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American Exceptionalism and the Value of Prosperity

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In her recent article, "We Need To Demand Our Country Be Given Back to We the People," SJ Reidhead had the temerity to suggest that the United States of America and the Roman Republic were the only two entities in the history of humankind that stood out head and shoulders above the rest. “Both were synonymous,” she writes, “with power, order, and the promotion of civilization.”

The author drew severe criticism, and the article became a kind of free-for-all, a ready-made platform for expressing all manner of views on any subject whatever. As one commenter put it:

X used it as an opportunity to talk about political philosophy. Y is using it as a springboard for dry, cynical humor. Z . . . reacted with his usual fervor against any criticism of the administration. If all you have is a hammer, the saying goes, every problem looks like a nail (see comment #42).

At the base of these arguments is the notion of “American exceptionalism," an idea which may have been justified in the past, but is no longer supportable.  To understand the conditions which render it obsolete is the first step toward understanding our present situation and the direction in which we’re heading.

I take it as axiomatic that “We the People,” the subject matter of Ms Reidhead’s article, has been a myth from its very inception. Direct democracies have long fallen into disuse since the fall of the Athenian Empire – a loosely-held federation of city-states. Representative democracy – arguably an English invention having its roots in Magna Carta – was meant to extend the limits of direct democracy and citizen participation by means of representation. But it also meant a kind of dilution. And there was another rub. Who were the citizens, and how comprehensive was the concept? Can we honestly say that the representation was thorough enough so as to include “We the People?” Indeed, for all the extension of full voting rights to previously disenfranchised groups – women, freemen, and slaves – can we seriously maintain that our representation in Washington is a meaningful one if exercised only every two years or so during the congressional or general elections?

Which raises a natural question: What took us so long to wake up to this sobering reality, which now hits us like a ton of bricks? Why haven’t we seen it sooner? The answer, I suggest, lies in the economic freedoms once enjoyed but now lost. It provided us with a blind spot — a requisite kind of illusion not to see our political freedom for the myth that it was.

Never underestimate the power of prosperity to overshadow all other aspects of the individual’s life. With economic freedom and financial independence, there come a wide variety of freedoms: the freedom to move, to change jobs, to send your kids to better schools, to live in communities you deem desirable and to associate with whom you want to associate. You can, besides, become a respected member of your community, belong to the right kind of clubs and voluntary associations, exercise your push and pull with the local officials, procure favors and quid pro quos in return for generous donations to right organizations and causes. And in light of all this, political freedom pales in comparison. Indeed, even the middle or the working class have enjoyed a measure of those freedoms which come with prosperity. Admittedly, the sphere wasn’t quite as extensive – in the worst case scenario, amounting perhaps to nothing more than offering a diversion (sugarcoated, besides, by the illusion of “the consumer’s choice”). Even so, it was sufficient for everyone concerned to take their eye off the ball. Until now!

Which makes a point about American exceptionalism. It never made sense by virtue of political institutions alone without the attendant notion of American prosperity – which is to say, without taking into account the period of unparalleled prosperity which, until recently, has been an integral part of the American experience. You can’t measure greatness if you exclude the economy. It was so for the Athenian Empire, the Roman Republic, and the British Empire. And it's no different with America.

It was only a century ago that Rudyard Kipling published his famous poem, "The White Man's Burden." Despite strong ironic undertones, it was generally accepted both in England and abroad as an exhortation of sorts, justifying imperialism and colonial conquest as a “noble enterprise.”

The British Empire was at its heights at the time, I might add – politically, economically and culturally. Today, it’s just as passé as America is about to become.

Welcome to the New World Order, the sequel.

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com/ Joanne Huspek

    Scary and depressing.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Joanne. I saved the worst part for last.
    I’d written an earlier piece on the NWO but didn’t have quite the understanding then.

    It’s all coming together now, and I’m afraid it’s not good news.

  • bliffle

    We blew it by pursuing mean goals, like foolish wars and piling up riches on a few select citizens.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Right on. And now we’re paying the dividend. The only good thing is, I won’t be around much longer to face it.

  • Clavos

    What a crock.

    To paraphrase Twain, “The report of [the death of America’s prosperity] is an exaggeration.”

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I certainly should hope so, Clavos. In this particular respect I’d wish nothing better than to be a false prophet.

  • STM

    I don’t see American prosperity going anywhere, anytime soon. It’s not even an issue, really. It remains prosperous, and will do so for more than the foreseeable future.

    My argument in regard to the myth of American exceptionalism is that it was never exceptional in the first place.

    The reference to Kipling’s White Man’s Burden is interesting in this context, because it provides a long-held classic view of American exceptionalism – as seen by Americans of that period (and of the current period too, I suspect).

    For example (and it’s just just one): “The British are exporting colonialism and exploiting those they conquered”.

    But Americans saw themselves differently. It was not that the US was engaging in imperialist conquest but “America (in the Philippines) is exporting freedom and democracy.”

    Many Filipinos disagreed with that notion, 100,000 of them lost their lives fighting the US, and many Filipinos still disagree with that notion. One scholar in Manila told me recently that even when the US realised it was cheaper to keep a naval base than a whole country, they were still in effect exercising their imperial power.

    However, as was the case with the British, it could be argued they brought more than they took – although quite a few Filipinos express the idea that if they had to be colonised, they wished it had been by the British – based simply on the fact that the countries of south-east Asia and the south pacific that have the highest standards of living and the least corruption were former British colonies.

    (They nearly got their wish. The British captured Luzon from the Spanish in the late 1700s, but gave it back two years later after signing a treaty with Spain).

    So America might be good, but it’s simply not exceptional.

    It’s only ever really been an extension of Europe, with virtually identical laws and political beliefs to at least one country on the other side of the pond – but simply transplanted across the Atlantic.

    When Americans are thinking that their political beliefs and laws make them exceptional, they would do well to remember where they come from, which is the very reason why the idea of exceptionalism in that regard is bollocks – and a very dangerous myth that stops Americans seeing the truth about themselves.

    America is and has always been just part of an extended, evolving western European bloc that has liberalism (in the classic sense, rather than the meaning attached to it in America) and representative democracy at the core of its governance and its belief in personal freedoms.

    In terms of continuous government under a constitution that has focused on rights of citizens, it’s not even the oldest of these.

    However, the other side of the coin is that the US has contributed hugely to the sucess of this western, representative democracy that has brought huge benefit to this world.

    I realise my view won’t be popular, but it’s nevertheless the truth.

    I believe it’s right to challenge a view of history based on myths and halftruths

  • STM

    And I’ll also add: any Americans who think they don’t have true political freedom … you’re kidding yourselves.

    It might not be perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. Realistically, only the US and a dozen other countries on this planet – at most – have the same kind of prosperity and freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

    That speaks volumes. It’s also why so many people from around the world are bashing down the doors of the great western democracies hoping to get in.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    STM,

    I appreciate your comments. I believe I stressed, however, that political institutions alone cannot support the claim because they’re not unique; but taken together with the prosperity factor, that’s another story. Indeed, you yourself don’t deny the latter; and, oddly enough, in light of your own understanding of the scope of the present crisis, still argue to the effect that it’s not altogether gone.

    You’re right, of course, in a relative sense, but relative to whom? How relative do you want it to be? Given that many Americans have lost a good percentage of their life savings, it’s kind of difficult to argue for “relative prosperity” (with respect to the Third World countries, for example) while people are losing their jobs, their homes, default on their car loans and generally speaking, are forced to economize to levels that only years ago would have been inconceivable. Indeed, even with relativity factored in, my argument kind of stands: as evident, e.g., by the fact of decreasing flow of people crossing the border from Mexico. So at present at least, it’d seem to me that it’s no longer the case that “they’re [all] coming to America, today, today, today” as Neil Diamond used to rhapsodize.

    So in effect, I’m detecting traces of contradiction in what you’re saying – especially with prosperity factored in (as I had said),
    and the reference being to the “golden years”

    A number of clarifications. “Exceptionalism” does not mean “perfection.” Faulting American imperialism doesn’t necessarily affects the usage; exceptional may well be restricted in its meaning to refer only to the citizens, just as the benefits of Pax Romana extended only to the subjects of the Empire and not beyond (as evidenced by St. Paul, for example, who claimed the privileges which came with Roman citizenship).
    Second, “exceptionalism” doesn’t necessarily connote uniqueness and I didn’t argue to that effect. Again, restricted usage comes to mind, with reference, that is, to conditions at any given point in time rather than in any absolute or eternal kind of sense. And until recently, there was no question of the America’s status as a superpower from the economic and military standpoints.

    All of which argues for “subjective” interpretation of the term – which approached its mythological status. That said, it’s also the case that we recognize something as a myth only when we start seeing cracks and fissures, not before. So I agree that from the get-go, it was a form of self-promotion (although I have no idea how it had started, who had thought it up, or even if we can meaningfully say that there was an author). I suspect, however, that the notion of “exceptionalism” initiated with the Europeans (and most likely out of envy or jealousy). I am and Eastern European myself, and for a good while I myself held on to a false sense of “European superiority” until thoroughly Americanized, so I do have some feel of that. So again, now we can talk of “American exceptionalism” as a myth precisely because it had burst – i.e., because the conditions are no longer the same. And I suspect that U.S. aggressive policy, along with a steady decline in living standard while the corporations were getting richer and richer, were the major factors.

    You’re right, of course, about Kipling: the Americans adopted it as a banner.

    Are we closer to agreement?

  • STM

    Rog writes: “How relative do you want it to be? Given that many Americans have lost a good percentage of their life savings, it’s kind of difficult to argue for “relative prosperity”

    But it IS relative, this current state of affairs.

    All those things are happening here too, in a country that at first glance, is virtually indistiguishable from the United States in terms of its politics and its standrad of living, and isn’t that different to it either at third glance and fourth long, hard look.

    So there’s an end immediately to the notion of exceptionalism.

    I mean, this is precisely the kind of thing I believe actually does foster the myth of exceptionalism. Partly, it’s down to a lack of knowledge about anything else or anywhere else.

    You have to see this from the POV of a non-American, too, Roger … it can be incredibly frustrating even just trying to present an alternate viewpoint in the face of that ignorance.

    I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been called “an America-hater” for exercising my right to free speech (in an opposite viewpoint), which is the thing many Americans feel they are exporting to the world.

    But when you’re not free-speeching in the right way, it’s an issue.

    I also think to a certain extent you have misunderstood the true meaning of the myth of American exceptionalism.

    Or at least seen something else there.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    STM,

    I’d never accuse you of being “an America-hater,” and you know it. Nor do I believe I’ve given you any indication that I don’t welcome a difference of opinion. Number one, I don’t have a dog in this fight. And number two, it’s always my objective to enlarge upon my understanding. So if we do have a disagreement, let me assure you it’s an honest one. I understand you may be projecting some of your experiences from previous encounters with others, but what has this got to do with me?

    First off, let me preface by saying that the Aussies, the Brits, and yes, the Americans, too, are like cousins. They basically share the same or similar mindset, cultural and political heritage, tradition, not to mention the language. So the first thing I’d like to say is that any such claim – and it’s no longer supportable – is already highly diluted if and when applied or posed vis-a-vis any of you. It has (or “had,” I should say) a much greater force when contrasted with other peoples and nations. Is that why, perhaps, the objection – such as the one you happen to display – is all the more virulent for the fact? Akin perhaps to the kind of emotion or feeling on the part of a poorer cousin? Correct me if I’m wrong.

    You say, “but it IS relative, this current state of affairs.” Of course the state of affairs is. But having said that, the notion of “exceptionalism,” as I tried to argue in the comment above, is an exclusive notion, applicable only to the US of A, which is to say that all the benefits and the goodies that come with membership are conferable only to the select few (and this would seem to argue against “relativization.”

    Perhaps that’s the root of the problem, the exclusive nature of the concept, and I tend to agree. But any notion of exception connotes exclusivity. So perhaps, at bottom, that’s what the objection is really about.

    I grant you that it’s a myth by now (and again, I’ll argue why it’s so: the allure is all but gone). But I’ll also argue that even fifty years ago it wasn’t so.

    Witness how my Brits have made it their home. Why? Because the opportunity was here unlike anything in their own country. There was no question in anyone’s mind that America was the land of opportunity. Perhaps Australia was too, after the same manner. Less true of Canada because of socialistic patterns. But definitely not England, the home country. So the notion of the USA as the most free of all free societies was generally accepted once upon a time. Never mind the French, the Italians, or the Germans. Too much bureaucracy and not enough tradition and grounding in, and respect for, the English common law. It’s a different animal.

    I’ll tell you one thing which is still uniquely American. A sense of camaraderie, total oblivion as regards class distinction and thoroughgoing egalitarianism. Perhaps you have a similar experience in Australia, but not so, from what I’ve heard, in the good ole England – except in the pubs perhaps. And that’s something to cheer about, the general lack of snobbery.

    Anyway, I’ll be looking to your response.

  • Dan

    I think you are both mis-interpreting the meaning of American exceptionalism. It refers to the quality of the people who first immigrated here.

    I know that it’s unfashionable to think outside of an egalitarian framework, but the proof is in the achievement. The government of choice for such a people is representative democracy, and the economy of choice is free market capitalism with an exclusive meritocracy component.

    All wealth flows from that. The further we stray from these ideals, the further we become… less exceptional.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    When I spoke of egalitarianism, Dan, I was referring to person-to-person ways of relating, nothing more. So for my part at least, you seem to be taking my remarks out of context. And BTW, neither STM or myself would disagree (I should think) about the happy mix of capitalism (properly construed) and the institutions of liberal democracy.

    But I’d better let STM speak for himself.

  • Dan

    Sorry roger, but I wasn’t refering to your use of the word egalitarianism.

    The point I was making was that prosperity is a result of American exceptionalism, I wouldn’t need to take your words out of context to make that point.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Perhaps you’re right. I may have been wrong about causality. The spirit was the prime mover.

    Good point!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I’ll tell you one thing which is still uniquely American. A sense of camaraderie, total oblivion as regards class distinction and thoroughgoing egalitarianism.

    For the most part, Roger, maybe. But the US does have an aristocracy, albeit an unofficial one, and it is quite exclusive. I find it hard to believe that a Rockefeller, an Astor, a Kennedy, a Morgan or a Lodge really grows up thinking they are no better than the average Joe. Not only that, but they tend to intermarry: just a very minimal amount of research will turn up a myriad tangled ways in which many of America’s top politicians and businesspeople are related to one another.

    For them, money talks loudly – certainly louder than it does for the English aristocracy – but I think blood still outshouts it.

    Perhaps you have a similar experience in Australia, but not so, from what I’ve heard, in the good ole England – except in the pubs perhaps.

    I’m here to state categorically that Australia is one place that has absolutely no class structure. None. Whatsoever.

    As for England – I’m pushing Wales, Scotland and Ireland out to the periphery, because although the class system did and does exist there, it was largely imposed on them by the English and isn’t naturally Celtic – it is these days much more egalitarian. A sense of class does still survive, quite stubbornly in some cases – hence the recent invention of a whole new underclass, the chavs, whom everyone else can look down on. Aristocratic titles are generally respected, even if some of the people who hold those titles aren’t. I think there’s a general awareness that the class system is and always was the glue which holds English society together.

    These days, though, it’s regarded as more honour than privilege. There’s more openness to the possibility of moving up into the aristocratic classes – the institution of life peerages, as part of the honours system which rewards those who have contributed most to society, being the most noteworthy example. And in the other direction, the noble families themselves are much more relaxed about perpetuating themselves: there’s no longer such huge pressure for their offspring to marry another aristocrat. Even Prince William, who’s second in line to the throne, has openly dated at least one commoner – something that would have been almost unheard of even 50 years ago.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Doc,

    As initial response to your comments, I must qualify that I exclude the Rockefellers, Carnegies, and Melons from the mix. You’re always going to have that, in any society. And money implied culture, and privileges. But I’m highly unlikely to meet people like that in a local tavern. But I have met executives, and persons of distinction, and politicians, and by and large, they’re not overly impressed with their position and status. They may be so in private,or secretively, but it’s not an American way; and so they have sense enough, I suppose, not to come off like that in public. And for whatever it’s worth, I think it’s refreshing. I’ll bet you one thing, though. I’m certain that JKF or RFK would have come across as regular Joes if you were to meet them in public.

    BTW, I have no doubt that the Aussies are just as free and unencumbered when it comes to their one-on-one.

    As to money, I’d like to think that it doesn’t carry the same kind of prestige as blood lines – if for no other reason that money comes and goes. Besides, anyone can strike it rich. But this applies more to the neouvo riche perhaps than the old money. Even so.

    So that’s for starters. I’m not certain, however, about the distinction you’re making as to honor and privilege.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    There’s only thing I might like to add. The education system. Perhaps because of the times, US universities and colleges have been open to hoi poloi. But what of Eton? Is it equally open to people regardless of class? I don’t know, just asking.

    True, we, too, have our prep schools for the rich and well-to-do. But these are patterned after the old country.

    I’m not talking about Oxford and Cambridge. Had I applied early enough, I’d stand a good chance of being accepted. But these are higher institutions, and necessarily more responsive to the tenor of the times. Still, graduating from Eton carries a hulluva more prestige than from a red brick, wouldn’t you say so? The first would almost guarantee admission to Oxford; the second, London School of Economics.

  • STM

    Dan: “I think you are both mis-interpreting the meaning of American exceptionalism.”

    No it doesn’t. It refers to the idea among Americans that everything about them, their way of life, political values and their society is exceptional.

    It’s had that meaning for eons. I’ve never heard the above you suggest Dan.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    See, STM. I don’t believe I’m insisting on the things you mention in #19. And in passing, doesn’t Dan offer a more enlightened way of interpreting the term?

    Is “American spirit” also a bogus term, in your opinion, part and parcel of the exceptionalism idea? Just asking. Because in light of that, an argument could be made that if not now, then in the past at least, America provided the conditions where things could happen. And by golly, they did.

    I don’t think you can deny that, STM.

  • Bill H

    Well, I’m not going to be sidetracked into semantics. The simple fact is that the party is over and there is nowhere left to hide, as it were. Or no way to extend the shell game to maintain the illusion that’s been purported since the beginning… namely, of the people, by the people, for the people. It has ALWAYS been of the money, by the money and for the money. To wit: the Boston Tea Party. Taxation without representation may connote an emotional and naive element of “freedom” for some people, the fact is that, at the end of the day, it is about the freedom to create and control the money and by extension, the people. We are so free… HA HA HA HA HA HA. Don’t get me started.

    In any case, the creation and destruction and recreation of a National Bank and a privately owned and controlled FED, any hope of freedom was over. ANd don’t kid yourself that there isn’t a clas structure in the USA. EGalitarian… HA! perhaps in the more cosmopolitan cities or out on the farm, but, try visiting an indutrial center (former backbone) or rust belt city where the lines between blue collar and while collar are heavily drawn and vehemently maintained to this day, decades after the unions have all but entirely evaporated.

    In any case, sequel to the creation of the FED and giving corporations the rights of the individual (forget the amendment) and then bastardizing and applying the “income tax” to the money private citizens trade for their time and effort. Wage is NOT income!!!! And there is NO LAW supporting its levy here in the US!! The IRS simply has guns.

    So, Roosevelt dies and the Keysean Fascists usurp the Bretton Woods agreements and IMF for their own quasi-imperial purposes, laying the groundwork for Banan REpublics and the permanent marginalization of the third world .. and then…

    Voila… nuclear physics and the creation of the military/industrial/congressional complex as the new power base.

    Back to the money with fractional banking and fiat currency (abolition of the gold standard) and establishment of the petro-dollar to haul our asses out of the fire…. well…. the fire never went out…. we merely hid it and used fractional banking and the petro dollar to cover it up.

    Ad to that Alan Greenspan adopting the WAll Street tricks that landed Michael Milken in prison, legalizing them and applying them to the world economy and here we are in the biggest house of cards ever built.

    I get the comparison to Rome, et al. The problem is that even there you are still a level or two deep into the ilusion/delusion.

    Call it conspiracy theory or woo woo, but the simple fact is that nothing has ever changed. The game and the song remain the same the Roman EMpire and all the way back since day one.

    Politics are an illusion. A distraction to keep the unwashed masses too busy to realize that they will only ever be as free as they can make themselves strong. Wealth, waeapons… it matters not. Thre are no countries, there are no political parties… there are the rich and strong attempting to maintain the status quo.

    What will it take with billions of starving people.. Walled communities and UN troops on US soil? They are already here and Posse commutatis has already been suspended… pemanently. There is NO END to the war on terror. That is the whole point!!! This is going nowhere but “down” all according to plan. The plan of the Bilderbugers, et al. The class system and aristocracy know no borders or boundaries. Nationalism? HA!

    Dude…. the Bush family and friends bankrolled the Nazis and alundered the profits of the industrialists profiteering on BOTH SIDES of WWII!!!

    WAKE UP!!!

    THERE IS NO SPOON!!!

  • STM

    Rog: “But what of Eton? Is it equally open to people regardless of class?”

    If you’ve got the money – and the desire to conform to what might be expected at a place like that – then class doesn’t really come in to it.

    Britain today is more a meritocracy, but if you have money in the UK, you can can kind move classes. … kinda

    Doc’s right about Australia.

    There is no class system whatsoever.

    And Dan, I notice you are mentioning a) representative democracy, b) capitalism and c) meritocracy as if the US is the only place that’s embraced these things.

    It sounds to me like you think a combination of theose is what made America great and therefore exceptional.

    The problem is, it’s not the only western democracy to embrace those ideals, nor the longest-running representative democracy continuously governed (Britain is, since 1688, which is where America gets most of its laws and ideas about rights and governance).

    This is where the whole idea of exceptionalism becomes a crock. It’s just not that different to a lot of other places in so many ways, despite moving to the top of the pile in the mid-20th century.

    It might be great, but exceptional implies that it did something very, very different – when in fact it didn’t.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/picturethehomeless Cindy

    #12

    Dan,

    I think you are misguided. If you’d like to have a look at the ‘quality’ of the people who first came here, and more, I recommend Howard Zinn’s Video, The Myth of American Exceptionalism, it is free in full, online.

    If anyone does view this, you may find it pays to just go past the introduction of the first couple minutes and go directly to where Howard Zinn appears.

  • Bill H

    Exceptionalism schmeptionalism! It’s all a crock to keep your mind occupied. The simple fact is that the US dollar is backed by OIL and the oil is running out and everyone knows it!

    Why do you think we ar in Afghanistan? Freedom? Exceptionalism? It is to protect and control the oil pipeline routes from the undeveloped oilfield leases in the last remaining mega-reserves in the Caspian Basin. Do you actually think the issue with Iran is nuclear? It’s control of the last remaining oil and gas fields areound the Caspianm Sea. Why do you think the Soviets invaded Afghanistan?

    Oi! Get a clue!

  • Bill H

    Excuse me…. San Marino is the longest running representative democracy. Circa 150 AD.

  • Bill H

    And it isn’t representative democracy, it is representative republic.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, OK, STM. Let me ask a simple question then.
    Granted, the constitutional system was borrowed (lock, stock and barrel, if you like) from the mother country. The same, naturally, goes for the new system of production: Industrial Revolution, of course. I shan’t delve into “meritocracy” because it came later.

    Then you tell me why “only in America” (and I know you’re going to detest my using that phrase) things really did happen? And is my question synonymous with “How come America became the superpower”? Are these necessarily one and the same or can one possibly make a distinction between these two questions?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “And it isn’t representative democracy, it is representative republic.”

    Isn’t that a distinction without a difference, Bill?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “EGalitarian… HA! perhaps in the more cosmopolitan cities or out on the farm, but, try visiting an indutrial center (former backbone) or rust belt city where the lines between blue collar and while collar are heavily drawn and vehemently maintained to this day, decades after the unions have all but entirely evaporated.”

    You’re right about that, Bill. I’ve acquired those traits from the cosmopolitan centers and adopted them wherever I’d go; so those distinction did not exist in my mind. I see that I was projecting.

  • Bill H

    Erm… why did America become superpower? Are you serious?

    Raw materials, production base.. the BOMB.

    The post WWII prosperity was/is an illusion.

    Enforced at the point of a gun. But that can’t work anymore.

    And the illusion, in the face of all tricky efforts, is finally crumbling to dust.

    The real question is what are YOU going to do to protect your wealth and yourself?

    Gold?

    Can you eat gold?

    I completely agree with you Roger.

    The game is over. And it can never go back to being what it never really was in the first place.

    NO matter how many trillions of dollars are pumped into the system on the backs of our grandchildren, only the few and privleged will ever be in a position to survive much less prosper from hyper-inflation and real scarcity.

    Egalitarianism on the broad scale is fairly meaningless when the illusion of economic prosperity ceases to exist.

    And again, I stress, one only need look to the violent video games and the crumbling education system exponentially aggravating and accelerating the deteriorating social conditions that will justify full on martial law and the collection of all weapons from private citizens to see that this is not an accident.

    I’m sorry to keep skewing this off topic, but, this isn’t some intellectual game, this is happening right here, right now. Three of my neighbors (police officers) were gunned down by a laid off worker afraid they would take his guns away. His last means to survive as a “free man” by his own hand, hunting for food and free to protect his person and property from those wishing to do him harm. Now, granted the kid was a powder keg on the verge… but that is the whole point. The number of powder kegs are growing. Fast. Thirty five years ago the kid would have had a good job and a church pastor to talk to. Today our children who we hope can take responsiblity for this mess are being enculturated into a mind set of entitlement and violence toward authority. The very same authority that might provide the entitlement…

    I seriously wonder if aliens aren’t in control. Because sure as hell, we’re all too busy chatting on this website while Rome burns.

    The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire, we don’t need no water, let the Mo Fo burn.

    Burning down the house.

    Ya think blogging will help?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Bill,

    Of course not. It’s the last refuge of the impotent.

    This piece, BTW, is only a preamble to the next one: a full fledged NWO, there being no bones about it. The pretext is to seize control and restore order out of chaos, but the real story is imperial government and imperial presidency, leading to one world-government. Uniform currency, uniform (international) law, and all the accoutrements.

    It’s so much easier to control the masses when the seat of government is in Brussels or in Timbaktoo, because the government is no longer a visible target, something you can strike at, petition, demand representation, all of the above. The chain of command is broken, yet it operates as a nebulous and intangible kind of power.

    So stay tuned for the follow-up.

  • Bill H

    “And it isn’t representative democracy, it is representative republic.”

    Isn’t that a distinction without a difference, Bill?

    Erm… for our purposes… I suppose… yes. (toothy smiley)

    I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to look smart and play semantics, too. lol

    Seriously though, the blogosphere may well be the best chance to spread awareness, but, what of a solution?

    I’m feeling pretty damn helpless here. I can act locally, as far as the local “political” structure allows within the larger economic structural limits, as the federal government finds yet another way to insinuate itself into our state… I can teach my children to be the best persons they can be…. but I still feel like the little dutch boy with his finger in a hole while the sea spills over the top.

    I’d like to think that if everyone wakes up and simply chooses to not play anymore, (what if they had a war and nobody came?) … and what will it take? I fear the somnambulant citizenry (and I use that term loosely) will only react to the most extreme circumstance on their own doorstep.

    Apologies for my shrill shreiking. I’m surrounded in my daily life by those who don’t want to know, don’t want to hear “chicken little”, much less to consider solutions. I’m trying hard to maintain faith, but, I prefer to pray for the strength to fight the good fight another day, to believe that this will be humanities finest hour as we step up … but, I’m starting to pray for a miracle, deus ex machina, or something like that.

    Oh well, it’s late, I’m tired. Thanks for the blog. Keep it up.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Bill,

    Just to answer last question. Respond any time later. When I first joined BC, it was in hope of spreading the message, awareness, get people to think. They say pen is mightier than the sword, and sometimes powerful ideas do win out.

    Well, to my dismay, I discovered that this site is populated mainly by people such as myself, other bloggers. So the end result is – we’re all preaching to the choir. How pitiful!

    I was hoping to reach wider audience, the masses, the forgotten women and men. Fat chance of that!

  • Bill H

    Well, perhaps “we”, as one, need to experience that full blwon sterile fear based type of control system before the one world realizes that chaos serves a function. (Ya gotta get in to get out) or simply that it is a fact of reality for a dynamic system… the pendulum swings. Breath in, breath out. And, a fact of the human psyche, it could be argued, which is projected, no matter, ie there is no such thing as balance in a truly dynamic system or nature, merely momentary stability that appears balanced to our thinly sliced frame of reference. Or further, that the human mind needs chaos, and, “they” ignore that at their own risk. They are mrerely a product of their own function. HA. It may truly be inevitable. But never permanent.

    The equation must be unabalanced. lol

    A fascist NWO one world gov will BREED chaos.

    Hee hee hee, I feel better now. There truly is nothing I can do. I don’t merely feel impotent, I really AM impotent, hence, I can relax and go back to sleep now… HAHAHA :)

    I still prefer the Gene Roddeberry version of one world than Player Piano, 1984, etc.

    I suppose it becomes a numbers game at some critical population point as the percentage of, for lack of a better phrase, mentally ill-born, more than merely fear based, emotionally crippled, violent criminal minded. I sadly have come to believe in my middle age that there really are, to varying degrees, people who are simply born bad, ie. no compassion, no conscience, no matter how much they are loved…however, there is still within that group, a broad spectrum of intelligence and even an appreciation for order that will be limited by its own colored lens, hence, imputation and projection, of their own limitations upon the group they control. If so, Gene Roddenberry’s picture can only ever be an ideal to strive for, the pendulum will always swing. It is inevitable. The dynamic system in chaos.

    In any case, to prevent it, must one become it? Must one fear it to have the desire to oppose it?

    And how much is out there and how much inside my own mind. No matter what is around me it is only ever my projection and imputation. And though I prefer to control the extremes to which I expose myself, at the end of the day, that control, at best, is but another illusion… unless of course we could control the very fabric of reality with our minds……

    ;)

  • STM

    Dan: “Excuse me…. San Marino is the longest running representative democracy”.

    OK Dan, if you read the threads properly, you’ll see that we’ve been talking here about the modern western democracies, particularly those with global influence.

    And when we’re talking democracy, we’re using the term in the modern, accepted sense which is now common usage, not the ancient Greek meaning.

    It’s hair splitting at best, and semantics.

    Yes, we know America is a representative republic.

    Australia, for want of a better example, is a representative constitutional monarchy.

    The two political systems are slightly different in form, but virtually identical in function.

    The laws are so similar, that American lawyers can move to Australia and after a bridging course, can practise law in Australia.

    Australia’s laws came from Britain, not America – which probably is a clue as to why America is NOT exceptional in this regard.

    Again, you’re buying into a common American trap – the myth – just by trying to explain away some of this stuff.

    As for Roger’s interpretation: exceptionalism doesn’t mean that America is not great. It is.

    It is the enduring superpower of the mid-to-late 20th century. Its prosperity and weath is without question.

    It has brought much to the world – far more than it’s taken, IMO, and Americans, like their British cousins before them, should be proud of that contribution.

    But the true meaning of American exceptionalsim has its roots in the belief of the majority Americans that they, their system of governance, and their lifestyle are, compared to the rest of the world, exceptional.

    Clearly, that is a myth that has much currency among Americans who’ve never been anywhere else in the world, but is not one subscribed to by Americans who’ve lived in the other great western democracies (democracy: in the modern sense).

    Failure to look honestly at America, in particular in regard to its neo-imperialism (no Union Jacks flying all over the globe, just corporate HQs, or those yellow arches in every capital city of the world, etc) does America, its image, and its people, no favours at all.

    That doesn’t mean America is bad – but it is what it is.

    If it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks …

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    OK, STM, let’s put it to rest.

    What I meant by “exceptionalism” is nothing necessarily unique or absolute, but something more akin to other powers in our historical past:

    The Periclean Greece, for instance, where Athens was called “the school of Greece” (in the Funeral Speech, Thucydides);

    Or the Roman Empire which brought about Pax Romana;

    Or the British Empire at the height of its power;

    And therefore, America, too – for the most part of the 20th century – except that this age of American dominance (you may not agree) is also about to expire.

    Neither have I referred to any one particular factor, like political institutions, or the system of production, or anything else one can think of – because these, too, were not American inventions but were borrowed and then adopted to uniquely American circumstances.

    I suppose what I was referring to is the totality of all of these – the totality which did result in unique conditions – conditions for the “can do” spirit and uniquely American energy and sense of enterprise. And it is those conditions, I maintain, were unique during the time period in question; unique to the point that they set a pattern which others followed. And that’s my understanding of the term – regardless of how others understand it. And I don’t mean by any of this that the Americans are better than anyone else; it was rather the combination of the circumstances that was responsible for the end result.

    Also notice that that’s now how American referred to themselves: true, they spoke of “the Great Experiment,” “the ‘can-do” spirit, and other noble sounding phrases, but to the best of my knowledge, “American exceptionalism” wasn’t coined by them. Which leads to believe the phrase was coined by others – the Europeans most likely. (And blame me or not, I see that as an expression of some kind of resentment or envy.)

    Be that as it may, I think it’s a moot point by now because it’s all in the past, the era is as good as gone, and the world (including America) is entering a new chapter. So I don’t really have a dog in this fight. This article, anyway, was just a preamble to my forthcoming piece, which I hope you’ll also give it a read and offer your observations.

    I hope won’t don’t hold any animosity toward me even if we haven’t completely resolved all our differences in this matter.

    Roger

  • Dan

    Well, I guess there is disagreement on what American exceptionalism means. Here is how Charles Darwin put it:

    “There is apparently much truth in the belief that the wonderful progress of the United States as well as the character of the people are the results of natural selection for the more energetic, restless, and courageous men from all parts of Europe have emigrated during the last ten or twelve generations to that great country and have there succeeded best. Looking to the distant future, I do not think that the Rev Mr Zincke takes an exaggerated view when he says: “All other series of events as that which resulted in the culture of mind in Greece and that which resulted in the empire of Rome only appear to have purpose and value when viewed in connection with, or rather as subsidiary to, the great stream of Anglo Saxon emigration to the west.” Obscure as is the problem of the advance of civilisation, we can at least see that a nation which produced during a lengthened period the greatest number of highly intellectual, energetic, brave, patriotic, and benevolent men would generally prevail over less favoured nations.”

    The view that the creme of the crop of all intellectual, innovative, and adventurous people from around the world transplanted to the USA surely grates on the nationalistic mindset of folks from other countries.

    It’s also a rub for disenchanted egalitarians from within, who embrace a victimhood mentality, and now with recent trends in immigration, have the numbers to alter the governmental and economic policies that attracted the early immigrants in the first place.

    As I said, it’s not a fashionable viewpoint. In many quarters it’s a despised viewpoint. But, I think this was the prevailing viewpoint at the time the term “American exceptionalism” was coined.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Heck, Dan.

    And what about Alexis de Tocqueville? That’s another European who spoke most highly of America and the unique conditions which allowed unprecedented things to happen. But I don’t believe none of them had used the term “American exceptionalism” (see my #36); which makes me think it was a later invention, by the Europeans most likely, and intended as a derogatory term.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “It’s also a rub for disenchanted egalitarians from within, who embrace a victimhood mentality, and now with recent trends in immigration, have the numbers to alter the governmental and economic policies that attracted the early immigrants in the first place.”

    Could you explain that?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Here’s a Wiki’s brief article:

    American Exceptionalism.

    Apparently, I was wrong. Other than Tocqueville, the term is an American invention.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The following a fairly thorough, balanced article:

    American Exceptionalism.

  • Dan

    roger, it is hard for me to understand how American exceptionalism could be a derogatory term. Maybe an “exception” could be made with a sarcastic reference.

    I have an errand to run, so I don’t have time to elaborate on your question with the politically correct delicacy it requires, but I’ll try to get back to it.

    Thanks for the discussion. Your contributions to the site are exceptional.

  • STM

    Roger,

    I don’t see the age of American dominance ending. It might just be a tad different, but then how different was the America of the 1050s to the America of the 1960s?

    The ability to evolve is the true measure of the strength of democracy (in the modern sense!)

    You must remember … we’ve all been here before.

    Among other things that were seen as potentially catastrophic at the time: the English Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, WWI, Great Depression, WWII, Cold War, the Vietnam War.

    I see America as the modern leader of the anglosphere and the anglosphere has been around a long time … and it’s here to stay.

    A more genuinely introspective America that stops navel gazing and sees itself for what it really is, with its faults as well as its strengths, might even lead us to a new golden age.

    if that’s where we’re headed, I say: the glass is always half full.

    The end isn’t nigh.

  • STM

    But for all that to happen, Americans will have to cast aside the myth of exceptionailsm :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I wish I could be so optimistic, STM. So do read my follow-up; we’ll have a disagreement but of a different kind. I’ll look forward to your comments then.

  • STM

    Typo” How different was the America of the 1950s to the America of the 1960s”.

    Clearly, the 1960s were VASTLY different to the 1050s :)

    Then again, so were the 50s and 60s. It’s all relative.

    I must go to sleep before my brain explodes.

  • Bill H

    Pax Romana = Bread and circuses. Nothing has changed. The game remains the same.

    I don’t understand what is meant by the allusion to a difference, however subtle, of “modern democracy” vs “historical democracy”. Can someone elaborate?

    I have the, perhaps, the unique experience of having lived and worked in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And while it cannot be denied that certain conditions of political, religious and economic freedom allowed an exceptional mindset and way of life to develop which, for a time, encouraged and supported a certain progress and egalitarianism among the general citizenry, those conditions have been usurped, twisted, hijacked and eroded over time. Those conditions which allowed for a certain “exceptionalism” and said progress have been in decline since the day they were born.

    It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific moment when the tide turned, but, any thought that America leads anything anymore is, IMO, a delusion. Yes the dream persists in the minds of a few “disenfranchised egalitarians”, but…

    The adoption of victimhood and entitlment is encouraged in the mass media, video games and even the educational system. (Almost) nowhere in the primary or secondary educational system is the Constitution and/or ideals of self-sufficiency, citizenship and responsibility to the community studied or taught anymore.

    The dream of America that was penned in the Declaration of Indendence was under attack and being undermined before the ink was dry. It could even be argued that several, if not many, of the signatures were disingenuous at best. A means to an end that could be addressed later, so to speak.

    Break.

  • Bill H

    FWIW:

    San Marino.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Bill,

    Historical democracy, I’d think, refers to direct democracy as practiced in Athens, e.g., the city-state. Mind you, only 5000 citizens; each of those participated and made decisions on behalf of the polis. Not practical to implement on any large scale. Replaced down the line by representative democracy (or republic, no substantial difference there) through representation.

  • STM

    Bill H writes: “I have the, perhaps, the unique experience of having lived and worked in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.”

    Then you’d be in a perfect position to know and understand that while all these are soverign countries, and representative democracies sharing a common heritage, their laws, their rights, their way of life, their standard of living, are almost identical.

    Which is where we are attacking – or I am at least – the notion that America is exceptional in this regard.

    The US and Australia are so similar, Americans and Australians who go to the other place often report easily forgetting when they are walking around that they are somewhere else (provided they have their fingers stuck in their ears).

    Australia certainly has one of the most representative systems of representative democracy, has a healthy disrespect for authority, and might be one of the world’s most robust democracies all things considered.

    Australians take their freedom of speech very seriously (as seriously as Americans), especially when they are directing it at governments, bureacracies and corporations.

    NZ is just a small version of both stuck down on the edge of the South Pacific, although in my book, they have the best-functioning multi-racial society in the world.

    I haven’t been to Canada lately, but I would imagine in places like Toronto and Vancouver, it would still be near identical in its look to the US.

    Also, the last time I was in the UK, I had been in the US first … to NYC, then on to London – and the two places also had a very similar feel.

    In both cases, though, it was the power you could feel. London still evokes that feeling, even if Washington has picked up the baton in the last half century and is now the true, modern capital of the anglosphere.

    I’ll reiterate: America has greatness, but in the sense that I’ve discussed, is not exceptional.

  • STM

    Bill H, you mentioned Darwin earlier. Here’s Charles Darwin’s take on Australia when he visited Sydney in 1836, barely 40 years after white settlement (and compare it to what he has to say about the US):

    In a letter to his sister, “a most villainously dear place”, of fine houses and “well-furnished shops”.

    However, he was shocked, according to the Daily Telegraph, by the gaucheries and conspicuous consumption of Sydney’s nouveaux riches. And paricularly by its egalitarianism.

    “In the street gigs, phaetons and carriages with livery servants are driving about,” he wrote.

    “There is much jealousy beetwen the rich emancipists (freed convicts made good) … and the free settlers.

    “The whole population, poor and rich, are bent on acquiring wealth.”

    Although he sawc the two places very differently, it all that sounds pretty familiar to me, especially in regards to egalitarianism when you’re comparing it to the American experience (despite from the convict gene that runs through Australian society and gives rise to a dislike of authority, and of which Aussies are rather proud).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “the convict gene that runs through Australian society”

    You must be kidding, STM. You can’t really mean it.

  • http://muttslikeme.wordpress.com deborah

    It’s about time the U.S. joined the rest of the world in having a voice and taking a stand for our new multiraced majority and this is more than just the first mutiracial leader, it’s that someone finally is looking out for the people.

  • STM

    Roger writes: “the convict gene that runs through Australian society … you must be kidding STM”.

    Lol. Such surprise! I’m more surprised you don’t know this Rog. We joke about it, but it’s actually not a joke.

    It was a penal colony for the best part of 100 years, and nearly all the convicts stayed. Australians proudly trace their ancestors back to their convict forebears. Being able to do so is regarded as a badge of honour, bizarre as that might seem elsewhere.

    Our national day, Australia Day, celebrates the arrival of the first convict fleet in Port Phillip Bay (now Sydney Harbour). We must be the only nation in the world proudly marking the setting up of a penal colony.

    It does run through our society Roger, although it doesn’t necessarily manifest in criminality. Many of the convicts transported to Australia were rebelling, in one way or another.

    Its real manifestation is in the Australian tradition of “mateship” and an intense mistrust of authority figures … you know, like politicians.

    One of our national sports is the cutting down of tall poppies …. or people we think have become waaay too big for their boots.

    It’s also what gives us our egalitarianism, and as Doc has pointed out, we don’t just pay lip service to it … it’s a real and enduring aspect of the Australian character.

    There’s a bit of bullsh.t around it too, especially in the part-myth of mateship, but it also still exists. I suppose that makes us exceptional :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I figured you meant it metaphorically, STM. Unless you personally believe in some kind of “criminalilty” gene.

    I think I’ve got it now. You were offsetting the American myth with a myth of your own.

  • STM

    Rog, you naughty boy. You didn’t read my post in full. It says it doesn’t necessarily manifest in criminality. But the convict gene is real.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Just like you, STM, I’m very selective and my tolerance sometimes very low. But you can’t seriously argue to this effect. What in hell do you mean?

  • STM

    Rog, yes. I am seriously arguing this … but if you genuinely can’t work it out, mate, from what I’ve already explained in some detail, you’re NEVER going to bloody get it.

    I suggest four beers immediately and then start off reading my post on Charles Darwin’s 1826 visit to Sydney, just as a backgrounder, and work down.

    The bit about emancipationists is telling. They’re freed ex-cons allowed to become citizens. Very few of ‘em went home. In those days, the 13,000 mile distance from England to Australia might as well have been Earth to Mars – it took two months, and never mind the cost.

    If all doesn’t immediately become clear, have another four beers or give yourself an uppercut and go back to bed for the day :)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m doing better than that, mate – I’ve got a pint of gin and some tonic to put me in the mood. I will look up your post, I promise. But seriously, you were complaining about “exceptionalism” idea while you’re offering me an old wife’s tale. But as I say, I’ll suspect my critical judgment for now out of fairness to you. OK?

  • STM

    Roger, not ever having been here (or with respect, anywhere much at all by your own admission), please, tell me: how are you in a position to suggest this is an old wives’ tale?

    You have not done your homework on this. Reading is required, but I’ll let you do the digging.

    In the meantime, please-read-carefully-and-repeat-after-me:

    Australia was a PENAL (P-E-N-A-L) colony (basically one giant jail), and settled by whites in the late 1700s.

    CONVICT transports did not end until the 1860s, when the last boats arrived in Western Australia.

    Most of the convicts stayed, because they couldn’t go home, as EMANCIPATED “free” settlers. Many, many Australians can trace their bloodlines back to convicts. By now, you’d think, it’s well and truly mixed in.

    They built the country. Literally with their blood, sweat and tears.

    This is a country created by thieves, drunks, forgers, murderers, con artists, prostitues and women of ill-repute, the well-placed corrupt, gaolers and rebel Irishmen – and what were regarded at the time as the general scum of the British Empire.

    Australia Day (like Independence Day but less about flags and more about beer) celebrates the landing of the first convict transports – known as The First Fleet – in Sydney Harbour in 1788.

    Given all those cons running around, and the countless many thousands of others who came here because they didn’t want to be found, this was a waaay, waay more lawless country than the United States right through into the 20th century, especially when the wild frontier made it so easy for people to vanish if they wanted, although the roles have probably now been reversed today.

    Australians are EGALITARIAN to their bootstraps; there is no class system here, or at least none in which people can’t move very easily no matter their background; there is a mateship ethic – a loyalty to their mates – born of a common struggle to survive that can override common sense and which is now part-myth; most likely as a result of the country’s convict past, Australians intensely dislike authority figures.

    This is very well documented, and not by Australians.

    During WWI, Australians were notorious among the British Empire forces for refusing point blank to salute anyone. That was OK in the Australian Army, but the British found it totally galling and they documented it, not us.

    That is how the “convict gene” manifests, rather than in criminality.

    However, lawlessness is still viewed in Australia as something that has some kudos and glamour attached, if only in a vicarious way – as long as it’s old-style lawlessness that doesn’t involve ordinary people getting caught up in the crossfire.

    Please, as you’ve demonstrated in the past, you know virtually nothing about this country and therefore have no position from which to argue, so please don’t tell me, when I live here, that it’s an old wives’ tale.

    The “convict gene”, even if not something literal as I suspect you are thinking, is figuratively and/or metaphorically alive and well here, AND we’re proud of it.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m aware of the circumstances, STM. But this doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to your view of genetics.

    So you see, I’m more magnanimous than you. I let you hold on to your myth.

  • STM

    Roger, I think you need to learn to interprete English less in the literal sense. Also, you’d not have made that comment had you read, comprehended and understood that last post of mine.

    It would have been clear to you in what context “gene” was used.

    The term “convict gene” is often used in discussions about the Australian character; it doesn’t mean literally that there is a gene of criminality among Australians that is identifiable by medical researchers.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, no disagreement then. For a while I thought you’re wacky. I’ve told you I’m not a very patient reader. So yes, if you’re talking shorthand, I have no problem whatever.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Looks like a country of mavericks to me. My kind of place. So where you born and raised here, STM?

  • Bill H

    @ Deborah

    I like Obama. I like listening to him speak. He is charismatic and a true orator in the classic sense. And, like you, I believe that a black president is the best thing that could possibly have happened for The Dream of a truly multi-cultural society. And it’s about time!

    That said… unfortunately, the foundation for “Change” has turned out to be more of the same Keyesian economic fascism that got us into this mess in the first place.

    No matter how well justified or rationalized in his “major economic” speech today at Georgetowne University today, which I just finished watching live, the bottom line is that big business is essentially being taken over by big governement and being bailed out while the little guy is left to fail. Pretty soon there will be no business but big business owned by “the government” which is NOT representative of you and me, but rather special interestes like big business.

    For instance, had GM been allowed to fail and gone into bankruptcy last year, the company would have been sorted out and they would be back to selling cars by now. Instead, the compnay remains in limbo, being taken over by the government more and more every day and nobody is buying cars from them. And the towns and states that rely on GM production for jobs, wages and local economy would be back in the swing. So, the whole idea of “we can’t let them fail or whole towns will fail” is fear-mongering BS.

    Overall, what is going on is going to make the economic situation worse, hyper-inflate the dollar and punish those citizens saving money by making their cash worthless due to inflation.

    It’s is too bad, but, while Obama may be an intelligent academician, his solution to all this mess is no solution. He is going to re-inflate the bubble so the wealthiest citizens lose as little wealth as possible and can return to business as usual (albeit with new regulations… someday) while the rest of us pay the price in the short term and the long run. It really is a shame. Change? What change? Everything looks exactly the same from here. The game is oing to continue exactly as it has. The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer and Obama is a martinette whose strings are being pulled by same people who’ve been pulling the strings of politicians since antiquity.

    Cheers.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Except the impression will be, Bill, that the government is now in charge. But it’s still the same old players.

  • Bill H

    STM

    Right on.

    I love New Zealand. They may be “hayseed” to you, but, getting off the plane at AKL is like instant decompression from the INTENSE stress that pervades the society up here in the States. The energy is palpable, you can feel it in the atmostphere.

    The locals think that the USA is the place to be to get rich, and I keep telling them isn’t worth it when you are surrounded by so much stress and insanity. The grass always looks greener on the other side but one can’t know until one goes. So, I say go check it out.

    The atmosphere in New Zealand reminds of the late seventies in the USA… post Viet Nam and pre-Reagan. Of course, I was still a teenager without many concerns or responsibilities, but, still, the society on the whole was “chill”. The war was over, modern technology was taking hold and regardless of the economy and the price of petrol, the future seemed bright.

    Of course, even in NZ, where the police don’t carry guns (except in a lock box under the seat if the patrol car) the stress levels are beginning to rise. I haven’t acutally been there since 2005 so, I can’t say now that US nuclear warships are allowed to dock and the general skills visa has been abolished. That is sure to cause some extra stress. But, at the end of the day, between the indigenous Maori, the Asian invasion of Auckland (Korean/Japanese/Chinese mostly)and the descendants of the white farmer/settlers, I think you are absolutely right about it being the best functioning multi-cultural society on Earth. WAY BETTER than the USA. Even with Obama.

    Of course, I believe there is one overriding reason that drives that. NZ is an island! I don’t mean to say that they are forced to get along by lack of space. I mean that by early adulthood, a Kiwi has seen and done most all there is to do and to see there. And most everyone, at some point, either by necessity or by boredom, chooses to pursue work and life overseas, hence, becomes a multi-culturalist and a “Traveler” (in the true sense of the word) at their core.

    So, IMO, Kiwi’s tend to have a prfound love and respect for travelers and froiegners in general. Of course, tourism supports much of their economy and one can watch the currency rise and fall with the seasons like clock work. And, it isn’t true of all, one can still find racists and those who buy into hating the USA or foriegners in general. But, overall, I’ve never felt so comfortable, welcome and safe among such a technologically modern society anywhere else.

    I believe Australia, being larger in landmass with more urban centers, has a bit less of that. The feeling is more Western there or connected to the West. There are clear racial overtones and a level of stress in the atmostphere that while less than larger cities in the USA for Sydney, is much higher than NZ. That’s just my opinion. There was still a very laid back element and egalitarianism of “mates” , but, I had to look a little harder for it sometimes.

    Personally, I believe the cult of violence in video games, etc is beginning to pervade OZ. Notice the similarities, the racial bashings at the beach last year, a killing spree elsewhere, the crime rate seems to be rising. But… there is no substitute for being there with facts on the ground, as they say. So, I leave it someone who is there to say.

    Sorry it took so long to get abck to this. I’ve been terribly busy. Hopefully those addressed will see it.

    Cheers

    Gotta break.

  • Bill H

    Roger,

    You talked about preaching to the choir here and blogging being the last act of the impotent. I hope that once you have finished identifying the issues as you see them, you might think forward to posting thoughts that aren’t preaching to the choir, ie thining toward solutions. IF there is such a great like minded audience here, then it is, IMO, the perfect place to plant some seeds for the future so to speak. Just a thought.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, you’re right, Bill. Identifying the problem(s) is the first step.

    BTW, that’s the kind of America I’m missing too, like in the seventies and earlier. But it’s long disappearing. If I were still in Europe about to emigrate, it wouldn’t be to America anymore. Ireland, perhaps. Dublin is becoming the intellectual center of Europe, so I hear. And yes, New Zealand sounds fine.

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