Saturday, February 02, 2002

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: Go follow the debate between Steven den Beste and Iain Murray on the originality of America. Steven makes the point in no uncertain terms that Europe has no clue about America, Iain points out that America is more Anglo than Western European, then Steven follows up with comments on the Native American origins of our politics, among other points. My own personal take: I was raised in a pretty Ireland-sympathetic family, so I am naturally loathe to give Great Britain any credit at all. But Iain's points about Britain being a special branch of Western civilization (in the sense that Japan is a special branch of "Confucian" civilization, if I remember my Toynbee right) and thus America being an outgrowth of Anglo culture have merit. Maybe I should change the terms of my pet theory slightly: Americans are to British the way Romans were to Greeks.

I find this den Beste paragraph enjoyable:

As long as Europe tries to see the United States as an outgrowth of European culture spawned in the New World, as long as it looks in the mirror when it thinks it looks west, it will continue to be confused by us as we keep acting in ways they cannot explain.

You could replace that first Europe with "The National Review" and it would still be true. I think.

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