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October 29, 2008

Comments

Nato

At the risk of being an enabler, I'd like to point to the breakdown at the American Conservative, which is evenly balanced between Obama and McCain, with many going third party. E.g.
http://www.amconmag.com/article/2008/nov/03/00020/

This is an unusual year.

Tom

I just read a bunch of those posts from Nato's link, and it's incredible to me how much negative sentiment was put forth; a lot of the posters claimed they were either going to vote 3rd-party or not at all. It seems like America is going through a phase of self-loathing right now (as partially evidenced by the stock market). The rest of the world has pretty much loathed America since 2003, and now America has caught the drift. A McCain administration would do nothing to cure this psychological phenomenon, which is why Obama is currently projected to win in a landslide (well, Palin has certainly helped Obama as well, through that single interview with Couric).

Nathan Smith

re: "The rest of the world has pretty much loathed America since 2003."

Tom, you're better than this moronic hyperbole. Certainly, attitudes to America deteriorated after 2003, continuing and accelerating a slide that began in the 1990s, but the questions that evoke these attitudes do not typically use language anything like as strong as "loathing," and I doubt that a significant share of people in most regions of the world would accept that characterization. In any case, it's hard to know how seriously to take reported negative attitudes to America. For example, Russia is one of the most America-phobic places in the world, yet Russians are constantly watching American movies, learning English, often travelling to America, and so on. Moreover, the invasion of Georgia, though it was partly an expression of anger for America, was also an imitation of US action in Kosovo, and justified as such, which betrays an attitude that in some sense accepts American superiority/accepts America as a standard. In Europe, despite the reported anti-American attitudes, there has been no movement to, say, exit NATO, and indeed elections have tended to push Europe in a more Atlanticist direction of late. Often in the past, a leading power has provoked coalitions against it, e.g. 17th-century France, 20th-century Germany. Nothing like that has happened in the US, or at least, to the extent that is has (Russia + Venezuela + Iran), it has appealed only to a few. At the end of the day, America is still respected, trusted, emulated, and, in many ways, admired.

Anti-Americanism is an indulgence, engaged in by people in prosperous countries, almost none of whom would even claim to have suffered material harm at America's hands. It has the same type of appeal of Bolshevism, an ideological and paranoid appeal. There is something unserious about it, and although it can be dangerous, it should not be pandered to.

Tom

Love and Hate are relative. Relative to feelings about the US right after 9/11, the world does indeed loathe. Is this unfair? Maybe, maybe not. When expectations are set high, failure to meet them is very disappointing. When expectations are set low, surpassing them is very pleasing. The expectations of America are higher than for any other country in the world, and they may be even among the highest historically. America has clearly disappointed, and people are more fed-up than usual. If you don't like the term "loathing", then replace it with one that is more PC if you like.

Nathan Smith

re: "Love and Hate are relative. Relative to feelings about the US right after 9/11, the world does indeed loathe."

That's a little bit like telling your friend, "I hate you," and then, when he asks you, in horror, what you mean, saying, "Well, I mean, relatively; I love my children so much more than I love you, that my attitude is hatred by comparison." Relative, baloney. "Loathing" is a very stupid and quite wrong way to describe the world's attitude to America.

"The expectations of America are higher than for any other country in the world, and they may be even among the highest historically. America has clearly disappointed..."

Let's say that America has surprised the world. The "higher" is a morally loaded word. The surprises have been pleasant to some-- many, perhaps most Iraqis, certainly including young freedom-lovers like Iraq the Model, and the Kurds, etc., etc., etc.; India; Japan; southern Sudan, etc.-- and unpleasant to others. Generally, those to whom American foreign policy has been a pleasant surprise have been among the least fortunate, the most oppressed, in the world. Those to whom American foreign policy has been an unpleasant surprise include most of the privileged and comfortable people in the world, especially western Europeans. In general, they have not suffered actual material harm; rather, they were chagrined by the disruption of a world order that was stable and beneficial to them. They have suffered injury to their psychic security.

re: "If you don't like the term 'loathing', then replace it with one that is more PC if you like."

The issue here is not political correctness but accuracy. Some parts of the world do indeed loathe America, especially parts of the world that harbor imperial ambitions, such as Russia; also, the parts of the world that loathe America generally do not have a free press and attitudes are in part manufactured by states that oppose democratic freedoms. Most of the world regards America with an attitude that mixes selective admiration with mistrust and sometimes anger. Tom should stop thinking of the word "loathing" as a description of the world's attitude to America because it is better not to fill one's head with delusions.

Tom

Nathan, there are hundreds of millions of people that want the capitalist model championed by the US to fail. The past 8 years have given them "evidence" to support their misguided notions that capitalism and Democracy are not so great, like they always said. I just heard on the radio the other day serious intellectuals debating whether or not a planned socialist economy is superior to a free-market capitalist one. One of them actually argued that GDP growth is not a good end to strive for, that a sustainable equilibrium was actually preferred with a focus on "quality" instead of "quantity". The majority of people in the world today flat-out resent America, and while "loathe" might be too strong, "resent" is not.

Nathan Smith

I'm glad Tom has dropped the "loathing" line, among other things, for the sake of the honor of the rest of the world. Loathing is an emotion good people feel rarely, if ever; the feeling does no credit to the loather, regardless of what provoked it. To think most of the world loathed America would be to have a pretty low opinion of the rest of the world. I am quite confident that the world is better than that, and I hope Tom also stops thinking such things.

Resentment is also a bad feeling to have, but, of course, not as bad as loathing.

Tom

The world is not populated by people who are above baser feelings, like you and I, Nathan. Go to a campaign rally for McCain and you'll see what I mean. And that's in America. In the majority of other countries that sort of sentiment is standard. People Love and Hate viscerally. To not Love and not Hate is rational and educated and practiced; in other words, it's a minority sentiment. We can argue about which word to use to describe the fact that people in general dislike the America of the past 8 years, but that dislike, resentment, loathing, hatred is still very real.

Nato

Another split decision from conservative National Interest:
http://nationalinterest.org/Article.aspx?id=20146

As I said before, this is an unusual year.

Tom

That last link is a pretty fair appraisal. Both candidates are good. No matter the outcome, the executive branch will be in capable hands, which is why now is the perfect time to vote against the two major parties and vote Libertarian!

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