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The European Syndrome.

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  • The European Syndrome.

    The article cited below has some very valid points about the current malaise in the US and why we're getting the kind of polarized political scene we are:

    http://www.aei.org/publication/the-e...xceptionalism/

    I suspect that almost all of you agree that the phrase “a life well-lived” has meaning. That’s the phrase I’ll use from now on.

    And since happiness is a word that gets thrown around too casually, the phrase I’ll use from now on is “deep satisfactions.” I’m talking about the kinds of things that we look back upon when we reach old age and let us decide that we can be proud of who we have been and what we have done. Or not.

    To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don’t get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché “nothing worth having comes easily”). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences.

    There aren’t many activities in life that can satisfy those three requirements. Having been a good parent? That qualifies. A good marriage? That qualifies. Having been a good neighbor and good friend to those whose lives intersected with yours? That qualifies. And having been really good at something—good at something that drew the most from your abilities? That qualifies. Let me put it formally: If we ask what are the institutions through which human beings achieve deep satisfactions in life, the answer is that there are just four: family, community, vocation, and faith. Two clarifications: “Community” can embrace people who are scattered geographically. “Vocation” can include avocations or causes.

    It is not necessary for any individual to make use of all four institutions, nor do I array them in a hierarchy. I merely assert that these four are all there are. The stuff of life—the elemental events surrounding birth, death, raising children, fulfilling one’s personal potential, dealing with adversity, intimate relationships—coping with life as it exists around us in all its richness—occurs within those four institutions.

    Seen in this light, the goal of social policy is to ensure that those institutions are robust and vital. And that’s what’s wrong with the European model. It doesn’t do that. It enfeebles every single one of them.

  • #2
    Is this a bait for all the Euros here ?
    I mean : seriously ...Do you really believe in this ?
    That we do not respect each of the points written by the author of this....prose ?
    That family ,children's raising ,friends and honesty ,mean nothing to us ?
    Seriously...The date is 2016..
    Mac Carthy' s dead for decades.
    These assumptions only exist in the cranium of guys who have enough time to waste ,that they can create a blog and fill it with fantasy.
    That rug really tied the room together

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    • #3
      I put it in the North American section because the article was directed at Americans. Europeans may well despise the conclusions the author draws, whereas with Americans the answer might well be different.

      Yes, we Americans aren't Europeans and the same goes the other way around.

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      • #4
        That's absolutely not my point.
        My point is : can we say that 2 civilizations are different enough for not sharing the fundamentals ?
        For me : no.
        That rug really tied the room together

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        • #5
          I read this tome, and still do not understand what this so called "European Syndrome" actually is nor do I understand what he is supposed to mean by "American Exceptionalism" (a rather ridiculously ill defined phrase that is constantly thrown around by U.S. nationalists). I found most of the author's essay to be extraordinarily vague and his "specific" definitions (e.g. on happiness) as outrageously narrow and author centric. In short; not a fan. Somewhat embarrassing as well.

          Tuebor

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          • #6
            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
            The article cited below has some very valid points about the current malaise in the US and why we're getting the kind of polarized political scene we are:
            Polarized means two opposite forces or points and a polarized political scene would imply merely two opposite political choices. Most European countries have multiple political parties - unlike the US, where there has been a polarized political scene for over a hundred years. So how does this relate to Europe? If you had a European syndrome, people would have a lot more political choices to choose from. Perhaps the problem is that you have an American malaise. Please keep it within your own borders.

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            • #7
              Seems the author forgot that our system was designed to breed hostility, confrontation, gridlock and political stagnation.

              A duopoly doesn't make for a free market, so why should it make for a strong political system?

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              • #8
                I agree the authors 4 factors are important. Beyond that, it was a bizarre article. The challenge the U.S. and Europe share in relation to these is plunging birth rates as people prioritise work over children.
                Ne Obliviscaris, Sans Peur

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                • #9
                  Reads like a bit too much psychoanalysis was going on. Mostly social babblespeak.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
                    Polarized means two opposite forces or points and a polarized political scene would imply merely two opposite political choices. Most European countries have multiple political parties - unlike the US, where there has been a polarized political scene for over a hundred years. So how does this relate to Europe? If you had a European syndrome, people would have a lot more political choices to choose from. Perhaps the problem is that you have an American malaise. Please keep it within your own borders.
                    Beat me to it. If anything, European politics (and those of Australia & NZ) are less polarized than the US, not least because we have political systems that allow multiple minor parties an opportunity to become part of the political landscape.

                    If there is one thing US & European/settler spinoff societies have in common it is the inordinate amount of energy they seem to put into misunderstanding the other. Its as if systematically misunderstanding and misrepresenting each other (in both positive & negative ways, but more often negative) is taken as 'proof' of something profound, no matter how shallow the analysis.

                    Sad and strange in equal parts.
                    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Escape2Victory View Post
                      I agree the authors 4 factors are important. Beyond that, it was a bizarre article. The challenge the U.S. and Europe share in relation to these is plunging birth rates as people prioritise work over children.
                      The main gist of the article - and I'm surprised at myself that I even bothered to read it, is that human beings find happiness through the satisfaction of four main factors: family, community, vocation and faith. Encroaching government removes the ability of the individual to satisfy these factors individually, by having the government take over these functions. Hence, the ability to be happy in Europe is diminished, because in Europe you have expansive governments. This is the European syndrome in a nutshell: a continent of essentially unhappy (in an Aristotelian sense) people.
                      Consider this insightful observation by the author:
                      If we knew that leaving these functions in the hands of families and communities led to legions of neglected children and neglected neighbors, and taking them away from families and communities led to happy children and happy neighbors, then it would be possible to say that the cost is worth it. But that’s not what happened when the U.S. welfare state expanded. We have seen growing legions of children raised in unimaginably awful circumstances, not because of material poverty but because of dysfunctional families, and the collapse of functioning neighborhoods into Hobbesian all-against-all free-fire zones.
                      In other words, an expansive welfare system leads to dysfunctional families, collapsed neighborhoods and a Hobbesian state of nature. Yet, if this is true, Europe would be in an even worse state than collapsed American neighborhoods such as Detroit. Scandinavia, for instance, whose welfare system is even more expansive than the US, should be in a state of complete social collapse. It is not. In fact, just the opposite. The problems with this article are many. First and foremost, you have an author who has only visited Europe - doesn't live here. Second, you have the presumption - common among American right-wingers, that Europe presents some sort of monolithic entity with no internal national differences - hence "European syndrome". Finally, you have the presumption that America's current social - and now political - problems stem from transplanted "Euro-thinking". Convenient, in that it allows one to blame America's problems on outside forces instead of anything specifically American. There is a reason why Sweden or Norway do not resemble Detroit even with their expanded welfare state and the reason is simple: Swedes and Norwegians are not Americans. America's problems are American made and stem from specifically American causes. Detroit is just as much an example of American exceptionalism as the positive attributes of that notion which the author tries to tout.

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                      • #12
                        Perhaps some of it goes back to the "Life,Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" mantra contained within the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

                        Many (including me) would think that the "Pursuit of Happiness" is really a chimera.Happiness is a by-product of life rather than a hedonistic objective in itself. The author, while giving ways how happiness and fulfilment is to be achieved, seems thus to place the cart before the horse.

                        Or am I misreading him ?
                        Last edited by BELGRAVE; 01 Mar 16, 02:59.
                        "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                        Samuel Johnson.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                          Perhaps some of it goes back to the "Life,Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" mantra contained within the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

                          Many (including me) would think that the "Pursuit of Happiness" is really a chimera.Happiness is a by-product of life rather than a hedonistic objective in itself. The author, while giving ways how happiness and fulfilment is to be achieved, seems thus to place the cart before the horse.

                          Or am I misreading him ?
                          "Pursuit of Happiness" was a compromise solution. It was originally "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Property." Given that slaves were considered property, there was some objection over the use of that word.

                          Tuebor

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Skoblin View Post
                            Polarized means two opposite forces or points and a polarized political scene would imply merely two opposite political choices. Most European countries have multiple political parties - unlike the US, where there has been a polarized political scene for over a hundred years. So how does this relate to Europe? If you had a European syndrome, people would have a lot more political choices to choose from. Perhaps the problem is that you have an American malaise. Please keep it within your own borders.
                            The U.S. was a two party system from the formative years under the Constitution (so in excess of two hundred years). Many political parties actually do exist and people could chose them if they so desire, but do not, because relative to many European nations the U.S. is far more politically homogeneous. From an American view point, Europeans (in general) are far too balkanized. I suppose one example of so called American "Exceptionalism" may be found in the fact the U.S. is by and far the longest and most stable democratic republic in history. European nations have a lot less experience by comparison. Two party systems have proved to be the most stable. Take France, how many governmental systems ("Republics") has she had over the same period of time? What is the longest lived democratic government in Eastern Europe?

                            Malaise? I let you know when some arrives. I hear it goes well on sandwiches.

                            Tuebor

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                            • #15
                              To become a source of deep satisfaction, a human activity has to meet some stringent requirements. It has to have been important (we don’t get deep satisfaction from trivial things). You have to have put a lot of effort into it (hence the cliché “nothing worth having comes easily”). And you have to have been responsible for the consequences.
                              This fellow is clearly no expert on "deep satisfaction"
                              Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Game.

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