Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Per usual it isn't that I see the world in a radically different manner, just that I think the gap between the US and Europe is smaller. You're right about the enormous amount of poverty that is very visible in the US. While I wouldn't wish it on anyone - it isn't the same sort of horror that 3rd world slums are, although psychologically it probably comes close.

You probably have to spend some time outside of it to understand how insane - very nearly in a literal, certifiable sense - the political scene looks from outside of the US.

I'll counter with "not when I see it on display every day." The game the elites are playing is the human equivalent of a ritual mating game of rams locking horns. The difference is that we're using nuclear weapons, and such a fight goes a bit beyond "ritual." Rather than using their conscious faculties to create a stable and happy environment for our species, the elites are instead using them to create better horn lockin' weapons. It is insane in a physical sense - it is amplified chaos, and it's not stable from a survival standpoint.

I'm not convinced that this comes from anything other than a self reinforcing feedback loop of power, power that was gained by the peoples of Europe (near the peak of their intellectual prowess in relation to the rest of the planet) happening upon a vast continent of untapped natural resources. I think Canada has gone a different route than the US because their culture has not been corrupted by the same effects of power, as they have no massive agricultural interior with one of the world's longest rivers nearby flowing to the ocean, nor Texas' oil, nor the coal of Appalachia. Without that power Canada's best avenue to influence world events (Canada's leaders are still competitive humans, after all) does not include military aggression.

Huge amounts of time and energy are expended on purely faith-based issues, like sexual and reproductive politics, which in a secular culture shouldn't be issues at all. Meanwhile things that matter - energy, the environment, and broader social welfare - are framed as extremist plots to destabilise the fabric of American society. Alternative belief systems - Muslims, pagans, atheists, agnostics, gnostics, Hindus and the rest - have little or no access to law-making.

Nonetheless, abortion is legal. Non-Christian religions operate with little interference. The courts, with very well publicized exceptions, do not rule from the bible (beyond the extent that the basis of law in most of the US and Europe derives in part from that book). Women's rights advanced earlier than in most of Europe. Again I agree with your claims - but they don't amount to a religious dictatorship. Not yet. The litmus test is simple - if I went to Saudi Arabia, would I feel the "religious pressure" to be on par with what I feel in the US? Of course not.

I agree that religion is a symptom, because US economic attitudes are just as detached from reality as the Religious Right is.

The attitudes in Europe are similar when considered at a higher level. The US and Europe have both acquired an unfair share of the earth's bounty and labor and at vastly unsustainable rates. The difference is that Europe distributes this unfair share more equitably internally. The latter point is all that you are addressing. The implications of "vastly unsustainable rates" may well be the best example of "detachment from reality" that humanity has achieved.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 10:34:56 PM EST
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Well, the problem is that the real religion of the US is economic and social discrimination. It doesn't have an official name, which makes it difficult to challenge.  But it does have all of the trappings of a cult. There's a uniform - the business suit - the daily ritual of stock quotes and analysis, and fortune telling in the form of long term financial forecasts.

This isn't just metaphor. A lot of capitalist activity is no more useful - and sometimes far more destructive - than pyramid building. In reality-based terms it's nothing more than a slightly symbolic version of spinning a hamster wheel, apparently for the pleasant sensation of making it go around and around. Supposedly this equates to Progress, which is of course inevitable.

But progress rarely seems to be progressive. And even when it is progressive, social and cultural innovation never seems to be driven by the leaders of the financial cult.

Christianity provides a useful herding tool for keeping the masses huddled and starving. But it's only a tool, not the central focus of belief - which is Wall Street, towards which everyone bows, and from which all blessings flow. (If you're not one of the poor.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 07:00:31 AM EST
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In reality-based terms it's nothing more than a slightly symbolic version of spinning a hamster wheel

Have you seen the ad for the Guardian jobs section with the slogan "better jobs" and a picture of a hamster in a diamond-studded, gold-plated wheel?

I don't know if that's accidentally insightful or subtly subversive.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 07:14:02 AM EST
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No, I haven't.

It could be subtly subversive. It's something of a hobby among some ad staff to see what they can get away with.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 07:41:03 AM EST
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