I think it’s the other way around with the Americans

America: a land of liberals, governed by conservatives?

Strangely, I tend to think of it as a land of conservatives. For I find it very difficult indeed to perceive many liberals there.

No, I don’t mean support or not for abortion, balanced budgets or not, all those things that are usually taken as being the dividing lines. Rather, I find it very difficult to see any of them as liberals.

In the classical sense of live and let live. I might not like what you’re doing but given that you’re a consenting adult then my like or not of it, assuming you’re not harming anyone else, has no relevance.

The so called liberals are just as intolerant of difference as the so called conservatives in my experience. There are certainly myriad ideological tribes one can belong to over there but they do like you to conform to the rules of whatever tribe it is. It’s in this sense that I mean that they’re conservative, not liberal.

Just an impression mind but one that’s fairly strong with me.

16 thoughts on “I think it’s the other way around with the Americans”

  1. I totally agree, except I would say that false liberalism isn’t confined to the US but is instead a natural human condition; bullshit is human.

    I had the dubious pleasure pleasure of attending a church-based presentation/debate by an individual called Neil Addison. His beef is that so-called liberals are actually extremely consorious and intolerant of difference, particualrly difference from a religious persepective. I agreed with him totally up to that point.

    The problems came when I asked about our – relgious peoples’ – need to show tolerance. I mentioned the case of the registrar who refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies, pointing out that civil partnerships had no religious connotations at all. Therefore, I argued, the people seeking one were not impacting on her life or her stated religious/moral views at all.

    At this point it becaume clear that in his view and the view of the larger part of the hall ‘Conscience’ only applied to religious people and respect for personal conscience need only be extended to those with a religious conviction (we’ll grudgingly extend it to Muslims, Sikhs and perhaps Jews).

    This bastard even had the temerity to invoke John Stuart Mill to encourage the gallery to shout me down.(Except he called him Milne!)

  2. I have long been of the view that the USA is currently the most harmful nation on the planet, as the wellspring of the last great totalitarian ideology (which we currently call things like PC, Progressivism, etc). It is a country that started well but was utterly ruined by waves of religious hysteria, which have left it divided between two dominant groups- one of whom are dangerous totalitarian religious fanatics, and the other are the Christian Right.

    The USA has provided many wonderful products to the world- pizzas, hamburgers, rockets, beer that tastes like piss- but in social and political terms the place is a Typhoid Mary. We can only pray that that volcano in Jellystone Park will finally go off. Then the rest of us might get some peace.

    To be serious, the USA seems to be currently at about the stage GB was a century ago- blissfully unaware of the impending end of its grand imperial era- and that can only be a good thing. Once they’re just another country, it will hopefully reduce the flow of poisonous bilge emanating from every orifice of the Land Of The Free, that being the land of the free that banned beer for fuck’s sake.

  3. If there were a single word that should be expunged from English-language discourse, “liberal” would be it: covering everything from Yank lefties, via libertarians everywhere, to staunch Australian Tories, it means absolutely nothing – either as a self-descriptor or an insult.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    America utterly lacks conservatives. They are all liberals. Some are classical liberals. Some are more modern liberals, ie leftists. But a genuine conservative in America would be hard to think of.

    IanB, the Americans take the worst of the world’s bullsh!t and dumb it down before spreading it far and wide. But they are not to blame for the vile ideologies of the 20th century. Marx was not an American. Nor was Hitler. Nor did either have any sizable number of apologists in America until the Sixties.

    America has been a haven of peace, law and order, economic development, democracy and liberal values. In 1940 those things existed virtually nowhere except the White English speaking world. America has encouraged the rest of the world to adopt them.

    In the meantime the Europeans have given us virtually every poisonous ideology of the modern period. And they produced the inspiration for the Sixties radicals who have transformed America and given us political correctness. Berkeley would have been nothing without the Frankfurt School.

  5. I’m struggling to think of other words which have been as debased as ‘liberal’: perhaps ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’?

  6. I’d class Sarah Palin as pretty much a classic liberal.

    Arguable on abortion but when liberalism was founded they were probably less keen on legal abortion than her.

    Most of the problem is that the word “liberal” has been hijacked by entirely illiberal PseudoLiberals who presumably believe their own agenda would not be popular unless hidden by a “liberal” brand.

  7. “I find it very difficult indeed to perceive many liberals there”

    So you aren’t aware of the (US) Libertarian Party? (http://www.lp.org/) You aren’t aware of the libertarian charity Institute for Justice, which promotes economic freedom by “litigating [against the government] for liberty”? Etc. My impression is there are a lot more classical liberals in the US than in the UK.

  8. SMFS, the important question though is whether the Frankfurt School would ever have been anything without America.

  9. America has been a haven of peace, law and order, economic development, democracy and liberal values. In 1940 those things existed virtually nowhere except the White English speaking world.

    They didn’t exist for a lot of Americans in 1940, either.

  10. I think Americans are mostly conservative people, who happen to live under a liberal constitution. The wonder is they don’t realise how their prized rights conflict with their default stances.

    The constitution acts like a parent allowing a child to ride in the front seat once in a while. But once the ride ends they go back to holding hands to cross the road.

    Things the constitution forgot:

    Drink – You must be 21; you can’t buy spirits in a supermarket; prohibition

    Driving – Slow speeds; stop signs everywhere; no overtaking

    Cheese – The 28th amendment should be, “There are more than three types of cheese. If you’re going to put cheese on every course of every meal, it must be a different variety each time.”

    Insularity – It’s a big diverse country. They often have trouble seeing the benefit of foreign. In fact the word is most used when ordering beer to see if you want to step out of the domestic comfort zone and sample some exotic Corona.

  11. Where to begin? Mr. Potarto you are lobouring under several misapprehensions.

    Drink – the law is different in every state, and in many counties it’s different again. There’s no federal drinking age, BUT the feds do tie certain monies to maintaining it at 21, so almost everybody does. You can buy spirits at the supermarket in some states, not others. I live in Missouri and can buy whiskey at 4am on a Sunday in the supermarket.

    Driving – Americans cant drive. It wouldn’t be a good thing to have them driving fast. My theory is, having driven here for 15 years, that it boils down to them not taking driving lessons – and a chimpanzee could pass the driving test in most states. You can overtake, but it’s hard when everybody in all six lanes is going exactly 65mph!!

    Cheese – there are now many artisanal cheese makers, but people tolerate cheese that I wouldn’t give to a dog. It’s getting better. But I still smuggle cheddar from Waitrose when I come back.

    Insularity – Americans are insular, but it’s understandable. There are probably six cities the size of London, each with its own regional economy, and it’s impossible to keep up with everything everywhere.
    They do travel, but not well. That said, I often come across English people in Florida, usually in their Leeds or Swindon Town shirt, and they are far worse, so it’s not unique to the US. Idiots are idiots.
    Beer is, again, getting better.

  12. Beer is very good, in my opinion, as long as you pick the right kind of place. Cheese is harder to find.

    I appreciate I was simplifying, but generally, American society is uptight about drink (and drugs) and very relaxed about guns simply because the Founding Fathers(tm) did not think to include the right to a tipple in their document.

    Re:overtaking – I’m talking about the single carriageways. Thousands of miles of roads with a double yellow down the middle.

  13. “Beer is very good, in my opinion” – forgetting (as I desperately try to) their peculiar need to add fruit to it during brewing.

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