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Old February 3rd, 2018, 04:30 AM   #1
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Is American culture fundamentally flawed?


We often talk about how countries are flawed because their cultures are fundamentally flawed, such as how Islamic countries that have Sharia law are flawed because Islam itself is flawed, or how Japan before WW2 was a flawed state because its cultural philosophy of Bushido and militarism are flawed, on this case, if Libertarianism itself is flawed because it fundamentally misreads human nature, and if America's culture is based on Libertarianism, then can we say that American culture itself is fundamentally flawed, and because of that America is a flawed country.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 04:36 AM   #2

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All countries and systems have flaws.
Has any held up the American system to be perfect?
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 04:43 AM   #3

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American culture, in my opinion, has the best entertainment culture. It also used to have the best scientific academic culture which I'm not sure is the case anymore.

The U.S. was supposed to be the best because it was supposed to be the nexus of cultures. But apparently, a select group, a majority, is trying to fight this. Today, I can name a place that is easily more multicultural and successful, Singapore, for example.

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Old February 3rd, 2018, 05:10 AM   #4

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That idea that a country can be flawed implies that nation states have an objective end-goal, and that there is an objectively 'correct' way for a country to be.

To the human brain this view attempts to put some structure on the international system, but reality is a bit messier than that.

In reality, there is no such thing as a 'correct' way for a country to be, because the very nature of change over time means the world is constantly adapting to new scenarios. What was 'correct' 50 years ago may not be correct now. What's correct now may not be correct in 50 years.

As humans, communities, societies, all we can do is try to keep making good decisions given the information we have.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 05:39 AM   #5
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Your argument is flawed because American culture is not and never has been based on Libertarianism. You are creating a straw man.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 05:40 AM   #6

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What could be ' fundamental flaw ' in the culture of USA ? I do not see any ' fundamental ' flaw. The founding fathers of the USA were , to my mind, great visionaries and idealistic democrats who framed a Constitution to themselves and spread ideas regarding Freedom to that part of Europe which was then suffering untold miseries under the iron heel of a system unsuited to modern world---namely France under King Louis. The USA was then a fountainhead of advanced ideas regarding self-governance of mankind. There was no fundamental flaw at all.
If at all, it can be called that, it was the simple fact that the land of USA was inhabited by the native ' Red Indians ' who were systematically butchered . The copybook of the American Libertarian ideas got blotted there. And add to that the westward expansion which was based on the greed for gold. Maybe the decline of American culture started and gathered speed from the Civil War onwards.
What was the period in the history of the USA when Sinclair Louis was writing about the meat packing plants of Chicago ? May be that period was the tipping point.

Last edited by rvsakhadeo; February 3rd, 2018 at 05:53 AM.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 06:09 AM   #7
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American distrust of government started in the Revolutionary period, if not earlier. Since then there has been a persistent suspicion that government could become tyrannical. This suspicion of government leads Americans to resist governmental solutions to various social problems and to instead rely on the free market to solve problems.

One example is healthcare. Americans resist national health insurance and insist the free market can control healthcare costs despite the fact that healthcare costs have been rising for decades with no evidence the free market is having any effect on costs.

Americans resist regulating the financial markets, preferring the free market to remove bad actors. But somehow those bad actors are too big to fail so the government ends up bailing them out (keeping them in the market).

The free market can't solve every problem, but don't say that to one of my fellow Americans.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 07:50 AM   #8

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The term "flawed" is heavily weighted emotionally, but is itself too indefinite for meaningful analysis. To begin with there is the fundamental question of whether perfecting even exists. Platonic conviction that there are Universal principles that under-lie everything within our perceptive reality, has faded as our world has come to rely on materialism and perception has come to favor the notion that all values are relative. Which is more nearly correct, or how can we reconcile the two?

If value is more relative than a "flawed" version of Platonic Universal Forms, then we must ask what Universal Perfection lies behind human social values? Is it the Law of the Jungle, or the perfection dreamed of by our species various religious doctrines? Perhaps, if this view is correct, the Viking warrior who picked up a case of Christian humility and charity was the flaw that eventually doomed their whole reality construct. Viking life: nearly perfect, but led to disaster by admitting a flawed reality represented by early Christianity.

I think a better approach would be to accept that human institutions have always been evolving, but the changes themselves are morally/ethically neither right nor wrong, perfect or imperfect. What we might look for are those historic elements that, among many variables, appear to be the proximate cause for some facet of change within the larger (and longer) history of the culture(s) we study. Leave entirely the notion of right and wrong, virtue and wickedness, saint and sinner for all night discussions over in the Theology Department. We should be looking for "facts" believed relevant to the historical question. All humans and human groupings are "flawed", or I'm living in the wrong universe. Our notions of perfection, the absence of flaw, can not be easily reconciled with the beliefs and world views of our species at any point in its existence. History just is, and we study it and evaluate various aspects of the human species according to our own place in space and time.

To sum that all up, all humans and human institutions are "flawed" from some perspectives, and "perfection" has no practical reality.

Is the U.S.A. flawed? Certainly according to some whose value system demands 'perfection". A better approach is to ask and examine the question of how human values have evolved to bring us to February 3, 2017, and/or where-what are the trend lines carrying us?

The Western World has evolved from Law of the Jungle to a world view that once was dominated by oppression and religion to a materialistic world where deep religious convictions have become less relevant to global society. Those views have been a logarithmic progression that for most of history has been little changed from generation to generation for hundreds, even thousands of years. A number of events in Europe following the late Medieval led to a shift from the foundations religious Feudal period to one that led to modernity at an increasing rate. The Black Death, the interior rot of faith within the Medieval Church, the introduction of movable type, gunpowder, and a shift from Faith to Scientific Method are commonly recognized facets of the changes that took place during and after the Renaissance. Around the 17th century scientific discovery was increasingly at the heart of technological change, and the Industrial Revolution replaced old notions of wealth and value rooted in land and Faith toward a materialistic money values. The new technological foundations of society have influenced social events ever after.

The U.S.A. has spent most of its very short life in a "test tube". We have been allowed to develop our rich resources behind the world's two great oceans. The land and how it came to be conquered by those of European descent has had a profound impact oh the American character. We have been enriched by the enthusiasm our system of government and law has inspired among the masses of humanity. As materialism represents a significant portion of the population, we are known for our inventiveness and innovations. This is still a very dynamic society and culture, so change is far faster than the change experienced in the Old Worlds, and of course, the risks to the whole of humanity seem to be increasing as the world shrinks from terra incognito to a small clannish village. Gossip is rife, petty back-biting and fear of losing social status infects large numbers. Alpha-humans get world-wide press, and the increasing masses who live "ordinary lives", perceive themselves in a constant battle to secure their place in the social hierarchy. We value a "meaningful life", but project that vision against the walls of our perceived prison. Many believe that success (health, wealth and control) are somehow reserved for some faceless "overseers" who aren't quite human.

The may be developing a crisis of confidence growing in populations around he world. Change is too fast and the fundamental forces in our world are increasingly centered in faraway capitols where bureaucrats labor over centralized planning that will effect every member of our species. The international competitions of the Great Powers seem less relevant to ordinary lives that we are comfortable with. Clannish Nationalism is still alive and frighten people to the point that fustrations break into open opposition to leadership.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 08:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rvsakhadeo View Post
What could be ' fundamental flaw ' in the culture of USA ? I do not see any ' fundamental ' flaw. The founding fathers of the USA were , to my mind, great visionaries and idealistic democrats who framed a Constitution to themselves and spread ideas regarding Freedom to that part of Europe which was then suffering untold miseries under the iron heel of a system unsuited to modern world---namely France under King Louis. The USA was then a fountainhead of advanced ideas regarding self-governance of mankind. There was no fundamental flaw at all.
If at all, it can be called that, it was the simple fact that the land of USA was inhabited by the native ' Red Indians ' who were systematically butchered . The copybook of the American Libertarian ideas got blotted there. And add to that the westward expansion which was based on the greed for gold. Maybe the decline of American culture started and gathered speed from the Civil War onwards.
What was the period in the history of the USA when Sinclair Louis was writing about the meat packing plants of Chicago ? May be that period was the tipping point.
“Tipping point” for what?
Sinclair Lewis’ work about Chicago resulted in great improvements, so it was a step forward and not a step backward.
And I agree that the basis for the US government was never Libertarianism. It was republic democracy.
Also, the westward rush was not fueled by a “greed for gold”; it was fueled by a “greed for free land”. When gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California in 1848, there was indeed a gold rush but it was a west coast thing and all that land to the east was there for the taking for those willing to work the land. Farming was America’s biggest business then and nearly everyone was into farming or ranching. The lure of free land for Europeans who could scarcely imagine such a thing being given away practically for nothing was impossible to resist.
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Old February 3rd, 2018, 11:03 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ren0312 View Post
We often talk about how countries are flawed because their cultures are fundamentally flawed, such as how Islamic countries that have Sharia law are flawed because Islam itself is flawed, or how Japan before WW2 was a flawed state because its cultural philosophy of Bushido and militarism are flawed, on this case, if Libertarianism itself is flawed because it fundamentally misreads human nature, and if America's culture is based on Libertarianism, then can we say that American culture itself is fundamentally flawed, and because of that America is a flawed country.
I'm not from the United States, but even a cursory reading of US history would suggest that her history is not 'based on Libertarianism'.

Actually, US political history is not too dissimilar to English political history in that government exists for defence and justice.

While not perfect, my hunch is that Americans understand human nature pretty well and that's why they've been able to export so much.
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