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Faith & Progress

Author: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy
August 16, 2007
American Interest


The history of the world over most of the past four centuries has been shaped decisively by the exploits of English-speaking people. First English then British then American power has been more economically productive and militarily and strategically successful than any other. A decisive factor in this history of success is that both the British and the Americans came from a culture that was uniquely well positioned to harness the titanic forces of capitalism as they emerged on the world scene. The British and Americans have proved better able than others to tolerate the stress, uncertainty and inequality associated with free-market forms of capitalism, and have been consistently among the best performers at creating a favorable institutional and social climate in which capitalism can thrive.

That achievement has in turn placed Anglo-American society at the forefront of technological development. Both countries have had the deep and flexible financial markets that provide greater prosperity in peace and allow government to tap the wealth of societies for greater effectiveness in war. The great business enterprises that take shape in these dynamic and cutting-edge economies enjoy tremendous advantages when they venture out into global markets to compete against less technologically advanced, poorly financed and managerially unsophisticated rivals in other countries and cultures.

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