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Europe and the United States
Posted: 16 January 2014 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello everyone… maybe this is something of interest or food for thought… and feedback fodder for my lost little brain here.

I’m often comparing Europe (where I’m from) to the U.S. (where I am a citizen). Not simply for pleasure, I deal with Europe all day long for work and sometimes travel. And even though we’re so much the same, the differences are striking. Healthcare for everyone and total gun control, for example, are no-brainers to Europeans. They don’t understand why this are issues here, the evolution vs. creation debates included (under no-brainer, I mean).

On the other hand, America is still an enigma to Europeans. The country of “freedom” where somehow still everyone wants to live. It’s still “America”, that land where all things are possible and you can ride your bike for miles and miles and miles and not meet a soul. It’s the dream come true.

A few years back that was really no issue. You had Europe, and America, and Asia, and whatever else is out there, but given globalization, the internet, “cyber-warfare”, NSA, North Korea as the last remnant in the time machine, nutty “terrorists” that are easier brainwashed than their political ancestors ever were, the Arab Spring moment, etc. etc. this creates a totally different landscape to make sense of. No more power balance, it all seems very vague to me. And ha, there is that “need for certainty” that doesn’t make sense rationally but is still deeply ingrained in everyone.

What are your thoughts on Europe, the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter? - The most inspiring thing to me, ever, was the creation of the United Nations. Since then, however, I find not much inspiration, at least not on such a large scale. Any thoughts?

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Posted: 16 January 2014 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I think WW2 was the turning point for Europe and the US, mostly because the US got off easy so to speak AND was perceived as the heroes who saved the day. Europe experienced the horror of WW2 first hand, literally right before their very own eyes. (Same with WW1 of course).  Americans (citizens that is, not soldiers) OTOH did not. Sure they heard about it in the news but nothing literally firsthand. AND in terms of death, while even a single death is bad, the numbers just don’t compare.  I think the US lost about 420,000. That’s horrible BUT the USSR OTOH lost something like 27 million!  Poland and Germany each around 8 million, etc.  There’s no comparison. And even those European countries that didn’t suffer such casualties had the action right in the neighborhood so to speak.

SO…my point is, that level of death and destruction is going to have a massive psychological effect and make a country do whatever it takes to avoid war, avoid death, etc. The US OTOH came off as the big hero, with relatively little loss, certainly no destruction to the continental US, and in actuality won big time economically afterwards because everyone else was devastated. You can imagine THAT psychological effect…pardon the apparent cold-heartedness, I don’t mean it this way, but the cost-benefit for the US leaned way way to the positive. And Americans, as would any country I’m sure in their position, thought this made America special, even MORE exceptional than before. 

Unfortunately, instead of acting like a humble citizen of the world, the US has acted like god’s gift to humanity, and has since become the exact thing we supposedly defeated. Of course no one in the US thinks that way because our entire culture is now pro-war, pro-soldier as hero, pro-America damned the rest, and it’s been brainwashed into us that IF the US does it, it must be right. I personally fear the day when all the European, Asian, and Middle Eastern “Davids” that the US has shit on finally regain their full strength and decide to take on the US Goliath with a vengeance. Bush didn’t help. Obama started to make amends then lost it after he turned out to be Bush Jr.

And the real sad thing is, most Americans, like most Europeans, Asians, and Middle Easterners, most regular workaday folks everywhere probably don’t give one hoot for any of the crap ANY of the governments put us through.

[ Edited: 16 January 2014 03:54 PM by CuthbertJ ]
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Posted: 16 January 2014 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Cuthbert…

That’s a great point. World War II, yes. It did have a huge effect on the European psyche, especially the German one. I am, originally, German. - It has bettered in the last few years, especially by Germany hosting the World Cup of Soccer, and it having been a great and peaceful event, for everyone, every country that was there, and the Germans even opening their gardens and stuff for the fans of other countries to camp…. BUT, before that and still, a German loathes to fly their flag, even the one of today. It is perceived as being too nationalistic. “Why are you proud of such a country?” - This may sound very foreign to an American, this self-loathing, even for things the people feeling such had nothing to do with. (Subconsciously it’s appropriated by being proud of their engineering, which is, no doubt, superb.)

I remember my grandmother shreeking in terror when I was younger listening to Motorhead. There’s a song, forgot the name, that begins with bombing alarm. She nearly freaked out and told me to turn it off immediately. She was near Dresden at the time, where even the concrete burned.

Yes, all that destruction never came to the U.S. That does make a difference. All the wars are somewhere else. - That’s, I think, one of the reasons weapons are still seen as OK here, among regular citizens I mean. Europe wants no weapons. - The school shootings, which make me wonder how long people will put up with this… but they might be not enough. WWI was not enough for Europe. Which is very scary.

I like the U.S., which to me is my country, although I prefer to think international and NOT national, but the whole Bush thing was a catastrophe. (Why the Army ever got involved with terrorists is a mystery to me forever. What does an army have to do with terrorism? This is CIA or whoever’s territory, not that of an invading (!) army.) - And I’m very disappointed with Obama as well. He’s more trigger-happy than Bush it seems. - Empty promises, all of them. (Not entirely, I’m slightly rhetorical as there are some good things.)

But I very much agree, America sometimes does have a God-complex. When the Arab Spring came around, sort of like a pre-cursor to an awaiting “Middle Eastern Renaissance” in light of globalization, I thought “this is genuine”. And sometimes America can help in those situations. But thinking “we got it down”... that ain’t the way. Much less invading countries to “help them”.

I don’t think other countries will rise against the U.S. as in David and Goliath, but to me there’s always been this fear of the brooding, underground European nationalism, fueled by anti-Islamic rhetoric, and not very helped by silly idiots joining a religious militancy that has no idea what they’re doing. - If Europe, with its overlorded multi-culturalism, not naturally grown as in the U.S., ever blows up, good night to the “invading terrorists”. There is so much underground resentment that just waits to explode if it’s driven too far. - Only way to stop this: diffuse. Take a break. Stop dividing the world into good and evil. Help the Middle East to get on its feet instead of exploiting it, do some humanitarian aid instead of military action, stop the hate-mongering talking, and things will get better.

Most people, like you say, don’t really care, and because of that might get eventually drawn in, but unless the whole thing explodes by idiocy upon idiocy there’s a real potential, I think, to finally get some peace on this planet. - If these search-for-ultimate-meaning and in-need-of-absolute-certainty freaks don’t bring about some Armageddon.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 10:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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This topic brings to mind a book I’m currently slowly working my way through: “The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker. There is a lot in there about the history of various kinds of violence in Europe and the U.S., particularly, because (according to him) until the 20th century, these were the places where the best records of violent events got recorded. Thanks largely to the Catholic Church and effective police forces. It’s typical Pinker - very dense - but it’s a great read and a great thinking book. My general take from it on Americans versus Europeans is that we both are on the same trajectory of violence reduction, but the Europeans simply have a head-start. Particularly Western Europe, where the Renaissance cultural hotbed was for a few centuries rather unique in the world.

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Posted: 16 January 2014 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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All that’s plenty true, but there’s also the geographic reality of the land mass and natural resources.

Europe has many countries and nationalities within a relatedly small geographic area,
Plus it’s ancient and established, every piece of land is claimed a few times over.
Diverse people had to… have to learn how to live cheek by jowl.

American, on the other hand, and up until not that long ago, America was the clean slate.
Got troubles? Hit the road Jack, there’s a new life waiting for you out there, for the taking, if you got the gumption to go for it.

If every state had been it’s own country, can you imagine it?
I sure can’t. 
I spent three years in Germany/Switzerland 76/79, as german speaking and wage-slaving wink  and I started getting claustrophobic, there was no open stretch of open land anywhere, heck every hillside was claimed.  Wonderful as all the culture was, I missed a wide wild untouched vista in the worst way.

But, now even America is starting to fill up and run out of room - still we cling to that myth of freedom and new horizons, and it has had worlds to do with setting our ‘character of disregard’ for protecting and maintaining - there was always that next field, or mountain, or resource out there waiting to get plundered.

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Posted: 17 January 2014 01:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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TromboneAndrew - 16 January 2014 10:05 PM

This topic brings to mind a book I’m currently slowly working my way through: “The Better Angels Of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” by Steven Pinker. There is a lot in there about the history of various kinds of violence in Europe and the U.S., particularly, because (according to him) until the 20th century, these were the places where the best records of violent events got recorded. Thanks largely to the Catholic Church and effective police forces. It’s typical Pinker - very dense - but it’s a great read and a great thinking book. My general take from it on Americans versus Europeans is that we both are on the same trajectory of violence reduction, but the Europeans simply have a head-start. Particularly Western Europe, where the Renaissance cultural hotbed was for a few centuries rather unique in the world.

Hey Andrew… I like Steven Pinker, and I think he has good points, violence on this planet is indeed in decline, even though it might not look that way and is blown out of proportion for political reasons or by religious people hoping for the nearing end of times.

Very positive thoughts, thanks. Will make me sleep better now, as I just woke up. Pretty cold here for Florida :)

My thoughts on the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment for that matter… except for WWII scarring everyone, I think these secular, humanistic thoughts were adapted by everyone (in Europe), including the churches, since there is no separation of church and state, at least not constitutionally, and that also influenced towards are more peaceful mindset.

Cool, the Armageddon is leaving my mind :)

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Posted: 17 January 2014 01:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 16 January 2014 11:02 PM

All that’s plenty true, but there’s also the geographic reality of the land mass and natural resources.

Europe has many countries and nationalities within a relatedly small geographic area,
Plus it’s ancient and established, every piece of land is claimed a few times over.
Diverse people had to… have to learn how to live cheek by jowl.

American, on the other hand, and up until not that long ago, America was the clean slate.
Got troubles? Hit the road Jack, there’s a new life waiting for you out there, for the taking, if you got the gumption to go for it.

If every state had been it’s own country, can you imagine it?
I sure can’t. 
I spent three years in Germany/Switzerland 76/79, as german speaking and wage-slaving wink  and I started getting claustrophobic, there was no open stretch of open land anywhere, heck every hillside was claimed.  Wonderful as all the culture was, I missed a wide wild untouched vista in the worst way.

But, now even America is starting to fill up and run out of room - still we cling to that myth of freedom and new horizons, and it has had worlds to do with setting our ‘character of disregard’ for protecting and maintaining - there was always that next field, or mountain, or resource out there waiting to get plundered.

Hi! ... Wow, great point. That is the feeling you (still) get about the U.S. - The Frontier! - Europe is indeed very dense. There’s still lots of forests and fields, but you can’t walk for an hour before meeting someone smile Very different. - I sometimes wonder how they fit all these people in such a small space, I mean, Germany is the size of Georgia (the state) and they got like 80 million people there.

If the frontier runs out though, we gotta look into space. Kinda sad they canceled the shuttle thing. I love NASA.

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Posted: 17 January 2014 02:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Michelle D. - 16 January 2014 03:24 PM

Hello everyone… maybe this is something of interest or food for thought… and feedback fodder for my lost little brain here.

I’m often comparing Europe (where I’m from) to the U.S. (where I am a citizen). Not simply for pleasure, I deal with Europe all day long for work and sometimes travel. And even though we’re so much the same, the differences are striking. Healthcare for everyone and total gun control, for example, are no-brainers to Europeans. They don’t understand why this are issues here, the evolution vs. creation debates included (under no-brainer, I mean).

On the other hand, America is still an enigma to Europeans. The country of “freedom” where somehow still everyone wants to live. It’s still “America”, that land where all things are possible and you can ride your bike for miles and miles and miles and not meet a soul. It’s the dream come true.

A few years back that was really no issue. You had Europe, and America, and Asia, and whatever else is out there, but given globalization, the internet, “cyber-warfare”, NSA, North Korea as the last remnant in the time machine, nutty “terrorists” that are easier brainwashed than their political ancestors ever were, the Arab Spring moment, etc. etc. this creates a totally different landscape to make sense of. No more power balance, it all seems very vague to me. And ha, there is that “need for certainty” that doesn’t make sense rationally but is still deeply ingrained in everyone.

What are your thoughts on Europe, the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter? - The most inspiring thing to me, ever, was the creation of the United Nations. Since then, however, I find not much inspiration, at least not on such a large scale. Any thoughts?

That’s a big question.

I think the USA and Western Europe are decaying societies, though Western Europe is worse along. There’s no hope of cleaning the rot out of either. 

Eastern Europe is a different story.

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Posted: 17 January 2014 04:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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mid atlantic - 17 January 2014 02:25 AM
Michelle D. - 16 January 2014 03:24 PM

Hello everyone… maybe this is something of interest or food for thought… and feedback fodder for my lost little brain here.

I’m often comparing Europe (where I’m from) to the U.S. (where I am a citizen). Not simply for pleasure, I deal with Europe all day long for work and sometimes travel. And even though we’re so much the same, the differences are striking. Healthcare for everyone and total gun control, for example, are no-brainers to Europeans. They don’t understand why this are issues here, the evolution vs. creation debates included (under no-brainer, I mean).

On the other hand, America is still an enigma to Europeans. The country of “freedom” where somehow still everyone wants to live. It’s still “America”, that land where all things are possible and you can ride your bike for miles and miles and miles and not meet a soul. It’s the dream come true.

A few years back that was really no issue. You had Europe, and America, and Asia, and whatever else is out there, but given globalization, the internet, “cyber-warfare”, NSA, North Korea as the last remnant in the time machine, nutty “terrorists” that are easier brainwashed than their political ancestors ever were, the Arab Spring moment, etc. etc. this creates a totally different landscape to make sense of. No more power balance, it all seems very vague to me. And ha, there is that “need for certainty” that doesn’t make sense rationally but is still deeply ingrained in everyone.

What are your thoughts on Europe, the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter? - The most inspiring thing to me, ever, was the creation of the United Nations. Since then, however, I find not much inspiration, at least not on such a large scale. Any thoughts?

That’s a big question.

I think the USA and Western Europe are decaying societies, though Western Europe is worse along. There’s no hope of cleaning the rot out of either. 

Eastern Europe is a different story.

Really, you think so? I’ve heard that before, mainly in connection with low birth rates. Not sure about Europe. The U.S., I think, might have a much different face in a few decades, mainly because of the large Hispanic immigration. I think the U.S. is “safe” in that regard, not decaying, but I think it will look different in the future.

Europe is still functioning pretty good I think, but I haven’t really paid much attention to details. Maybe I’m a bit shallow here, going by some ideological framework.

But it might be true, since you mention Eastern Europe, when it’s bad there’s always room for improvement. If you’re too far up it might not get higher but only down.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Michelle D. - 17 January 2014 04:10 PM
mid atlantic - 17 January 2014 02:25 AM
Michelle D. - 16 January 2014 03:24 PM

Hello everyone… maybe this is something of interest or food for thought… and feedback fodder for my lost little brain here.

I’m often comparing Europe (where I’m from) to the U.S. (where I am a citizen). Not simply for pleasure, I deal with Europe all day long for work and sometimes travel. And even though we’re so much the same, the differences are striking. Healthcare for everyone and total gun control, for example, are no-brainers to Europeans. They don’t understand why this are issues here, the evolution vs. creation debates included (under no-brainer, I mean).

On the other hand, America is still an enigma to Europeans. The country of “freedom” where somehow still everyone wants to live. It’s still “America”, that land where all things are possible and you can ride your bike for miles and miles and miles and not meet a soul. It’s the dream come true.

A few years back that was really no issue. You had Europe, and America, and Asia, and whatever else is out there, but given globalization, the internet, “cyber-warfare”, NSA, North Korea as the last remnant in the time machine, nutty “terrorists” that are easier brainwashed than their political ancestors ever were, the Arab Spring moment, etc. etc. this creates a totally different landscape to make sense of. No more power balance, it all seems very vague to me. And ha, there is that “need for certainty” that doesn’t make sense rationally but is still deeply ingrained in everyone.

What are your thoughts on Europe, the U.S., and the rest of the world for that matter? - The most inspiring thing to me, ever, was the creation of the United Nations. Since then, however, I find not much inspiration, at least not on such a large scale. Any thoughts?

That’s a big question.

I think the USA and Western Europe are decaying societies, though Western Europe is worse along. There’s no hope of cleaning the rot out of either. 

Eastern Europe is a different story.

Really, you think so? I’ve heard that before, mainly in connection with low birth rates. Not sure about Europe. The U.S., I think, might have a much different face in a few decades, mainly because of the large Hispanic immigration. I think the U.S. is “safe” in that regard, not decaying, but I think it will look different in the future.

Europe is still functioning pretty good I think, but I haven’t really paid much attention to details. Maybe I’m a bit shallow here, going by some ideological framework.

But it might be true, since you mention Eastern Europe, when it’s bad there’s always room for improvement. If you’re too far up it might not get higher but only down.

Successful democracies (as the US and Western Europe are) always commit suicide, and that’s what is happening. The best days are behind in both areas.

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Posted: 18 January 2014 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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That statement doesn’t make much sense.  Every country (social group, family, etc.) since humans existed has had a limited life.  Over time, if the members don’t die, disperse, or get absorbed, the group morphs into something else.  Our U.S. representative democracy has been shifting toward a plutrocacy, but we can’t predict the future.  We could have a revolution of the citizens and move back to a democracy, or even move to a dictatorship.  Or we may go quietly into a third world country run by a small group of the extreme wealthy. 

Occam

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Posted: 19 January 2014 02:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Occam. - 18 January 2014 11:31 AM

That statement doesn’t make much sense.  Every country (social group, family, etc.) since humans existed has had a limited life.  Over time, if the members don’t die, disperse, or get absorbed, the group morphs into something else.  Our U.S. representative democracy has been shifting toward a plutrocacy, but we can’t predict the future.  We could have a revolution of the citizens and move back to a democracy, or even move to a dictatorship.  Or we may go quietly into a third world country run by a small group of the extreme wealthy. 

Occam

Agreed, this is basically a much more elaborate version of what I said

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Posted: 19 January 2014 07:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Actually what usually happens to groups of people (tribes) and states is that they break apart. You’ll never get ahead trying to figure out what’s happening to the U.S. if you won’t take biology into consideration; politics only describes the top layer of the issue. The rich are not meaner or greedier than before and the poor are not less productive or lazier. It just happens so that the gap is widening because the two groups are getting quantitatively larger which translate to qualitative differences. The gap in Europe is smaller than in the U.S. because there are less people in Europe and the variation of the people is also less dramatic than in the U.S.

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Posted: 19 January 2014 08:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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George - 19 January 2014 07:20 AM

Actually what usually happens to groups of people (tribes) and states is that they break apart. You’ll never get ahead trying to figure out what’s happening to the U.S. if you won’t take biology into consideration; politics only describes the top layer of the issue. The rich are not meaner or greedier than before and the poor are not less productive or lazier. It just happens so that the gap is widening because the two groups are getting quantitatively larger which translate to qualitative differences. The gap in Europe is smaller than in the U.S. because there are less people in Europe and the variation of the people is also less dramatic than in the U.S.

There are twice as many people in Europe than in the US. I don’t know what you mean by “variation of the people” being less “dramatic.” Just about every country in the world is represented in the population of the United States. Europe is not nearly so diverse.

LL

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Posted: 19 January 2014 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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There are more people on both sides of the IQ bell curve in the U.S. than there are in Europe. By Europe I am referring to Western Europe. And yes, the U.S. is a lot more diverse which has never been a good thing.

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Posted: 20 January 2014 05:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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There are more people on both sides of the IQ bell curve in the U.S. than there are in Europe. By Europe I am referring to Western Europe. And yes, the U.S. is a lot more diverse which has never been a good thing.


What do you mean by diverse George; are you referring to culture or genetics? And why would diversity not be a good thing? Isn’t it better to have a hetogeouous gene pool (if that’s what you’re discussing) than a homogenous one?


Cap’t Jack

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