The Scam of America- we love money and nothing else.
I found anintriguing article which includes both the social justice take on America, and foreign impressions of our lovely nation.
I'm actually from the Midwest, however it appalls me to find the same classist attitudes no matter where I go in the country. What in our cities is called racism is often classism or a combination of racism and classism. Portland being pretty much white is interesting to outside eyes. I see the poor here getting the exact same treatment reserved for minorities in the rest of the U.S. (minorities make up the bulk of the poor elsewhere, sometimes almost exclusively).
From my perspective it seems obvious that we are in some sort of crisis and the poor are the scapegoats as they have been for years now. The problem is that everyone believes hating the poor is both sane and productive.
It does seem that this nation is reaching the point where we have to admit the failure of our almost cult-like belief in the capitalist system. Yet, no matter where you go, there are people railing against this truth and scared to death because all they believe in is failing. It will probably get ugly. The wealthy here and elsewhere seem scared (more scared here). People fear our expansive bottom for people to hit here, and treat the poor like crap to reinforce the idea that people have bad luck because they are bad people. This idea is called "fundamental attribution error." It is related to victim blame. I find understanding why people behave the way they do goes a long way towards predicting behavior. Yes, we have a sick culture here.
Go to Europe? A friend of mine did. This article I'm sharing is really about how Europeans see our culture. Always outside eyes bring fresh perspectives and new ideas.
HAPPIER ABROAD Why You Can Have A Better Life and Love Beyond America
Propaganda vs. real life in America
"America is a country that is built for doing business, not living life." - an Asian American intellectual in Europe
As we all know, the media propaganda image in America is that our country is a land of freedom and opportunity where anyone can be what they want to be, live their dreams, be the best they can be, become rich and successful, and live the American dream of owning a home. This idea is incessantly conveyed by our culture, media, education system, and political establishment. It is a necessary illusion to keep everyone functioning in their place. And we are selectively fed success stories of individuals who thrive here rather than of those who don't.
However, despite this image, here's the big picture about how things work in America and how people live. The reality is that in America, only a few people truly live the American dream. Those at the top who control the flow of economic resources and production capital (in socialist philosophy terms, they are referred to as the "haute bourgeoisie" class) are also the ones who get most of the resource flow even though they don't need it. And it's not just with the CEO's. The top sports players and top Hollywood stars in this country who get 20 million dollars per film or per season are easily getting extraordinary amounts of money that they don't even need. That's how things have always worked, especially in a capitalist country. Karl Marx's prediction that capitalism would fail might have came true if a middle class hadn't been created in this country to act as a buffer between the upper and lower classes, stabilizing the system, giving the low class an incentive to move up higher so they don't overthrow the elite. (Some intellectual historians have even argued that colleges and universities were created to create a middle class. e.g. Zinn, Chomsky)
In reality, the majority of people in this country live in slavery to their jobs just so they can keep up with never-ending bills and make ends meet. They never live the American dream. And the myth of "individual freedom" for all in America is just that, a myth, perpetuated to appease and motivate the masses of people, making each person feel important. Most people in America work at least 8 hours a day at a full time job, and what little time is left at the end of the day is spent at home with their families, making dinner, getting children ready for bed, and then going to bed to start the next day the same way again. There isn't really enough time for people to develop themselves intellectually or spiritually.
In fact, here is what the typical life of the typical married stable man in America is like, as I would describe it:
The ideal life of the typical married stable American man:
"He has a wife, some kids, a mortgaged house, two cars or SUV's, many bills to pay, and a stable job to support all of it. Each morning, he and his wife get up, get the kids ready for school, make coffee, and then they both go to work (or at least he does). After a 8-9 hour workday, he comes home and tries to relax in front of the TV, but often has very little time to do so, because he might have to help make dinner, talk to his wife and kids (which usually consists of clicheish pep talk around the dinner table), help do household chores, help the kids with their homework, get the kids ready for bed, and then go to bed himself, often still exhausted. The next day, the same routine simply starts all over again.
On weekends, he gets a little more freedom, but not by much. Instead, he has to spend a large part of the weekend catching up on household chores, cleaning the house, or doing yard work. If he can manage to do a family outing, it is often too stressful to enjoy. Not only does he have to constantly watch and discipline the kids from getting out of hand, but he has to think about his budget for the family outing, driving and planning where to go, humoring the kids, lecturing them and giving them clicheish pep talk, making sure his wife is pleased with the outing too, and making sure they get back home in time before the kids' bedtime. That's why these family outings are usually exhausting and more stressful than fun.
Sometimes, he and his wife also go out to social events sponsored by schools, companies, churches or the community. But even then, these events tend to be rigid, routine, dull and clicheish. In addition, around the people at these events, he puts on a contrived pleasant face to be polite, regardless of whether he likes them or not, and others at the events do the same to him as well. People at these events don't deeply enjoy them. Instead, they simply pretend to. Deep down, they know it is just a light distraction from the routine monotony of their daily lives.
In the background of all this are the constant pressures and demands of the bills he has to keep up with as well as the savings he has to allocate. He has to deal with the big house mortgage payments, utility bills, taxes, car insurance payments, medical insurance bills (unless his company pays all or most of it), food and gas expenditures, credit card bills, entertainment/luxury item expenditures, the needs and wants of his kids and wife, etc. In addition to all this, he has to also try to save up some money for his retirement or his kids' college fund.
Each day that goes by, each week, each month, each year, etc. is pretty much like the above. That's life for him. Eventually, he may start asking himself "Is this what life is all about? Is this all there is?" Then he may start feeling like a robot leadin chanized life with no freedom. Not only is he a slave to his company, but he is a slave to his wife, kids, house, cars and bills as well. Sadly he learns that there is no true freedom in all this. Not only is this life routine and stressful, but mind-numbing as well. Eventually, he may start to long for the life he had before when he was single and could do whatever he wanted without his current stresses that enslave him. He may long for the time when he was young and single and could choose from many paths in life without anyone tying him down, as well as his freedom to pursue or love conquests with new and exciting women. He may still love his wife and have affection for her, but the romance and passion may be long gone, and they stay together simply for financial commitments and for the sake of the kids. In fact, he may even start to envy the life of the traveling backpackers to overseas countries who, although are poor and on a budget, nevertheless live a life of adventure and mind-expanding freedom.
To cope with this mind numbing routine and stress, he may find ways to distract himself. He may seek acceptable forms of escape such as becoming a sports fan and watching football, baseball, or basketball. These spectator sports provide a temporary distraction from his inner emptiness. Or he may develop other hobbies such as reading, or becoming a handyman on cars and houses (like Tim Allen does on the sitcom Home Improvement). And of course, he must constantly convince himself that his life has meaning because he is doing what God and his country told him he is supposed to do by raising a family, and that it is all for the good of his kids and wife who are depending on him. No matter how dull, stressful, or mind numbing his life is, that's what he has got to tell himself every day in order to tolerate and endure his conditions."
The above is a sad grim picture but this is the case with many American males, and this is all underreported by our media of course. Some may find this routine lifestyle comfortable, but others loathe it because they realize that their minds and souls will never be expanded by it, but instead contracted into robotic conformity without freedom.
Even some American women and suburban soccer moms living the American dream feel the same way, as in the case of this lady who wrote me:
I have never responded to a blog before or whatever they are called. I found your essay about american consumerism on planet essay and was inspired to write to you.
As I read your essay I felt like you were telling my story, except that I am a 40 year old female living in Malibu with a husband and two kids. Sounds nice right? Many days I feel like I am living a life of a prisoner. In my twenties I lived in Italy, France, and Belguim. I have been to Switzerland, Austria, Germany, spain, Turkey, Russia, Indonesia, and Luxembourg. I felt so alive, so free. Now what? My life is exactly like you described in your essay. I feel stuck. I am a full time mom with a nanny to help. I have read every spiritual book out. All I seem to do is long for my twenties. My husband is all about materialism and staying at 5 star hotels (many days I just feel suffocated by our marriage). I long for the way I used to be. I feel as though I have gone to the point of no return because I have children who rely on me.
Do you have any advice?"
(My response: Not really, unfortunately. You just have to find every opportunity you can to do what you love and try to maintain a healthy balance between your other priorities, as well as a workable compromise. In the meantime, you can try to live vicariously through people like me :))
Our "culture" is completely based on HYPE and CONSUMERISM along with EXCESS CONSUMPTION. Life is all about what you can BUY next. And that's why mainstream Americans do not seem as evolved or enlightened as mainstream Europeans for example, to put it bluntly (no offense to anyone intended). Europeans in general obviously have a lot more soul and intellect than average Americans, particularly among the young population.
In reality, there are few redeeming qualities to living in America other than making money and consuming. Besides that, the rest is mostly fake and artificial. This is well known to many foreigners, immigrants and even some Americans. In fact, here are their real life opinions, which are quite common, but in the world of the US media of course, they don't exist.
First, a Russian girl from Moscow had this to say about moving to the USA:
"To be honest i don't like usa at all, i can move there but only if it is strongly needed (if i fall for an american). Many of my friends was there(with families or for student exchange Work&travel usa) and say something similar to: "they have no culture, but the money... money and nothing more is interesting for them", Doesnt sound inspiring.."
Next, an Asian American reader gave this conclusion of life in America:
Interesting to read your writing on America....after 20 years living on the US, I gradually have come to a similar conclusion. Now I tend to see US as an extremely luxury prison, and experience life here as a shell, hollow with little content except if your life is all about making money or being fully committed to a career...
Interestingly enough, a Russian immigrant who read an earlier version of this treatise, had a bout with self-condemnation before he becoming enlightened:
"Anyway, to cut a long story short, everything you wrote in your treatise is precisely to the point. I am a Russian who has lived in the States long enough to know. I came to the country expecting to find some flavor, as I had been able to do in France and Germany. Alas, what I ran into was a sea of blandness.
I took me a while to realize that there was a chasm of difference between the media picture of America and real life, but when the truth hit home, I felt very disappointed and empty. I even had a lapse of self-condemnation as I thought the problem was in me. I have gotten over it now and can see clearly. Your writing puts all the pieces of the puzzle together very well."
And an African American man on my list vociferated:
"You can tell most people in other parts of the world are more cultured and morally more disciplined than most Americans. Most Americans think possessing material wealth is being cultured, and that they are socially more superior than other races... What an ILLUSION in their mind!!... They unfortunately so believe their illusions they fail to realize they are dead WRONG! North America is good to live in if you like to acquire material wealth period! And that is good provided you do not loose your morals of human compassion and relations."
Similarly, a Russian American male immigrant I know had this to say in response to my observation that US women are the least friendly to strangers and the most paranoid in the world.
It is good you noticed the difference. But it is not only women it is all americans are very different. Americans have empty eyes. Even those people on TV. Because there is no soul in this country only money."
Back in college, a Greek friend used to often tell me:
"Americans have no inner life. All they do is consume!"
Suffice to say, an "inner life" isn't something that can be quantified or described with mere words. Those who have it know what it is. And those who don't have one, can't see one with a mere description.
Perceptions like in the above are a lot more common than you might think. I've heard many such views from US immigrants, foreigners, and Europeans. In fact, I'd estimate that about 80 to 90 percent of Europeans feel that way about our lifestyle.
You might wonder why if so many immigrants in the US have such opinions, that they stay. Well the explanation is sad and simple. Humans have a propensity to get into a "comfort zone" even when they don't like where they live, don't fit into the culture, or become enlightened about it. If you have a daily routine set up, as long as there are some benefits of convenience, it's easier to do nothing and just maintain it, than to make drastic changes to your life which could entail starting your life over from scratch. And of course, where one lives usually brings obligations into one's life that are hard to break due to the aforementioned reasons. In addition, the immigrants often have family members (e.g. their children, spouses, or parents) who are settled in the US that further tie them there. So you see, the "if you don't like it, then leave" mantra is much easier said than done.
In America, people judge their lives by their career status. On the other hand, Europeans judge their lives by the richness and variety of experiences they've had, as well as their inner life. (I tend to share the mentality of the latter of course.)
In some European countries, in work situations you get 2 hour lunch breaks and 6 hour work days, ending around 4pm or so. And you get a LOT more time off throughout the year. Health insurance is also free. Also, it is less anal. In the Middle East, I heard that you would almost have to commit a felon to be fired (in contrast to how American companies fire people easily for any reason, often just for "bad chemistry" with the management or difference of style). And even if you didn't show up for work, all they would do is dock your pay. You could come back later and have your job back.
The obsession with work in America is so strong that you don't even get the kind of holidays you get in the rest of the world. For instance, for New Year's, the rest of the world gets 7 to 10 days off for their holiday. But in the USA, you get either one day off, or none at all (e.g. if New Year's Day falls on a weekend, oftentimes you get no days off). The US economy hates holidays because they are too costly, resulting in huge losses of profit, which it considers to be more important than allowing people time for themselves. Most employees, if they have a decent job, only get a week or two paid vacation a year.
The fear of being poor in America is also unusually strong, contributing to the obsession of career and making money. And perhaps because the consequences of being poor in the US are far worse than in Europe, as one Dutchman observed:
"What I have noticed as a difference between the USA and the Netherlands, though, is that people need to size one another up for the economical gain they can bring each other. Rich people in the USA are very rich, but poor people are much poorer then in the Netherlands. Poor people in the USA often have to work several jobs, and so they have neither time (for making friends), money nor social standing. Plus they see rich people around them all the time, plus they live in a culture that blames them for being poor. Poor people in the Netherlands have either time (if they're unemployed) or they have money. And having money in the Netherlands is far less of a requisite for social standing then in the USA. In short, being poor in the USA is much, much worse then being poor in the Netherlands.
Add to that that it is far easier to really hit rock bottom in the USA. And rock bottom is really hard there. And bare. And the flipside of the American Dream is that everyone can hit Rock Bottom, anytime. All it takes is a stroke of bad luck. So people feel the necessity, both for themselves and their families, not to let resources slip away, by spending time with people who can't offer about the same level of support they can offer them.
Another aspect is that Americans just work damned hard, long hours. They need to, to make the money it takes to live up to a certain material standard. They have precious little time with their families as it is. Far less time then is standard in most countries in Europe. European countries have their shorter distances and shorter commutes. More holidays. Competition is less fierce, so less of it trickles down to employees, who can get by with having to make less overtime and less unpaid-I'm-proving-myself extra effort."
Now, America may be a country founded on great ideals and principles about democracy and freedom. But the way people actually live in America is quite different. Most people spend most of their time in cars, houses, and corporate buildings. They have no time or interest in cultivating their soul or intellect. And the few who do cultivate their souls or intellect are seen as geeky and nonconformist by the majority of adherents to the system.
When our society constantly perpetuates excess consumption and material desires with hype, our general focus becomes on the outward rather than the inward. People are judged based on what they have, which creates their status. As a result, we lose touch with our inner selves, have no true self-confidence/self-esteem, and therefore have fragile egos dependent on outer things and material possessions. It's no wonder then that in general, I notice that people abroad have richer and refined inner lives than Americans.
In the US, most people see life only in terms of making money, buying things, and surface practicalities. There is no spiritual or intellectual dimension in their lives, and no "inner life."
When one has no inner life and totally depends on the outer, as most Americans do, then when things in the outer life go wrong or become stagnant, one becomes disrupted as well. Such a person is vulnerable, a victim of circumstance with no inner foundation to rely on. As a result, one is left to having to resort to feigning outward happiness, rather than have true inward happiness. I've heard it said that there seems to be an inverse relationship between inner happiness and material assets. In fact, according to studies, the country rated with the happiest people in the world is Nigeria, which is a poor country by materialistic standards.
Americans generally live mind-numbing lives in mind-numbing environments (especially in suburban America) that do not cultivate intellectual or spiritual growth. Contrary to the US propaganda about itself, in reality the American lifestyle for the most part is MIND-NUMBING and ISOLATING. All most people pretty much do is go to work and watch TV at home. They have few real interests. So much for the American lifestyle. There aren't many experiences or interactions to expand your mind and soul like there are in other countries. As a result, for people like me who seek to expand their mind and soul, the American lifestyle constantly SUFFOCATES us. Its conformist culture CONTRACTS one's mind and soul rather than EXPANDS it (hence those who feel suffocated by this contraction do not feel free to be themselves in America).
And nowadays (especially in Las Vegas) the entertainment and pleasures offered in America are mostly artificial and commercial, rather than natural or soulful.
Instead of filling people with substance or reality, it instills them with consumerist hype. America is a generally stable and conformist-oriented country so its economic system is dependent on people who rigidly conform to it. It is the kind of country where those who can't conform and/or are misfits are deprived of almost everything, while those who conform well are rewarded. And differences are treated and seen as taboo (despite our propaganda) rather than as attractive or interesting.
In order to keep them motivated with these conditions, people in the US escape into TV at the end of their days. They are encouraged to go to church (as black slave owners in the 19th century also encouraged their slaves to go to church, using religion to give them something to live for and feel content in their position so they wouldn't rebel), read self-help/New Age books, go out and buy material things (sometimes on credit) that give them a temporary fleeting sense of satisfaction, indulge in junk food, and are given daily network media entertainment in the form of television shows that are complete trash in quality and substance. These are all ways that our society distracts and stimulates the majority of people so they can maintain their meager existence in a mind-numbing consumerist society, serving the interests of those at the top.
Many people in the country feel empty, and seek distractions in shallow stimulation because they don't know what else to do. Some don't even realize that they feel empty, because they just get keep busy distracting themselves with something. And plus, you aren't supposed to feel empty if you have a job, house, and family, which represent the ideal life. You are supposed to be fulfilled by being able to buy things, hence the consumerist hype-driven culture of ours. Nevertheless, many in the US live a thin line from becoming depressed or mentally ill. I don't blame the American people themselves for this. It isn't their fault, but rather the system they live under. Like everyone else, they are just trying to make the best out of their circumstances according to the system set in place.
It's no surprise then that those who thrive on the intellect or soul often struggle and feel alienated in mainstream America, because the lifestyle, environment and conditions don't cultivate such things. Instead, they cultivate a staunch conformist and materialistic consumerist mentality. Just look at the general cookie-cutter architecture in America such as suburban homes, strip malls, corporate buildings, franchise stores, etc. and you will see that it all symbolizes and represents a conformist creed and mentality. America in comparison to other countries seriously lacks both culture and soul. It's all about hype, consumption, and conformity. Most people's primary interest is money and business, and their youths are wasted slaving away for the production capital owners just so they hope to retire in their 50's or 60's. Also, the school system in America is designed to prepare children to become dollar commodities, rather than helping them grow as human beings at all. And that's because in America, people are judged by their productivity to the economic system.
In America, CONFORMITY is the bottom line. It is at the root of its modern society. Not freedom or individualism as we've been taught (though we perceive ourselves as individuals), but conformity. America by the world's standards is a very orderly country with strict controls and planning. With so much "control", little room is left for freedom. The materialistic system in America from every angle pretty much PRESSURES and DEMANDS us all into CONFORMITY. Whether it's conformity to your school, workplace, team, peers, friends, etc. the fundamental underlying principle in American life, business and politics is conform, conform, conform! Otherwise, you are in danger of feeling unaccepted and inadequate, as if you're not a complete person, which is what most people fear.
In the US, the whole vibe is one of conformity to work, home routine, and shopping. There is this insular mentality of the establishment and those indoctrinated by it that anyone who doesn't conform to a routine or permanent job of the "system" has mental health issues. It's as though to many, nothing exists in the universe outside of work and education. Go to a local employment office (I used to work in one) and that's the mentality there, that a human is nothing but misery unless he/she has a regular job, and that nothing else is relevant. That is f@#$ed up in my view, and unintellectual as well.
Ironically, though mainstream Americans are conformists to the system, they see themselves as individualistic. Such may seem to be a discrepancy, but perhaps it depends on your reference point, as I'm sure average Americans do not see themselves as conformists. Instead, they see the way they "conform" to the system like zombies as simply the way of normal real life. Perhaps their sense of individualism is a delusion. It depends on your point of view, but one person explained the seeming discrepancy to me like this:
"Americans are individualists in the way they pursue goals- they do not work well in groups or pairs. They like to do each one his own thing. So, they meet for convenience and then split each one going his own way.
Conforming is in the way one speaks and dresses and acts. But goals are something totally different."
If you look at the big picture of how things are in America and the lifestyle of mainstream people, you will see how the principle of CONFORMITY is at the root core of almost everything we do. And that "individual freedom" and "self-expression" is just hyped illusion that has nothing to do with how things run here. There is very little room or reward for true creativity or self-expression in America. As a consequence, the environment and social conditions we live under in America force you to adopt a conformist mentality, rather than a creative one. There are at least several reasons for this. One, America is one of those countries where people don't generally like those who are different than them (though politically, they pretend to). Two, pragmatically, an individual alone does not have the resources or power to really do anything, even to survive. Instead, the individual must join and CONFORM to some type of COLLECTIVE body, organization, or group with such resources that will support him/her in order to function or achieve anything.
One of the places where this is the most true is in corporate America, where conformity is the bottom line. Within corporate America, you can easily sense and smell the vibes and energy all around that spell "conformity, conformity, conformity". There's no question about it. Unfortunately, those who can't conform or don't know how to, are too individualistic or expressive, are not considered "a good fit" and consequently thrown out to become losers with no income. In fact, it's usually true that those who are able to conform their wavelengths and lifestyle to an organization or corporation have a much easier time financially and making ends meet, while those who have problems conforming usually have constant financial problems and face a constant uphill battle to make ends meet. Therefore, that more than anything means that those who conform are rewarded while those who don't are punished in America. That's why I say that America is all about conformity. And that's why our public schools try their best to make students conform to their system, even if it goes against the kids' nature. It's simply for their own good.
In fact, conformity is even more important than honesty. And contrary to the old adage, honesty has never been the best policy. In fact, more often than not honesty gets you into trouble and is used against you. But conformity gets you much farther. What this means is that being yourself can get you into trouble, but pretending to conform gets you accepted. That is a very sad state of affairs.
Even my own dad, who has always led a very stable life, admitted that I was right about this. In an email, he wrote:
I totally agree with this. Conformity is the key to success and acceptance in this society, not right or wrong, not so much about being yourself, or unnecessary honesty.
In addition, even after conforming, in order to keep your job, you pretty much have to center your life around it and make its needs your top priority. The reason is pragmatically obvious. If you don't live and breathe your work and center your life around it, your company will simply replace you with someone who IS willing to do that. It's as simple as that. In order to compete, thrive, and expand in the American economy, the company has to have employees who are willing to live and breathe their job. And in order to insure your long term economic stability, you've got to place your company's needs above yours. In effect, you are forced to be a servant for your own good. That's how it is.
Now, I don't mean to over-generalize here. I know that America is a diverse place, but in the big picture of things, that is how it is. And to make things worse, most people in America don't like people who are different than them which fosters the need to conform even further. Perhaps the conformist mentality we are forced to adopt in America contributes to a general dislike of what is different? Who knows. But it's especially true in California where I grew up. There, even among the diverse populations of minorities (whites are now a minority there, by the way), most people prefer to affiliate and date only within their own race, making it one of the most racist places in the world socially speaking (though not politically speaking of course).
On a related point, the few who thrive in this system are given all the praise and glory, whereas those who don't thrive in these conditions are PERSECUTED, directly and indirectly, in many ways. They are made to feel inadequate, since they are compared to others who thrive, and deprived of resources and social status. They are also told either directly or indirectly that there is something wrong with them. It's an unfair ungodly punishment on those who don't thrive or fit in or find a niche in our society.
This constant psychological pressure is what makes our egos in America so fragile since we are constantly compared with others, forcing us to compete with them in order to prove our worth rather than accepting and loving ourselves as we are. That is one of the unacknowledged costs of capitalism despite the benefits. In capitalism, there are only winners and losers. Someone must be exploited. It's an inherent part of the system. And as already discussed, the second contributor to our fragile egos is our dominant focus on outer material wants, which causes us to lose touch with our inner selves which might otherwise have given us a rock solid inner confidence under our egos. This combined with our individualistic isolationist values make it even worse, causing mental illness, loneliness, and many to be dysfunctional. Our economic system and culture is Darwinistic in nature. Those who thrive are rewarded, while those who don't are unfairly punished and/or persecuted, and not because they did anything wrong. Many artists and creative people, unfortunately, fall into this latter category.
In fact, I think that nowhere else in the world are people who don't fit in are stripped of ego and self-worth the way they are here (by society and culture, not by the government). It's no wonder that we have the highest rate of mental illness in this country, and that most of the serial killers in the world are from America too. Do you think that's due to pure random coincidence? I don't think so. It's due in part, simply because no one country or economic system brings out the best in everyone. Contrary to what American pro dists say about our country being the ideal land where "all" people have a better life and can make their dreams come true, the reality is that America brings out the worst in some people. It's just a fact of life and a fact of nature.
Competition is the basis of our culture and economy, and therefore becomes our mentality as well. This means that people either have money, or they are striving to be better than everyone else. This competitive mentality eventually leads us to become more "stuck up" toward others than we would otherwise be. We evaluate others in terms of their worth, and compare ourselves to them. This creates a rivalry mentality that leads fellow human beings in our country to see each other as opponents or adversaries. And sadly enough, having a lot of money and material possessions changes your attitude toward others, making you more spoiled and "stuck up".
On the other hand, countries like Russia are accustomed to a more socialistic system that is less individualistic and competitive in nature. Therefore, people's mentality and attitude are going to be different obviously. In poor countries, people don't have as much money and material possessions, so therefore they are not so spoiled and "stuck up" as people in capitalist countries. What they lack in material assets, they make up for in personality and soulfulness. It's a simple trade-off here. In the US, it's vice versa of course. Therefore, it is not realistic to expect them to be the same as us (and thank goodness for that). And that's one reason why people in general in Russia are more open and friendly. Therefore, the major factor in why Russian women are so much friendlier and open has to do with the economic/social system they live under and the mentality it produces, and not because they are desperate to leave their country.
Let's face the dreaded brutal reality here. In America, everything is all about MONEY, MONEY, MONEY. It's always the bottom line, no matter how you try to sweet talk around it or look at things through rose colored glasses. Now I'm not saying it's all everyone thinks about. What I am saying is that it pretty much CONTROLS, RUNS, and GOVERNS everything that functions, runs, operates, etc. in life and society. Not that it should be that way of course, but that's how it is. The power of the almighty dollar rules in our society.
In America, you are literally forced to "live for money". Deep down in our SOULS, we know that it SHOULDN'T be that way. In our spirits, we know that God did not intend for life to be all about money. But the problem is, that's how things ARE right now. That's how things are set up to run and operate in this world. It's part of a global large scale system that everyone has to conform to. So we have to live and deal with it. We have no choice but to conform to it in order to live, function, pay bills, feed our families, have free time, do what we want to do, and retire someday.
A Lithuanian critic of America observed:
"I see that in this cutthroat society, based on a "greed is good" philosophy, unlimited profit seeking, selfishness, fraud and greediness for money dominates everywhere. Money is absolutely the bottom line for everything. In America, the rich are truly rich and the poor are hopelessly poor. In my opinion, the United States today has the most advanced system of private tyranny."
He further concludes:
"I am of the opinion that American capitalism is incompatible with humaneness. Moreover, this inhumane system has led to the moral bankruptcy of American society, which has bred the alienation of people, breakdown of families, enormous crime and the drug epidemics."
And one of my eloquent readers vehemently stated:
"This country is based on the "all, not so mighty dollar". It makes me sick to my stomach. We are taught from the beginning to go to school, get a good education so you can find a good paying job so you can acquire as much useless debt as possible and pay the rest of your life. Even then, the cars, houses etc don't belong to you because you only receive a deed or a certificate of title. The government owns it all. Many people here don't believe it but I always ask, Why do you pay property taxes every year and why do you have to have a drivers license, with insurance, registration and inspection. The answer I get, "It's the law". What law? The law only exists in your minds if you realize that everything applies to your corporate body and not your natural person(human being). Most people don't even have a clue and look at you strange when you say this. American people in general are the most plastic people in the world literally. I mean, it seems just about everyone lives on credit. I did for a while and found out the truth and stopped paying on my own credit."
Elaborating on the assertion that not only are Americans "plastic" people, but that they live on "plastic" as well, he writes:
"What people around the world don't understand is that America has been bankrupt since 1933 and everyone lives on IOU's or credit. Hell, our own money supply is funded by a private corporation known as the Federal Reserve and has nothing to do with the US Government. The truth of the matter is that the American people have been put up as collateral for the national debt by means of our future labor. Don't believe this? Look at any bill, statement, government document or anything that has to do with commerce and see how your name is written. You'll find it all written in all upper case letters representing a corporation in which is nothing more then an artificial person or a front. The upper case name is for legal purposes which are color of law, color of office, color of authority, all artificial. In fact the UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) was developed because of the fiat money system we have here. Since we have Federal Reserve Notes in which a note is a promise to pay and not actually money, they had to come up with a system to tie the artificial person with the artificial money supply. It's all smoke and mirror's and the majority of the people have the least clue as to what's really going on. I laugh when I hear that America is probably the richest nation on earth. Sure it is if you call credit being rich, owing and owing for the rest of your life and then passing it down to your next to kin. I could write 8 hours on whats going on and back every word of it up. It's all on the internet and all u have 2 do is search. Later 4 now."
There is this laughably ridiculous notion in our country that Capitalism is based on and supported by Judeo-Christian values. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone with even a surface knowledge of the two could see that there are some obvious fundamental conflicts. Capitalism teaches that greed is good, benefiting the economy and oneself, while Christian teachings and Bible passages clearly teach that greed is bad, wicked, and leads to destruction. Also, Capitalism teaches that selfishness and profit motive is good, and that one should win at all costs, while Christianity teaches selflessness, humility, giving up worldly desires, and servitude to the Lord. A Bible passage even says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:24) which clearly does not support the greed of Capitalism. And neither does Matthew 6:24 "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."
So why do the Capitalists in this country try to pretend that they both support each other? It seems like a pathetic attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable.
Perhaps at the root of this problem is an outdated ideology that amassing wealth and private property equals freedom, an idea borrowed from the European Enlightenment era of the 18th Century. Jeremy Rifkin explains this in his book The European Dream, page 158:
"Most of my European friends and acquaintances are quick to ridicule America's love affair with "the almighty dollar." "All you Americans think about is money" has become a standard mantra in virtually every opening discussion about the American character and the American way of life. In reality, the American condition is more complex. It's not the money per se. Rather, it's the search for personal security that comes from being propertied, the belief that our possessions will make us free. For many Europeans who have opted or less wealth and more play, the American obsession with creating propertied wealth appears more like a kind of pathology. They say that "our possessions end up possessing us.
But the point is, it was the American people that became the purest advocates of the European Enlightenment idea that equates private property with freedom."
Clearly, America's culture, lifestyle, values, and mentality are almost completely materialistic in nature. The country is almost completely controlled and run by industries of mass consumerism. These aggregate industrial powers in America control everything - capital, resources, jobs, politics, your lifestyle, your freedom, your values, your culture, etc. in more ways than you know. Their power, control, and influence are completely insurmountable. They're here to stay, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
In many cases, the US no longer has to use military power to conquer other nations. It can just control them economically in a variety of covert ways to get what they want out of them, using propaganda as excuses to do so. As a result, the other countries of the world, in order to compete, are also forced to adopt more materialistic values and consumer-driven systems as well. (Already, much of Asia has fallen into a highly materialistic-driven lifestyle and mentality, e.g. Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, etc. while Europe, Europe/Russia, South America, and Africa generally still have very soul-driven, cultured and family-oriented mentalities and lifestyles, fortunately.) In other cases, the US gets involved in secret covert operations to overthrow governments and regimes in the interest of corporate greed.
Therefore, we can conclude that the US has led and made the world much more materialistic minded than it once was. That's one of the reasons why so many foreigners and intellectuals dislike or are critical of America, which our media never ever talks about. (Our media NEVER broadcasts any counter-culture viewpoints, ever, but only viewpoints which are conventional, clicheish, politically correct, and that reflect a materialistic mentality (it would probably be over the typical media puppet's head and intellect to do so anyway). Therefore, there is almost no diversity of viewpoint broadcast in our media, contrary to the diversity that exists in real life.)
Some think that this is all a good thing of course, with all the technological improvements and comforts that US capitalism has brought. However, in my travels and experience with people, materialistic people are just not as evolved, interesting, happy, or pleasant to be around as non-materialistic people. And don't think I'm alone either; a lot of people I've met have similar observations. Also, having a strong materialistic lifestyle and outlook is the antithesis to the soul and intellect. Furthermore, what is the point of slaving away your whole life just so you can have freedom in your retirement age? The precious years of youth are wasted in such conditions. It makes no sense, and almost no one in retrospect is glad they did so. These issues are subjective of course, but that's my opinion on it.
Now, most of the rest of the world outside of America is still not as materialistic minded as we are. They do not see career and money as the ultimate aim and aspiration of existence like we do, and simply don't have to! In many countries, people's mentalities are focused around culture and family solidarity. However, America's foreign policy, economic influence, expansion, imperialism, etc. over the world, is attempting to convert the rest of the world to be like us (under the name of democracy and freedom). (For some reason, our foreign policy makers and pro dists think that we are the role model for the rest of the world to copy and emulate.
The Lithuanian anti-capitalist immigrant mentioned earlier, wrote a very vehement treatise against US foreign policy and its aims, here: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Senate/1120/america31.html
Hence, the rest of the world is becoming consumption driven, materialistic minded, and capitalist in structure. Eventually, people in other countries will also be forced to center their existence around money and career too. They will have no choice. And it will be all in the name of "progress". It's a sad state of affairs. But that's what the mechanized impersonal capitalist systems that control the flow of all resources and capital is turning the world into. Just look at how things have developed in the world over the past century, and you will see how obvious this is.
And these are among the valid reasons why US culture and influence is disliked and abhorred by many foreign intellectuals, especially European. They see its industrial culture and economic system as a mindless powerful machine that destroys the mind, soul, and environment. (See Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment by a researcher in India) And to make it worse, it poses a dangerous threat to the world by enforcing its influence on the world to bring about the same destruction onto other nations, which many see through and object.
My cultural consultant stated:
"While it may not be sophisticated, American culture is not bankrupt in the financial sense. It is very powerful. It is ousting all the other cultures from where they are. Hollywood movies dominate the airwaves and US fashions dominate the world. And it is up to the people to choose and the young people around the world are crazy about American cultures, fashion and food. No other culture is as powerful nowadays."
Jeremy Rifkin, writes on our outmoded international appeal in The European Dream, page 16 - 17:
"That's why it saddens me to say that America is no longer a great country. Yes, it's still the most powerful economy in the world, with a military presence unmatched in all of history. But to be a great country, it is necessary to be a good country. It is true that people everywhere enjoy American cultural forms and consumer goods. Rap music, action movies, and other forms of entertainment, as well as our brand-name clothes, are eagerly snapped up around the world. America is even envied, but it is no longer admired as it once was. The American Dream, once so coveted, has increasingly become an object of derision. Our way of life no longer inspires; rather, it is now looked on as outmoded and, worse yet, as something to fear, or abhor."
Now, on a deeper note, I happen to believe in karma, and also in the Greek and Chinese saying that "everything should be in moderation". I surmise that extremities when prolonged, eventually collapse and result in a major toppling shift at some point. History has shown this, since in reality, nothing can have unlimited growth. Eventually, growth must collapse in order to make way for new growth cycles. Such is simply the law of the universe.
Hence, our extreme "life is all about money" principle is too unnatural to sustain forever, and that at some point eventually, there will be a radical reformation or revolution of the status quo of some sort, whether karmic or material in nature. In other words, the prolonged imbalance of all this must inevitably cause some sort of upsurge of the status quo, whether socially, spiritually, or economically. The system we have is just too unnatural and imbalanced to sustain forever in my view. I am not trying to make any specific prophecies here, just my general observation on the big picture of things.
However, change is never easy, and the psychological/cultural obstacle that America faces in an increasingly global world, are, according to author Jeremy Rifkin:
The European Dream, page 23:
"It's going to be very difficult for Americans to adjust to a borderless world of relationships and flows where everyone is increasingly connected in webs and networks, and dependent on one another for one's individual and collective well-being. What happens to the American sense of being special, of being a chosen people, in a world where exclusivity is steadily giving way to inclusivity? Does God really care less about the whole of his earthly creation than he does about the North American part? Europeans might find such a conjecture funny, but, believe me, many Americans remain wedded to the notion of our special status as God's chosen ones. If we were to give up that belief, or even entertain doubt about its veracity, our sense of confidence in ourselves and the American Dream might experience irreparable harm."
Page 83 - 85:
"THE TUG BETWEEN EUROPE and America goes even deeper than questions of personal opportunity and quality of life. What really distinguishes the comings and goings in Europe and America today is that Europe is busy preparing for a new era while America is desperately trying to hold on to the old one.
What we are going to find, by retracing European history, are the roots of the American Dream that we discussed in chapter 1. Although historians rarely allude to it, the reality is that the American Dream represents the thinking of a moment of time, frozen in European history and transported whole cloth to American shores in the eighteenth century, where it continued to animate the American experience right up to the present day.
We Americans like to think of ourselves as forward-thinking, with our attention focused on the distant horizon. However, our worldview, strangely enough, is locked into a specific period of time long since passť by in European history. In short, the American Dream is a very old dream and becoming increasingly irrelevant in the new era of globalization."
Mr. Rifkin though, offers hope in the new European Union:
The European Dream, page 13 - 14:
"The American Dream puts an emphasis on economic growth, personal wealth, and independence. The new European Dream focuses more on sustainable development, quality of life, and interdependence. The American Dream pays homage to the work ethic. The European Dream is more attuned to leisure and deep play. The American Dream is inseparable from the country's religious heritage and deep spiritual faith. The European Dream is secular to the core. The American Dream is assimilationist. We associate success with shedding our former cultural ties and becoming free agents in the great American melting pot. The European Dream, by contrast, is based on preserving one's cultural identity and living in a multicultural world. The American Dream is wedded to love of country and patriotism. The European Dream is more cosmopolitan and less territorial. Americans are more willing to employ military force in the world, if necessary, to protect what we perceive to be our vital self-interests. Europeans are more reluctant to use military force and, instead, favor diplomacy, economic assistance, and aid to avert conflict and prefer peacekeeping operations to maintain order. Americans tend to think locally while European's loyalties are more divided and stretch from the local to the global. The American Dream is deeply personal and little concerned with the rest of humanity. The European Dream is more expansive and systemic, and therefore more bound to the welfare of the planet."
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