Tag Archives | America
“Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy”.
- Margaret Thatcher
I’ve rewritten this article, in light of recent tragedy. It’s based on an original version first published on my personal blog.
In 2011 two big events were celebrated on either side of the Atlantic. In the USA spontaneous parties began as news spread that Osama Bin Laden was dead. In the UK the nation was told to celebrate a Royal wedding. The scenes of joy in America filled me with a sense of almost unreserved admiration for a great nation whereas the state sponsored merriment in my own country provided me with a deep sense of detachment from a people who appeared as mindless zombies driven by raw unquestioning patriotism to celebrate something which did not benefit them at all.
As the street parties began I became painfully aware of how unfashionable my views are and it’s important to emphasise how out of step with the broad consensus of my nation I am.… Read the rest
Our rich cultural history is one of the unfortunate victims of the pathetic cultural battle between Creationist and Neo-Atheist cliques. Were the founders of the United States hardline Christians? Secular humanists? Just typing these questions, I’m bored already. Thankfully, there’s evidence they weren’t either, seems like a good number of them were Alchemists.
… Read the rest
“Puritan alchemists founded America; sounds like bad fiction but it’s fact. As befits a young republic, the history of the earliest origins of American Metaphysical Religion amounts to a long list of extraordinary characters, daring experiments, and unlikely friendships. We’ll meet alchemists who persecuted witches, alchemists who were governors, and several alchemists who served as presidents of the first American colleges. The community of alchemists at home and abroad was in constant touch with each other, eagerly exchanging techniques, results, and useful writing published and unpublished. At the heart of this vital cosmopolitan movement for cultural evolution were the intelligencers, discerning men who were so respected they became gatekeepers. By exchanging letters (sometimes in secret codes), samples, and books with fellow seekers of knowledge across continents and oceans they became the Internet hubs of their day. If a valuable discovery was made in a far off land, news of it would soon be all over the world thanks to the intelligencers.
Alexis de Tocqueville was amazingly observant and had an outsider perspective of American democracy. He was a deposed French Aristocrat from Normandy whose ancestors had fought in the battle of Hastings. His parents narrowly escaped the guillotine during the French Revolution. He came to America initially to study the Penal system but ended up writing his magnum opus Democracy in America, instead. He believed that democracy was providential, nonetheless, he expressed ambivalence to it. He observed then, that in contrast to his home country, America was beginning its democratic experiment with more or less a blank slate, whereas in France it had to establish itself over the legacy of aristocracy. So he often contrasted and compared American democracy with aristocracy.
I think of writers of Tocqueville’s era – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Mellville – as having greater social intelligence. They seem a lot more invested than today’s writers in what they believed made individual people tick.… Read the rest
Each edition of USA Today has four seperate sections aimed at the broadest possible appeal -- there's News, Money, Sports, Life -- who could object to that?
A wealthy defense contractor and devout Christian from suburban Washington, D.C. fatally shot his wife, his children, and himself over fears of Barack Obama’s winning a second term, the Daily Mail reports:
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Albert Peterson shot dead his wife and two sons hours after going to church because he dreaded the thought of Obama winning the election, a family friend has revealed.
A confidante of the family for the past 25 years has spoken to MailOnline about the strength and grace of the Peterson family, as well as the torment that plagued Albert which drove him to shoot dead his wife Kathleen and his two sons Christopher and Mathew at their suburban home in DC on Sunday.
A history of mental illness and a growing fear of Obama winning a second term in the White House took its toll on the mind of Mr Peterson, a wealthy defense contractor, the friend said.
The Christian Science Monitor talks with Why Nations Fail co-author Daron Acemoglu, who says that medieval Venice could offer some helpful parallels in understanding threats that could undermine America’s future:
… Read the rest
Americans on the left worry about the self-serving political clout of Wall Street and big banks, while Americans on the right worry about the self-serving clout of big public employee unions like Wisconsin’s teachers.
“Those are well-placed fears. But both historically and in the United States, the bigger threat has come not from the unions but from specific groups of employers. Only in a few societies – for example, in England in the 1970s – have unions become so strong and so well organized and presented a uniform enough interest to really block technological change.”
The prime example is the political power of the financial industry, illustrated by the skill in which it came through the last financial crash without the significant rule changes that usually follow big crashes.
Happy Fourth of July! Native American Netroots provides some perspective on the meaning of ‘America’:
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America was named on April 25, 1507 after the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci. Vespucci made at least two voyages across the Atlantic… [the] first voyage was in 1499 when he sailed with Alonso de Hojeda.
While Columbus might be characterized as a religious fanatic who could hardly speak or write without invoking the Christian God and dwelling fervently on his personal relationship with this God, Vespucci almost never referred to God. Religion was never very high on the scale of values to which Vespucci had been exposed. While he undoubtedly learned a little about the Christian God as a child, he seems to have forgotten all of this by the time he was an adult.
Unlike Columbus, Vespucci never waged war on the natives, nor did he found any colonies. He never commanded a fleet or even led an expedition.
The latest census data shows nearly one in two Americans, or 150 million people, have fallen into poverty — or could be classified as low income. We’re joined by Dr. Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, who continue their efforts to spark a national dialog on the poverty crisis with the new book, The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.
John Stoehr writes on Al Jazeera:
… Read the rest
In the US, the dominant political discourse consists of ideas put forth by the ruling class.
Karl Marx never visited the United States, but he nevertheless understood the country, because he understood capitalism. As you know, there’s no American ideology that’s mightier than capitalism. Equality, justice and the rule of law are nice and all, but money talks.
In their 1846 book The German Ideology, Marx and co-author Frederick Engels took a look at human history and made a plain but controversial observation. In any given historical period, the ideas that people generally think are the best and most important ideas are usually the ideas of the people in charge. If you have a lot of money and own a lot of property, then you have the power to propagandise your worldview and you have incentive to avoid appearing as if you’re propagandising your worldview.