Eurotrash

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Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 12:28 pm
I really need help with this! There's something that bothers me, that weights on my mind like a rock or an undigested hamburger. It is something I hardly dare to articulate, let alone communicate, because it seems so irrational, so emotional and old-fashioned, so pathetic and mediaeval. It has to do with cultural pride and with the notion of cultural imperialism. It has to do with language and with cultural identity and cultural repression, particularly in relation to small countries. It has to do with me, being what and who I am, a dutch-speaking Fleming, and not a Dutchman, nor a Greek, nor an American. My town is in Flanders Europe and I repeat that I am NOT an inhabitant of the States, that I am NOT a fellow American, and that I do not even wish to be American, though this may feel for many Americans like a punch on the nose or a refusal to be human. No, I happen to live in a small and very old town in a European region whose language and culture have been oppressed for centuries, and this often in a very crude and unpleasant way. But when I try to communicate that to an international audience, when I try to get rid of that trauma, there is hardly a response, there's no rejection or commentary, there's not even yes or no. Everybody seeming to blush and looking to the ground as if I was doing some insane and shameful act, as if I was exhibiting certain parts of myself or continuously shouting "Heil Hitler!". I once told a wise American on this Forum about the continuous and century-old struggle of my language and culture, and he answered: "Do you want some cheese with that w(h)ine?". Once it were the Romans, then it were the Spanish, then it were the French, and now -call me crazy or paranoid- I feel it to be the Americans! For some reason some postings in this Forum feel strange and unfamiliar to me, their relevance being limited to the States, their preoccupations and intentions being hardly my business. And yet this is an International Forum, there must be tenths of nationalities around. Is it because I'm a non-American that I see the World's Culture as an immensely rich and colourful quilt, of which each culture is only a small patch? Why do I feel that the Americans rarely seem to realize that there is so much beyond their own cultural horizon, let alone appreciating it and exploring it for what it's worth? It may seem like blasphemy but I don't want the States and what's happening there to become my primary concern. My main concern is what's happening in my small country and what's happening in the world. In fact I'm often afraid of American culture, for me it sometimes feels like a steamroller or like an army marching in. Hamburger joints, American music, American movies, American clothing, American technology... America is everywhere. Can I declare here that I resent that influx of American culture in my country? That I want to protect my own "small" culture or what's still left of it? Ok, I stop the bull and cut the crap. Back to Puff Daddy. Yo!
 
Icon
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 01:37 pm
@Catchabula,
Catchabula wrote:
I really need help with this! There's something that bothers me, that weights on my mind like a rock or... Back to Puff Daddy. Yo!


In this entire post you have managed to do exactly what you hate Americans for doing. You have limited your understanding of our culture. Have you ever been to America? Have you seen our lives first hand?

I will admit, I am afraid of America's growth as well. I do not like us messing with the affairs of other countries and cultures and feel that we need to start sticking to our own lands and our own problems. But Europeans see America the same way that you have seen us for the last 200 years. You see us as a colony of crude, capitolist, self-rightous, endulgent slobs. You have fallen into the same trap. You say that you hate our technology, then never use a computer again. Never touch a phone, or the lightbulb, or the internet. Never wear cotton clothing or eat peanut butter. Do not touch your electric outlets or use a heater in the winter. Never use a spray can, refrigerator, telegraph, elevator, oil, water tower, tumbler lock, paper clip, toilet paper, vacuum cleaner, electric fan, electric iron. Make sure to never touch a fountain pen or pair of bluejeans. Avoid filling a car with fuel, anything made on an assembly line, motorbikes, anything with an electric motor, smoke detectors, anything with a zipper, a shaving razor (safety razors), air travel, crayons, washing machines for clothing, tea bags, band aids, tissue, space travel, bubble gum, sun glasses, frozen foods, radios, television, nylon, defibulators, disposable diapers, the polio vaccine, anything with a circuit board, artificial hearts, optical fiber, Calculator, and the HPV vaccine.

As much bad as we have done to the world, we have still provided more than enough good. And while you sit in a warm home typing on your computer, enjoying a cup of tea, remember what America provided for you.

No, America is not the greatest country in the world. It may be one of the most powerful but it is still tyrannical in certain parts of the world. We have had our good and our bad. We stopped the germans from taking over Europe and the japanese from taking over china. We sacraficed lives of countless men to protect the nations of the world who could not protect themselves. We took it too far on occassion but we did what we were asked to do from the beginning. If you wish to be judgemental, don't forget that the coin always has two sides.


Our culture is segregated from the rest of the world. We are not right next to anyone save for Canada and Mexico. With these cultures we share our land and our freedom. If America were in the middle of Europe, we would be more aware and sharing there. Geographical location is a factor.
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 02:01 pm
@Catchabula,
While the influence of American culture may be criticised, the fact is that people in various climes and regions choose to accept it and make it a part of their lives. So perhaps the criticism may be just as appropriately be leveled at they who so willingly adopt both the good and the base elements in American culture.

From time to time, the world has adopted a common language, a linga franca, to allow for better communication between peoples. During the Pax Romana and in the medieval period, it was Latin that served that function. French has been the language of diplomacy during much of the modern era. As the British Empire expanded to North America, to India, to Australia and NewZealand and parts of Africa creating a commonwealth upon which the sun never set, it carried with it political values and the English language. The scientific,technical, economic, and political advances made by these English speaking peoples, particularly in the US and in Great Britain further intensified an international reliance on English for communication to the point where every civilised person generally knows English as a second language. In addition to the hegemony of the English speaking people in the world of affairs, the language itself seems to allow the addition of new words and descriptions more easily than some others.
 
Joe
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 03:03 pm
@jgweed,
Hey Catchabula,

Its very relieving to here someone talk about their fears on such a modern level. The idea of grouping together as an entire race is absolutely one of the major subjects we as a species are coming to. What (I) see in your post is your ability to realize that it can be difficult to process the entire worlds philosophy and belief. In this case, America, which governs alot of what happens all over.

As Icon pointed out, The United States of America has positive and negative results from our society and culture. i will hesitantly make the statement that we are the leaders in the idea of Humans Uniting. I refer to the saying that We are a giant mixing pot. This is indeed a beautiful thing. But of course there will be natural barriers. It is not these barriers in culture and habit that are the problem but how we adjust and learn from these that shape our character and understanding.

Oh so many times have I thought I understood someone based on their culture, only to be harshly reminded that, no matter how hard we try to separate ourselves pertaining to beliefs and tradition, we are only people who live certain distances from each other, and in different environments. The rest is History if you will.

Talking about technology is definitely a double edged sword. I am afraid sometimes of our child like handling of such developing techno. But that fear itself is one of those barriers that lead to the spiritual realizations of what technology can really leading us to. Truth.

As far as resisting America and its culture...... I think it is only natural, and should be a slow process. Id like to think that I am not a country or its traits, but i am. Since I realize this, I can safely accept any tradition and or belief as my own for the briefest second, in order to understand what I all ready know. Love, Truth, and Knowledge.

I hope that gives you a glimpse of what, at least, one American citizen represents.

oh yeh, I forgot to mention that any Resistance to our government and politics in your country is fine by me. Power corrupts, and my country is no longer a true democracy.
 
avatar6v7
 
Reply Mon 22 Dec, 2008 04:38 pm
@Joe,
As regards inventions, America has invented a disproportiontly small amount of things relative to its size, wealth and research funding, with nations like scotland having ridiculously disproportionate amounts of inventions. Just like to point that one out.
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 01:36 pm
@avatar6v7,
feel precisely like me about these matters, but all feelings appear in a different perspective when one starts to think
 
Icon
 
Reply Tue 23 Dec, 2008 02:02 pm
@Catchabula,
Catchabula wrote:

Oh btw Icon, I have been in the States. Were you ever in Flanders? If not come over for a beer ;-) Smile

I don't drink beer but if you have a good place to get some Vodka then I would love to stop in for a drink.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 05:02 pm
@Icon,
You know, I saw this post when it went up, started a reply then had to go and lost it. I don't have a whole lot of time now so I'll be brief.

I'm from the United States and I've spent a good deal of time overseas. I've seen first hand, in a hundred different contexts, just what many are talking about when they speak about what is perceived to be "arrogance" of my people. What I see is that we tend to be much more self-centered and bloated with self importance. There's an entire world out there the vast majority of us haven't seen - or just briefly breezed through. Combine this 'lack of exposure' to the various levels of influence leveraged and for many, what you end up with is a group of people who both don't know and really don't much care about others. I have to say here that I'm not suggesting this is everyone, but the numbers can be a bit daunting.

We're a good people with a good heart. But I think what you're seeing in us doesn't so much speak about us per say, as it would any group of people from the planet in our situation. One could also justifiably say that anyone who comes from Country-X is concerned about Country-X; wants to talk about Country-X and thinks most strenuously about Country-X. We all are guilty of some tunnel-vision either to the negative or the positive (more or less depending on disposition, exposure, ability to empathize and so on).

What might be a good redirect here, would be to examine the dynamics international influence rather than specific countries.

Hope this adds to the discussion. Thanks
 
Poseidon
 
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 01:30 pm
@Catchabula,
Once the world returns back to the gold standard, then America will not own the world with the dollar standard. Perhaps a better wealth standard would be an energy standard, then Islamic law can replace Godless 'law'. Perhaps the Gold standard will probably be middle route for a while until the heathen can see the reason of an energy standard. So thats good in the medium term for South Africa and Australia.

Anyone for cricket?
 
Joe
 
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 01:37 pm
@Poseidon,
America is screwed when china calls in its debt. Eventually they will want to be paid and not with worthless money. They are on the rise, alot of people deny it but its true.
 
Poseidon
 
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 01:50 pm
@Catchabula,
Naah, the Chinese are no good at cricket, much like the Americans.

Cricket is the essence of culture, after all.
Perhaps the global economy should be standardised to the International Test Cricket Rankings.
Do they play cricket in flanders?
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Sun 28 Dec, 2008 02:14 pm
@Poseidon,
Hm no, it's soccer. But the beer is good (*), and many know Latin.

(*) Ceterum censeo Carthaginem delendam esse.
 
schloopfeng
 
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 05:53 pm
@Catchabula,
Flanders? ............isn't that the neighbour to homer simpson ....:shocked:...(sorry could'nt resist)........peace
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Mon 29 Dec, 2008 09:09 pm
@schloopfeng,
(Deep sigh). Now what do you do with this kind of reply? Either you answer it or not, and you loose in both cases. Yes Schloopfeng, the neighbour of Homer Simpson is called Ned Flanders, which is hinting towards Flanders as well as towards our own neighbour the Netherlands. All very subtle. Now there is The Simpsons from the States, and there is Brueghel, Rubens, Van Eyck... all from Flanders. There are towns like Bruges and Ghent, there is flemish Renaissance music, there is a lot more about Flanders than a name in The Simpsons. Same goes for the UK I guess. Now why did I say this? I don't know, but I guess it was very philosophical. Oh well...
 
ROBOTER
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 05:02 am
@jgweed,
jgweed;39194 wrote:
While the influence of American culture may be criticised, the fact is that people in various climes and regions choose to accept it and make it a part of their lives. So perhaps the criticism may be just as appropriately be leveled at they who so willingly adopt both the good and the base elements in American culture.

From time to time, the world has adopted a common language, a linga franca, to allow for better communication between peoples. During the Pax Romana and in the medieval period, it was Latin that served that function. French has been the language of diplomacy during much of the modern era. As the British Empire expanded to North America, to India, to Australia and NewZealand and parts of Africa creating a commonwealth upon which the sun never set, it carried with it political values and the English language. The scientific,technical, economic, and political advances made by these English speaking peoples, particularly in the US and in Great Britain further intensified an international reliance on English for communication to the point where every civilised person generally knows English as a second language. In addition to the hegemony of the English speaking people in the world of affairs, the language itself seems to allow the addition of new words and descriptions more easily than some others.



This is by far the best answer I have seen. Logical and to the point.

As an American living in Europe German's are shy to speak English with me for the fear that they might sound ignorant. It's the tribal divide that separates us. You living in a smaller less influential tribe and the US being the bigger more influential tribe. Thats the core of it and the subject manifold's into much more than that.

Sadly the US has a lot of influence in pop culture here in Europe. Its scary to see "Who wants to be a millionaire" in German played by German's. I think they actually imported the lighting stage! There is no self identity here in Germany. They don't know who they are. They've been stripped of their loyalty to the country after the war and the US has sprinkled its culture here with its presence after the war, and so I think it has bled into the rest of Europe including your own city in Flanders. All I can say is limit your exposure to the US by not consuming its cultural ideas. Study your roots and live by those standards.

But c'mon dude! You are like foot steps away from Amsterdam! The party/cultural mecca of the EU. You shouldn't be complaining after being so lucky to live near Amsterdam. I think its the most sinful city on the planet and I love it! It's against the stream of American Puritanism. Something I thoroughly enjoy.


Lukas
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 07:00 am
@ROBOTER,
 
VideCorSpoon
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 11:10 am
@Catchabula,
Catchabula wrote:
I really need help with this! There's something that bothers me, that weights on my mind like a rock or an undigested hamburger. It is something I hardly dare to articulate, let alone communicate, because it seems so irrational, so emotional and old-fashioned, so pathetic and mediaeval. It has to do with cultural pride and with the notion of cultural imperialism. It has to do with language and with cultural identity and cultural repression, particularly in relation to small countries. It has to do with me, being what and who I am, a dutch-speaking Fleming, and not a Dutchman, nor a Greek, nor an American. My town is in Flanders Europe and I repeat that I am NOT an inhabitant of the States, that I am NOT a fellow American, and that I do not even wish to be American, though this may feel for many Americans like a punch on the nose or a refusal to be human. No, I happen to live in a small and very old town in a European region whose language and culture have been oppressed for centuries, and this often in a very crude and unpleasant way.

So you basically say in so many words that you are proud to be Flemish. That's fine. I'm proud to be American because it is both my native country and I agree with the constitutional principles on which it is founded. I am also proud to be Italian (I am a dual citizen), so I guess that would make me conflicted, right? I'm sure anyone would be proud to be part of whatever country they originate from, regardless of how tiny or obscure that country may be on the current global stage.

Catchabula wrote:
But when I try to communicate that to an international audience, when I try to get rid of that trauma, there is hardly a response, there's no rejection or commentary, there's not even yes or no. Everybody seeming to blush and looking to the ground as if I was doing some insane and shameful act, as if I was exhibiting certain parts of myself or continuously shouting "Heil Hitler!". I once told a wise American on this Forum about the continuous and century-old struggle of my language and culture, and he answered: "Do you want some cheese with that w(h)ine?". Once it were the Romans, then it were the Spanish, then it were the French, and now -call me crazy or paranoid- I feel it to be the Americans!



Catchabula wrote:
For some reason some postings in this Forum feel strange and unfamiliar to me, their relevance being limited to the States, their preoccupations and intentions being hardly my business. And yet this is an International Forum, there must be tenths of nationalities around. Is it because I'm a non-American that I see the World's Culture as an immensely rich and colourful quilt, of which each culture is only a small patch? Why do I feel that the Americans rarely seem to realize that there is so much beyond their own cultural horizon, let alone appreciating it and exploring it for what it's worth? It may seem like blasphemy but I don't want the States and what's happening there to become my primary concern. My main concern is what's happening in my small country and what's happening in the world. In fact I'm often afraid of American culture, for me it sometimes feels like a steamroller or like an army marching in. Hamburger joints, American music, American movies, American clothing, American technology... America is everywhere. Can I declare here that I resent that influx of American culture in my country? That I want to protect my own "small" culture or what's still left of it? Ok, I stop the bull and cut the crap. Back to Puff Daddy. Yo!


Suffice to say that there are many misconceptions both of Americans and the world and vice versa. If we are truly members of a global community, we cannot let xenophobia interfere with a true global diffusion.

 
Catchabula
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 02:03 pm
@VideCorSpoon,
Now I happened to work for about two hours on a reply for another thread, only to loose it accidently by closing the window before the text was posted. I'm getting tired now but I do feel obliged to reply. Just three points:

-In my first post I did not say a lot indeed, but imho it did produce an interesting thread. My first text was all about emotions and even about morally dubious ones (there may indeed be a dash of xenophobia among them), but I can assure you that these emotions are more than personal, they can almost be touched here in Flanders. These and all other emotions can be investigated by philosophical analysis and I tried to rectify a few things in my second posting, rephrasing the whole thing by returning to good old Reason. JgWeed noted and appreciated that. Being cool and reasonable is in many cases the best option, especially in such sticky and emotional matters as cultural pride. But one may never ignore these or any other emotions or leave them out of the picture, reasoning without noticing emotions being like drawing a ghost.

-So one can say "I am proud of my culture" or language or whatever, or one can say "I want to investigate the emotions / concepts / ideology concerning cultural pride and all related concepts / emotions", and this is arguably of some importance. If one answers one emotion with another nothing is said, nothing is discovered; there is just another senseless flame-war. I already tried to restate my initial posting into something that was philosophically more operational (or at least potentially), but some reactions were not really constructive and to the point. There's something strange about talking in an emotional state, it not only diminishes the general quality of your own thinking but also that of others, and this condition spreads like wildfire. I would suggest to go back to Socrates and not to the Sophists, and I wish to excuse myself if I was unclear, rhetoricaI and prejudiced. But I often can't help it, it's one of my main vices. But not many replies where sharp, objective and constructive analyses of what's involved here either. Yes we are all nice people, so let's stop this becoming some kind of football match where everybody looses. Let's boldly go somewhere, but not back to the start.

-I also like hamburgers from time to time, but that's not the point. The point being that leaving cultural dispersion to itself, to "free market mechanisms" or to the "survival of the fittest", will bring along the marginalisation and endangering of "smaller" cultures, whatever be their value. And each culture has its value, even when they're a rare remnant of the Stone-Age. I definitely don't say that some cultures are inferior, especially not the American one, but I do want to live my own culture and I experience that as increasingly difficult. Small cultures are disappearing world-wide and a single planetary culture is rising, and yes it is largely American. Am I really the only one who has some difficulty with that, who feels that this is at least an ambiguous development, that this could lead to some global impoverishment? Ok, I give up, I will surrender to that brave new planetary monolythic culture, after all it's just a matter of "lingua franca", nobody really loosing something here. As long as we have some money we will be able to bye a flemish book in a flemish bookstore, there will be always our niche in that huge world-wide culture market. That bookshop may even survive thanks to the visits of American tourists, who are interested in our museums and culture and open themselves for it for a short moment while on vacation. And some could even stay here in Flanders and bring in some investment. Who could ever object to the influx of foreign money? They surely don't do that in the Philippines.

(Becoming more and more emotional) As I said I like hamburgers too now, I didn't like them before but that was just a proof of my personal and irrelevant ideosyncrasis. There are at least twenty hamburger joints here in G... now, some nearby and that's very convenient. McD... bought several crumbling old houses in my town and rebuilt them into beautiful and hygienic hamburger joints. Who could ever feel bad about that? If it wasn't McD... it would be a Nike, or Levi's Jeans, or whatever. At first I didn''t like the harsh lights of hamburger joints but lately I'm getting used to them. Same goes with the muzak. There is no cultural agression or imperialism involved here, these are emotional notions without sense. We are evolving towards a global culture and I will be glad to join the movement. After all the winner is always right, and now I will shut up and try to learn something... "And yet it turns..."
 
schloopfeng
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 05:10 pm
@Catchabula,
Hello again,
I am actually quite passionate about the globalisation of America & can fully understand the sentiment of the original post (despite the previous Simpsons reference), I am English born & bred & like many Englishmen proud to be so & while concerned about our slow advance into Americanisation choose to follow a perspective implanted by my father, he used to refer to America as & pardon the language "a bastard nation", not as I feel as a derogatory term but as a pure description. What he was implying was that America as a nation is young & without a core historical identity, from this I view America as the "worlds child" & like any child its elders keep a watchful eye on it & often with distaste as human nature seems to vocalise the negative more than the positive, this is I feel why America draws so much attention to itself. I accept that this view is deeply flawed as in reality so many ancient cultures have been thrown into the mix that a cultural richness can only result given the time but I do find this a comfortable vantage point.
On the flip side I am extremely passionate about keeping all cultures around the globe alive, I think it is so important for us all to be aware of all the cultures of the world & to learn from them all in the advancement of our own, it saddens me very much to see cultures die such as Amazonian tribes & the invasion of Tibet for example, I feel that so much knowledge & perspective is lost in the world in this way, this may be a selfish opinion on my part as after all many tribesmen are turning to western ways out of choice & ease of living with the technological advancement that this provides, but I still like to know that these cultures are there, imagine how awful it will be to one day turn on the national geographic channel to find that all the countries of the world look & act in the same way.
On a heftier note I am more concerned about the globalisation of china but that I shall keep the finer points of that to myself as its more economics & power than culture that worries me there.
I often wonder though .....Do starbucks do tea? I have never been able to bring myself to go in & find out.
TTFN folks
:shocked:
 
ROBOTER
 
Reply Tue 30 Dec, 2008 06:02 pm
@schloopfeng,
schloopfeng;40221 wrote:
Hello again,
I am actually quite passionate about the globalisation of America & can fully understand the sentiment of the original post (despite the previous Simpsons reference), I am English born & bred & like many Englishmen proud to be so & while concerned about our slow advance into Americanisation choose to follow a perspective implanted by my father, he used to refer to America as & pardon the language "a bastard nation", not as I feel as a derogatory term but as a pure description. What he was implying was that America as a nation is young & without a core historical identity, from this I view America as the "worlds child" & like any child its elders keep a watchful eye on it & often with distaste as human nature seems to vocalise the negative more than the positive, this is I feel why America draws so much attention to itself. I accept that this view is deeply flawed as in reality so many ancient cultures have been thrown into the mix that a cultural richness can only result given the time but I do find this a comfortable vantage point.
On the flip side I am extremely passionate about keeping all cultures around the globe alive, I think it is so important for us all to be aware of all the cultures of the world & to learn from them all in the advancement of our own, it saddens me very much to see cultures die such as Amazonian tribes & the invasion of Tibet for example, I feel that so much knowledge & perspective is lost in the world in this way, this may be a selfish opinion on my part as after all many tribesmen are turning to western ways out of choice & ease of living with the technological advancement that this provides, but I still like to know that these cultures are there, imagine how awful it will be to one day turn on the national geographic channel to find that all the countries of the world look & act in the same way.
On a heftier note I am more concerned about the globalisation of china but that I shall keep the finer points of that to myself as its more economics & power than culture that worries me there.
I often wonder though .....Do starbucks do tea? I have never been able to bring myself to go in & find out.
TTFN folks
:shocked:


Since you never stated it, England has planted its modern world into many many indigenous lands. America has occupied a few small Islands and Alaska, which we bought.

Further more... America has one of the oldest living governments in the world.

Yes, Starbucks has tea. It's actually London's best.
 
 

 
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