Staredit Network > Forums > Serious Discussion > Topic: Is America too Provincial?
Is America too Provincial?
Nov 13 2007, 8:07 pm
By: CaptainWill  

Nov 13 2007, 8:07 pm CaptainWill Post #1



The USA is a huge country - there's no doubt about that. It is certainly remarkable that almost everybody within the nation regards themselves as an American, given the ethnic diversity.

The decentralised state system has worked well in the USA in the past. However, the rest of the world is becoming increasingly centralised, both in terms of government, but also socially - especially with the spread of mass-communication technology such as the Internet.

The USA, however, seems to have been very slow at centralising and, in my opinion, modernising. It is very provincial, with too much power devolved to state level. While one could argue that this produces more freedom for the individual, it must be considered whether it simply gives more power to those who run the state and to petty local interests which are not in the interest of the nation, or of progress. I don't need to remind anyone of the Creationism/Intelligent Design debates, or segregationist regimes during the late 19th century up until the 1960s. I believe that the provincialism of the USA stifles intellectual, social and cultural progress, and will cause the country to fall behind other countries in the future. The electoral system of the US, giving too much representation to states with little economic or cultural value, helps to cement this provincialism in US politics and things are unlikely to change without serious electoral reform. The rigid nature of the US Constitution makes this in itself difficult. While designed to promote liberty, the Constitution seems to be outdated and inflexible, and I conjecture that it will cause liberty to be lost in the long run. There is also not much of an independent national media to speak of in the US, which is yet another problem. There are no real national newspapers and most people seem to buy local publications, further exacerbating their insularity and lack of knowledge and understanding of the world beyond their state, let alone beyond the US.

The US is increasingly vilified by the rest of the world as it remains resolutely indifferent or hostile to change. We are moving on while the US stagnates, but with its power (notably built mainly on central authority - technological development, for example, is highly centralised) it can still exert a lot of influence over the rest of the world. This is becoming more and more resented as there is an increasing perception of the US as culturally inferior; a land composed primarily of rednecks and reactionary Christian fundamentalists. The US can look forward to even more deterioration in its relationship with other countries if it does not begin to change now, and shake itself from the chains of provincialism. I could bring up the threat of China, but I really don't think that's necessary here.

What do people think of this? Clearly my argument has flaws and is largely composed of my perception of the US, Europe and the reactions of different people to the US. However, it is not intended as a waterproof argument - I have composed it merely to provoke debate.



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Nov 13 2007, 8:56 pm JaFF Post #2



In my opinion, not being as centralised is part of the USAs success. Giving more power to local functionary allows for less bureaucratical slowdown in all processes. Perhaps it is time to change, I agree. You are right, America does not want changes, because it's not really used to them. If America doesen't change deliberately, changes will still come but in a much harsher form.

America doesen't have it's own culture, I agree. But I also believe that this lack of culture allowed for some good mentalities to be combined, such as the ability to follow orders and work conciously. The bad side of the lack of culture is that many people live thoughtless lives...



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Nov 14 2007, 12:36 am Sie_Sayoka Post #3



I agree the inability to sufficiently teach its citizens is one of its greatest downfalls. This may have been alright in the past but as the world gets more complex so does its problems. Since America is a democratic/republic nation everything falls onto the people to decide who to lead them, and as a result they may often not choose the best leaders.

As for the media, most of the news stations are biased and often show reports to only gain more ratings.



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Nov 14 2007, 1:56 am ClansAreForGays Post #4



Honestly, if you are trying to understand american arrogance better, let me give the average sentiment.

I think almost every fellow American can honestly get what I'm saying. What I'm saying is that we are a little pissed/jealous. We are pissed that when we were the Michael Jordan of WW1&2, but tiny crap-hole countrys give us unimaginable trouble. We are pissed that we have Air/Naval/Ground superiority, but switzerland has a higher quality of life. We are pissed that even though we could wipe every other country off the face of the earth in 30 minutes, it will probably take another decade for Iraq to stabilize. We could probably take over and enslave 75% of the world through force and give the benifits to americans, but we don't and instead give economic aid all the while being mocked.




Nov 14 2007, 2:08 am ClansAreForGays Post #5



No offense, but it's just stupid to say America doesn't have its own unique American culture. And I'm not talking about what immigrants brought with them. I'm talking about what happened in America, because of America. Right off the top of my head, hip-hop and Country/Hick. Ghetto-gangsta attitude was started here, and as stupid and bullshit as it is, it's popular. It's spreading like wild-fire across the world from Germany to Japan. This american life-style is slowly taking over the world on its own. Now being Southern or w/e they call it is just as stupid, but just as American. These are both valid cultures 100% American.




Nov 14 2007, 2:23 am CaptainWill Post #6



I never said there wasn't an American culture - just that Europeans in particular tend to see it as crude and inferior.



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Nov 14 2007, 3:17 am MillenniumArmy Post #7



Just about every country but Israel looks down upon America. It's almost as if it's become one of nature's governing laws



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Nov 14 2007, 4:22 am ClansAreForGays Post #8



Quote from CaptainWill
I never said there wasn't an American culture - just that Europeans in particular tend to see it as crude and inferior.
I didn't think you did, but I saw what Jaff said and assumed. you are right about the crude and inferior part, although I don't know how you could rate them.




Nov 14 2007, 5:16 am Rantent Post #9



To CaptainWill's first statement:
Although I agree partially with what you are saying, I must find myself outright opposing increasing centralized government. Indeed the power of election needs to be based solely on population, where every persons vote counts the same as anyone else's, that would be fair, right? Right now, my vote is probably one of the most powerful in the united states, due to the fact that my state creates lot of revenue and does not have many people. However! I don't believe that the central government will solve any of the problems I have. The best changes that have happened in our community have always been local elections. Of course voting is much more rigorous up here then is anywhere else. (so I've heard, I have not voted outside of the state.)

No, my philosophy is that central government should not be enlarged, but simply refined, and quite probably, sized down. I would much prefer a system where states decided for themselves what regulations they would employ, so small groups could go and leave the rest of us alone. Central government's purpose would not be to create laws, but simply provide for programs that benefit the populace. Provide here meaning to allocate funding, and programs meaning public services like roads, garbage cleanup, mail and package delivery (Which would also include newspapers, to stimulate people to read them!) ect.

This philosophy is built around the fact that most arguments Washington focuses on, I really don't care about. This is probably because I have a rather negative view of what is important to most Americans, which the central government embodies. (Actually they only embody the Americans with money, but meh...) I would be perfectly happy if the only thing central government did was redistribute funds from taxpayers to state governments, which from my perspective always seem to know whats going on locally better then most other sources. In the current situation, Alaskan and federal laws directly contradict one another in some areas. One that has gotten quite a bit of news coverage, (for here) is the fact that marijuana is legalized in Alaska, yet people go to federal prisons for possession of the substance. When more then one government poses regulations on a society, so either eliminate the federal governments regulatory ability, or the states, but in my opinion, states know me better than Washington does.


P.S. Alaskans seem to be treated like foreigners in most others states, and I don't consider myself American.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Nov 14 2007, 5:25 am by Rantent.



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Nov 14 2007, 6:02 am Doodan Post #10



Quote from CaptainWill
I never said there wasn't an American culture - just that Europeans in particular tend to see it as crude and inferior.

But aren't most European nations also prejudiced against other European nations? ;p



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Nov 14 2007, 6:09 am CaptainWill Post #11



Quote from Doodan
Quote from CaptainWill
I never said there wasn't an American culture - just that Europeans in particular tend to see it as crude and inferior.

But aren't most European nations also prejudiced against other European nations? ;p

Yeah, but we are united in thinking the Americans are barbarians. :P



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Nov 14 2007, 6:09 am WoAHorde Post #12



They hate America more. They have every right to do so. :P



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Nov 14 2007, 6:35 am MillenniumArmy Post #13



One more thing...

Why do people keep saying that "Europeans" see America as this, "Europeans" see America as that. Why do they act as though this "Europe" is one big country with all of these views. Europe is a continent, not a country. I just don't get why people automatically assume that they can just compare the United States of America with "Europe." You dont just simply compare a single country with a continent; that's like comparing apples with oranges; it doesn't work that way. If you want to criticize America, give your reasons why on the basis of your country, not continent.

You could say that all europeans hold a common view upon america. Likewise The United States of America and Switzerland both cherish the taste of chocolate; therefore we are united and one! The United States of America and UK both share the same view that english is their primarily language in their countries! Oh and to go into the more political aspect, we all hold the same belief that North Korea is ruled by a madman and is a corrupt country; therefore we are all united as one! Why label ourselves as "America" or "Europe" and instead go for the more accurate label as the "Western Hemispherers."


and I'd like to respond to a few things in captain's post..
Quote
The decentralised state system has worked well in the USA in the past.
It never worked well in the past. When we had the Articles of Confederation, which called for a strong decentralized system, our country was in total disarray. The US constitution which was written over a decade later patched things up.

Quote
The rigid nature of the US Constitution makes this in itself difficult. While designed to promote liberty, the Constitution seems to be outdated and inflexible, and I conjecture that it will cause liberty to be lost in the long run.
Bill of Rights? Amendments? All of those indicate flexibility. Otherwise had our constitution been inflexible, we'd still be living with slaves, we'd have no freedom of speech, press, religion, court rights, free voting, restriction on our presidential terms, etc. The constitution was designed so that it's flexible. Sure we could say that it may be hard to get your 2/3, 3/4 or simply majority votes to make changes to our constitution but this difficulty is because of the division of our people/politicians, not the system itself. And because of this, America IS prone to change, more easily than some countries. But you see "change" is ambigious; it could mean a multitude of things.

Quote
This is becoming more and more resented as there is an increasing perception of the US as culturally inferior; a land composed primarily of rednecks and reactionary Christian fundamentalists
Yea, and "Europe" is composed of nothing but a multitude of whores/prostitutes, drug addicts, and drunk people who could care less about life.

Making such stereotypes is what brings the downfall to all countries and nations as it shows the declining intelligence of people.

Post has been edited 1 time(s), last time on Nov 14 2007, 6:42 am by MillenniumArmy.



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Nov 14 2007, 6:43 am Syphon Post #14



I'd say Canada is more provincial.

(That wasn't a pun, our provinces don't conduct themselves together nearly as uniformly as states do, go over a few and it's like you're in another country. I've been to most states in America, and they're all very similar.)



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Nov 14 2007, 7:09 am Twitch Post #15



You know rantent makes a great statement that I would like to reply and addon to.Alaska has been treated like its pwn contry same with hiawii(sorry I don't know how to spell it).I have also noticed with how the USA works Lets say If your state allows prostitutes(money for sex) and you go to another not knowing they don't,you do what you usally do and go to jail.See this is what I would think as confusing and a downfall.There are different laws and rules with each state.Just last summer my mom told me I better where a belt going with her to LA(Louisiana),I ask why she said new state law I was like WTF.Anyways My main pint is with these state laws and crap thats a dawnfall.The country should just have laws thats it.Also with this illegal mexicans and crap now.Thats getting nuts because now in NY yes NY they can get a drivers license.So all in all I say The USA needs to step up and put in new rules or something :/.(btw sorry for the spelling mistakes).



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Nov 14 2007, 7:28 am MindArchon Post #16



Quote from Syphon
I'd say Canada is more provincial.

(That wasn't a pun, our provinces don't conduct themselves together nearly as uniformly as states do, go over a few and it's like you're in another country. I've been to most states in America, and they're all very similar.)

Western provinces have their own agenda, and both Quebec and Ontario have their own agenda. Conflict of interests :P. Ultimately though, power rests with Ottawa. Our separation of powers sucks.

I think part of the problem is that in the United States everything is outlaid in the constitution. In systems such as Canada and the United Kingdom, most of it is based on tradition. If you want to change something you don't actually have to go through the whole process and change the constitution. You only need a majority government to pass a bill.



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Nov 14 2007, 1:53 pm BeDazed Post #17



Plenty of Americans keep an outlook on international politics, don't you worry. Bigger nations need more lower class workers to sustain itself with services, and goods while also not leaking money to other countries.



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Nov 14 2007, 7:21 pm Cnl.Fatso Post #18



Quote
Western provinces have their own agenda, and both Quebec and Ontario have their own agenda. Conflict of interests . Ultimately though, power rests with Ottawa. Our separation of powers sucks.

That is to say, we would have our own agenda if Quebec hadn't requisitioned all the paper we were going to write it down on and threatened to secede when we said 'no'.

EDIT: Now, seriously, I can say with definite certainty that America is grouped into 'clusters' of states when it comes to mindsets (if we're going to generalize at all, which we really shouldn't). I can assure you that Washington is very much different (read: 'better') than, say, Georgia.

EDIT2: Whoops. In keeping with the generality, I can also say that Oregon is nearly identical to Washington.



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Nov 15 2007, 12:52 am Sie_Sayoka Post #19



you cant pump your own gas in oregon



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Nov 15 2007, 4:40 pm Cnl.Fatso Post #20



It's almost impossible to pump your own gas in Vancouver, too. The legal difference is big, the real difference is small.



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