
shifts from the east coast to the west coast, confirming Hegel’s*) predictions that the movement of history is from east
to west. Fifty years ago, Churchill**) could assume with confidence not only that
the axis of power turned on the Atlantic, but that America essentially was an
The 'special relationship' ***) between the USA and the United Kingdom, which Churchill and every British Prime Minister since have been desperate to invoke, could only have any reality in so far as the USA was positioned as the hegemonic Atlantic power. Yet this is a situation which no longer pertains with anything like the force of half a century ago. Seattle and San Francisco (and Vancouver in Canada) are not only economically and culturally dynamic in a way which the older cities on the eastern seaboard are not, they are also becoming integrated into a new Pacific matrix, more proximate in their economic imperatives to comparable Asian Pacific cities than to the historic Atlantic nations.
Indeed, these American cities are significantly demographically ‘Asian’ (and Los Angeles significantly demographically Hispanic) in a manner which suggests that the classic nineteenth-century model of the integrated nation-state, of which Britain proved such a masterly exponent, is itself history. The locations of peoples, territories, and languages - demarcated and kept in place by historic frontiers - have only ever existed in the dreams of the nation-builders. In the late twentieth century, pressures from within and without the nation-state suggest the degree to which this is now a model of civilization inherited from the past.
In the imagination of Winston Churchill, America would simply have ceased to exist if confronted by such ethnic turmoil. For this veteran Australia****) appeared - as its founding constitutional documents averred - to be the authentic country of the white man: and yet today there are substantial numbers of Australians, some of whom are the white grandchildren of the nation’s founders, who are consciously reinventing Australia as an Asian nation. In such a global scenario, old postcolonial Britain moves off the map. In such a world all the maps need to be rethought, not least the ones which place Britain in the centre of things.
from: Bill Schwartz, “Britain, America, and
Europe”, in D. Morley & K. Robins (eds), British Cultural Studies,
Oxford: OUP 2001, pp. 168 f. (abridged)
Bill Schwartz: a) www.english.qmul.ac.uk/staff/schwarzb.html
Monty Python version:
**) see also WS 2011/2012 text #3: Churchill
***) "special relationship":
End of "special relationship" (spring 2010):
****) Australian "mixed bag"
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