Friday, May 05, 2006

Of mice and men?

America seems a curiously inward looking society to many of us outsiders. When commentators do look outside it is more often to find examples of worse situations to shore up fading national pride. An article by Daniel Johnson in the New York Sun, Fading Leaders, is an example.

“It is some consolation for Americans who are dismayed by the drift and disarray of their own administration that things are even worse in Europe, most of whose governments are now squalid spectacles of chaos and corruption. The weakness of the Western response to Iran's threat to annihilate Israel is in part, at least, a reflection of the enfeebled state of the European political elite.

The gist of the article, if you don’t want to go there, is a run-down of the current political ills

across Europe; a sort ‘see we aren’t so bad…’ Again, a curiously American (or even Republican perhaps) response of pointing to an alternative example of failure, in an effort lessen their own apparent failure.

Sorry Daniel, regardless of what is happening elsewhere, and there is plenty of it, the US variety is all home grown. Pointing to other failures does not extinguish responsibility.

Stange Flip Side

The article then does a flip, extolling a European achievement apparently outside the grasp of the US:

So Europe is not a pretty sight. Yet there are still brave individuals who uphold the best traditions of Jewish and Christian civilization in this continent. One of them has just died at the age of 82: Jean-Francois Revel.
Revel was one of the minority of post-war intellectuals who did not betray the promise of the liberation of France.”

Uhmmmm North America’s version “of the minority of post-war intellectuals who did not betray the promise” died late last week. J K Galbraith (pictured) was a giant of a man, but of course central to his importance was an unyielding grip on ‘liberal’ values.
Galbraith, it is said, was the only economist of the 20th century to become a household name. He certainly stands as one of the last of the true economists. Unlike the current crop of monetarists, Galbraith held to the fact the economics must embrace social as well as fiscal well being.
He should have been revered equally with Rosa Parks and other great American reformers of the 20th century, but his passing seems to elicited more a sigh of relief than the high homage due.

My point is simple: It is pointless to simply keep pointing the finger elsewhere. Take responsibility for your country’s failings and celebrate its successes. The USA has so much to offer a world it seeks to control, but that can only be achieved by realistic self assessment.

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