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Saturday, July 28, 2012

An Island of Chauvinists?

By some accounts, 2009 saw Great Britain's standard of living rise above those of Americans. I'm assuming that meant that Britons are living better, but mayhap it just means that percentage by which their quality of life has improved was significantly higher than the American growth. I don't know. In any event, this was three years ago, but for quite some time now a small percentage of Britons now seem to think that they've entered some kind of superior standing and freely insult and characterize Americans as stupid, fat, chauvinist, just generally inferior. There's some legitimacy behind these criticisms as America, located in the heart of capitalism and wide class disparity, seems hellbent on destroying social services, cutting rather than expanding the social safety net, and doing all this while fighting wars of conquest in order to maintain a fossil fuel habit that is unsustainable. A certain reactionary strain in our nation's spiritual life is an impediment to our thinking as well. But then America is still at this time, the world's largest economy and military superpower. In some ways, our problems now become the world's problems soon.

Indeed, the United Kingdom's relatively high standard of living isn't quite as solid a foundation as it might seem. The youth riots of last summer  attest to that and they seem to be the exemplification of the increasing amount of youth violence and discontentment that nation is experiencing.  A restless and somewhat extremist Muslim population, again largely youthful, has been linked to terrorism and has been inflammatory to the general public to say the least. In response, bigoted, far right fascist groups like the English Defence League and the British National Party are aggressively mobilizing in the streets, protesting Mosques and spewing their hellbroth of extreme nationalism/ Neo-Nazi ideology. These fascist or crypto-fascist groups are far more overt and prominent than their American counterparts.

A return to a great and imperial Britain is, of course, a nostalgic dream for many British reactionaries. Great Britain was one of the few other nations to commit troops to America's invasion of Iraq. This is a collective blind spot in the British political street. A famous headline in the U.K. asked "A Nation of Idiots?" about the U.S. as a result of the electorate's reelection of George W.Bush. This was stupid for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, voter fraud was a heavy factor. This was also hypocritical as not too long afterwards Tony Blair, who played a big role in involving the U.K. in the Iraq debacle, was reelected. Moreover, though the United States initiated and led the Iraq occupation, the American public was always heavily divided and largely skeptical of the Iraq war. Not since the Vietnam War, where there had been conscription, had the cities, capitals, and campuses of America been so full of protesters and radicals.

It's likely that, as a species, our sense of national pride provides an ego boost and national difficulties are hard to reconcile, so it's much easier for some Britons to project onto the United States all of the problems that are insidiously and slowly undermining the United Kingdom as well. America the uneducated and obese is not alone as obesity and failing school systems are increasingly a problem in Great Britain.

The bottom line is that Americans are preyed upon by the forces of commodification and crony capitalism-forces western Europe has more ably resisted, but is not immune to.  Hopefully, the U.K. will continue to resist capital's pernicious influence, or they may exchange the inaccurate stereotype of unattractive red hair, terrible teeth, and shabby dress for their new stereotype- overweight junk food eating illiterates. In the mean time, it's best for workers of the world to unite and to avoid cheap stereotypes.

1 comment:

  1. Take all you want, my just and worthy liege, for my bloggRithym's NOT mine.