Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Mildly Political Post

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Jeweled Concrete posted some interesting articles yesterday along the American political theme. I thought this one in particular, from Der Spiegel, had an introduction that summarizes well the European perception of the United States:

America is a wonderful country, with jaw-dropping wilderness and wide open spaces that seem as far removed from New York or Los Angeles as the moon. America has the best universities with the most brilliant scientists who win a host of Nobel Prizes year after year.

This is also home to the world's leading think tanks, where highly impressive studies are conducted on topics like the future of world politics, religion and capitalism. These institutions produce works written in a readily understandable language based on a firm belief in the power of reasoning, rather than ivory tower musings with no connection to reality.

In all cultural spheres, from classical to trash, this is where the avant-garde emerges, time and again. Capitalism is regularly reinvented in America before it sets out again to conquer the world. America still attracts immigrants from countries around the globe . . .

This country believes that it has a predetermined role in the history of mankind -- a manifest destiny.

America? A horrendous country that betrays its own values every few years, thus forfeiting its moral right to lead the Western world. It elects presidents who know nothing about the world, and have no interest in learning more, which explains why they readily succumb to errors and illusions, only to reveal their utter amazement when they finally -- and usually too late -- admit their mistakes. Since 1945, America has been fighting wars in countries that it knows very little about, and under premises that have almost nothing to do with reality.

America is a superpower around the globe, but a Third World country at home, with an infrastructure that defies description . . .

There is also the obscene contrast between rich and poor, which has hardy interested or shocked any administration since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. What is even more obscene is the ignorance of a government that allows millions of people, in the richest country in the world, to live without health insurance. This is a government that stands by idly as the (primarily black) city of New Orleans disappears under floodwaters. Yes, the most obscene aspect of all remains the unacknowledged racism in this country of pragmatic enlightenment -- the ongoing prejudices of whites against blacks.

America is an extreme country, and no one feels indifferent about it. No matter whether you live in Karachi, Hamburg or Tbilisi -- you are bound to have an opinion about America. The US has friends and enemies all around the globe. America serves as a role model for Western industrialized societies, a model based on the spirit of Protestantism. But it also provides a paragon example of the downsides of this approach: materialism, unbridled consumerism, reckless exploitation of people and natural resources. This country the size of a continent has fascinating strengths and unparalleled weaknesses. It inspires both devoted admiration and aggressive contempt.

Everyone's watching today as the US votes for Bush's successor! There will be overnight parties in some German cities to see the results come in. Supposedly one will be able to watch the Munich and Berlin parties online at these links, although they aren't live as of this writing:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/munich-election-night-party

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/berlin-election-night-party

The only event in Heidelberg that I know about is at the DAI, and sounds a bit more fusty than the Berlin and Munich events. I envy you guys in the cities! Have a great time!

1 comment:

  1. The Election Night Event at the DAI is "traditional" for Heidelberg - has been there for decades, every election i remember.
    Even when they had to draw up a 15-foot high wooden fence around the building to protect it from constant paint bomb attacks back in the 80s hehe.

    But yeah - it's not a party, it's more like one of those events where the local political creme from certain branches gather. Although only a minor one, with no one watching closely who's attending lol.

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