Americans national character

Here is a snippet from the Friends show which is one of my favorite shows.

I think what Monica said here sums it very well. In her opinion she does care, she cares about family and friends, and thats what is important.

Well, Let me then disagree with her.

I know Americans don’t like generalizations and race theories, they think that if a theory hurts someone, then its wrong. Well, THEY are wrong.
Fortunately, being a Russian immigrant, I’m not brainwashed by all the left media. So I can think freely.
I beleive that every nation has a national character, a mentality which is common to its people.

When I compare Americans to Europeans I can say this:
Americans are good but shallow people.
Europeans are sophisticated hypocrites.

I’m not talking about people on this forum, I beleive most of us aren’t as shallow as the characters on Friends who display mainstream Americans.
I also think you can be a sophisticated, deep person, yet kind and good-hearted.

I wish Americans could understand that they can learn many things from the long European civilization, and I also hope that Europeans can improve their morality like Americans did.

What I suggest is that we take a crusade.

Lets try to convince our friends and acquaintances to start listening to classical music/progressive rock/jazz. To start reading historians/philosophers. To start eating various foods, enjoy nature and architecture. Play better computer games, watch better movies, read better books. Travel more.

The list is much longer, but I think it is possible to make Americans mix the old European civilization with the new humanitarian approach.

So lets do it!

Interesting. Just the fact that no one bothers to answer this post conveys brilliantly what I wrote her.
In 19th century the differnce between nations, and national characters was a major issue. Musicians composed music for a specific place and country.
People were constantly arguing what is better, French stylism or German punctuality.

I don’t think the difference between nations was erased by globalization, it did not.
People just got more self-centered, and less interested in understanding other cultures.

The whole spectrum of interests shifted from deep understanding of geography, history, cultures and art to pop culture, politics(for men usually) and fashion.

It is sad.

The reason people didn’t reply is not because of your assertion that different nations have different mentalities. We did not reply because we see how absurd America’s new found “morality” is, what a sham is, and the fact that you advocate it for others is inconceivable.

Whatever talk of american “morality” you find is undoubtedly a very specific tactic used in American politics to try to demonize progress and liberalism. The return to the “Atomic” family of yesterday, such a family never existed in America. OUr government tortures, denies due process, and otherwise abuses its citizens. Our citizens don’t give a damn about other citizens, they aren’t willing to pay taxes to help a poor family eat or have health care for fear that the money might go to someone abusing the system. Morality in America is a Conservative myth. The driving factor behind the vast majority of America’s so called “morality” is fear and Stupidity/ignorance. Religious zealotry has a roll in this too, but I would NOT think for a second that the garbage they advocate resembles morality.

As for European sophistication rubbing off on Americans…I would love it, but it can’t happen, as most Americans don’t know where Europe is or that it’s a continent.

Hmm. Maybe you are right. I’m not sure why I thought Americans are good people. Maybe I saw too many Holywood movies with happy ends.
In fact America has the most capitalist economy in the west, so if anything it argues against American morality.

What I meant was probably that Americans aren’t usually snobs. Even the richest Americans wear jeans and t-shirts. Americans have a very populistic culture.
What now comes to my mind, is how Bush said “shit” to Blair. He is not an elitistic snob, he uses folks slang, and that’s a good thing.
In Paris there are elite districts in which people feel so superior, they wouldn’t even talk to strangers. God forbid they should eat McDonalds or invite a factory worker to their glamarous parties.
The French EGALITE can’t even approach American equality.

I don’t think there is any argument that different nationalities have different characters. I have never seen the opposite argued. Even die-hard Marxists say that people are divided more by class than national boundaries, but national boundaries are still very much acknowledged.

So, I guess, what are you trying to say here?

I’m trying to understand

  1. Whether you agree with my perception of American and European national characters.

  2. Wether you think the solution I suggested that will bridge the gap between these nations is a correct one.

  3. If you can analyze why this is the difference, it will also be helpful. I don’t entirely understand how it came to be in the first place.
    Aspacia tried to explain it to me in another topic, but it wasn’t a complete explanation.

  4. I would also like to understand why no one is bothered by the shallowness of American society. Why don’t you change your school programs, or fund a better television, etc…?

American elitism is backwards. The undereducated religious fanatics are the one’s who are snobs. Bush being one of them, it’s a type of redneck elitism, where sophistication and progressivism are abhorred and demonized. It’s very much present in our schools and in our politics. It’s hypocritical though, as it’s not really about class as much as it is about ideology. Some rich asshole like Cheyney can somehow relate to bob the lumberjack because they both hate gays, but Johnny the democrat who worked his way out of living in a car to become senator won’t be allowed to relate at all. Our Republicans have recontextualized the whole framework of elitism in the past 20 years. It’s brilliant poltiics, but ultimately brings shame on our culture and shows how absurd our people are.

This eletism is hard to recognize as it is counterintuitive, and part of the elitists ideology is anti-elitism.

  1. Whether you agree with my perception of American and European national characters.

More-or-less I guess I can agree. I’d say that you don’t quite have European cultures down, I can’t say I experienced much snobbery while I lived there. The only European snobs I can think of are Old Money and given America’s strong capitalistic ideology, the idea of Old Money in the American psyche doesn’t have the same appeal. Ask most Americans who they respect more, someone who was born into wealth and title or someone who earned it. The whole idea of the American Dream, while pretty much dead in actuality, still weighs heavily on the American mindset.

I think a lot of the differences are social vs. individualistic. While living in Europe, I knew many, many people who casually littered. Now, street cleaners would take care of this problem. Also, since the government mandated recycling, everyone was very efficient about recycling. In America as individuals many people are very responsible – I hardly ever seen anyone littering. Yet, very few recycle. At the end what happens is that America produces much more waste than Europeans because while individually responsible, the individual can accomplish very little compared to a society.

Though I would agree that the plebian, “I’m just a simple folk” mindset is very much valued in America. We don’t trust them fancy intellectuals, as a rule.

  1. Wether you think the solution I suggested that will bridge the gap between these nations is a correct one.

You mean broadening the experiences of the average American? I think that is a freakin’ wonderful idea! Though I don’t think it is ‘European’ so much as it is ‘Cosmopolitan’. Europe has a higher population density along with that history, so it is more cosmopolitan that America.

  1. If you can analyze why this is the difference, it will also be helpful. I don’t entirely understand how it came to be in the first place.
    Aspacia tried to explain it to me in another topic, but it wasn’t a complete explanation.

I think the Turner hypothesis isn’t that bad, actually. Given the vast amount of space that was available to American settlers, many settlers both had to be self-reliant and were very isolated. Europe got over that mindset after the Middle Ages (and more so with better transportation), America is still mentally trying to catch up.

  1. I would also like to understand why no one is bothered by the shallowness of American society. Why don’t you change your school programs, or fund a better television, etc…?

People are bothered by it, but not enough to change it. A lot of people that don’t like the shallowness of American TV either 1) don’t watch TV or 2) rent what they do want to watch. One of the hottest catagories on Netflix is documentaries. There is a movement out there, you just have to attune yourself to it.

For my supprise I agree with eugene.
What you wrote I can agree, what I don’t like is what you left out.
Please do not exclude other ancient cultures.
We can learn from americans, europeans, asians, africans, australians and pinguins.

Americans, if you are talking of american people, are shallow for a simple reason.
Everything americans ever got exited about was used for marketing.
Any passion for work or religion or homeland is exploted by someone.

Europeans, cramed into a small place somany different attitudes mixing and fighting and …
What can I say, love and hate relationships make you cautios.

Yes, many in the states are shallow. I mean, I could care less regarding Brad and Jolie’s baby. The teens often want to emulate their rock and movie stars, and I was probably as bad when a teen. However, as we age, work, pay taxes, our interests often change, become more serious, etc. That is, as we hit middle-age, many become serious citizens with an interest in culture and politics.

With regards,

aspacia :sunglasses:

True, the crap on television puts me to sleep, except PBS.

With regards,

aspacia :sunglasses:


[quote[Littering stopped when a law was passed, a law which when violated caused a $50.00 fine back in the 60’s.[/quote]

Are there cameras in Europe to insure law obedience? I am really asking.

So did TR. The French, at least I think it was Clemenseau (?) who claimed "God only gave us 10, and he gives us 14.

Most of the information I have read do not rank him high as his world view and policies generally failed.

What makes an intellectual? Intelligent individual is not necessarily a university grad.

Very intelligent, but more concerned with survival.

With good reason. Look at a map. Europe has many different ethnic and language groups living in close proximity. Our closest neighbor that is not English speaking is Mexico. Think about it. I took both French and German and lost what I knew because there is no need to communicate in other tongues. In Europe it is necessary. My cousin speaks four languages, and all my cousins speak both French and English.

How about sod, bug invested huts. The prairie did not have timber. And these people had to be jack-of-all tradespeople to survive.

Quite different. Americans do move to the cities for jobs, the Mid West is losing people all the time.

With regards,

aspacia :sunglasses:

The main reason for American shallowness is indeed the first several generations of settlers who had a very hard life, were isolated, and had to be self-reliant.

In Israel it was very much the same. Israelis have a relatively shallow culture, also because the first generations were mere farmers, and their life was hard so they had no time to be intellectuals.
Also both America and Israel never had aristocrats who in Europe spent all their life in education and in search for beauty.
I think 19th century was the peak of humanity. Europeans had achieved a stunning development of the concept of beauty, be it in art, music or in feelings towards nature, architecture and history.
20th century, despite the technological and enonomic advance, saw only regression of humanity.

There aren’t many people today who can so deeply enjoy life and creation as much as some of our ancestors did 100 years ago.

Yes, it’s easier to go to DisneyWorld, but in the long run you’ll will enjoy reading much more.
I think we must change radically our schools systems. 50% of the studies should be about values and culture instead of professional knowledge of mathematics or physics which is useless for most students anyway.

In the 19th century there weren’t as many attractions as today(No Tv, no Disneyworld, etc…), so people had to read. In 21th century we just prefer to eat popcorn and stare at the tv set. I don’t want cencorship on T.V programs, it’s against the freedom of choice. We just need better motivation for people to do more intellectual stuff. That is we need more goverment funds, and a better schooling system.

It is in our interests that our kids will be able to enjoy life more. Why don’t we do anything about it?

Americans aren’t superficial, gullible and retarded….they just seem that way.

Deep down they are just like most everyone else……superficial, gullible and retarded.
But they make great movies.

American culture/identity is, to me, one of the most fascinating and brilliant experiments ever conceived.

I’m not saying they don’t have any, or that they’re wholly different from anyone else… I just see the media as a work of art in many ways. I mean… I disagree with it extensively… but it’s beautiful to watch sometimes. The power is extra-ordinary.

There is even an example in this thread.

Granted, but Americans were moving away from cities while the American culture was being formed.

Also, what relevance do cameras in Europe have? What I am arguing is that in America people are individualistically moral (they don’t litter, despite having the opportunity), but are immoral as a society. In Europe the reverse is true.

For societal morals, you don’t need cameras everywhere because they can be more universally enforced. You can only have x amount of trash picked up at your house, so if you have amount of trash >x, then you have to pay a fine (either directly, or indirectly by paying the dump to take it directly).

Everyone turn towards Satyr and repeat after me:

“I am not worthy, you have the superior mind, I acknowledge your greatness”.

Truth is a real bastard. Especially for those of us who live on Earth and we have to ask, “Does Satyr’s cynical definition actually define the way I live?”

If your answer is other than affirmation, seek therapy at the business end of a Luger.

I agree, Mas - but we usually don’t make great movies, though exceptions like The Princess Bride do exist.

But Satyr also makes an excellent point in Mundane Babble when he says:

At least I agree with him so long as UFO’s and “aliens in league with the US President” are in the same wacky ballpark.

Although I think it is possible that some among us may have an even more highly attuned “conspiracy” detector than does wise Satyr, he has managed to name at least two that should probably be dismissed in this forum/context without argument.

out of curiosity would anyone disagree with the idea that americans generally come from broken homes, rarely speak to their neighbors, and despise christian fanaticism?

i know its definately the norm in north eastern suburbia.

the idea that were moral is funny. :slight_smile: its nice though.