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View Diary: Che Guevara Smacks Bush! (205 comments)

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  •  Canada too (4.00)
    Despite not exactly being "latin", Canada has a history of very much more socialist politics than the US. Even when the Conservatives have won here, they have won as "Progressive" Conservatives, far to the left of even the Democratic Party.

    The Conservative party is no longer as left of American politics as it used to be, but it still has the challenge of winning a majority of votes--it can't. The Liberals and NDP have always added up to a majority of the overall vote since the 1960s, even when the Conservatives won elections.

    So, a reasonable question would be: why is the US the only nation in the hemisphere without a strong progressive voice in national politics?

    As a follow-up, here's another great thing about the Internet(s): we can learn about Bachelet and Morales TODAY, before the election. In previous eras we'd have to wait until at least 3 or 4 years after their CIA-sponsored assassinations before we started to get a glimpse of the real story.

    -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

    by thingamabob on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 07:38:30 AM PST

    •  The Cold War / Starship Troopers (4.00)
      I think the underlying message of Paul Verhoeven's film version of "Starship Troopers" (and maybe, at some level, of the Heinlein novel) is that even fighting an honorable, defensive, clearly necessary war changes a nations in ways that may seem shocking to more peaceful nations.

      The United States fought and seems maybe to have won the Cold War. Some people here would disagree, but I think that the Soviet Union thought of itself as an empire that eventually would assimilate the United States. I think that the United States had to oppose the Soviet Union.

      But the hundreds of billions of dollars the Cold War sucked out of U.S. taxpayers each year distorted the economy and forced even many progressives to emphasize how tough they were on defense, in their own way, and how providing decent social programs, such as good schools, contribute to fighting the Cold War.

      In 2001, Al Qaeda further weakened the left and middle by raising the murky possibility that the United States might be in a new world war. Now, just the mere possibility that we might be in an Al Qaeda world war continues to deform our political discourse. I would argue, for example, that the media  rolled over and played dead for 2 years mainly because of the Sept. 11 attacks.

      •  An excellent insight (none)
        into our decaying position. Like a catalyst in an experiment we are harmed by it as well.  When Eisenhower warned against the military industrial complex he saw the beginning of a change in the way we viewed and responded to world events.  Until then we had seen peace as our normal state of affairs only broken by a war now and then.  Now we see our state as constantly under siege and respond accordingly. It is difficult to have anything but fear and tension as the main emotion under these conditions. More thoughtful and long term strategies for collaboration (left leaning) don't get much traction.

        Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities-Voltaire

        by hairspray on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 09:15:43 AM PST

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      •  I disagree: too many cowboys (4.00)
        Here's where I don't disagree: the constant orientation towards some military activity or wartime preparedness, and the concomitant fear and anxiety, help to drive people away from progressive positions. But these are proximate causes, and a prior cause to these and other aspects (especially economic) of US culture is that it is still "cowboy culture", or more precisely, free-for-all frontier culture.

        As I look at the difference between Canadian and American culture I see the common cultural platform underlying both, and some distinct differences. The French fact in Canada, the Spanish in the US. But most importantly, Canada was a coming together of (primarily two) different cultures, each loyal to their heritage, in an act of compromise. The US was born in an act of rebellion, acting to free the people from the yoke of a whimsical and unjust monarch.

        Further to the founding stories, the stories of how the countries developed diverge significantly as well. The US was founded by pioneers who took their lives in their hands and made their way in the world, and across the mid-west and west, by hook or by crook. Outlaws are not regarded so much as a scourge, but as romantic figures.

        Most westward expansion occurred in Canada 75-100 years later, and was driven by government: the development of the railroad was a conscious strategy to settle, unite and secure Canada from southern interference. There were no outposts in the prairies and the west not comprising healthy numbers of immigrants, buying up land cheaply from the government. These people were every bit pioneers, but the entrepreneurship and vigilante justice were largely missing.

        Canadians crave "peace, order and good government". What do Americans want? I'm not sure, but it looks to me more like "freedom, security and no government" or something similar. And security is often at the end of a gun. Germans (and most Europeans) view the wild west as a romantic vision, one where they see the freedom, self-sufficiency, can-do spirit and wide open spaces which are all hard to come by in Europe.

        It seems to me that the great strength of American culture, the entrepreneurial spirit, owes much to this frontier ethos; but so, too, does American inability to thoughtfully consider more progressive politics. And so too, does the militaristic orientation towards both threats and opportunities.

        BTW, I have always felt that both sides in the cold war were equally dogmatic, and both imagined they would "imperially assimilate" the other, as well as all the other bit players. Neither was exactly right on the latter score, but the US certainly came out on top for the most part.

        -8.38, -4.97 "...there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene ii.

        by thingamabob on Mon Dec 12, 2005 at 09:17:24 AM PST

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