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  1. #1
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Default Problems with the U.S Cultural values

    Disclaimer: This is not a thread about politics and was rightly placed in the philosophy and spirituality sector.

    Overview: As coberst once eloquently stated, there are two things wrong with this country, education and health-care. This is a result of the deeply ingrained American values regarding the necessity of a laissez-faire policy. Or loosely, the belief in the necessity of a Free-Market economy.

    Thesis: The problem with the cultural values is a result of an attempt to attain democracy by eliminating totalitarianism.


    The political system that is desired by the typical U.S citizen: A democracy is desired above all or a society where each person's wishes are honored. Each person as an individual has a right to express his views and to have them honored. His views should not be accepted only if the majority of the population is in a disagreement with him. The 'people' by and large should be best served by all means necessary and the 'people' will exercise their freedom of speech to voice their views regarding what they desire and they shall always have their wishes granted.


    Where did this vision start?

    In order to answer this question, we must first understand where the viewpoint that is the opposite of this one derived from and more importantly, what exactly this viewpoint is. We shall refer to this approach to political philosophy as Plato's theory.

    Plato's theory: The wisest shall rule and the ignorant must obey. The philosopher kings must make all the important political decisions as only they know the truth. Some of the decisions that they will make involve placing all members of the society into social classes. Accordingly, some will be philosopher kings, some will be slaves, others soldiers and so on. No person has a right to act in a way that is inconsistent with the behavior imposed upon his social class. In short, this is a cast system. Everyone is born into a certain 'class', as a result of this he or she must behave only in the prescribed way.

    Plato was immensely influential, both as a philosopher and a political theorist. At least implicitly, his views have influenced how politicians have approached power for a long time after his death. Unsurprisingly, even today many societies in the third-world countries endorse a cast system of some kind. For example, India or China. On the other hand, a variety of countries exist where an explicit cast system is not endorsed, yet stringent prescriptions regarding how people of various socio-economical classes should behave are closely observed.

    Needless to say, it is widely believed that some people are entitled to better treatment than others only because they belong to a superior social group. Under these circumstances, a ruling class will emerge. The class in question is composed of individuals who have the right to impose their will on those who remain outside of the ruling class. Obviously, the most intelligent and the most able of persons will do all that they can to ensure that they belong to the class of people that is benefited the most. Because it is the case that in any society, the unintelligent significantly outnumber the intelligent, the ruling class will be composed of a distinct minority of individuals. It is likely that they will compose less than 5% of the entire population. Moreover, because their authority over the ruled is unquestionable, there will be a significant gap in wealth and power. The ruling class obviously will have more power than the ruled and they will use that resource as an instrument to procure wealth for themselves, often at the expense of their subordinates.

    Plato's theory is deeply troubled because it entails a government that is self-serving and totalitarian. Evidently, it needs to be combatted. But how? Perhaps in order to understand how exactly that is possible, we should consider the opposite of the propounded view, anarchy. Yet, if there is no government, chaos is inevitable, hence this does not contribute to the welfare of society any more than Plato's theory. Hence, the solution, it seems, must be at the intermediate point between the two.

    Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

    Thomas Paine, 1737-1809

    argued that the ruling class must be eliminated. He thought that the government is a necessary evil, hence, it is necessary. He vehemently opposed monarchy and had a distaste for the government akin to the kind espoused by Plato. In Paine's views, every man was equal in the eyes of God and therefore deserves equal opportunities. If that is true, Plato's cast system was fundamentally wrong-headed.

    Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) Biography of Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850)

    shared Paine's beliefs regarding the necessity of equal opportunity. It was he who coined the phrase of 'life, liberty and pursuit of happiness'. In Bastiat's view, a law should be endorsed only if it allows all individuals a right to pursue life, liberty or a pursuit of happiness. The founding fathers were deeply influenced by both authors and as a result of their own work and their political descendants, a system of political operations has been constructed where the government members are not allowed to abuse power as much as the philosopher kings could. By the same token, it has been observed that intelligence is frequently employed for self-serving ends.

    Communists who held similar elitist views to those of Plato were often highly educated and for this reason have always been reviled. This has been most clearly evinced in McCarthy's Red Scare. (</title> <META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="history, genealogy, maps, civil war, revolutionary war, george washington, virginia, fredericksburg, stafford, spotsylvania, westmoreland, port, census"> </head> <body background="/images/gold-dot.gif" marginhe)

    Today even, the Republican party tends to be anti-intellectual and it is no surprise that George W. Bush who is clearly an imbecile managed to hold office for eight consecutive years. It is also no surprise that universities and schools receive very little funding from the government. In addition to that, movie actors, athletes and artists are more admired than intellectuals. There can be no doubt that more young men today would much rather be more like Albert than Arnold.

    This explains the problem of education in this country. Yet the problem of health-care has not yet been explained. It is connected to a deeper dilemma, or of the belief in the myth of the free-market economy. Obviously there is a deeply rooted fear of a tyranny or the monarchy that Paine polemicized against. Hence, the solution to this problem that has been employed is the laissez faire policy. Conventional American people reason as follows; if the government cannot interfere with the economy, they cannot monopolize it. Unlike in the communist regime, the government simply will have no say regarding the business lives of the inhabitants of the U.S.

    This is simply false. Although the government cannot easily pass laws regarding how the market is to be operated, they are free to exploit the ignorance and extraordinary stupidity of the public. Politicians are well aware of strategies that could be utilized to control the population without making it obvious that the population is being controlled. The common citizen is unaware of such circumstances for two reasons. (1) Education is undervalued and people simply lack the reasoning skills to understand complex circumstances. This is merely one of them. (2) The 'Free Market' economy compelled the average citizen to be concerned with acquiring an income first and foremost. That is the case because the government is prohibited from offering the adequate financial support for individuals (as means to the end of ensuring that the government does not behave ina totalitarian fashion).

    The problem of health care is the following: exorbitantly high prices are assigned to medical services. Why is that the case? Because in the 'Free Market' economy, those who produce services that are in demand have the liberty to grant the services in question for a price of their choice. Because the common man is first and foremost financially oriented (because he is vulgar and simplistic as he has neglected education and also due to the fact that he can count on no one but himself as the government is unable to help), he will strive to acquire as much money as possible.

    It seems to me that the solution to this problem is the following: endorsing the ethical principles promoted by Paine and Bastiate regarding the necessity to avoid tyranny, however, allowing the government to be more economically involved. The common American Republican man fears that if we do this, tyranny is inevitable. This is a slippery slope logical fallacy. This country is far away from a totalitarian regime. Allowing the government slightly more influence does not at all amount to allowing the leaders enough influence to become autocratic. The basic principle holds, all men should be allowed equal opportunities, however, ensuring that the government has as little influence as possible with regard to the lives of the citizens of this country is not a tenable solution.

    The first step to solving this problem is eliminating the anti-intellectual climate in the United States. It is simply impossible to construct any coherent course of action if one's reasoning skills are as feeble as that of a typical Republican party member. Secondly, when this has been accomplished, it is both possible and desirable to steer this nation away from the Conservative regime and closer to the Liberal. This will be the first step to ensuring that the 'Free Market' economy superstition is debunked and the common man will receive the necessary support from the government in order to have the liberty to pursue goals other than a mere acquisition of wealth.

    The vision of a typical American man will broaden as a result because he will simply have the time and money to focus on something other than mere financial concerns (note, Western Europeans spend significantly more time away from work than Americans and report engaging in recreational activities more than Americans. No doubt this is connected to the support they receive from the government). Secondly because education will be tolerated more than it is now, Brittney Spears, Jerry Springer, Seinfeild, Monday night Football and a variety of other non-sense entertainment enterprises will be less influential. This is the case because if people are to become more inquisitive (even slightly), they would begin to develop an interest in activities that do require contemplation, as opposed to a mere response to immediate stimuli.

    At the bottom of it, most people spend hours watching these shows because they lack the intellectual faculties and because the strenuous work regime deprives them of the energy they need in order to pursue the loftier activities. As a result they are too obtuse and indolent to question the current regime. The Republican quite correctly recognizes their lack of judgment and stupidity, therefore it mercilessly exploits the guileless populace by convincing them that they are doing God's work. And if people support the Republican party, they are endorsing the deeply held American values of autonomy and equality. In reality, nothing can be further from the truth. The ruling class is alive and well. The difference between the current ruling class and that of Plato is that the authorities impose their will on the citizens by intricate means of political propaganda and economical policies. Political propaganda allows them to convince the citizens of the U.S to vote for the policy that is pernicious to themselves, but serves the purpose of the government.
    "Do not argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience." -- Mark Twain

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  2. #2
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    there are two things wrong with this country, education and health-care.
    American bureaucracy is truly awful. So Americans rightly avoid their bureaucracy and regard it with suspicion bordering on paranoia.

    So it is not so much that Americans don't want a socialized State, it's that they are incapable of running one.

    Whereas my country is so harsh and lacking in water and fertile land, we needed to depend on Government in order to survive. And as a consequence we have become very good at bureaucracy.

    So Americans are always disappointed to discover we are not a frontier society but rather we are a suburban bureaucracy.

    Even our Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is the epitome of a suburban bureaucrat - that's why we elected him.

    And he has done the job for us - he has ensured we have sailed through this current economic crisis.

    Like a good bureaucrat he is dull and boring and he does the job. Kevin is heaven.

  3. #3
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The first step to solving this problem is eliminating the anti-intellectual climate in the United States. It is simply impossible to construct any coherent course of action if one's reasoning skills are as feeble as that of a typical Republican party member. Secondly, when this has been accomplished, it is both possible and desirable to steer this nation away from the Conservative regime and closer to the Liberal. This will be the first step to ensuring that the 'Free Market' economy superstition is debunked and the common man will receive the necessary support from the government in order to have the liberty to pursue goals other than a mere acquisition of wealth.

    The vision of a typical American man will broaden as a result because he will simply have the time and money to focus on something other than mere financial concerns (note, Western Europeans spend significantly more time away from work than Americans and report engaging in recreational activities more than Americans. No doubt this is connected to the support they receive from the government). Secondly because education will be tolerated more than it is now, Brittney Spears, Jerry Springer, Seinfeild, Monday night Football and a variety of other non-sense entertainment enterprises will be less influential. This is the case because if people are to become more inquisitive (even slightly), they would begin to develop an interest in activities that do require contemplation, as opposed to a mere response to immediate stimuli.

    At the bottom of it, most people spend hours watching these shows because they lack the intellectual faculties and because the strenuous work regime deprives them of the energy they need in order to pursue the loftier activities. As a result they are too obtuse and indolent to question the current regime. The Republican quite correctly recognizes their lack of judgment and stupidity, therefore it mercilessly exploits the guileless populace by convincing them that they are doing God's work. And if people support the Republican party, they are endorsing the deeply held American values of autonomy and equality. In reality, nothing can be further from the truth. The ruling class is alive and well. The difference between the current ruling class and that of Plato is that the authorities impose their will on the citizens by intricate means of political propaganda and economical policies. Political propaganda allows them to convince the citizens of the U.S to vote for the policy that is pernicious to themselves, but serves the purpose of the government.

    It's true that our system is a lot like Plato's, with both business and government executives as well as entertainers in the place of the "philosopher-kings". And then, you have those conservative and libertarian govt. bashers who argue those on the top "deserve" it, and many still argue the govt. is taking their taxes and wasting it on programs for the "undeserving"!
    Then just this morning, I saw a discussion elsehwere (and in an intellectual NT group!) suggesting that people who do complain about this are "delusional ingrates"; for what would we do without the corporations. It may be true that we do depend on them, but this attitude still shows a class mentality; that these people can do whatever they want just because we do depend on them ('might makes right'; which we criticized the Communists for), and we don't even have a right to complain. That right there ought to raise concern, because it does sound almost like the grounding for some sort of caste system or dictatorship. All that's lacking is the authority to actually do the silencing.
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  4. #4
    (☞゚∀゚)☞ The Decline's Avatar
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    tl;dr. I'll stick to answering to the concise thread title.

    I have a problem with quite a few of the cultural values that find their imposing way to my doorstep by ways of the various agents of socialization (media, family, peer group, education, etc). First and foremost is the myth of meritocracy which enables the country at large to believe that the wealthier among us found their way to the higher-tier classes completely through their own efforts, and the poorer by a lack of effort. The flaw to this argument lies in the tremendous strength of an unmentioned variable: discrimination deeply embedded within our social institutions.

    All of the socially constructed identities (cultural identities & stereotypes such as gender roles) enable impoverishment and enrichment trends to impose themselves upon the individual in society. It is in this way that our culture has allowed us to blame the poor's woes on their own merit, or to refuse immigrants their rights as human beings. Narcissistic fixations on an ideal image or the spending of all of one's money on high-classed material goods is not considered a problem since our value system encourages upper socio-economic mobility as a definition of "success", even if it's only a faade.

    There are plenty more elaborations to be made, but I'm tired.
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  5. #5
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    American cultural values are embarrassing. I'm moving.

  6. #6
    Senior Member statuesquechica's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    The first step to solving this problem is eliminating the anti-intellectual climate in the United States. It is simply impossible to construct any coherent course of action if one's reasoning skills are as feeble as that of a typical Republican party member. Secondly, when this has been accomplished, it is both possible and desirable to steer this nation away from the Conservative regime and closer to the Liberal. This will be the first step to ensuring that the 'Free Market' economy superstition is debunked and the common man will receive the necessary support from the government in order to have the liberty to pursue goals other than a mere acquisition of wealth.
    The anti-intellectual climate, as you posted above, is unfortunately prevalent on many American campuses as well. I had a friend who was an economics professor at a well-respected, but conservative campus, and he was actually monitored by his students as to how "liberal" his views were. He was a strong believer in pointing out the fallacies of a free market economy, resulting in privatization of public services, loss of social services and rampant deregulation. He also taught a course on the economics of wealth and poverty.

    I will say firsthand, having taught science to middle school children, I was always disappointed by how ingrained my students were to never question or analyze a hypothetical problem, but rather to just get a quick answer. Even at that age, they had difficulty accepting that there was value in wrestling with a problem, maybe even having to reformulate the problem. I always taught the scientific process (formulate a hypothesis, get supplies, conduct the experiment, gather data, make observations, and make a conclusion related to the original hypothesis) because I think it provides a solid foundation to introducing and developing reasoning skills. I agree that this is a skill that is sorely lacking in our education system. My ex also used to teach Calculus in college and found the same lack of initiative to use reasoning skills and felt equally frustrated.
    I've looked at life from both sides now
    From up and down and still somehow
    It's life's illusions I recall
    I really don't know life at all

    Joni Mitchell

  7. #7
    . Blank's Avatar
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    I think a fundamental difference between Paine and Plato's theories are that with Plato's caste system, the ruling elite tended to be monarchs.

    In Paine's more capitalistic theories, that are "meritocratically" based, the ruling class tends to be the monopolies or corporations (who are lining politicians pockets...) because people aren't born into the world equally. The rich have many more opportunities to attain, or at least retain their wealth, while the poor have less viable options. The difference between this system and the caste system is just that class mobility is solved in nonviolent ways.
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  8. #8
    Senior Member chasingAJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Decline View Post
    tl;dr. I'll stick to answering to the concise thread title.

    I have a problem with quite a few of the cultural values that find their imposing way to my doorstep by ways of the various agents of socialization (media, family, peer group, education, etc). First and foremost is the myth of meritocracy which enables the country at large to believe that the wealthier among us found their way to the higher-tier classes completely through their own efforts, and the poorer by a lack of effort. The flaw to this argument lies in the tremendous strength of an unmentioned variable: discrimination deeply embedded within our social institutions.

    All of the socially constructed identities (cultural identities & stereotypes such as gender roles) enable impoverishment and enrichment trends to impose themselves upon the individual in society. It is in this way that our culture has allowed us to blame the poor's woes on their own merit, or to refuse immigrants their rights as human beings. Narcissistic fixations on an ideal image or the spending of all of one's money on high-classed material goods is not considered a problem since our value system encourages upper socio-economic mobility as a definition of "success", even if it's only a faade.

    There are plenty more elaborations to be made, but I'm tired.
    I'm not in the right head space to comment on this but I love this answer and I'm subscribing... b/c I just figured that out.

    Oh and most of my professors hate the "stupiding" of America... No Child Left Behind etc. Their Freshman Physics books are being used in Grad School now...

  9. #9
    . Blank's Avatar
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    I'd really like to learn more about the so-called "stupiding" of American students and whether or not there are any truths to such claims.
    Ti = 19 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Te = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ne = 16[][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fi = 15 [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Si = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Ni = 12 [][][][][][][][][][][][]
    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

    -----------------
    Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;
    Man got to sit and wonder why, why, why;
    Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;
    Man got to tell himself he understand

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by statuesquechica View Post
    The anti-intellectual climate is unfortunately prevalent on many American campuses as well.
    It is risible to complain about anti-intellectualism when MBTI is a scam plagiarized
    by an old lady and her daughter from a reifying guru who supported the other side during WW II.

    And it is risible to complain about anti-intellectualism when this site is devoted to recruiting school girls and school boys to the cult of MBTI.

    And it is risible to complain about anti-intellectualism when MBTI has the same truth value as astrology.

    No astronomer in the world believes in astrology, just as no qualified psychometrician believes in MBTI.

    This site is as anti-intellectual and pseudo intellectual as the New Age itself.

    In fact this site is part of the New Age.

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