My Country's Better than Your Country

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by im_posessed, Dec 15, 2004.

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  1. im_posessed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2002
    star 3
    Is it just human nature to believe our way of doing things is the best, or is that something that is bread into us?

    While browsing through many threads on this forum, I notice that a majority of those posting are American (note, the following is not a bash on Americans in any way, just explaing something that got me thinking), and as such, much of what is posted is from an American perspective. Sometimes (i know, not always) to the point of forgetting that there are other posters from other countries here, and that their viewpoints/ideas, while perhaps contradicting the way it works in the states, are just as correct/valid in their own culture.

    So is that just American pride? I think not - I'm sure if the majority of posters on these forums were from, say, Sweden (there, a nice neutral country ;)) then the "normal" or expected viewpoint would be Swedish.

    Personaly, I think this form of - well, I'm not really sure what to call it, ethnocentrism doesn't really work because it's not really an ethnic group, and I don't think culturocentrism is a word, anyway - is something that is taught/learned.

    An examples - a friend of mine was working as a Nanny in another country. The child that was in her care knew where she was from, and while watching some sporting event, her country lost, and the child said (proudly) "don't worry, that's just because you're not as good as us"


    On the other hand, sometimes childen do figure things out on their own
    Another example - I know a 4 year old that moved to another country when he was two. He knows where he is from and his parents are not overly partirotic to their homeland. However, whenever this (adorable) little boy plays a race or anything his home country are the "bad guys" and his new country the "good guys".

    My question - in a world that is growing more and more globaly minded by the second, where does extreme patriotism fit in? Should children be taught that thir country/culture/traditions are better than anyone elses? Should the assumption always be that no matter what people are saying, they are saying it with the same background/would view as everyone else?

    Personally, I think this "my country is better than your country" mindset is completely outdated and can cause a lot of needless miscomunication. I've seen it myself on these threads ("what do you mean, that's not how it works!" "That's how it works here!").

    In the past, patriotism was used as a sort of public defense - people who are proud of their country and its ways are more likely to fight for it in the instance of war - no matter how "wrong" their stance is to those in other countries (I'm sure there were many Germans who were just as patriotic as many Americans during the wars). Governments used the heard mentality of people to push their products and ideas (i.e. "it's the american way").

    So is this thinking still necisary today, or does it cause more harm than good? Also, what can be done to achieve more of a "global mindest", and how likely is it that it will work?
  2. JediMindTrick000 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 14, 2004
    star 3
    My family has hosted a number of foreign exchange students in the past, so from personal experience, I think I can honestly say this is not just an "American thing." Patriotism I think stems from deep within humans' genetics. A human's first priority is himself, and then his family, and then the "extended" family, which would be in this case would be their country. And I don't think every country thinking it is the best is a bad thing - in fact, that is what drives competition which in turn drives progress. It is when it is taken to extremes that it becomes a problem.
  3. Dionysus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2001
    star 1
    Interesting thread.

    One thing to keep in mind is that patriotism (nationalism might be a better word here) is a relatively recent creation. It obviously didn't develop until there were nation-states to take pride in, and those didn't come about until the past 500 years or so (with a few possible exceptions).

    In fact, almost all the major nation-states (I'm thinking here primarily of Europe) were cobbled together out of myriad regions and ethnic groups that had little in common. Unity had to be created and then enforced, and patriotism is a very handy way to do that. Make your citizens intensely proud and devoted to their country, and it's not as hard to convince them to pay their taxes or go to war, because anything can be justified as 'for the good of your country'.

    Thus, in the US, we force our children to say the Pledge of Allegiance (through social pressure, if not overt policy) and we play the national anthem before any important social event. Question these practices, and your patriotism will immediately be challenged.

    In other words, I think patriotism/nationalism is the result of very effective propaganda campaigns. These campaigns prey on people's deep desires to be correct, to be on the winning side, to not go through the discomfort of learning someone else's point of view. It's very frightening to see how well they've worked.

    But Orwell said all of this much more eloquently in 1984.
  4. im_posessed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2002
    star 3
    In fact, almost all the major nation-states (I'm thinking here primarily of Europe) were cobbled together out of myriad regions and ethnic groups that had little in common. Unity had to be created and then enforced, and patriotism is a very handy way to do that. Make your citizens intensely proud and devoted to their country, and it's not as hard to convince them to pay their taxes or go to war, because anything can be justified as 'for the good of your country'.
    .....

    In other words, I think patriotism/nationalism is the result of very effective propaganda campaigns..... It's very frightening to see how well they've worked.



    The example of the different ethnic groups etc. is interesting, especially as we see more and more people leaving their native countries and moving to other places. Could the continuing use of patriotical propaganda be an attempt to assimilate them and draw their aligence to a new country instead of being lured back to their native land? And if so, is that really a "nice" thing to do?

    And I don't think every country thinking it is the best is a bad thing - in fact, that is what drives competition which in turn drives progress. It is when it is taken to extremes that it becomes a problem.

    It's also what drives wars, racism, genocide, massacres etc. People seem to have a habit of taking things to extremes.
  5. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
    The thing I find most disturbing is the American habit of accusing people of being "unpatriotic" or "un-American" if they happen to disagree with the majority or "official" policy.

  6. cal_silverstar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2002
    star 4
    It's only natural for citizens to be patriotic of nationalistic of their respective countries. As stated earlier, when those feelings are stirred into a frenzy and taken to an extreme, that's when it becomes a problem. People should be proud of their culture and heritage, and acknowledge the wrongs that their countries have done in the past. It's always best to have a well-rounded historical perspective.

    Personally, I can never really say "our country is better that your country", because that's arrogant. I will, however, criticize other systems of government, such as dictatorships and communist regimes because they do nothing but cause its people to suffer.

    EDIT: Agreed, Darth Asabrush. Patriotism has been thrown around so much that its meaning has been diminished. Patriotism is love of country, not love of government policy.
  7. Cyprusg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2002
    star 4
    People should be proud of their culture and heritage

    Why?
  8. im_posessed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2002
    star 3


    People should be proud of their culture and heritage

    Why?


    That's the same question I ask. Know it, definatly, embrace it, sure, that's a good idea, but where does the pride come from?

    Mind you, there are different forms of pride - good kinds and bad kids, it's the bad kind of pride I'm talking about here, the kind that says "this is the best way", that puts itself over others.

    We're moving more and more to a global mindset (atleast, some people are, things are in place for this to happen), but if nationalism reigns, then that will never happen, and barriers between people will continue to exist as one always puts themself over another
  9. Dionysus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2001
    star 1
    im-posessed,

    Could the continuing use of patriotical propaganda be an attempt to assimilate them and draw their aligence to a new country instead of being lured back to their native land? And if so, is that really a "nice" thing to do?

    Certainly it's not a nice thing to do. By 'nice' I simply meant 'easy'--using propaganda to create patriotism is an easy way for governments to persuade their citizens to support government policy.

    As you no doubt gathered from my post, I take a very dim view of patriotism. It often has much more to do with instilling hatred and fear of other countries rather than instilling pride in one's own country.

    In my opinion, of course... ;)
  10. cal_silverstar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2002
    star 4
    Well maybe I worded that inaccurately. I mean people don't have to be ashamed of their culture and heritage. When I was in college, it was downright fashionable to be America hating. I just got so sick of it. We've done good stuff and bad stuff in our history, but I put all that in perspective. In Germany's case, for example, they must never forget what the Nazis have done, but they don't have to focus on that dark era as if that was the only event that defines Germans. Germany was the birthplace of such greats as Martin Luther, Mozart, Beethoven, and Einstein to name a few.

    EDIT: Certainly it's not a nice thing to do. By 'nice' I simply meant 'easy'--using propaganda to create patriotism is an easy way for governments to persuade their citizens to support government policy.

    As you no doubt gathered from my post, I take a very dim view of patriotism. It often has much more to do with instilling hatred and fear of other countries rather than instilling pride in one's own country.


    Here in the U.S., our goal is still "the melting pot" not the "salad". We try to have immigrants integrate to the culture of our society, not forget where they came from, but to speak the language, know the history, and follow the laws. That's all. We don't want to instill hatred of other countries, we ultimately want unity in the populace. That encourages stability. If you have a myriad of different cultures that don't integrate and just stay in their own "camps" and don't speak a common language, you remain divided. In such a situation, racism and hate crimes are more likely. Isn't this a problem that Europe is facing today? An unintegrated immigrant population at odds with a declining native population?

  11. Branthoris Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2002
    star 3
    It may just be human nature; I don't know. I live in Britain, and I am certainly glad I was born here rather than anywhere else in the world. I believe that, in most respects, our way of doing things is the best, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?

    I certainly think that countries with a democratic government under the rule of law are 'better' than others, in the sense that people's lives are better because government acts more in the interests of the people and less in the interests of certain individuals.
  12. im_posessed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2002
    star 3
    Here in the U.S., our goal is still "the melting pot" not the "salad".... If you have a myriad of different cultures that don't integrate and just stay in their own "camps" and don't speak a common language, you remain divided. In such a situation, racism and hate crimes are more likely. Isn't this a problem that Europe is facing today? An unintegrated immigrant population at odds with a declining native population?

    Actually, from what I've looked at, countries with a "salad" mentality have less hate crimes than those with the "melting pot" - people are given freedom to their own cultural identity instead of being told to conform, and as such everyones culture is put on the same level, instead of "you're not like us and that's wrong"

    It often has much more to do with instilling hatred and fear of other countries rather than instilling pride in one's own country.


    I know that's not the intent (at least not the one that people pubicise), but yes, usually that's the resut.

    Why is that? I think it's simple as this

    teacher - "you need to be proud to be a whaterveran"
    student - "why?"
    teacher - "well, because we have the best this that and the other things"
    student - (in the way that childrens minds work) comes to think that thier country is better than others.

    It wasn't necisarily the intent, but its what happens none the less
  13. Dionysus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2001
    star 1
    cal_silverstar,

    I appreciate your points, and the 'melting pot' metaphor is a pleasant one on the surface, but rather arrogant and naive underneath. If we were truly interested in 'melting' everyone, we would be taking bits and pieces from the cultures of all who come here--and that includes Mexicans, Haitians, and various other immigrant groups that many consider undesirable.

    But the fact is that we haven't been interested in truly melting. We've been interested in preserving a specific culture--a north-western European, Protestant, white culture. Anyone who has threatened that culture's predominance (such as the Irish in the 19th century, or Hispanics today) has been attacked as evil, stupid, a job-stealer, and generally unwilling to properply 'melt'.

    And so the upshot of all this patriotic propaganda, which is supposed to be about unity and creating a common heritage, is actually hatred and misunderstanding. Whenever you create a distinction--Americans versus foreigners, citizens versus immigrants, communists versus capitalists, Christians versus pagans, Muslims versus unbelievers--that distinction will lead to violence, be it mental or physical.

    That is one of the clearest lessons of history.
  14. cal_silverstar Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jul 15, 2002
    star 4
    Dionysus, may I call you god of wine? ;)

    The way I see it is, there is no need to eradicate the last vestiges of your culture and heritage and forget you ever came from whatever country and becaome the WASP you could never be. Here, everyone's free to keep their culture and heritage from the native land. Nor is it the goal to say, now that you're American, you're better than everyone else. In general, when someone emigrates to another country, they should take the time to learn the language, culture, and history. The language should be learned at least. If I emigrated to Japan, for example, I will not try to get by on English and demand that everything be bilingual. I will learn to speak Japanese. Same thing if I ever moved to France, Mexico, or China or whatever I'll learn French, Spanish, Mandarin, or Cantonese. I believe "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
  15. Jedi_Emilie Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 19, 2004
    star 2
    So is that just American pride? I think not - I'm sure if the majority of posters on these forums were from, say, Sweden (there, a nice neutral country ) then the "normal" or expected viewpoint would be Swedish.

    I agree, it's obvious that the environment molds you, your thoughts and your point of views. But when it comes to patriotism and pride of your country I think it differs a lot between countries. I do actually come from Sweden and if someone here would wave a flag constantly and say that they're really proud to be swedish, people would think it kinda weird and excentric. To be patriotic is to some extent actually frowned upon here. Not by everyone, but by some.
    So, why is that? Well I think it might have something to do with your countries history. If your country is threatened or has been in the past the people tend to unite. Take Norway for example, a country that doesn't differ much culturally from Sweden but has a lot more patriotism. Their national day is celebrated enthusiasticly, but in Sweden most people don't even know why out national day is on the sixth of June. Now they're planning to make it a national holiday, and people are actually quite angry because it's a holiday that might be on a weekend and then they won't get an extra day off. And I agree, don't really see the point of celebrating the swedish national day. If you want to celebrate that you live in a free country; vote.

    Swedish people is however very rabid about their traditions. I guess that might be nationalistic in some sense.
  16. Dionysus Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2001
    star 1
    cal,

    Of course you can call me the god of wine. Call me Bacchus also, if you like.

    I agree with your last post. Those moving to a new country should try to learn the language, and I think the vast majority of immigrants to the US make that effort. Many of them do much better than I could. (And I say this after living for several months in Paris, where I spoke passable French only after many drinks.)
  17. JarJar Slayer Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Jun 19, 2000
    star 2
    First of all, pride and respect are interlinked as far as I'm concerned.

    Pride in your heritage helps build pride in yourself as you are part of that heritage. And you need to be proud of yourself if you are to respect yourself.

    That's vital, because people who don't respect themselves won't be respected by anyone else.

    Secondly, patriotism is inbuilt. I mean even among Americans themselves, look at when Detroit plays L.A. in the NBA finals. A lot of people get revved up into a frenzy. And that's just two cities in the same country. And it happens everywhere. English football, Australian Rugby League.
  18. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Dionysus said...
    , we would be taking bits and pieces from the cultures of all who come here--and that includes Mexicans, Haitians, and various other immigrant groups that many consider undesirable.

    What are you talking about? Do you live in America? If you do, you may be so blinded by the Hispanic influence on our culture that you can't see the forest through the trees.

    Two words..."Taco Belle".

    You may say,"But that ain't Mexican!!!"

    To which I would respond, "No, it isn't. It has been blended or, if you will, melted, into American society."

    What about "Kyoto Bowl"...chinese food.

    Pro-wrestling, Mexican and Japanese.

    Comics: Japanese.

    I can go on if you wish.
  19. im_posessed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2002
    star 3
    First of all, pride and respect are interlinked as far as I'm concerned.

    That is true, but there are many forms of pride. Saying "I'm g a good person" is pride, but in a good way. Saying "I'm a better person than someone else" is also pride, but pride in a bad way

    It's the bad kind of pride that can lead to extreme nationalism and thinking that one country is better than another, or that everyone in the world holds your specific country in high esteem, and if they don't there is something wrong with them.

    I think that kind of idea is taught (sometimes with the best intentions), and at one point in time may have been useful, but is out of date as we move to a more global society
  20. Obi-Wan McCartney Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 17, 1999
    star 5
    Sorry, I didn't read this thread, but if your country is America, than heck yeah it's better than any other country! American Rocks! Whoo hoo!
  21. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    OWM...Sorry, I didn't read this thread, but if your country is America, than heck yeah it's better than any other country! American Rocks! Whoo hoo!

    Are you being sarcastic? 'Cause I've not imagined that phrase coming from you....

    And yes...America rocks!!!!
  22. im_posessed Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2002
    star 3
    Sorry, I didn't read this thread, but if your country is America, than heck yeah it's better than any other country! American Rocks! Whoo hoo!


    Thanks QWM for helping me proove my point ;)
  23. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6
    Comics: Japanese.

    Wrong.

    While some would probably put comics origins next to hieroglyphics or cave paintings, I think that it?s most accurate to put the origin of the modern comic with the origins of the modern newspaper, sometime in the mid 1600s, though some examples date back to the 1550s. During the English Civil War, when censorship became unenforceable you start seeing images that can be identified as comics in a modern sense, very similar to modern editorial cartoons. One-shot panels with a caricature image and a gag compromised the first comics. By the 1900s, you were definitely seeing split frames in editorial cartoons every so often, where each frame would move forward the mini-plot. From there, the change to comic books was simply to have the comic storyline stretch past one page.

    I should note at this point that there was an art form practiced in Japan called Manga as early as the 1700s in Japan, led by a man called Hokusai. However, his work and the work of others like him doesn?t bear much relation to modern comics ? for one thing, this Manga was mostly landscape pictures. It would be like looking at the illuminations found around the edges of pages in medieval books as comics, or looking at paintings like the Last Supper as comics. It shares a name with the modern art form, but it?s not its equivalent in any way.

    The first modern comic book is generally considered to be The Yellow Kid by Richard Fenton Outcalt, created in the mid 1890s in America. Outcalt is also generally credited with the invention of the word balloon. Through the first three decades of the art form in its modern form comics were very linear, extremely disposable entertainment: Popeye the Sailor, Mutt and Jeff, etc. With the Great Depression, printing presses that would have been used for newspapers needed some other purpose, and that purpose became comic books. Dick Tracy, The Shadow, Flash Gordon, and Tarzan were headliners in the 1930s, generally considered the Golden Age of comic books. Detective stories, pirate stories, science fiction, fantasy, comics were about all sorts of genres. Most of the characters from that era faded into obscurity, but some remain with us today, among them Superman and Batman (Batman is a really odd case by the way ? a detective comic hero that somehow managed to survive into the superhero comic era; Captain America is about as close a parallel as you?ll find to him, and even he has a super serum to explain his abilities).

    The earliest modern Japanese comics were by men like Ippei Okamoto, and were very highly influenced by western comics. The flow of culture went from America to Japan, not from Japan to America. The first major innovations produced by Japan in comics were by Osamu Tezuka (best known for Astroboy). Tezuka should be given credit for the graphic novel ? the first graphic novel was Shintakarajima, published in 1947. Secondly, he should be given credit for the cinema style shots that comprise many modern comics. It wasn?t until the 80s that these innovations spread to North American comics. Tezuka was undoubtedly one of the most influential comics creators ever, and he deserves the same recognition as the likes of Stan Lee and Alan Moore; it?s rather unfortunate that it wasn?t until the 1980s that his influence over comics in the west became noticeable.

    In any case, the idea that comics are a Japanese invention that spread to America is quite wrong and revisionist.

  24. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Humbly bows to Raven.

    I knew about half of that, but did learn a lot. Fantastic post.

    What I aluded to was simply the influence Japan has on our own pop culture, most notably comics. They are, of course, intremental to our video games as well.

    But my post was severely lacking in clarification.

    We may have more in common than it appears.

    Again, fantastic post.
  25. Vaderbait Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2001
    star 6
    THere's nothing wrong with thinking your country's institutions are the best. THe problem is what we're experiencing now, people seem so high and mighty (in both America and Europe) that they feel the need to insult the other countries.

    Saying "Our country is the greatest democracy in the world" is fine.

    Saying "So and so's country is messed up. THey're stone-age, retarded, and braindead." Now, in my mind, I'm hearing a lto of Europeans say that, but AMericans do, too.

    People need to come off their high horses everywhere and realize that America doesn't have to be like Europe, because Europe isn't perfect and probably not even a better institution.

    Likewise, Europe doesn't have to be America.

    And I know someone will make some smart-alec comment about Bush doing that very thing. He's not. He's saying people need to have democracies, which most people in the world and throughout history agree. You don't have to look any farther than Iraq, their democracy is different than Afghanistans and definitely different from the US, but it'll still be a democracy. See what I mean? Everyone needs to stop being so freaking hostile.
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