What’s good about America?

I’m not impressed by the argument that America is good because it’s free, equal, democratic and prosperous, or because a lot of people from all over the world want to move here. There are good things to be said about America on those grounds, but they can also be said about other Western countries, and it seems obvious that it is destructive to identify such things with goodness as much as people do.

The specific virtue of America, it seems to me, is that it is less statist, more religious and civically-minded, and institutionally freer than other Western countries. Even with all our PC, “celebration of diversity,” and “zero tolerance” policies, there is less of the nanny state here than elsewhere. The schools may be bad, but if you think mainstream education stinks you can homeschool your children or start your own school. We’re not as locked into a deadend system as the Europeans seem to be.

On the other hand, I’m not particularly impressed by the Europa, du hast es besser view that the Europeans are better than we are because they’re ever so much more cultured or whatnot. They’ve decisively turned their back on the sources of their own culture for the sake of well-administered security, comfort and equality, and their way of life increasingly reflects the consequences of that decision. Their good points depend on their past, and they’re destroying them. For things that suggest hope for a better world, it seems to me that America—with its weaker commitment to the administrative state—truly does have it better.

7 thoughts on “What’s good about America?”

  1. The key to the US is the
    The key to the US is the Enlightenment. The US is the nation of the Enlightenment. That’s the soul of the US

  2. I don’t think you can reduce
    I don’t think you can reduce America to the Enlightenment, if only because the Enlightenment understanding of things is too partial to explain any human society that actually exists. In particular, it seems to me that the current European emphasis on comprehensive administrative management of the whole of social life in the interests of stability, economics, “tolerance” and whatnot is closer to the spirit of the Enlightenment than the somewhat less centralized and controlled American approach to things.

    As to the legal murder of helpless invalids with the support of lying media in collusion with each other, I’d rather try to deal with it in America than in Holland or on the Continent generally.

  3. Whether America does have it
    Whether America does have it better is I think a relative question. It depends on what situation you happen to be in. Many foreigners I think have illusions and false beliefs about America just as European immigrants did during the 19th century. As a resident of Korea I have heard stories of Koreans who emigrated to the Promised Land, i.e., Canada or America, and who work as doctors or engineers, and are happy with what they have achieved. But I also hear stories of Koreans emigrating to popular Asian cities such as Los Angeles where, much to their surprise, they find that the city has many black people living there, and they end up finding work only in menial employment, such as a laundry or restaraunt. They become scared of the gunshots they hear at night, and so come back to Korea where they can walk by themselves in the inner city of Seoul (one of the biggest cities in the world) with no worry at all.

    The question of where is better is really an ad hoc question; it can only be answered on an individual basis. At the same time, general conclusions can be drawn such as Europe is worse culturally, but the East is better.

    The schools may stink in America in the post-1960’s brutal environment, but on the other hand they are the best in the world. In the technical fields, some of the schools don’t exist outside of the West, and so foreigners have no choice but to go to America. Medical schools in Seoul use English-language textbooks; Koreans who plan to practice in Korea on Koreans, go to school in Korea, and never step foot out of Korea must be fluent in English or die. Most students of technical disciplines must learn English since much of the research and literature in their discipline will be coming out of, you guessed it, American universities. The world is very much an American-dominated world.

    One notable aspect about America is that it is a salad bowl, and therefore some niches in America will be better and worse than Europe and the East. The goal for each individual, especially in America, I think is to find a niche where his counterrevolutionary values will be best protected.

  4. I agree it is shocking what
    I agree it is shocking what judges are aiding and abetting in Florida. The judges are so locked into the letter of the law (at least the laws they agree with) they forget their humanity. Governor Bush ought to just send in the state police regardless of any state court order. No jury would convict him of anything. He ought to seek immediately the impeachment of any Florida judge that has enforced this cold blooded murder.

  5. I appreciate the comment
    I appreciate the comment about first-world Asia. One of the interesting things about visiting Tokyo is just how stunningly civilized it is. You can leave your wallet on the ground, full of cash, in the Shinjuku subway station. Return a few hours later and you’ll find a friendly face there watching it for you holding a sign with your name on it, in the same place you left it just to be sure you can find your way back. They’ll have bought lunch too, and not with your money. (Well OK, maybe that is a slight exaggeration but the difference in basic physical safety from crime is pretty staggering).

    Mr. Kalb is right that it is better to be just about anyone in America rather than in the Union of European Socialist Republics though.

  6. First, I’d like to say to
    First, I’d like to say to Napeleon that I’ve lived here in Korea for nine years. I speak Korean very well and love the country. My counterrevolutionary views are often not so strange here. I can say that street crime is very rare and there are few ‘bad neighbourhoods.’ Students listen to and obey their teachers. Although American pop (trash) culture has eroded this greatly, it’s still better than the US. A short story to illustrate my point: My sister is a teacher in Long Beach, CA. I just got off the phone with her. She told me that some kids—probably high-schoolers—came in through an open window and vandalised her classroom. Everything, including knocking over the fish tank in the next classroom. It seems the animals got in when another teacher left the room for 15 minutes. The school is in a horrible part of Long Beach—mostly poor illegal Mexicans and blacks, who of course hate each other, but they hate whites more. That kind of thing is unthinkable here. My wife is Korean. When she was in school (12 years ago) teachers didn’t spare the rod but now the kids are spoiled rotten.

    Many Koreans emigrate to America for the sake of their kids’ education (in English) because they’ve constructed an educational system that relies on memorisation and tests for everything —even to become a comedian on TV! However, I tell my Korean friends that no one’s problems will be solved by going to the US. Mostly because it’s true but also because I don’t like immigrants very much nowadays. America is full! 🙂


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