Americans: Who Are You, Anyway? What? Freedom? Democracy? Human Rights? What? Universal Values?
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龙信明 Editorial | Monday, June 18, 2012, 17:52 Beijing
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My Fellow Americans:
It’s true I sometimes insult Americans by pointing out that 50% of you are below average in intelligence. But I am quite aware, and freely admit, that the other half of you are above average.
So let’s assume you are one of this latter group and, armed with this hope, let’s try to understand something.
Why Do You Have These Laws?
As an example, why does your country have securities laws against insider trading?
Since you’re one of the smart people, the answer should be obvious: at some time in the past, Americans (okay, ‘some’ Americans) tried to unfairly enrich themselves by gaming the system. Your government responded by enacting legislation and regulations that might at least punish those who committed these acts in the future.
Why Doesn’t Everybody Have Them?
Would it interest you to know that not every country has such laws? It isn’t because they approve of insider trading; it’s because they have (so far) had no need for such laws. Some countries have no stock exchanges, so the point is moot. Some countries have stock trading in its infancy and insider trading has not been a problem.
Maybe in some countries the people are more honest than Americans or, more likely, have found other preferred ways to cheat the system. In any case, not everyone has what you have.
The reason your country has these laws is because you needed them. Your nation developed in a manner that exposed a weakness which required preventive legislation.
God Told Me to Do It
Your securities legislation was not enacted because God told you to do it. That excuse is reserved for George Bush invading Iraq to find WMDs. The laws are there because of your country’s history – the way your nation developed. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out to you that another nation that developed in a different way might well have different laws.
The point of all this, is that there ain’t no “democracy” here. There ain’t no religion here. There ain’t no freedoms, no human rights, no universal values, here. What there is here, is “let’s stop some Americans from cheating”. And no more than that.
Again, since you’re one of the smart people, you should be able to extrapolate from this one example, and maybe begin to see your country the way it is.
More Laws and Principles
Why did your former governments (and those of some other nations) insist on a separation of church and state? And why didn’t every nation enact those laws? Why did your government – and ONLY your government – adopt the principle of separation of powers? Why did it proclaim the (largely illusory) independence of the judiciary?
The reason should be obvious to you. There was a felt need for such legislation because of the way your nation developed. Your laws, policies, procedures, attitudes, developed from your history. You are a product of your environment, or maybe your environment is the product of you.
You have enacted all these laws, adopted all these attitudes, because they were necessary – for you. Since each other nation did what was necessary for them, not everything is the same – nor should it be.
But you – unike every other nation in the world – didn’t stop there. You told yourselves that you are special – mostly because you are White, Christian and, above all, American!
And that means that all these laws, policies, procedures, attitudes, regulations did not really arise from simple boring necessity, but arose instead because they are “universal values” recognised by God (who is on your side) and therefore represent the “true yearnings of all humanity”.
And between you and me, that’s just bullshit.
You are so full of yourself and your supposed God-given American Exceptionalism that you have blindly transfigured mere necessity into treasured virtue.
But securities laws or an independent judiciary are neither treasured virtues nor universal values. You needed these laws because some of your people were thieves and some of your judges were too easily bought.
Your laws, attitudes and beliefs exist because of what you were, and how your nation developed, because of you. It is, to say the least, arrogant of you, to presume that all other nations should want or should have, these same things.
Let’s Invade the UK, and Teach Them Brits How to Drive
Use your head. Why do people in the UK drive their cars on the left side of the road, when you drive on the right? And who cares? They developed differently than you, and they do things differently. Are you going to tell us that driving on the right side of the road is a “universal value that reflects the true yearnings of mankind”?
Do you want to add this to your long and foolish list of the 1,001 things included in “democracy, freedom and human rights”?
Other countries may not need those same laws, for any number of reasons. So, in what mental state would you be operating if you demand that all other nations adopt these same values – just because YOU have them?
Who Are You, Anyway?
If you really are one of the smart people, you should be able to extrapolate a bit further and make some sense of who you are and what is your place in the world.
Your country, the US, for whatever reason, has developed into a strongly individualistic society where the apparent focus is on ME – My freedoms, My rights, My everything. Most other nations are pluralistic, unlike you, and those that do resemble you are much more moderate in their expression.
All these me-focused attitudes are again the result of your nation’s development. They are not “universal” in any sense. They are not “human rights”; they are not anything. And they sure as hell do not represent the “true yearnings of all humanity”.
They are just you. They represent what YOU are, because of where you have been. And no more than that.
I’m Calling My Lawyer
It might interest you to know that your “exceptional” US is the most litigious nation in the world – by orders of magnitude.
The US had, at last count, one lawyer for every 265 people. Japan has one lawyer for every 30,000 people; China has one for every 66,000 people.
Why do you suppose that is? Because China’s legal system is undeveloped? Not so. The simple truth is that this flows from your primitive individualism and your moralistic Christian heritage.
Asian morality negotiates to find a compromise that everyone can live with. Americans are true believers in “the law of the jungle”, where we fight and have a clear winner and a clear loser. You thrive on conflict, often seeking it out if it doesn’t exist.
To you, your excessive litigiousness is normal, natural, and necessary. To the remaining 95% of the world, you’re just crazy.
And for God’s sake, grow up and stop telling yourself your “right to sue” is a universal value and God-given freedom and human right. It’s none of those things. It’s just you – aggressive, belligerent, and always looking for a fight.
No other nations share your natural belligerence, nor are they so desperate to rationalise their own failings as to resort to the delusional and simple-minded pretense of transfiguring a vice into a virtue.
Once again, this ain’t “democracy”. There are no “universal values” here; there is no religion here, no “human rights and freedoms”. This is just YOU, preferring to fight rather than talk. This is what you chose, because of what you are.
Keep it, if you’re happy with it, but don’t try to impose it on the rest of the world, because they don’t want it.
If I’m So Superior, Why Do I Feel Lonely?
In conjuction with the strong individualism, your nation has developed what some would term an excessively strong capitalist culture – to the extent that even giving your people a universal health care system would mean “the end of freedom in America”, at least according to Ronald Reagan.
It should be no surprise that there is no other country in the world that agrees with you. You are all alone on this one. But again, this fierce and unrestrained capitalism developed in your nation alone, because of you and your history, and because of who and what you are. It did not develop anywhere else on the planet.
And like most everything else you believe, this fierce capitalism of yours is not a “universal value”, and in truth, nobody but you values it. It is not religion, it is not human rights or freedoms; it is not “democracy”. It is just you.
And you are in no position to tell other nations they’re wrong, if they don’t want your “values”.
This is the one you will like least. Do you believe you have your “democracy” because an Angel descended from Heaven with some golden tablets and showed you “The Way of The Universe”?
Was that the same Angel who introduced your country to black slavery? The same one who encouraged you to exterminate 98% of the aboriginal natives in your country? The same Angel who encouraged you to go to Vietnam, kill 5 million people, and go home?
Your form of government developed in the same way as all your other beliefs, attitudes, values and laws. It is one more product of the environment; if that past environment had been different, your government system would undoubtedly reflect that.
If you are still with me, and if you really are one of the smart ones, you know that democracy is simply one form of participatory government, and nothing very special. It sure as hell is not a religion, not even if you live in Jesusland.
Again, use your head. Your vaunted “democracy” is no more a “universal value” than were your black slaves.
Your people believed so firmly that owning black slaves was a “God-given human right” that your country fought its Civil War over this issue. Today that idea is dead, but it sure wasn’t dead 150 years ago, and back then your grandfather was screaming about the fundamental human right to own slaves, just as today you mindlessly parrot the same nonsense about “democracy”.
He was crazy then, and you’re crazy now.
Your form of government evolved from the accidents of who you are and how you developed. Most of the world is different, and most of the world has values different from yours. Some would say that’s a good thing.
Freedoms! Human Rights!
What Americans choose to define as human rights (or civil rights) is unique in the world.
We sometimes see supermarkets where almost everything appears to be “On Sale”, analogous to the all-encompassing American definition of “democracy” – which probably includes the “right to dog food” for Pookie and Stud Muffin.
The American definintion of this term is becoming increasingly all-inclusive, containing every manner of “right” – of which Americans appear to have zillions – including human rights, civil rights, media rights, legal rights, assembly rights, and the right of Pookie to poop in the park. It really just doesn’t end, and people in many countries just don’t stop laughing.
Christian individualism has conditioned most Americans to view all these so-called “rights” as universal values. But few other nations have this characteristic, and none have it anywhere near as strongly. A large majority of the world’s peoples are socially pluralistic and are much less interested than Americans in these so-called rights.
Pluralistic societies value stability more than many of the small rights and freedoms that Americans hold so religiously. These people are willing to tolerate many kinds of restrictions in exchange for something they value more. And you can’t tell them they’re wrong.
Americans appear unable to accept this, having foolishly elevated all these values to a theological status. During Google’s recent dispute with the Chinese government, the Western media were full of claims that Google was a “human right”.
To people in most nations, that’s just childish nonsense. Americans cannot understand that what they have, is merely a reflection of what they are and where they have been. And that other nations developed differently and hold different values.
We see this in everything from Google to Twitter to IP and patent claims, to business practices to social conventions. With IP and patent issues, for example, pluralistic societies are much more “open-source” than is the US. It’s a bit like hearing a funny story and passing it on without even thinking of “crediting the original source”.
People in pluralistic societies are much less concerned with ownership of ideas, concepts, designs. Much is generally considered to be in the public domain. And there is no basis – “democratic” or otherwise – on which you can tell these people they are wrong.
But Americans, with their moralistic Christianity and fierce individualism, cannot understand this, and constantly demand that the entire world adopt American attitudes and values – on the simple-minded thesis that these are “universal”.
But they are not universal, not in any sense. They are American constructs or, at least, Western ones. Most of the world does not think that way and resents the push to be remade in the American image. The world does not like to have foreign American values shoved down their throats.
Everyone is Crazy, Except Me
So, my American friend, who do you think you are, to demand that the entire world adopt your values, systems, standards, beliefs? In truth, very little of what you hold to be so dear and so true, is “universal” in any sense of the meaning of that word.
You have what you want, so be happy with it. But you are only 5% of the world’s population. What do you think about, that you should blindly demand that the other 95% of the world’s people adopt what you have?
They don’t want what you have. They don’t want your “universal” values because your values are in no way universal. Other nations don’t want to be like you; they want to be like them.
You got a problem with that?