Under other circumstances I wouldn’t mind living in the American empire here in Britain. The tithes are reasonable and the legal structures hardly onerous. If Washington were content to simply dispatch its governors, collect its money, and crush the occasional revolt in the Celtic provinces I don’t think I’d have any complaints to make. The missionaries, though, I could do without.
Instead, as is usually the case, this is an exercise in policy-based evidence-making, and a document about America. While it claims to be global in perspective, its evidence base is a grab-bag of submissions from states and ‘stakeholders’, online focus groups, and an analysis of 190 incidents where law enforcement officials were involved in the deaths of ‘Africans and people of African descent’, most of which were in the USA.
How do we do that? Through ‘national dialogues’. Through a ‘long-delayed reckoning with racism’, as though the whole world were Minnesota. States should ‘reimagine policing’, provide ‘continuous training and education’ on unconscious bias, and ‘end impunity’ for police, provide support to ‘civil society’, welcoming its use of ‘strategic litigation’, and make ‘reparations’ both financial and emotional, with the former presumably overseen by the sort of activists feeding into the report.
For anything more specific than that, though, you must consult your local branch of activists. The point of the report is not to provide a guide towards specific changes. It is to provide cover and support for whatever agendas Americanised political movements are pushing on the ground anyway. It has often been observed that the airplane made the world small, but within the bounds of the Anglosphere the internet has reduced it for many to a singularity, a reverse parochialism where everyone simply believes their country to be a suburb of an American city.
Nigeria’s’ #EndSARS movement (which protested against the brutality of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad) does not feature in the report because it would be entirely outside the focus of the empire proper, the capital in Washington and the periphery in Europe. America’s embrace of its new race-based purpose resembles a religious convert obsessed with rescuing others from the darkness they believe they have risen from. The idea that they really were in a position very different to that of Britain, or France, or Sweden can’t be conceived of within their national worldview, in which the free world looks to America for moral leadership. Instead of focusing on its own flaws, the neurotic American state sees them all around it, a world of sin that it must purify.
The problem is that disregarding these inconveniences in favour of focusing on America is increasingly normal. Because we are all perpetually online, we now have a generation marinated in American political thought, who view themselves as sharing an identity with their political counterparts in the United States, and a tendency to reach for American dialogue when addressing political issues no matter the differences in context.
As social distancing online to contain the spread of the virus seems unlikely, if we must live in the American empire, let’s do it properly. If we are going to keep importing American cultural anxiety to the point of considering dropping the use of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ out of deference to some half-understood argument between their political parties, we might as well give up on the idea of maintaining the fiction of separation, become a state, and get a say in the process, alongside those sweet federal subsidies.
I would rather instead that we separated ourselves from the empire and rejected its innovations, defining ourselves in reference to our own history and continent rather than through our relationship with America, cultivating a Dark Ages mindset and clinging onto the Atlantic fringes of Europe until the Americans, finally, turn their attention to a new obsession.