Foremost, I never intended this blog to become a political forum, a daily rant session, or something other than an electronic space to sort through my various random thoughts--most of which make little sense without concretization and analysis. As of late, I've had several political or semi-political posts that I regret only because I use them (and I know I use them) to evade thoughts that I don't want to examine. (It's not that political affairs don't bother me. They just have a different place on my intellectual hierarchy.)
Nonetheless, that door (can of worms, hatch) has been opened and I feel compelled to respond accordingly--and those to whom I respond should feel open to responding accordingly, etc., etc., etc. My opening paragraph was not meant to imply that I want to stifle any current debates, but I don't want this writing space to become a solely political forum--which, I reiterate, has only happened because of me...I blame no one else.
Addressing the comments on the last post in chronological order:
looseyfur: I absolutely concede one of your points. I was out of line when I said, "I believe this." The implication of my statement was that I hold said belief on some emotional, irrational grounds supported only by a thin layer of pseudo-patriotism and blind faith. I would like to revise my statement as such: "I do not believe this. I know it. It is a fact just as A=A is a fact." Like you I am leery of faith-based belief. And when I said that I believed that statement to be truth, I did not mean "believe" as in "I believe in God." I meant it as in "I believe 2+2=4."
In the same way, the fact is not negated by people's refusal to believe it. Because families are not sitting around their dinner tables realizing they would be better off in America does not negate my statement. At one point in history, every person on the planet--sans one--believed (in the faith-based sense of the word) that the Earth was flat. Their belief did not make it so. Evasion of reality is not a negation of reality.
Similarly, I cannot support the claim that America is the only moral country in history without presenting an argument to prove it. Thousands of pages have been written on this topic and I would be remiss to think I could do justice to the arguments here. What I can do, though, is present on the most compelling points, in my opinion, and direct you to more detailed defenses here, here, and here--though I would venture to guess that the author's name alone will stop you from reading them (though it is only a guess...a belief, if you will, perpetuated by the fact that most everyone to whom I recommend her work scoffs at the idea of reading such a "fascist," "pseudo-philosopher").
The one argument I wish to present here is that America was the first country in the history of the world to be founded on a philosophy, a belief espoused first in the Declaration of Independence and again and again in several other documents--most notably our incredibly unique Constitution. That is all.
Finally, I want to address your comment that there seems to be nothing noble about capitalism. I find it interesting that you can think of nothing noble about an economic system which I consider to be the only noble economic system ever created. (Conversely, I cannot think of one noble thing about any other economic philosophy.) Every other economic philosophy in history has been based on the concept of altruism--which I discussed briefly in a previous post--an ideal which I consider to be one of the few roots of everything that is wrong with the world. (And when I speak of capitalism, I do not mean Enron-omics. I do not mean negotiating at the point of a gun. I do not mean theft. Theft is theft. Capitalism, by which I mean laissez-faire capitalism, is not theft. (And to say that laissez-faire capitalism is impossible because of "public goods" like roads, defense, etc. is to misunderstand the term.))
And, yes, people often misconstrue confidence for arrogance. Again, that doesn't mean they're right. One of my favorite quotes:
"People with courage and character always seem sinister to the rest." - from Demian by Hermann Hesse
Message me sometime. We'll video chat with our awesome Macs--brought to you by: Capitalism. ;)
broken570: We're not Rome, but we can have a similar fate if we're not careful.
I concede to you that, as we stray from our founding principles, we become weaker as a nation. I imagine, though, that we disagree on what those founding principles actually are. For instance, I would argue that as we become more and more socialist, wacko-environmentalist, and generally collectivist, our country--and, ultimately, the world--suffers. We used to have lots of great principles and beliefs. There used to be something called "the American dream." Very few people believe in it any more--not because it's not possible but because they've been told that hard work is no longer necessary for success: "The government will take care of you. Society will take care of you. Someone will take care of you. Under no circumstances should you ever be expected to take care of yourself."
One of the many other concepts we used to believe was that America was a melting pot, that we had a unique American culture based on the mixing of so many populations. But somewhere along the line the melting pot turned into a salad bowl and we were taught to "celebrate diversity," to "be multicultural" while simultaneously denouncing any action that separated us by the arbitrary boundaries of skin pigmentation--except affirmative action, that is. These are just two distinct examples, but I think you get my point.
Certainly, our country, as it was founded, was not perfect. And I'm certainly no reactionary--which most people believe is spelled "c-o-n-s-e-r-v-a-t-i-v-e." And I would never say that you, or anyone else, could not be happy living somewhere else. But I could not be happy any place else. The politics and philosophy of the rest of the world are such that, for me, the United States is the only country left that is good. No country can achieve perfection, in the normative sense, but this country has come closest.
The new Batman movies suck. Bring back Tim Burton.
Tim Burton '08.
"The action required to sustain human life is primarily intellectual: everything man needs has to be discovered by his mind and produced by his effort. Production is the application of reason to the problem of survival [...] Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t. Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind."