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Florian 01-09-2012 02:02 PM

An apparition is stalking America
 
I found this amusing:

"US President Baracka Obama, said leading Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the Republican debate on Saturday, wants to turn the US into a "European welfare state." At a weekend appearance in New Hampshire, site of a crucial primary vote on Tuesday, Romney said "I don't believe in Europe. I believe in America."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/...808044,00.html

graz 01-09-2012 02:19 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 236613)
I found this amusing:

"US President Baracka Obama, said leading Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the Republican debate on Saturday, wants to turn the US into a "European welfare state." At a weekend appearance in New Hampshire, site of a crucial primary vote on Tuesday, Romney said "I don't believe in Europe. I believe in America."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/...808044,00.html

Hopefully, America will not believe in Romney.

Florian 01-09-2012 02:34 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 236614)
Hopefully, America will not believe in Romney.

I hope so too. But what I find amusing is that Republicans can actually present Obama as a European "socialist." I also find it amusing that certain French and European socialists find that Sarkozy is.....too American.

Wonderment 01-09-2012 03:22 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
It's all part of the vast right-wing Reaganistic delusion that the US is a) the greatest country in the history of the world b) vulnerable to losing that status because of misguided Democrat party-poopers who haven't drunk the kool-aid and c) capable of maintaining world military and economic domination by punishing the poor, rewarding the rich and extending control through perpetual warfare.*

*Dems. also subscribe to the perpetual warfare doctrine, albeit with some misgivings.

Sulla the Dictator 01-09-2012 03:33 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 236615)
I hope so too. But what I find amusing is that Republicans can actually present Obama as a European "socialist." I also find it amusing that certain French and European socialists find that Sarkozy is.....too American.

Oh, I think that the only reason this is controversial is because the project is on the rocks now. I remember "The Europeans do X" being the most typical justification for plenty of leftist arguments from 2006 through 2009. The hard left runs the Democratic party, and their clear goal is social democracy here in the United States.

look 01-09-2012 03:35 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236616)
It's all part of the vast right-wing Reaganistic delusion that the US is a) the greatest country in the history of the world b) vulnerable to losing that status because of misguided Democrat party-poopers who haven't drunk the kool-aid and c) capable of maintaining world military and economic domination by punishing the poor, rewarding the rich and extending control through perpetual warfare.*

*Dems. also subscribe to the perpetual warfare doctrine, albeit with some misgivings.

Thank you for that.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...ILP_story.html

I don't post this to point out Obama, but to ask about the nature and possible effieciencies of drones. You know, in a Hurlburtian, Wilsonian kind of way.

graz 01-09-2012 03:39 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by look (Post 236618)
Thank you for that.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/nation...ILP_story.html

I don't post this to point out Obama, but to ask about the nature and possible effieciencies of drones. You know, in a Hurlburtian, Wilsonian kind of way.

Why don't you expound on the benefits or shortcomings of drones, in a you know, Lookian, Concern Trollian kind of way? Do enlighten us.

ETA: So you're asking a pacifist to assess the value of drone warfare? Have I got that correct?
An elementary answer, even if one isn't a champion of military aggression, is that drones --being unmanned-- reduce the casualties of the combatant. Whether that is in our best interest or justified as defense against terror is a whole 'nother kettle of fish. Que,no?

rfrobison 01-09-2012 05:53 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236616)
It's all part of the vast right-wing Reaganistic delusion that the US is a) the greatest country in the history of the world b) vulnerable to losing that status because of misguided Democrat party-poopers who haven't drunk the kool-aid and c) capable of maintaining world military and economic domination by punishing the poor, rewarding the rich and extending control through perpetual warfare.*

*Dems. also subscribe to the perpetual warfare doctrine, albeit with some misgivings.

Yes, Wonderment. America is all that and more. The ills we have brought to the world are without count. The benefits, nonexistent. How you can bear to live in that benighted land is beyond me.

I'm curious which country you would nominate for "greatest country in the history of the world." Oh, yes, I forgot. For you, like Lennon (and Lenin?), there is no country. But humor me here: Which country is the least bad?

What you seem incapable of understanding is that loving a country is not so different from loving a spouse. I believe my wife to be the best woman on the planet. Not in any objective sense, of course: she has her flaws. And there are surely women out there who are more physically attractive and intelligent, maybe even kinder and gentler, but the point is she is the best woman on the planet for me. Perhaps you think me delusional for my devotion to my wife, warts and all, when it is obvious to anyone looking honestly at reality that she is far from the best woman on the planet.

You hold Americans who feel affection and loyalty for their country in contempt. Bully for you. But you shouldn't take an inability to form an emotional attachment to the country that is your home as a sign of superiority, any more than an inability to form an emotional attachment to a lover. Such a person may try to pass his handicap off as enlightenment, but a handicap it remains.

graz 01-09-2012 06:25 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
That just wouldn't ring as mightily on Disqus.
Long live vBulletin. And allow me to put in a qualified good word for my country as well. I'm not with you on the country as spouse or lover bit. But I recognize your sincerity. Tebow lives on!

stephanie 01-09-2012 06:34 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 236622)
Yes, Wonderment. America is all that and more. The ills we have brought to the world are without count. The benefits, nonexistent. How you can bear to live in that benighted land is beyond me.

How do you get this out of Wonderment's post?

Quote:

What you seem incapable of understanding is that loving a country is not so different from loving a spouse.
Interesting. I'd say that Wonderment probably does understand that, even if he wouldn't claim the position himself. It seems to me those that he is mocking are the ones who do not. Insisting that everyone acknowledge that the US is objectively the best country ever and that affection for others (except Israel and sometimes the UK) is somehow bad seems kind of like insisting that everyone admit that your wife is the best woman ever. Why shouldn't Florian have a preference for France? But if I say that the US is my favorite, but it seems silly to demand that we make objective claims about the best-ness of the US, that gets my patriotism questioned.

Quote:

You hold Americans who feel affection and loyalty for their country in contempt.
I've not noticed this from Wonderment. I think he holds the idea that the US should police the world in contempt and, similarly, the idea that those in other countries should recognize our fitness and moral unquestionability in doing so. I think this is actually related to the argument about Ron Paul's moral significance that Bob Wright posted at the Atlantic.

(And in case it's not clear, my own foreign policy views are different from those of Wright and more so from Wonderment and the sainted Dr. Paul.)

rfrobison 01-09-2012 06:40 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by graz (Post 236624)
Tebow lives on!

The evidence that Mr. Tebow is indeed God's Own QB is mounting. Yahoo Sports "Shutdown Corner" column lays out the case:

Quote:

The fact that Tebow had 316 yards passing and averaged 31.6 yards per pass in the game didn't escape notice on Sunday night. Tebow wore "John 3:16" on his eye black in the 2009 BCS Championship game and has since become identified with the famous Bible message.

John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that the final quarter-hour television rating for the Broncos-Steelers game was, you guessed it, 31.6.

Article is here.

The skeptics will dismiss this as mere coincidence, but to paraphrase John 1:12: Yet to all who did receive [Tebow], to those who believed in [Tebow's] name, he gave the right to become children of [Tebow].

Amen.

badhatharry 01-09-2012 07:10 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 236625)

Interesting. I'd say that Wonderment probably does understand that, even if he wouldn't claim the position himself. It seems to me those that he is mocking are the ones who do not.

Is he mocking those who don't understand or those who wouldn't claim the position or those who wouldn't not claim the position or those who do not mock?

just wondering :)

badhatharry 01-09-2012 07:14 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 236622)
What you seem incapable of understanding is that loving a country is not so different from loving a spouse. I believe my wife to be the best woman on the planet. Not in any objective sense, of course: she has her flaws. And there are surely women out there who are more physically attractive and intelligent, maybe even kinder and gentler, but the point is she is the best woman on the planet for me. Perhaps you think me delusional for my devotion to my wife, warts and all, when it is obvious to anyone looking honestly at reality that she is far from the best woman on the planet.

I think love of spouse and love of country have to do with commitment and promise.

rfrobison 01-09-2012 07:25 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 236625)
How do you get this out of Wonderment's post?

When he characterizes America as "capable of maintaining world military and economic domination by punishing the poor, rewarding the rich and extending control through perpetual warfare," I'd say that's a pretty damning indictment and makes America no better than those empires built solely on coercion and fear -- Rome, the Soviet Union, the United States. They are all of a kind.

If he feels any differently or I'm overstating the case, I'd love to hear it straight from the horse's mouth, as it were.

Quote:

It seems to me those that he is mocking are the ones who do not. Insisting that everyone acknowledge that the US is objectively the best country ever and that affection for others (except Israel and sometimes the UK) is somehow bad seems kind of like insisting that everyone admit that your wife is the best woman ever.
Oh, I don't think when politicians of any stripe extoll America's virtues, they are "insisting that everyone acknowledge that the U.S. is objectively the best country ever." They do, however, wish that Americans would give their country a special place in their hearts.

To stretch the analogy, perhaps to the breaking point, I have long had the hots for Michelle Pfeiffer; I wouldn't sing her praises too loudly, too often in my wife's hearing.


Quote:

Why shouldn't Florian have a preference for France? But if I say that the US is my favorite, but it seems silly to demand that we make objective claims about the best-ness of the US, that gets my patriotism questioned.
Florian should feel that way, maybe, though as a dual national, maybe not. I am of the belief that patriotism, within certain bounds, is good and healthy. From Andorrans to Zimbabweans, all should feel that their countries are special. Where we go wrong is in thinking that our countries are perfect and that we have nothing to learn from others. Worse, some seem to think that we can demonstrate our love for our best by showing disdain for others. That is simple jingoism and not healthy.

Quote:

I've not noticed [that] Wonderment [holds people who have patriotic feelings in contempt].
Maybe not in abstract, general terms but look again at what he writes:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236616)
It's all part of the vast right-wing Reaganistic delusion that the US is a) the greatest country in the history of the world b) vulnerable to losing that status because of misguided Democrat party-poopers who haven't drunk the kool-aid. ...

*Dems. also subscribe to the perpetual warfare doctrine, albeit with some misgivings.

From this I get the sense that he holds Americans who feel their country is the best in contempt, though he seems to think it's Republicans fault that they do. Dems have a less virulent strain of the virus, it seems.

Quote:

I think he holds the idea that the US should police the world in contempt and, similarly, the idea that those in other countries should recognize our fitness and moral unquestionability in doing so. I think this is actually related to the argument about Ron Paul's moral significance that Bob Wright posted at the Atlantic.

(And in case it's not clear, my own foreign policy views are different from those of Wright and more so from Wonderment and the sainted Dr. Paul.)
I don't disagree with the rest, but again, I'd say Wonderment seems to reserve special contempt for the United States in its interventions and efforts to shape the world to its values and interests. Perhaps you might get him to admit that the United States is no worse than any other empire-builder in history, but certainly no better.

To return to my lover analogy, it seems as likely that rather than being cold and unfeeling, Wonderment is like a jilted suitor. America is not the sort of country that he would like. With America having resisted his charms, he now scorns her as the worst country of all.

It's rather sad, actually.

stephanie 01-09-2012 07:41 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 236630)
When he characterizes America as "capable of maintaining world military and economic domination by punishing the poor, rewarding the rich and extending control through perpetual warfare," I'd say that's a pretty damning indictment and makes America no better than those empires built solely on coercion and fear -- Rome, the Soviet Union, the United States. They are all of a kind.

That's part of his "Reaganistic delusion."

Quote:

Oh, I don't think when politicians of any stripe extoll America's virtues, they are "insisting that everyone acknowledge that the U.S. is objectively the best country ever." They do, however, wish that Americans would give their country a special place in their hearts.
Interesting. We interpret it differently.

Quote:

I am of the belief that patriotism, within certain bounds, is good and healthy.
Personally, I agree with this. I just don't think acknowledging that you prefer your country but it's natural for others to prefer their own, and that loving America doesn't mean insisting that it's objectively better in all respects or without fault.

I get the feeling that in the minds of many conservatives, this makes me insufficiently patriotic. Or at least according to their public rhetoric (which seems politically motivated).

Quote:

To return to my lover analogy, it seems as likely that rather than being cold and unfeeling, Wonderment is like a jilted suitor. America is not the sort of country that he would like. With America having resisted his charms, he now scorns her as the worst country of all.
I don't think this is a fair reading.

rfrobison 01-09-2012 07:59 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 236632)
Personally, I agree with this. I just don't think acknowledging that you prefer your country but it's natural for others to prefer their own, and that loving America doesn't mean insisting that it's objectively better in all respects or without fault.

I get the feeling that in the minds of many conservatives, this makes me insufficiently patriotic. Or at least according to their public rhetoric (which seems politically motivated).

It sounds like our definitions of healthy patriotism are similar. And there is no question that conservatives or rightwingers use patriotism as a bludgeon against liberals and lefties. It's unfair, I grant.

The difference seems to be with how that love of country is expressed. Many liberals have a cosmopolitan outlook and associate flags, parades and whatnot with a narrow-minded provincialism that strikes them as uncouth. They often seem to focus more on America's mistakes or shortcomings than to take pride in its achievements. Their love of country strikes conservatives as conditional or equivocal.

Righties, on the other hand, have a tendency to downplay or ignore entirely America's flaws and the wrongs it has done, and to deny that anyone anywhere could possibly do anything better than we do. Liberals roll their eyes at this, and justly so.

The truth is we benefit from both perspectives in my (naive) view and we should give those on the other side of the aisle the benefit of the doubt when it comes to patriotism.

Note to Wonderment: If I've been unfair, I apologize. I'd be happiest to hear you say that for all our flaws, Americans are doing their best and that tomorrow will be better than today. Here's hoping that's true, anyway.

Don Zeko 01-09-2012 08:35 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 236626)
The evidence that Mr. Tebow is indeed God's Own QB is mounting. Yahoo Sports "Shutdown Corner" column lays out the case:

This made me laugh this morning:

Quote:

A buddy joked that he'd like to see Tom Brady convert to Islam, change his name to Mahmoud Abdoul-Rauf and pray to the East every time he throws a touchdown. Then, next week, we could see which religion God loves most.

rfrobison 01-09-2012 08:48 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Don Zeko (Post 236634)
This made me laugh this morning:

Bhwahahahahahaha!

Wonderment 01-09-2012 09:33 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Note to Wonderment: If I've been unfair, I apologize. I'd be happiest to hear you say that for all our flaws, Americans are doing their best and that tomorrow will be better than today. Here's hoping that's true, anyway.
No need to apologize. You made some good points.

Among the views that you expressed, however, that I'd most distance myself from is that the USA is the most contemptible among nations. I certainly don't hold a "Great Satan" opinion of the USA.

Nation states are geopolitical fictions without a real essence. They are more like players in a board game called geopolitics with ever-emergent opportunities for new moves, which are constrained by past actions. Hopefully, the game is ultimately non-zero, but truthfully it has some zero-sum (competitive) and non-zero (cooperative) features.

Individual citizens of nations have rights, responsibilities and potentialities (creativity). I think it's wise, however, to demystify the ethnocentric or nationalistic components -- the identity politics -- of international affairs. Just analyze the moves without all the patriotic hoopla and noise.

Having said that, I have nothing against benign patriotism. I'm only disturbed when patriotism is employed as a bludgeon to beat other cultures or nations into submission, replaces history with mythology, or justifies abuses of power. The notion that the USA is exceptional among nations (as opposed to say Honduras, Ghana or Switzerland) is an arrogant delusion that in my view is very dangerous. It's a delusion of grandeur, and just as we mistrust such sentiments (disorders) in individuals, we must mistrust them in cultures and nations as well.

That's where I don't think your spouse analogy holds up. If I really affirmed that my spouse or my kids were the best spouse and kids on planet Earth, I'd be certifiably insane. You'd be right to point out, "Gee, Wonderment, that's a cute thing to say, but you can't honestly believe that, can you?"

Wonderment 01-09-2012 09:39 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

I think this is actually related to the argument about Ron Paul's moral significance that Bob Wright posted at the Atlantic.
Yes, I think Bob got it right that our tendency toward exceptionalism (a form of narcissism/xenophobia/ethnocentrism) is precisely the force that suppresses our ability to take the perspective (empathize) of others. To the degree that we are narcissistic jingoists, we are oblivious to the needs and aspirations of others.

stephanie 01-09-2012 10:28 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236640)
Yes, I think Bob got it right that our tendency toward exceptionalism (a form of narcissism/xenophobia/ethnocentrism) is precisely the force that suppresses our ability to take the perspective (empathize) of others. To the degree that we are narcissistic jingoists, we are oblivious to the needs and aspirations of others.

I don't think we've ever gotten a clear definition of "exceptionalism." I agreed with Bob, but I'm not convinced "exceptionalism" would disagree. I take the argument that "American should be better" seriously, and thus that the mere fact that most nations may torture doesn't mean that's a basis for us to do so seriously. American exceptionalism could mean that we hold ourselves to higher standards, based on what we should be, not on what others are or what we've been.

stephanie 01-09-2012 10:33 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 236633)
It sounds like our definitions of healthy patriotism are similar. And there is no question that conservatives or rightwingers use patriotism as a bludgeon against liberals and lefties. It's unfair, I grant.

Yes, I think so, and thanks for acknowledging that.

Quote:

The difference seems to be with how that love of country is expressed. Many liberals have a cosmopolitan outlook and associate flags, parades and whatnot with a narrow-minded provincialism that strikes them as uncouth. They often seem to focus more on America's mistakes or shortcomings than to take pride in its achievements. Their love of country strikes conservatives as conditional or equivocal.
I think this is more regional than liberal vs. conservative. Perhaps living in the midwest and having grown up in the west makes a difference. (Although I did go to college in MA.) Then again, I think flag parades are pretty common and heart warming across the board, so to the extent you run into people who are anti (which on the 'net are more common), I think that's more unusual than not, and I'm mostly surrounded by Dems in saying that.

Wonderment 01-09-2012 11:13 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 236645)
I take the argument that "American should be better" seriously, and thus that the mere fact that most nations may torture doesn't mean that's a basis for us to do so seriously. American exceptionalism could mean that we hold ourselves to higher standards, based on what we should be, not on what others are or what we've been.

I have to admit that the "we/us" you express above is not something that I feel deeply. I know that a lot of people like Rfrobison resent that lack of national identity in liberals, and he may have a point. I think it's a little crazy to be willing to die (or kill) or even make significant sacrifice for the USA, for example, whereas many Americans think not to do so is disloyal and sleazy.

I like to think that most everything that matters in life transcends national, ethnic and religious identity. I respect patriotism the same way I respect religious beliefs, but I'm agnostic on both.

I get that exceptionalism could mean holding oneself to a higher standard. I grew up with that notion as a member of "the Chosen People." The idea was that we were NOT chosen because we were better than others but rather because we would be held to a higher standard of goodness.

I think American exceptionalism is a variation on that Biblical theme, and I understand how it can resonate deeply for many people. It doesn't seem to me, however, to be a good fit for the future. I think what we need is less nationalism and more inclusiveness and global consciousness.

Jon Huntsman might actually get this, but he has to pander. Ron Paul definitely gets it and never panders. Among Democrats, the Mythical Nobel Peace Prize Obama was the very embodiment of global values, but real POTUS Obama didn't turn out that way. I think he will revert to his core values after his presidency, much like Jimmy Carter did.

Sulla the Dictator 01-09-2012 11:25 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236639)
Nation states are geopolitical fictions without a real essence. They are more like players in a board game called geopolitics with ever-emergent opportunities for new moves, which are constrained by past actions.

Incorrect. Nations are identifiable groups of people joined together by blood, culture, and historical narrative. Just as much as steel, a nation is forged through fire and pressure.

Quote:

The notion that the USA is exceptional among nations (as opposed to say Honduras, Ghana or Switzerland) is an arrogant delusion that in my view is very dangerous. It's a delusion of grandeur
If Ghana, Switzerland, or Honduras had manned the wall against the barbarians represented by Communists and Fascists and militarists, they would be equally justified in claiming exceptionalism.

Since we have, when we could have easily ignored the foreign problems, we have cause to be proud of ourselves.

Wonderment 01-10-2012 12:17 AM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Nations are identifiable groups of people joined together by blood, culture, and historical narrative. Just as much as steel, a nation is forged through fire and pressure.
I rest my case.

sugarkang 01-10-2012 02:54 AM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236640)
Yes, I think Bob got it right that our tendency toward exceptionalism (a form of narcissism/xenophobia/ethnocentrism) is precisely the force that suppresses our ability to take the perspective (empathize) of others. To the degree that we are narcissistic jingoists, we are oblivious to the needs and aspirations of others.

I think this detracts from the actual issue. By singling out narcissistic jingoists, that's still pointing the finger at specific people who are narcissistic jingoists; in other words, it's assigning moral blame to morally culpable actors. The real question is how do they become that way? Have a peek at a Frank Luntz focus group on their opinions of Ron Paul's foreign policy. Take a look at them. They are your narcissistic, xenophobic, nativistic, racist, whatever. They're seniors for chrissakes. They're our grandmothers and grandfathers and they send us birthday cards with $20 bills inside.

Their opinions are manufactured by Roger Ailes. Once he takes hold of you, you haven't got a chance.

Florian 01-10-2012 11:29 AM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236639)
Nation states are geopolitical fictions without a real essence. They are more like players in a board game called geopolitics with ever-emergent opportunities for new moves, which are constrained by past actions. Hopefully, the game is ultimately non-zero, but truthfully it has some zero-sum (competitive) and non-zero (cooperative) features.

That's true, if you take the long view of history. The nation state is a geopolitical fiction, an invention of Europe, forged in war and revolution, that has gradually spread to the rest of the world, with very unequal results. The model is likely to last a while longer, but "my prophetic soul" tells me it will have to evolve into something transnational if humanity is to survive. Empires? Federations of states (like the EU)? The nation state is no longer a suitable framework for dealing with the problems that concern the whole planet. It may even be an obstacle. So I agree with the following:

Quote:

Individual citizens of nations have rights, responsibilities and potentialities (creativity). I think it's wise, however, to demystify the ethnocentric or nationalistic components -- the identity politics -- of international affairs. Just analyze the moves without all the patriotic hoopla and noise.

Having said that, I have nothing against benign patriotism. I'm only disturbed when patriotism is employed as a bludgeon to beat other cultures or nations into submission, replaces history with mythology, or justifies abuses of power. The notion that the USA is exceptional among nations (as opposed to say Honduras, Ghana or Switzerland) is an arrogant delusion that in my view is very dangerous. It's a delusion of grandeur, and just as we mistrust such sentiments (disorders) in individuals, we must mistrust them in cultures and nations as well.
American "exceptionalism" is not at all exceptional, although it certainly has features that distinguish it from the exceptionalism of the older nation states----and I don't mean only its vastly superior military power. Any student of the history of Britain, France, or Germany (the three nation states that made the modern world) could easily dig up quotes about the civilizing mission of Europe that were as delusional in their time as the most delusional proclamations of contemporary American politicians.

stephanie 01-10-2012 12:20 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236649)
I have to admit that the "we/us" you express above is not something that I feel deeply.

Yes, I've gotten that from your posts, and it is a place where I agree more with Rob. I understand your POV and am not bothered by it, despite disagreeing, but I would strongly disagree with your suggestion that it's a typical "liberal" view. I wonder sometimes if your harsh judgments of Obama are related to him seeming more out of step with most liberals to you, based on the "liberals" you are surrounded by -- people who are probably more to the left, more associated with the peace movement -- vs. what I perceive, even in a strongly Dem city.

On the other hand, if we are going to talk intellectual history, of course questioning national ties in favor of other kinds of ties can be seen as based on liberal arguments (even if liberal arguments also were made in favor of quite different positions). Indeed, it shows up in that other form of liberalism, libertarianism.

Quote:

I like to think that most everything that matters in life transcends national, ethnic and religious identity. I respect patriotism the same way I respect religious beliefs, but I'm agnostic on both.
I think national, religious, and even ethnic ties can have positive effects in, among other things, creating community and ties to people that you otherwise would not be inclined to see commonality to or associate with. Sure, this can be bad if it also means failing to see such ties to others outside the group, but I don't think that's necessarily going to happen merely because one feels the ties.

I tend to like the concept of going to one's local church -- the parish idea -- vs. picking out churches based on them perfectly suiting you, because you get a greater variety of people and often people you wouldn't otherwise know or see much in common with. Of course, neighborhoods are increasingly doing a kind of sorting these days, but I still see a greater variety of people at my church than in most other aspects of my life. That wouldn't be the case if I picked out a church based on perceived agreement with my particular approach to religion, even within the same denomination (which I could easily do here).

I see the same kind of building block associations in people's affection for their neighborhoods, cities, and in their love for country. That I love America gives me a greater investment in wanting to make it a better country, in caring about the well-being of Americans I otherwise have little in common with, in feeling a link. I guess I'm cynical about the ability to feel this kind of link as strongly for just humankind, and also about my ability to act concretely to improve things elsewhere (beyond donations and such). Thus, I do think it's valuable to have a focus on what happens in America or to Americans. The natural alternatives seem to me to be based on more problematic considerations, like class, which ultimately hurts the position of the poorer everywhere, IMO.

That last is not so different than Marx's claim that capitalism in destroying historic divisions like country and religion and laying bare what really underpins all will set us up for people turning against capitalism. Well, except that I'm not opposed to capitalism and think Marx failed to see some of capitalisms own defense mechanisms, how it can itself become a religion.

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I think American exceptionalism is a variation on that Biblical theme, and I understand how it can resonate deeply for many people. It doesn't seem to me, however, to be a good fit for the future. I think what we need is less nationalism and more inclusiveness and global consciousness.
I disagree with your conclusion but think you are right, of course, that it's from that same Biblical theme.

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I think he will revert to his core values after his presidency, much like Jimmy Carter did.
This relates to what I said above. We see Obama differently.

Ocean 01-10-2012 01:14 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 236659)
Y
I disagree with your conclusion but think you are right, of course, that it's from that same Biblical theme.

From my perspective, both the Biblical theme (The Chosen People), and American exceptionalism are derived from the same root.

People are born and raised in groups which stand in contrast to other groups with which they compete. The outgroup is always a potential rival or enemy. There are multiple ways of making sure the ingroup is strong and united. Seeing one's own group as being special or different from others, favored by higher powers (god), or carrying a superior mission is part of the bonding and strengthening.

As we culturally evolve towards an ever expanding circle, where "our group" included all peoples, the ways in which groups relate to each other is due to change. There can still be minor rivalries between groups (same as rivalries between towns, or sports teams) but there should be a shared common good.

stephanie 01-10-2012 01:32 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 236661)
From my perspective, both the Biblical theme (The Chosen People), and American exceptionalism are derived from the same root.

Oh, not sure if I was unclear, but I think so too. I think American history and rhetoric demonstrates that -- the New Jerusalem, City on a Hill, so on. On the other hand, like Florian said, this is not unique to the US, although certain aspects of it are particular.

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People are born and raised in groups which stand in contrast to other groups with which they compete. The outgroup is always a potential rival or enemy.
I think it's the "always" with which I am disagreeing. I think membership in a range of groups -- one's family, extended family, city, country, so on -- can be used as a building block to get to the expanded ingroup. Feelings of loyalty or love for the one need not mean a sharp distinction, uncaring, or animosity toward those not in the group. I don't identify with any ethnicity, but it seems clear to me that caring about one's ethnicity can be something negative and related to dislike of others and, on the other hand, can just be quite neutral or even positive.

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There are multiple ways of making sure the ingroup is strong and united. Seeing one's own group as being special or different from others, favored by higher powers (god), or carrying a superior mission is part of the bonding and strengthening.
Despite the origins of exceptionalism, I don't see these things as inherent to it. On the most basic level, I think it's the idea that as Americans we have a mission, a duty, to live up to certain standards, as reflected by the Constitution, the ideals of our founding, what we see as positive about "American-ness," so on. It's why people might feel so upset by the idea of the US torturing people, even though of course other nations have done worse (and why the fact that other nations have done worse seems completely irrelevant and weird to bring up).

I don't at all think only Americans feel this way or have stories to tell about why this is. I think people in other countries often want to live up to their ideas of what their nation is supposed to be also. It's exceptional from the perspective of an American, not that I think Americans are the only ones who make such arguments or experience such feelings.

IMO, exceptionalism gets problematic when we use it in the sense of "the rules don't apply to us, we should be recognized as having certain privileges to act merely by virtue of who we are, and our goals should not be questioned, because we should be recognized as having good intentions. I am sure that I will defend the US acting in the world in ways that Wonderment dislikes, but I don't think I'd use any of these kinds of arguments. I don't like the way in which just war arguments get dismissed without being seriously addressed by arguments of the sort I just listed.

Ocean 01-10-2012 02:16 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 236663)
Oh, not sure if I was unclear, but I think so too. I think American history and rhetoric demonstrates that -- the New Jerusalem, City on a Hill, so on. On the other hand, like Florian said, this is not unique to the US, although certain aspects of it are particular.

No, you were not unclear. I just tried to emphasize that both American Exceptionalism (and many other brands of exceptionalism throughout the world and through history), and the idea of a Chosen People in the Bible derive from something more basic, transcultural, that we humans carry with us and manifest in various ways, including creating religious or political (constitution) texts that spell it out.

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I think it's the "always" with which I am disagreeing.
Take it out then, it's not essential to what I tried to say.

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I think membership in a range of groups -- one's family, extended family, city, country, so on -- can be used as a building block to get to the expanded ingroup. Feelings of loyalty or love for the one need not mean a sharp distinction, uncaring, or animosity toward those not in the group. I don't identify with any ethnicity, but it seems clear to me that caring about one's ethnicity can be something negative and related to dislike of others and, on the other hand, can just be quite neutral or even positive.
Yes, I agree with all that.

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Despite the origins of exceptionalism, I don't see these things as inherent to it. On the most basic level, I think it's the idea that as Americans we have a mission, a duty, to live up to certain standards, as reflected by the Constitution, the ideals of our founding, what we see as positive about "American-ness," so on. It's why people might feel so upset by the idea of the US torturing people, even though of course other nations have done worse (and why the fact that other nations have done worse seems completely irrelevant and weird to bring up).
Sure, that's the good side of exceptionalism. To what extremes these principles take us is what worries many of us who keep in mind the problems intrinsic to excessive power and self-righteousness.

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I don't at all think only Americans feel this way or have stories to tell about why this is. I think people in other countries often want to live up to their ideas of what their nation is supposed to be also. It's exceptional from the perspective of an American, not that I think Americans are the only ones who make such arguments or experience such feelings.
No, it seems like it's a pretty universal phenomenon to various degrees.

The same basic idea of mission taken to extremes is implicit in the crusades, or in jihad.


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IMO, exceptionalism gets problematic when we use it in the sense of "the rules don't apply to us, we should be recognized as having certain privileges to act merely by virtue of who we are, and our goals should not be questioned, because we should be recognized as having good intentions. I am sure that I will defend the US acting in the world in ways that Wonderment dislikes, but I don't think I'd use any of these kinds of arguments. I don't like the way in which just war arguments get dismissed without being seriously addressed by arguments of the sort I just listed.
Sure, it is exactly that kind of exceptionalism based on the idea of a true exception to rules, above the laws that govern other nations, or superior in its power to decide for others, that we are having problems with.

Hopefully your arguments for a just war would be based on a very different set of principles.

stephanie 01-10-2012 06:58 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 236664)
Hopefully your arguments for a just war would be based on a very different set of principles.

Ones that would apply more neutrally, certainly, and not depend on a claim that we are under different rules.

badhatharry 01-11-2012 11:54 AM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 236653)
Their opinions are manufactured by Roger Ailes. Once he takes hold of you, you haven't got a chance.

http://www.newscorpse.com/Pix/Humor/roger-ailes-fox.jpg

sugarkang 01-12-2012 12:37 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 236678)
...

It looks like they just flipped the propaganda switch at Fox. They'd be complete morons not to given that their viewers aren't getting any younger.

http://img502.imageshack.us/img502/9...2311217386.jpg

handle 01-12-2012 04:41 PM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 236697)
It looks like they just flipped the propaganda switch at Fox.

What does the graphic read on that switch? Loser control: Poser <> Crank

I kid you guys! But out of love, not fear or hate, 'cause our country was built on the lust for freedom and it's side effect: gullibility.

Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 236697)
They'd be complete morons not to given that their viewers aren't getting any younger.

Not to mention the PHC (phone-hacker-in-chief). Who's gonna pick a "winner" when he's gone? I still miss "America's Mayor, RG" too bad the switch was broken in '07.

Sulla the Dictator 01-17-2012 07:16 AM

Re: An apparition is stalking America
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 236652)
I rest my case.

I would suggest that your particular feelings of rootlessness aren't universal.


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