Sunday, July 18, 2004

The 4th of July and what makes America great
I had meant to post something along these lines back on the 4th of July, but found myself busy and fighting off a cold. In any event the thoughts have been rumbling around.
As someone who is very pro-American the 4th of July fanfare brings very mixed feelings. The reason is simple. I may be pro-American, but as a patriotic Brit I cannot entirely escape the feeling that I am on the other side of the fence of all those things that make the day sacred. It's an interesting position to be in. After all, so many of the founding myths of the USA cast the Brits as the baddies. That political enmity was alive and kicking until well into the 20th century - and probably has only really abated since Britain has (mostly) lost the Empire.
For my own part I simply cannot appreciated the langauge of British tyranny. In part this is because I think tyranny has to be something a good deal more malicious than the maladministration of the colonies pre-1776. It is also because it is not often appreciated, I think, that Parliament was the great culprit, and not the King, in the lead-up to the dispute.
And even in my language there I downplay it, try to get around the fact. I called it "the dispute". In some respects this is because I see the war as something of an abberation. The Anglo-American metaculture is the dominant force in the world today. When we say Western values, or democracy, what we usually mean is the basically liberal and democratic culture of the English-speaking world. It is easy to forget that much of Europe, let alone elsewhere in the world, was undemocratic even just 35 years ago.
Which sort of leads me onto the second part of this post. What is it that makes America, and by extension Anglo-American culture, great? I do not know, but I do have an example.
Fahrenheit 911.
I will never watch the film. I have better things to spend my money on that make a contribution to Michael Moore's bank balance. However, I will praise the film's existence to the hilt. In just how many countries that have not been infused with Anglo-American culture and political ideas could a film be made and widely marketed that is so unremittingly hostile to the current rulers?
At a guess, I would say none. And that is what makes us great.

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