Expanded Anglo-Saxonism

Monday, August 8th, 2016

“Americanism” is expanded Anglo-Saxonism, H.P. Lovecraft argued:

It is the spirit of England, transplanted to a soil of vast extent and diversity, and nourished for a time under pioneer conditions calculated to increase its democratic aspects without impairing its fundamental virtues. It is the spirit of truth, honour, justice, morality, moderation, individualism, conservative liberty, magnanimity, toleration, enterprise, industriousness, and progress—which is England—plus the element of equality and opportunity caused by pioneer settlement. It is the expression of the world’s highest race under the most favourable social, political, and geographical conditions. Those who endeavour to belittle the importance of our British ancestry, are invited to consider the other nations of this continent. All these are equally “American” in every particular, differing only in race-stock and heritage; yet of them all, none save British Canada will even bear comparison with us. We are great because we are a part of the great Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere; a section detached only after a century and a half of heavy colonisation and English rule, which gave to our land the ineradicable stamp of British civilisation.

Most dangerous and fallacious of the several misconceptions of Americanism is that of the so-called “melting-pot” of races and traditions. It is true that this country has received a vast influx of non-English immigrants who come hither to enjoy without hardship the liberties which our British ancestors carved out in toil and bloodshed. It is also true that such of them as belong to the Teutonic and Celtic races are capable of assimilation to our English type and of becoming valuable acquisitions to the population. But, from this it does not follow that a mixture of really alien blood or ideas has accomplished or can accomplish anything but harm. Observation of Europe shows us the relative status and capability of the several races, and we see that the melting together of English gold and alien brass is not very likely to produce any alloy superior or even equal to the original gold. Immigration cannot, perhaps, be cut off altogether, but it should be understood that aliens who choose America as their residence must accept the prevailing language and culture as their own; and neither try to modify our institutions, nor to keep alive their own in our midst. We must not, as the greatest man of our age declared, suffer this nation to become a “polyglot boarding house.”


But the features of Americanism peculiar to this continent must not be belittled. In the abolition of fixed and rigid class lines a distinct sociological advance is made, permitting a steady and progressive recruiting of the upper levels from the fresh and vigorous body of the people beneath. Thus opportunities of the choicest sort await every citizen alike, whilst the biological quality of the cultivated classes is improved by the cessation of that narrow inbreeding which characterises European aristocracy.


The main struggle which awaits Americanism is not with reaction, but with radicalism. Our age is one of restless and unintelligent iconoclasm, and abounds with shrewd sophists who use the name “Americanism” to cover attacks on that institution itself. Such familiar terms and phrases as “democracy,” “liberty,” or “freedom of speech” are being distorted to cover the wildest forms of anarchy, whilst our old representative institutions are being attacked as “un-American” by foreign immigrants who are incapable both of understanding them or of devising anything better.

This country would benefit from a wider practice of sound Americanism, with its accompanying recognition of an Anglo-Saxon source. Americanism implies freedom, progress, and independence; but it does not imply a rejection of the past, nor a renunciation of traditions and experience. Let us view the term in its real, practical, and unsentimental meaning.

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