People are equal, but ideas are not
Thank you for your recent article. I really liked it.
You may not like what follows. I apologize if I offend you or your readers.
I travelled the world for many decades, including visiting the US 33 times.
The first quarter of my visits was to companies I represented in Western Australia. The remainder were primarily to train in The Three Principles. My stays were often for several weeks, so, as a visitor, I got a feel for the people and the culture. One long visit was with a friend to participate in men’s activities as we crisscrossed the country for five weeks.
During those decades, I engaged and formed friendships with individuals from the far/extreme right and far/extreme left of the political spectrum – rich and poor - some of those friendships continue to this day.
I provide the forgoing to support my thoughts that follow.
I found one thing in common. That was the universal naivety about the world beyond the shores of the US. Even those with University degrees were often ignorant of much outside the US.
My first visit was in 1972, and I was overwhelmed by what I found. Sheer brilliance was on display, it seemed to me, in every aspect of the capitalist system. Honestly, Barry, I was sold.
Born into a capitalist but low-income family (and having read back then some of Ayn Rand’s work), I was amazed and admired what I found as I travelled from the West to the East Coast.
With the passing years, I moved more out of the cities and suburbs and into the byways and backwaters. My views continued to evolve.
As a traveller to many parts of the world operating under different political systems (including communism) and seeing the outcomes of those systems, I’ve not changed my mind that capitalism is the one that supports the ‘common good’ best. You may balk at my use of the ‘common good’.
It doesn’t look like ‘true’ capitalism exists anywhere globally, and certainly not in the US.
Following are some of the things I found that coloured my views over many visits to the US.
Based on a single-person 40+ years survey, the Americans I have met are inward-looking and, in the main, know little about or are interested in the rest of the world. While that has moderated over the years, it was still evident in 2018. Your readers may be the exception.
Following are some dot points to clarify my views on the general naivety of the world outside the US.
• When asked where I was from, even on my last visit, some responded, “That’s near Germany, isn’t it?” Or those that know where Australia is: “Are there still kangaroos hopping down the streets?” These questions were not from uneducated people nor asked in jest.
• It is a uniquely psychologically isolated country.
• American exceptionalism is the hallmark trait even though Americans are unhappy with the state of their country.
• Views held seem to be seen as ‘the truth’. While that state of mind is valid for most of humanity, it is much stronger in the US than elsewhere in the West - Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
• Fundamentalism, in many and varied guises, seems the most common thread.
• For the bastion of capitalism, the gross disparity between the rich and poor doesn’t make sense.
• That such wealth with such unbelievable poverty still exists is a heinous crime.
I’m pretty sure you and your readers will not like my observations. I’m not presenting them as ‘the truth.’
It does, however, explain to some degree why Donald Trump became President of the USA.
Warmly … John