Re: War Support Ebbs (almost a rant)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sun Nov 11 2001 - 15:23:21 MST

On Sun, Nov 11, 2001 at 11:51:39AM -0500, wrote:
> <<Antiamericanism has a *long* tradition in Europe by now, and is firmly
> entrenched in media, politics and culture. In a way it is also a remnant
> from the cold war, since (obviously) it was supported by the pro-Soviet
> left, but there is enough cultural friction even without it to keep it
> going indefinitely.>>
> I am well-aware of this tendency in the Euro presses, and, like I had
> mentioned in my previous post, also cynical and paranoid myself. I cast
> stones, realizing my own lackings. Yet, I also think the United States need
> not be a victim of someone else's propaganda. We have our own dead to bury,
> and our own interests to pursue.

Exactly. I am very much on the anti-anti-americanism side here. We have
no use for silly prejudices when we can dislike each other for what we
actually do :-) Another reason to fear the anti-americanism meme is that
is has become tied to quite a few other memes I seriously dislike,
ranging from assorted leftisms to anti-rationalism and a romantic view
of nature.
> <<But there is a long intellectual history
> of lambasting the US for everything bad. The right did it too (and of
> course attacked the Soviet Union even more), the left toned down the
> Soviet criticism and wholeheartedly criticized the US for everything it
> did. This has deeply influenced media (you would be surprised how much
> newspaper articles in Sweden mainly dwell on the bad sides of US
> society), and of course percolated into society. If you ask most Swedes,
> I think they assume that self interest, disregarding the rest of the
> world, is a primary motivator for all US foreign policy.>>
> This is merely vilianization, without facts, is it not, or being able to put
> matters in perspective, at the least?

If you mainly report about the bad sides of the US in media, then
people's perceptions of the US will become biased. Why do we get
negative reports and fewer about the good stuff? Because 1) the
journalists have very noticeable left leanings, 2) because the editors
select articles that fit their worldview back in Sweden, so if a
journalist in the US sends unbiased reports they get biased by selection
and 3) the general meme that the powerful should be scrutinized more
closely. It is not anything as crude as saying the US is evil, instead
it is pervasive: more reports about soup kitchens and eccentric
billionaires than reports about people creating their own lives, more
reports about environmental problems in the big cities than reports
about solving them, and so on. The end result is a negative image, and
it is strong: a friend of mine is firmly anti-american and it is
reinforced each time he visits, because what he sees get slotted into
his preconceptions and what doesn't fit gets ignored. At the end of his
trip all his prejudices have been reinforced.

> <<And remember - we are your *allies*. Now think about the rest of the
> world. >>
> Not to be a total dick, but during WW2 Sweden was a neutral. ;-) Also during
> the cold war. :o( Heeeeeeey!!!!

Actually (to get things straight, rather than defend the country) Sweden
was secretly allied during the cold war and did quite a bit of signal
scanning for NATO - while the government orated to the public about the
fine neutrality we held. Hypocricy anyone?

> <<It is also interesting to think about the current situation reflected in
> a world where China has emerged as an economic superpower sometime in
> the 2010-2020 region (you know, the time where so much dangerous nano is
> expected to be developed). Will anti-americanism still be a strong
> motivator by then? >>
> 1. We'll see if China really emerges as an economic super-power.
> 2. We'll see if nanotech emerges as powerfully as hoped for.

Yes. But in a world where there is enormous suspicion and paranoia
regarding the US, the situation might become dangerous if some new major
power emerges (be it China, India or (rather unlikely) EU) without
resolving both this widespread anti-americanism and american myopia.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:18 MDT