Thursday, December 16, 2010

Does life exist outside of the United States?

At first reading the headline may seem like a stupid question but it turns out that it's rather profound.

And...I cannot take credit for it....comes from a "diarist" with the nom de plume of Renzo Gazolini. You can read his whole diary here:

I found it worthy of commenting on for two reasons. The first being that our debates on great public issues in the United States tend be based on geocentric, ego-centric ideas that do not look beyond the borders of continental United States. As a result what we know about what is going on in the rest of the world is shaped, crafted, molded, spun, colored and generally manipulated by those who have a clear interest in making us believe their version of the rest of the world in order to get us to buy their ideas in this country. I know that's a little vague so I'll give you a short example.

It is a widely held opinion that America is the best in the world at...well.. just about everything (U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A.!)There is a current screed going on about a national level politician who dared question the concept of American Exceptional ism. American Exceptional-ism is the concept that proclaims that Americans are inherently smarter, more moral, more ENTITLED, and obviously more WORTHY of all things the earth has to offer so the rules (in whatever endeavor we partake be it sports, international relations, human rights, warfare, etc) simply don't apply to us because we' re "exceptional". The sad truth however is that in very real terms, by objective standards of measurement, we're NOT #1 in a lot of important areas. In math and problem solving we rank 18th to the rest of the world and in reading we're down to 24th. It's not only in education. In health we're down to #17 compared to the rest of the industrialized world. And yet, we believe that our systems are still superior to every other nation on earth....because we're told over and over and over again that we are superior.

And just to make it a little more perverse...we're told that if other nations do outrank us on any of these matters it's because they are either a) forced/coerced/brainwashed by an evil dictatorship to perform to beat us; or, b) they live miserable/worthless/unhappy lives in exchange for it.

So the two options we are always given are:

1. We're #1 and the rest of the world doesn't exist. or
2. If they do exist, they do so on a plane of existence that is so deplorable we cannot even think about it.

The second reason I want to take the time to comment on the article is based on another assumption of Gasolini's and the ensuing remark of one of his commentors.

Gasolini thinks that we are inherently STUPID for believing that the rest of the world doesn't exist. He talks a great deal about the dumbing down of America (although not in those terms). But a commentor makes an interesting point. It's not that Americans are inherently stupid, it's that there are political interests in this country who profit by keeping us stupid.

Here's Fiona West's comment:

If they were stupid, that would be a stable trait, and the rich wouldn't have to do anything to maintain it. In fact, they create whole industries (think tanks, pr firms, polling firms) and invest millions of their cherished dollars in media, political spokespeople, the religous right, astro-turf movements with funny names, ad campaigns, bought pundits, and many other methods by which they cultivate, nurture, and assiduously protect that ignorance.

(my emphasis added)

So to that end, Fiona says:

But the level of "stupidity" currently on view in the US is like looking at a bombed out city. Hey, for crying out loud, they didn't BUILD it that way. You're not seeing the natural state of the city. There's a war on! The ruin you see is the result of deliberate attacks.

I think Fiona is right. There is a war on and the problem with some liberals/progressives is that they don't really believe that there is a war or, if they do believe it, don't fight the war with the same level of intensity that their conservative counterparts do.

Gasolini thinks the persons calling the shots for the conservative side of the war are probably nation-less oligarchs who have no loyalty to any particular country but only to profit. While this feeds my paranoia about the dangers of unbridled capitalism, it seems almost too fantastic to believe. But maybe......just maybe he's right. I'll reserve that conversation for my guilty pleasure moments..

Enjoy the Dairy link and think about this....maybe I'll write more after I digest the words for a while.