Friday, June 17, 2016

American Exceptionalism

Most Americans are convinced that we are not only the best at everything, but also under the personal protection of God Almighty. This fantasy is encouraged by our military and economic might, large population, and currently dominant role in much of world culture. Michael Moore's Where to Invade Next would be a useful corrective for those who think this way, but is probably unlikely to be seen by them.

Moore, armed with an American flag and camera crew, "invades" Italy, France, Slovenia, Portugal, Finland, Norway, Tunisia, Iceland and Germany and claims some ideas and practices he would like to bring back to the USA. It's possible to be skeptical about just how idyllic these various paradises are and still think that many of these ideas have merit. A short list: more powerful workers unions, more protections and benefits for workers, decriminalizing all drugs, schools focused not on tests but children's happiness, free university educations, humane prisons and actually prosecuting financial criminals. Tunisia was singled out for actually passing a constitutional amendment guaranteeing women equal rights, unlike the US where such an amendment failed. Interestingly, many of the European countries claimed that the ideas they implemented originated in the US.

I recommend it to any American looking for a wider perspective. It gives us some perspective on what was lost by making the US safe for financial manipulators and predatory oligarchs.