Exceptional American Stupidity

| Thursday, March 24, 2011
Part one: You're hurting my feelings

Are we all familiar with the idea of American Exceptionalism? Yes? I'm not seeing everyone raising their hands. Okay quick tally, who here is an American? European? Politician? Got it, only the second two know what I'm talking about. Loosely speaking, it's the idea that America is somehow better or beyond the usual notions of how to interact with the world, that we can have unlimited military power and use it to spread peace and democracy, and everyone will love us because we're just so amazing.

I suspect it might be a myth.

But I also suspect that a whole lot of people have bought into it and those people aren't just politicians selling a war. I think an entirely different group has bought into it: people who laugh at Americans being stupid.

I have an idea for you: Americans might not be much more stupid or ignorant than the rest of the world, but instead the myth of American exceptionalism has morphed into the myth of Exceptional American Stupidity. The central element is still that America is special, except now it's 'special', the sort that we say sarcastically while imitating a mildly amusing but mostly offensive comedian.

So stop calling us stupid. I will, of course, not stop, because for some reason it's okay to stereotype, generalize, and broadly demonize one's own group. And of course, Europeans.

Part two: British people

Part of the American narrative is one of being a beacon of democracy, a "city on a hill", an example for the world of how you can all be so much better if only you were more like us. Also, make sure you vote for thinly veiled Christian laws, not thinly veiled Muslim laws. In other words, it's not the theocratic oppression that matters, it's the veils.

But are we really the shining beacon of democracy, the big power from which freedom sprung? I suggest: no.

Shouldn't that go to Britain? After all, our revolution was, among other things, based heavily on our rights as British citizens. It wasn't so much "fuck you England!" as "we hereby request the full recognition and implementation of our rights as Citizens of the Crown as guaranteed by the... oh gosh I appear to have been shot, I shall declare this a massacre and call for revolution, 'YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION WELL YOU KNOW*...' Freedom mother fucker! Which in this time 'fucker' is just a way of say 'strike', so it's still pretty bad because I'm saying you abuse women." My point is this: England invented freedom. Or maybe it was Greece, but let's face it, Greece was a bunch of whiny nothings. Their only significant contributions to the world were half-assed democracy, pointlessly long stories with half-assed philosophy (thereby beating Ayn Rand by a few thousand years), and naked Olympics. The only time they got serious about their conquests were when being led by a Macedonian. Where is Macedonia? Right yes, it's that place right by Greece, which makes sense. Anyway, my point is that England invented freedom that was applied to a significantly larger portion, but not the entirely, of the ruled population, excluding colonies, protectorates, and Ireland (we wouldn't want your damn Protestant freedom anyway!).

England just doesn't get enough credit. It's like we completely skip over their contribution to democracy, which was to deny democracy to Benjamin Franklin, thereby causing him to invent a device to spread it around the world, which we eventually misnamed as America.

Part three: But in Soviet Russia...

What if the King of England hadn't been a gigantic dick and had given the upstart colonies the rights they demanded? In this inverted world, would America have grown into a superpower still united with England? World War II might have turned out differently if England's declaration of war following Germany's invasion of Poland (or did they wait until Belgium?) had been backed up by Americans from the start, walking in and kicking some ass, with General Patton personally killing Hitler, of course at the request of the King. Could this pattern have been maintained, with Britain not oppressing, and therefore retaining control of, India? Pakistan too, since that split came after the war of independence. Imagine, if the King of England hadn't been a gigantic dick, the world might have been unified under England in eternal peace and accents which give the impression of legitimacy (I love the BBC and it's convenient that Al Jazeera English seems to use kidnapped BBC reporters).

On the other hand, if you're not using it to brutally exploit and oppress people, what is the point of power? This is, of course, what Marx got wrong with his theory of Communism as a historical inevitability. If you can't use it to randomly maim poor people, why even bother to build a factory? Wealth? Obviously that's out. Personal drive? A myth. Speaking of economic models: mercantilism, it failed, partly due to a moronic obsession with gold, does this have any relevance in modern times?

Part four: I spent five hours waiting for car repairs and what is left of my sanity is long gone, how the hell do people watch daytime TV?

I guess the bold title gave it away.

Part five: Making fun of Greece some more

Their version of democracy? Gone. Their philosophy? Retained only for the purpose of being an obnoxious twat who asks pointless questions. The sole positive effect was this recent xkcd. Their Olympics? Not naked anymore. Meanwhile the Arab World (wherever that is) gets overlooked, despite having given us great ideas like a system of numbers that works really well for all sorts of mathematics. Position-based value is awesome. Every tried doing calculus with Roman numerals? AWFUL.

* Is it just me or is this a rather anti-revolutionary song?


Mhorgrim said...

Had a helluva good laugh on your post! This made my day.

Andrei said...

Where is Macedonia? Right yes, it's that place right by Greece, which makes sense.

And where is England? Right yes, it's that second-hand power part of a bigger has been.

...had been backed up by Americans from the start, walking in and kicking some ass, with General Patton personally killing Hitler...

You would willingly sacrifice 20m Americans for this glory?

magine, if the King of England hadn't been a gigantic dick, the world might have been unified under England in eternal peace...legitimacy

Wait, isn't it what Hitler tried to accomplish in his attempt to civilize Eastern Slavic tribes?

Klepsacovic said...

@Mhorgrim: I'm glad you enjoyed it.

@Andrei: Why did you answer "where" with "what"?
If we'd nipped the Nazi problem in the bud, it would have hardly been 20 million. He had to die sooner or later, might as well have been sooner.
As for Hitler's goal, I think you might be confusing "civilize" with "enslave and eventually kill". You'd not be the first to mix those up.

Anonymous said...

Wait, what is this shit about Ireland's Protestant freedom? Unless you want me to start addressing you as the Queen of Scots from now on, you'll take that back, mister.


Klepsacovic said...

@Ben: What I mean is that the English, if they gave freedom to Ireland, would have only given Protestant freedom, and clearly the Irish wouldn't want that.

Nat said...

I'm half-English half-Arab, does that make me the Demigod of Free Maths?

Probably not. Fortunately for everyone else.


JoeNavy said...

Nice post dude, top notch as always.
I really think you'll like this study I came across.

"Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health
with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous


Specifically the (Discussion) portion if you don't wish to wade through all the mumblings.

-"The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developed democracies, sometimes spectacularly so, and almost always scores poorly. The view of the U.S. as a “shining city on the hill” to the rest of the world is falsified when it comes to basic measures of societal health."

Klepsacovic said...

That's an interesting study. I'll have to chew on that for a bit. Thanks for the link.

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