The concept of individualism, and what this means.
This article was sparked by the lecture from Mr Nikos Sotirakopoulos about Anti-Americanism and anti-capitalism. You can find the lecture here:
The apartment I grew up in Greece was situated exactly opposite of the American Embassy. I always felt safe living there, I always perceived the US as the good “cowboy” that would protect us from all evil.
Living there, I witnessed many demonstrations against the US embassy. I can recall back in the 70’s the US embassy, had no fence around it.
It was however a fierce demonstration that “injured” the embassy. Communists threw red paint against the embassy, causing a tremendous material damage.
Every some months, some bigger or smaller, full of hatred demonstrations happened against the embassy. The mob was shouting anti American slogans. It did not require a lot of observation to realize who was the orchestrator of those demonstrations. The red flags and the communists’ symbols where everywhere to see.
The disappointing factor however was not so much the act of those demonstrations, but the tolerance against them.
Major part of the society, regardless of political standpoint did not favour the US as the force of good in this planet. The communists because they wanted to make Greece part of the Soviet empire, the conservative ones, saw in the US a force of unethical, society corrupting country, that influenced through music, cinema, and politics the orthodox traditions of the country.
It wouldn’t be a subject if all these happened in a close to 3rd world country like Greece, the most corrupt country of the European Union until recently. Maybe the biggest contribution of the Balkan countries like Bulgaria or Romania entering the EU, is the fact that they took this sad leading position away from Greece.
On my trips and later life in Germany, anti-Americanism was a daily phenomenon. With very view exceptions, most Germans did not have a good eye on America.
Always complained about American politics, low culture, the country of Mc Donalds and Disneyland, the country from where only the worst came. The notorious German magazine “Der Spiegel”, a magazine written on a very arrogant style that characterizes Germans that tend to teach the world, how they should behave, was always pushing its opinion to the “sophisticated” audience that it had.
I can clearly remember a conversation I had with German relatives and friends. When I stated that Germany owes its liberty to the US, everybody laughed ironically. I got goosebumps with their laugh. If you do not perceive the US as the liberator of your country, as what do you perceive them? As the occupational force? What does this really mean?
I can clearly remember a close friend of my father, a French professor, always getting angry when I used American words like OK for instance. He despised the US, he considered it a culturally inferior country, from where only blue jeans and bubble gums come from. I think if you meet French today, most of the times, this tenacity on denying speaking any English at all, and continue to persist and insist on speaking French, has a flavor of anti-Americanism in it.
Here are some comments from people belonging to the intellectual elite of Europe commenting on the US.
Harold Pinter said: The United States is the most dangerous power, the world has ever known, it is a rogue state, worse than Nazi Germany.
Dario Fo commented on September 11th: What are some thousands of deaths in N.Y., compared to the millions of deaths caused every year from big speculators.
The French newspaper “Le Monde” in May 1944 (before Hiroshima, before the end of the war) wrote: Europeans be ware, the U.S. is more dangerous than Nazis and communists. Why, the Nazis and the communists have at least a tragic grandeur the Americans they stand for nothing.
Martin Heideger said: Americans are more dangerous than communists, communists are a political system, America is a civilization, can do irreparable damage.
D.H. Lawrence said: A communist will crash your house, your property, your scull, but America will crash your soul.
But why is there some much hatred against the US there, a country that obviously made many mistakes, but without a doubt the country that gave us the liberty, freedom, and comfort we have today. The country that hosts the best universities in the world, Nr. One In Science, nr. One in innovation, nr. one in art….
The reasons are not political, but psychological.
The intellectual refuge
In the search for meaning humans search for “refuges”, where their competence is not going to be disputed, the contrary “refugees” where they are going to feel, they belong to a community. Many times, those refugees don’t limit themselves to just making their members feel better with themselves but feel better in comparison with others.
One of those refuges is the Intellectual refugee.
The intellectual refuge is an open space where everybody can claim he belongs to it. There are no equations or rules that permit you to enter it, as art and intellectuality are broader terms. To give you an example of this, look at art, especially modern art. What is it that makes it so special. Everybody can claim the noise he creates is music that only a few can understand, or that an abstract painting has a meaning only the view can appreciate.
Intellectual refuge and international leftism.
It did not take a lot of time for communists, leftists and libertarians to see the opportunity to monopolize intellectual refuges. In most countries the intellectual arena is monopolized by communists or leftists. I can tell you specifically, that in Greece no one that diverted from the leftist narrative was “allowed” to make a career. Robert Williams is an example of it. Robert Williams a famous Greek singer back in the 70’s, never rose to be the star, many of his colleagues became, due to his convictions. If you do not propagate the narrative of the left, you are going to be left outside.
The intellectual refuge of the old empire.
Never in the history of humanity did a country produced so much value in the world than the United States. Value in all fields of humanity. Science, innovation, art, music, cinema, economic wealth, military power, … the list is unending. The US is the most powerful empire ever existed in human history.
That is not very easy to digest, specially for countries that used to be in the past great empires. France and Germany are 2 examples of that.
It is very hard for a Frenchman or a German to admit, a country like the US surpassed them. A country that created Disneyland and Mac Donalds and every “low” quality product. All those people forget to see that the US is a free country and produces all these not high intellectual products, however it is also the home for the very best in the whole world. A country that gave access to smart and competitive people, show their capabilities, and not being left outside due to their nationality or colour of the skin. In the US, it does not matter, where you come from, what hat you wear in your head. What matters is how much value you can bring on the table. A country that I felt at home, every time I went there. Really embraced from the people.
America is hated because it proves everybody wrong with facts.
Every loser in life can find a spot on the ambiguous intellectual refugee, search and find every mistake and every reason why he does not like the US.
Every loser is one, because his identification with his ego does not allow him to admit his own faults. Because by doing so, his world is going to collapse as he is bounded to his ego.
Because the US is based on principles that set people free against every monarch or every tyranny that sees in individualism and the personal pursue of happiness its biggest enemy.
The idea of Individualism
Your life is yours; you live for your own happiness, and you are servant of no one.
Then form a government that supports that sentiment.
Who do you serve? The emperor, God, the many?
The state is here to protect you from all these forces.
The second paragraph of the first article in the Declaration of Independence contains the phrase “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.
The pursuit of happiness has for most people nothing nobble. There is nothing noble in happiness, noble is suffering.
Sacrifice, suffering and other embedded higher values lose their meaning.
Happiness is a shallow endeavor.
The word of ideas is superior to the world of stuff which is inferior.
Those ideas were imbedded in our culture since thousands of years, and Christianity or better said the abused version of it, delivered from the church did not help either.
Have you ever saw a painting or picture of a laughing, happy Jesus? Do you think that is coincidental? It is not, is the view that embraces the sacrifice and suffering narrative.
People cannot let go, due to their culture, due to their education, due to their lack of capacity to understand that they are not their ego.
The US is here to defy those concepts, give value to happiness and the liberty of the individual.
The pursuit of happiness for the individual is the reason for wealth and happiness for the community.
The world has never been a better place for many as it is now. We live in a world of prosperity and quality never seen in human history before.
The recognition of the pursuit of happiness and the country that supports this principle deserves a thank you.