Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Why America's problem is cultural, not political

  1. #1
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    5,600

    Lightbulb Why America's problem is cultural, not political

    Why America's Problem Is Cultural, Not Political

    by Stephen Gabow

    Here are some questions that ask the same thing in different ways. How can McCain/Palin even stand a chance in this election, given the state of the country? Why hasn't "conservative" become a dirty word, given the results of the last 8 (or is it 30) years of conservative rule? How come the Republicans get away with lies, dirty tricks, thievery and gross hypocrisy, over and over again? Why are congressional Democrats so spineless, so deferential around Republicans?

    I think the answer is that conservatives and Republicans are more attuned to the American people and to the roots of American culture. I cringe to say this, but somehow deep in our values, hopes and dreams we are primed to be conservative. And the Democrats, being politicians, can sense it; they know it in their heart of hearts.

    To begin with, America has been soaked in poisonous homegrown racism for three hundred years. It affects every American child. Yet even aside from that elephant-in-the-room, we have to fight our native culture to maintain a leftist perspective.

    Citizens of other countries can draw on their own revered cultural icons to promote rebellion or revolution, or the notion of a social community. In 2004 Canadians voted for "The Greatest Canadian." Tommy Douglas, a socialist and reformer known as Canada's 'father of Medicare,' won the honor. The English have Robert Owen, the French have Emile Zola, the Germans Karl Marx, among many others.

    What about the USA, home of revolutionary democracy? Who do we have? Franklin Roosevelt? Joe Hill and Eugene Debs? Martin Luther King? The freedom riders? Elizabeth Staunton and Susan B. Anthony? Mario Savio? Malcolm X? John Brown? Tom Paine? Emma Goldman? With the exception of King and FDR we remember these people only vaguely, if at all. Our founding father heroes have been stripped of their revolutionary content, to emerge in our times as staunch Christian conservatives. Whether Thomas Jefferson was actually an agnostic social revolutionary is not the point; he is perceived as something else.

    We love stories about poor boys making it big. Who of us has not dreamt of being a millionaire? We admire and love Bill Gates and Henry Ford by making their lives into stories of good men working hard and earning their wealth and freedom, and by excising anything negative from their stories. Our high school students know that Henry Ford built the first mass-produced automobiles, and that he offered a living wage to his workers. We don't recall, though, that Ford advocated for Hitler and published anti-Semitic crap in his Dearborn Independent.

    On TV and radio we are deluged by endless get-rich-quick commercials; one salesman after another hawking his easier, faster way to make "life-changing" money. Or we peek into millionaire mansions, the "cribs" of the rich and famous, the garages full of Ferraris and Rollses. Or we watch the parade of new luxury products. Is greed really good, we wonder? Haven't too many Americans come to believe that making money in itself is a goal worthy of a lifetime's pursuit? In Thailand they talk of "suspiciously wealthy" individuals--people so rich one should be suspicious of how they got it. We have no similar concept.

    Who can count the American heroes dispensing justice from their fists or from the barrel of a gun? From John Wayne to Charles Bronson, Dirty Harry to Rambo and the young Vito Corleone, we thrill to our heroes walking tall, carrying a big stick (but preferably a gun, which is much more practical) to right the wrongs of society. They do it pretty much alone. No social action to achieve social justice here.

    Rambo invades Vietnam to free American prisoners. Bronson's character fights and kills the evil inner city gangs. They both avoid the incompetent government and corrupt police force. A despicable judicial bureaucracy wrongly stops Dirty Harry from dispensing real justice.

    Here we have a righteous vigilante who fights for freedom, and also, of course, his beloved family. The young Michael Corleone does what is necessary to "protect his family." We want to forget he is a gangster and murderer. We want to forget Bronson's character is killing, because he is right to fight evil in any way he can.

    In all this there is a strong flavor of the virtuous ends justifying the means. If you have to lie, cheat and kill to achieve the Kingdom of God on earth (the true America), so be it. Sound familiar?

    When Rambo blows up a hundred Vietnamese to rescue American prisoners, we know he's only killing bad guys. Bronson's character kills and the bad guys' blood runs in the streets. No innocent victims here!

    We can't cheer Rambo in the real world, but we can swear our undying love for our soldiers, somehow forgetting that their messy job involves killing innocents. And when our fighters come up with slogans straight from Rambo, like "killing is our business, and business is good," we shrug.

    Americans don't vote for eggheads. I remember Adlai Stevenson running against Eisenhower. Stevenson didn't stand a chance, not least because he was pegged as too intellectual to be President. We prefer our leaders to be plain spoken, practical men who don't think or read too much. A cowboy, maybe. It is hard to think of an American icon, fictional or real, who is an intellectual. Who comes closest? Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain?

    I bet John Wayne would be a strong supporter of the Bush administration. He would cheer us on to "victory" in Iraq and Afghanistan. We'd have to respect the opinion of such an American hero. But then we forget that John Wayne was born Marion Morrison, and it is documented that he was a draft dodger during World War II.

    Stephen Gabow has been an activist since the Free Speech Movement and is a physical anthropologist, and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at San Francisco State University.

    Why America's Problem Is Cultural, Not Political | CommonDreams.org

  2. #2
    Hit By Ban Bus!
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    492

    Default

    Finally someone nailed it. There is the America as Americans want it to be and then there is the reality. Just recently I watched Iron Man and I was floored that this see through American chutzpah film was so popular. It was only slightly better than Independence Day with this self focused attitude that its going in like Rambo to save the day. And that doctor in the film was more than happy to be riddled with holes to go see his family that was the plan after all. Let me puke. Its fine with America when the rest of the world plays hero and martyr for American causes. This film used that "its us and we know it but it's not really us, that's causing the problems in the world, its just one greedy bastard behind closed doors" story line that makes everyone feel better. America wants to be a superhero, it's the country that constantly speaks out of both sides of its mouth. It knows its wrong and its working on it. Well not really, only as long as someone is watching. Otherwise its Joe Six Pack all the way. In all seriousness Sarah Palin is the perfect reflection of the country.


  3. #3
    Elite Member lurkur's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    5,351

    Default

    Elizabeth Staunton and Susan B. Anthony? Mario Savio? Malcolm X? John Brown? Tom Paine? Emma Goldman? With the exception of King and FDR we remember these people only vaguely, if at all.
    Case in point, should be Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

  4. #4
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    4,130

    Default

    I heard Sarah Palin criticizing Obama for going overseas and talking to other countries (I think it was Germany) about America's problems. She was saying like how dare he and how un-American that was of him. I totally disagree. We aren't hiding anything from the rest of the world. They know we have big problems. A big part of our foreign relations problem is America's arrogance. Obama was showing some humility, which I think is a great thing and will actually make other courtries respect us.

    Republicans still like to pretend that America is "king of the world" and this great superpower that compares to no other. And that's why other countries hate us.

  5. #5
    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    fellow traveller
    Posts
    51,891

    Default

    the article raises a lot of really interesting points. i'm not american so mine is an outsider's perspective though i like to think that of all the countries i've visited, america is one of the ones i know best.
    i think america is both the things the author points out. unfortunately, mainstream culture only reflects one side and most people are too dense to see they are both sides of the same coin. it's like 'born in the usa' being blasted at reagan rallies, they were all too idiotic to realise the song was the least representative of what reagan stood for.
    as for the superhero worship, again, most people only see one dimension. superheroes are one thing on the surface, but deep down, they're all misfits on the verge of an existential crisis.
    the culture wars have been raging for decades - possibly centuries - in the US. the country is split down right down the middle. all the bridge-building and bullshipt about non-partisanship can't cover up the fact.
    unfortunately, insularism, anti-intellectualism, warmongering, aggressive patriotism (more like thinly-veiled nationalism) and fundamentalist christians are very real threats.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

  6. #6
    Elite Member ana-mish-ana's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    3,200

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hotncmom View Post
    I heard Sarah Palin criticizing Obama for going overseas and talking to other countries (I think it was Germany) about America's problems. She was saying like how dare he and how un-American that was of him. I totally disagree. We aren't hiding anything from the rest of the world. They know we have big problems. A big part of our foreign relations problem is America's arrogance. Obama was showing some humility, which I think is a great thing and will actually make other courtries respect us.

    Republicans still like to pretend that America is "king of the world" and this great superpower that compares to no other. And that's why other countries hate us.
    The problem is now the great superpower may collapse- The Soviet Union collapsed in similar circumstances and so did the Roman Empire - that arrogance is what will help the disintegration and not the reaching out to other nations who are not fans of the US.

    I remember watching CNN or faux news and they had this arrogant prick (this was during the start of the Iraq war) where he was comparing European nations as sissies and the doddering scared uncle- while the US was the brash and brave nephew - I just wanted to scream at the arrogance of this wanker. Most European countries know first hand what wars are like and they know the affects.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. The free market in cultural context
    By JamieElizabeth in forum Politics and Issues
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: September 5th, 2007, 08:18 PM
  2. Replies: 8
    Last Post: November 13th, 2006, 07:38 AM
  3. Pink loves cultural Europe
    By MaryJane in forum Gossip Archive
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: March 24th, 2006, 11:39 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •