A British friend asked me why Americans are so stupid.
I couldn’t disagree with him, of course. If you’re inclined to disagree, check out this CNNNN gag. (CNNNN in an Australian pseudo-news organization, similar to “The Onion”.)
This video inspires a little national pride, even among the most ardent of apathetic Americans. They rise off the couch, grab up their American flags, and yell to the sky: “We are *not* stupid! You are!”
At least, that was my reaction. (Ok, not really. I don’t own an American flag and while I am prone to yelling at the ceiling it’s usually for less-noble reasons.)
Readers of this blog (all 2 of you) know that I’m an ardent Southern Nationalist (in my own, modified way) and the last thing I want to do is defend contemporary American institutions. So, I was confused myself about the feelings of patriotism bubbling up in me while watching that video (and again, later on, when my Brit friend asked me his question.)
I realized that it was the American people that are being ridiculed here, not our institutions and way of life. And, the American people are my people. (At least, I identify most with the Scots-Irish in the south, especially in the Appalachian region and ultimately, as my understanding of history goes, that makes me of the Anglo-Saxon people, with my particular ethnic stock originating in the low-lands of Scotland, migrating to Ulster Co. Ireland, and then ultimately to the far-blue mountains of America, and beyond!**)
I love the people, the customs and traditions…it’s the cancer of industrialism and the resulting ideological movements that I despise.
So, here’s how I answered my friend:
I claimed that Americans aren’t “stupid” per se.
The average American knows fact A, fact B and fact C, but is helpless in stringing them together into a coherent worldview.
The English-speaking world is, after all, notorious for its reliance on strict empiricism. Consider the following joke for example:
A businessman asked three philosophers (a Continental philosopher, an English philosopher and an American philosopher) to help him get his elephant off the barge and safely onto land.
The continental philosopher says, “Hmmm…does the elephant really even exist?”
The English philosopher says, “Hmm…how much does the elephant weigh?”
The American philosopher says, “How much will you pay me?”
Ok, well, it’s not really that funny of a joke, but if you’re into philosophy, you’ll immediately note the accurate caricatures. Continental philosophers were concerned with grand metaphysical schemes (think Spinoza and Leibniz) where as the Brits were into empiricism and scientific investigation. Americans, to the extent that we can speak of an “American school of philosophy” have always been pragmatic.
This mindset (or zeitgeist if you will) has transferred itself through the ages and today, is well-established orthodoxy, which is very convenient for the financial oligarchs and other satanists (who designed government education to produce factory workers.)
Yes, the American knows how to get things done and is motivated by that knowledge. If CNNNN had asked any of those folks how to get to the nearest Starbucks, or how to get extra-money for college, I’m sure they would have regaled him with information. Travel down-south and ask any white man (worth his salt) how to change the oil in a car, fix a flat, or bait a fishing-hook, and you’ll not only get the answer, but you’re liable to get the full-spectrum of diverse opinions on the the matter.
“You see, Jim Bob up the street says you use grub worms and crickets, but if’n you do, you’ll never keep them suckers on the hook when the brim are bitin’ … but Jim Bob swears by ’em!”
America, unlike Britain or Continental Europe, has never had substantial literary or philosophic movements (that have amounted to anything.) Now, I know that’s an almost grotesque generalization. What of the American romantics? What of Poe? What of New England Transcendentalism? What of the Southern Renaissance?
Well, unfortunately, it seems none of these movements have had any effect on slowing down “progress” and by “progress” I mean the devastating march of industry through the flower-beds of community, organic-bonds and cultural tradition.
Americans simply have a very narrow set of concerns in life and they’re prone to compartmentalize everything else. Philosophy is a separate subject from astronomy and physics. Psychology is a different subject from mathematics and biology! Economics are separate from politics and theology! Music has nothing at all to do with sociology!
In this way, American thought is compartmentalized, distinct and piece-meal.
It’s my hope that as the theology of Cornelius Van Til takes hold while simultaneously, the ravages of industrialism become more and more apparent, that Americans will begin thinking in terms of “worldviews” and all-encompassing conceptual schemes. They’ll be able to see how national politics and international politics are related. The common-man will begin taking an interest in what’s happening in Spain, Greece and Ireland.
There might spring up new regional-renaissance movements! And Americans in general will stop being slaves to the captains of industry (or, as I like to call them: the powers of the air) and begin taking in the world around them as the wonderfully-rich environment God created.
Until then, I’m afraid the above video clip will remain an accurate caricature of Americans.
** I realize the history of people groups is shrouded in ambiguity and I’m open to being corrected on the general scheme I’ve laid out here. It’s my contention that the Scots-Irish are “Anglo-Saxon” in general, because of their geographical origins. “Scots” are people from Scotland, who are generally considered a mix of Picts and Gaels and Britons (IE: Welsh) as well as Anglo-Saxon, and given the fact that the lowland Scots lived on the borderland and participated (politically) with Anglo-Saxons often, it seems like a blurring of ethnicities is warranted, especially when, again in the South, the two were thrust together and allied in culture and environment. With the help of my grandmother, I’ve managed to trace my family-line all the way back to the 1600s when our first ancestor moved to Virginia from Ireland, though I’ve not been able to go further. Nor have I been able to trace the ancestry of all the wives, so I’m sure some mixing of stock has occurred. For lack of a better term, I’ll speak of the “Southern Ethnicity” and identify myself and my people in those terms. See Vanishing American’s post for further discussion. And also, see comments from the Southern Nationalist Network here.