Skip to comments.Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States
Posted on 09/04/2003 7:29:11 AM PDT by Voice in your head
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Then you might also like this line from him as well:
While there is no global culture yet, American popular culture is increasingly available and wickedly appealing
An increasingly scary thought and not just to Muslims
The abuse of a market economy and capitalism itself is practiced by the likes of Interscope records, MTV/Viacoms cheesy and seamless promotion and in clothing whores like Abercrombie and Fitch.
We need a more moral economy - Valuing Culture and Towards Morality: Rights and Responsibilities-instead of pimping the nihilistic schlock that tarnish values and offers no suitable replacement whatsoever.
Aw, c'mon... let's dig deeply for some of that Hubrisian Treasure.
The sand will never shift, no collapse will ever happen.
We know, because we read it on the internet.
I'm not sure where the author was going with that "science as an 'alternative religion'" idea. I agree that it sounds a little wacky.
"One can have the rule of law while retaining the family as the basic social unit."
The author is simply referring to the problems created when family ties trump law. He is not saying that law & order is mutually exclusive to family unity. That is why he wrote that "family networks... do not build the rule of law, or democracy, or legitimate corporations, or free markets. Where the family or clan prevails [over the rule of law, or democracy, or legitimate corporations, or free markets], you do not hire the best man (to say nothing of the best woman) for the job... You do not vote for the best man... And you do not consider cease-fire deals or shareholder interests to be matters of serious obligation."
"One can have women in the workplace without ignoring the risks of large numbers of latch-key children."
How does this relate to the article?
The very idea of trying to change other people's cultures is precisely the worst possible approach to winning the present war against international terrorists. Trying to change other people's cultures is not only slightly insane, it can only help the outlaws we fight, recruit new terrorists.
For a realistic approach to the War on Terror, War 2001--The Shortest, Surest Path To Victory!
Incidentally, the equally silly idea that we can both introduce Democracy into the Third World, and benefit from doing so, was the basis of the despicable Fabian Socialist foreign policy of Dean Rusk in the 1960s, which caused terrible havoc & slaughter, while prolonging the Cold War and undermining Western interests. Why would anyone want to go back to such a failed (and, frankly, evil policy)?
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
I'm surprised others sort of glossed over the rather glaring line: "History laughs at us all--the one economic analyst who would understand immediately what is happening in the world today would be a resurrected German "content provider" named Marx."
In any case, I still find a lot of his analysis useful and correct. The problems Sabertooth nailed above are sort if inherent to any Marxist/Materialist analysis (Though, incidentally Sabertooth, I think you missed the distinction between the immediate family and the extended family/clan/tribe he criticized - though I think he missed an important and relevant linkage to the family unit itself which you picked up on.).
If you are wise enough to restrict material analysis to the material sphere, rather than assuming (as Peters seems to) that it supercedes and replaces all other spheres of human wisdom, there is a lot to be gained from the article above.
People imitate culture and culture imitates people. If you take a newborn American and allow him to be adopted by a family in Palestine, he's probably going to be dirty, lazy, and be constantly obsessed with the destruction of Israel. If that same child is reared in the US, he will probably be obsessed with his appearance, eager to find some job that pays a lot of money, and obsessed with sports, music, tv, movies or some other non-militant interest. Culture affects people that are raised in it.
"A nation's culture reflects the aptitudes and personalities of its people. American culture has always reflected our people, not the other way around. The idea that you can remake a nation by artificially altering its culture... needs to be laid to rest."
People of other countries are beginning to reflect American culture. That is why it is trendy to listen to American music, wear American-style clothes, and eat American fast food in so many other countries - especially the former Eastern bloc countries in which information and freedom were suppressed for so long. When a country is allowed to access information and be free, people are attracted to American culture and they begin adopting it into their own. That is one of the reasons that Arabs hate us - our "sinful" culture is so appealing to their youth and everyday it gets harder to hide their youth from the temptations of American culture.
I don't think that we need to remake the rest of the world. If we simply liberate the rest of the world, it will remake itself. Ayn Rand said that, "civilization is the process of setting men free from other men." And, that is all that we need to do. When men are freed from tyrants and they have information available to make their own decisions, rather than receive a daily dose of government propoganda, and the freedom to pursue their own happiness, rather than someone else's, then those men will remake their own society in a manner that reflects the lessons that they learn from observing other prosperous and free nations - such as ours. I had the opportunity to spend some quality time in Baghdad from April thru August. The explosion (no pun intended) of free enterprise was amazing to behold. The streets of that city are now teeming with markets selling every type of product that those people could want. People are making a hell of the lot more money than they've ever made before. And, people are living in far less fear than ever before.
Your mistake is in equating fads with culture. What is trendy may appeal to sophisticates--people into false reasoning and affectation. It does not change the fundamental culture of a people, although in time it may cause a people to lose some of their cultural achievements--their legacy from their forebears. Let me take a popular example of what I mean.
One of the best loved, best known children's stories is Hans Christian Anderson's "The Emperor's New Clothes," which certainly captures the penchant of the sophisticate to slaver over what he deems to be "trendy." And yet, that story of the asininity of crowds trying to be "with it," does not change the basic characteristics of the Danish people--nor by analogy, do the "trendy" things which you discuss change the fundamentals of traditional American culture.
You may like Fast Foods, etc., I do not. But my toleration for them reflects my traditional American respect for individual preferences. But the free culture which we have reflects something yet more basic. It reflects the type of early settlers that came here--their complex of aptitudes and social characteristics. They had a greater degree of self-reliance than the people who remained behind. In addition, most of them came from countries, where people had displayed a greater degree of individual initiative than those in other countries near by.
Those dancing to American music and eating hamburgers in other lands do not thereby achieve the characteristics necessary to settle a wilderness and develop a complex social economy based upon a greater degree of individual risk taking, and individual self-confidence, than most of the world has displayed. Nor do they necessarily acquire the same resolve to risk everything in order to sustain a degree of personal freedom, which almost no one--modern Americans included--still enjoy.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
Please point out where in the article the author of the piece gives ANY indication of the viewpoint you say he does. Simple fact is that you can't, as the meaning of the article is quite clear;
1) When referring to the family, he is NOT referring to the nuclear family, but the the extended family, to which one owes loyalty "uber alles". Poohbah's response to that point is right on target.
2) When referring to religion, he is talking about RELIGION "uber alles"--cf a theocracy--NOT a society where religious freedom exists.
The "points" you supposedly address simple have nothing whatsoever to do with what the author wrote.
In what way does our culture reflect those types of early settlers? By virtue of being free? By virtue of being prosperous? Something else?
By virtue of identification; by virtue of how we Conservatives--the ones who want to perpetuate that culture--define freedom (which is quite different than the way Socialists define freedom; by virtue of the type of mindset that gives us the breadth of our prosperity, tempered by the importance of our particular emphasis on the non-material aspects of the good life--such as a greater appreciation of open spaces, and getting away from crowds, than some others, for example--etc.. A good example of how American culture differs even from that of Western Europe, is in what the Left ridicules as our "gun culture."
I am just scratching the surface, of course.
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
That's one way of looking at things. But some people have seen the American Revolution as a "conservative revolution." That's self-contradictory, but the idea seems to be that America could have its revolution without destroying the social order, either because roots were shallow, or because social conflicts weren't so deep, or because there was so much free land. Other countries that tried to conduct their own revolutions have often failed.
Revolution has been a very messy business in other countries. Where modernizing revolutions fail, the interventionists who try to produce them become targets of popular rage. Where they succeed, one may succeed in making friends -- or simply creating stronger enemies and competitors. In general, we Americans think of revolution in libertarian terms. Unfortunately, when other countries have revolutions, their upheavals can be egalitarian, leveling, anarchic, statist or totalitarian, as traditionalist conservatives have understood.
Just a couple of observations on the some of the Seven Signs:
"Inability to accept responsibility for individual or collective failure."
I'm afraid that this is now a feature of American culture. It's always someone else's fault; it's television's fault that children are illiterate, it's tobacco's fault that people get cancer, it's McDonald's fault that people are too fat, guns are at fault for crime.
"The extended family or clan as the basic unit of social organization."
If the author is criticising nepotism, he should come right out and say it. And IF he is criticising nepotism, he has just condemned the American business community whose words to live by are "It's not what you know, but who . . . "(variant endings exist). Not only is our business community run by dynasties and the members of special clubs, but so is our government. Is George (II) Bush really the most qualified executive? Is Teddy Kennedy really the most qualified legislator?
"Domination by a restrictive religion."
Check. We got that, too. Our state religion is effectively Unitarian Universalism; it is enforced in our schools and our public spaces. And the sense of Amendment I has been mutilated so that it effectively forbids public displays that had been commonplace when the U.S. was still a Christian country. The first commandment of our established religion is: "I am the State Almighty, thou shalt have no gods before Me." Homosexuality is one of this new religion's sacraments.
"A low valuation of education."
OK. Let me stop laughing first . . . The U.S. is supposed to put a high value on education? (Insert raucous, gut-busting guffaws here) No! Stop, you're killin' me!
Has the author taken a look at what passes for a college graduate these days?
Oh, man. I needed a good laugh today!
" Low prestige assigned to work."
The U.S. is the land of get-rich-quick. Ralph Cramden could be our patron saint. We got state lotteries. We got OTB. We got real-estate pitchmen promising everybody a yacht and a Jaguar.
The objective of many, if not most American workers is NOT to do "work that's good enough to sign" but to do as little work as possible for as much money as possible. They pick up this bad habit from their managers who are themselves the laziest and most unqualified people on earth. What percentage of American managers could actually do their subordinates' jobs?
So that's five of the Seven Signs right there. Well, at least we don't subjugate women. Although I wonder how non-competitive a state is that allows its males to be subjugated BY women.
In America, I think that the rule of third's applies. One-third of people will always blame others. One-third of people will accept responsibility. One-third is indifferent. I think that the rule of third's also applies to achievers, non-achievers, and those in between. I also think that there is an almost carbon-copy correlation between the two groups. The achievers accept responsibility. The non-achievers assign blame.
"If the author is criticising nepotism, he should come right out and say it."
He is pointing out the problems that arise when family ties trump laws.
"The U.S. is supposed to put a high value on education?"
Perhaps not a high value, but higher than other countries. This, by his argument, makes us more competitive.
"The objective of many, if not most American workers is NOT to do 'work that's good enough to sign' but to do as little work as possible for as much money as possible. They pick up this bad habit from their managers who are themselves the laziest and most unqualified people on earth."
I would not agree that "most" American workers fit that description - perhaps "many" do. However, if viewed comparatively to other countries, we place a greater prestige on work. Look at Europe with it's mandatory vacations and limited work-weeks. Look at the middle east where theivery is revered in fables and to call someone a farmer is a common insult.
Perhaps you are correct. I am still pondering that post and your follow-up - post #65. "Culture" is one of those words that I have not really spent a lot of time hammering out a firm definition for (and if you look it up in any dictionary, it is almost so vague as to have no definition). Your take on the concept of culture is not one that I had considered and so I thank you for those two posts.
I would be curious about your thoughts on this article, if and when you get the time or interest to read it.
I also found Fromm's comments on National Socialism to reflect a Leftist slant--the standard line on the Left, which always tried to make a fundamental distinction between the Nazis and other varieties of Socialists. While there are some differences, really rather minor, they are far less significant than anyone on the rest of the Left--the non-Nazi part--will ever admit.
The simple answer to Iraqi ambivalent behavior is still multi-faceted, and not really simple. Without going there, I would hazzard a stab at it, however. There are many types of Iraqis. Those visible on different days are probably in large measure, different Iraqis. There is also the factor--fairly universal in the types of mankind (although certainly not to the same degree in all types of mankind) of those who will go along with the crowd--the mob psychology. Thus you may have some of the same participants, scowling and cursing one day, and cheering the next. They simply like to be in a mob, and those mobs have had different leaders and different motivating, triggering phenomena.
Iraq is in large measure, one of the many Colonial era mistakes. The British put it together after World War I, but it is not really a nation, but an Administrative area. Much of what the lead article on this thread misses, in deriding tribal loyalties as a detriment to progress (there is no evidence that they are such, rather to the contrary) is that the countries where you have real tribal conflicts, are not really "nations," in the traditional sense, but administrative units, locked into a map drawn by a former conquering power for the convenience of its domination, and the conflicting tribes, are themselves the actual nations involved. The culprit is such situation is not the national identification of people with their actual nation, but the slavish devotion to an old map--the forcing of people to abandon what they should not have to abandon (there normal historic identification) in order to live within a civil society.
On the other hand, history records many, many examples of where a small, functional ethnicity, thrived far better than some of their large, sprawling neighbors. Many of the tribal entities--those extended families, being denounced--would do quite nicely, without the unnecessary baggage inflicted upon them by misguided foreigners, attempting something that today is idiotically labelled "nation building."
William Flax Return Of The Gods Web Site
Because they are a shame/pride culture, that latter may seem paradoxical. But the reality is that we cannot win this by making them proud, for they are not a stupid people and they actually have nothing to be proud of. We can't make them proud because we can't give them anything to be proud of; they need accomplishments of their own for pride, and their culture prevents that. The only hope here is to make them so ashamed that they finally face and accept the thing they are trying to hide from in choosing to fight back: their culture is a failure, and the only way they can succeed is to discard it and change.
The only problem is that the Arabs have low self-esteem! All we gotta do is send over some of our teachers to give them some, and viola!--instant global peace and happiness!
The article seemes a little self congratulatory to say the least. The structure of the article looks at any country/continent/threat to the United States and puts them in their lowly place. Wishfull thinking? Or hoping that stating something validates it. Underestimating should not be confused with undermining. The former might provide valerian effect but the latter is only fit for the uninformed. Will the U.S. ever acquire a worthy global partner it is willing to respect? Or will it retain acquaintences because it has few friends and needs as many as it can get? This article serves to bolster the insecurity that is inherent in the U.S. nationalist psyche, about it ever providing a belevolent influence in the world at large (apart from branded products and so-called popular culture -- i.e. pulp). This talk of international cultural dynamics is interesting but only from an American point of view it seems. America's greatest export (popular culture and way of life) is going the same way as England's greatest export (the English language). Soon, it will be used, changed and abused globally without regard for its creator's wishes and no amount of complaining or lawsuits will make a difference. American ideals will be adopted by the rest of the world but then they will be a part of a larger domain and outside and immune to American infuence. Believe this article if you wish, but it doesn't change a thing. Already, Europe is expanding rapidly, its population and wealth will soon exceed that of the U.S. Forget China, India, Japan and the Middle East. After centuries of war, Europe is uniting and on its way to becoming the dominant economic, cultural, military and creative power on the planet. Even more formidable is the forseeable alliance between Europe and Asia and North Africe, the co-called Eurasion block.
Underestimate at peril!
Quand les porcs volent.