[R-G] Brian Eno on US Iraqi Policies
DavidMcR at aol.com
DavidMcR at aol.com
Wed Feb 5 10:48:11 MST 2003
Thanks much - will pass on,
<< Subject: Brian Eno on US Iraqi Policies
>> Date: Fri, 31 Jan 2003 20:21:23 -0700
>> The following article was written by musician Brian Eno and appeared in
>> TIME EUROPE. A group of us are sending it to friends and colleagues in
>> the US and Canada and North Americans worldwide in the hope that we can
>> publicize what many Europeans are thinking about the relentless drive
>> to war. We would appreciate if you could also forward it to
>> residents of the US and North Americans worldwide.
>> As you will see, Eno writes as someone who loves the US and a lot of
>> what it stands for, so there is praise among the criticism.
>> If you agree with the sentiments, we would really appreciate it if you
>> send it on.
>> The U.S. Needs to Open Up to the World
>> To this European, America is trapped in a fortress of arrogance and
>> BY BRIAN ENO
>> Europeans have always looked at America with a mixture of fascination
>> and puzzlement, and now, increasingly, disbelief. How is it that a
>> country that prides itself on its economic success could have so many
>> very poor people? How is it that a country so insistent on the rule of
>> law should seek to exempt itself from international agreements? And how
>> is it that the world's beacon of democracy can have elections dominated
>> by wealthy special interest groups?
>> I could fill this page with the names of Americans who have influenced,
>> entertained and educated me. They represent what I admire about
>> America: a vigorous originality of thought, and a confidence that
>> things can be changed for the better.
>> That was the America I lived in and enjoyed from 1978 until 1983. That
>> America was an act of faith - the faith that "otherness" was not
>> threatening but nourishing, the faith that there could be a country big
>> enough in spirit to welcome and nurture all the diversity the world
>> could throw at it.
>> But since Sept. 11, that vision has been eclipsed by a suspicious,
>> introverted America, a country-sized version of that peculiarly
>> American form of ghetto: the gated community. A gated community is
>> defensive. Designed to keep the "others" out, it dissolves the rich web
>> of society into a random clustering of disconnected individuals. It
>> turns paranoia and isolation into a lifestyle.
>> Surely this isn't the America that anyone dreamed of; it's a last
>> resort, nobody's choice. It's especially ironic since so much of the
>> best new thinking about society, economics, politics and philosophy in
>> the last century came from America.
>> Unhampered by the snobbery and exclusivity of much European thought,
>> American thinkers vaulted forward - courageous, innovative and
>> determined to talk in a public language. But, unfortunately, over the
>> same period, the mass media vaulted backward, thriving on increasingly
>> simple stories and trivializing news into something indistinguishable
>> from entertainment. As a result, a wealth of original and subtle
>> thought - America's real wealth - is squandered.
>> This narrowing of the American mind is exacerbated by the withdrawal of
>> the left from active politics. Virtually ignored by the media, the left
>> has further marginalized itself by a retreat into introspective
>> cultural criticism. It seems content to do yoga and gender studies,
>> leaving the fundamentalist Christian right and the multinationals to do
>> the politics. The separation of church and state seems to be breaking
>> down too. Political discourse is now dominated by moralizing, like
>> George W. Bush's promotion of American "family values" abroad, and
>> dissent is unpatriotic. "You're either with us or against us" is the
>> kind of cant you'd expect from a zealous mullah, not an American
>> When Europeans make such criticisms, Americans assume we're envious.
>> "They want what we've got," the thinking goes, "and if they can't get
>> it, they're going to stop us from having it."
>> But does everyone want what America has? Well, we like some of it but
>> could do without the rest: among the highest rates of violent crime,
>> economic inequality, functional illiteracy, incarceration and drug use
>> in the developed world. President Bush recently declared that the U.S.
>> was "the single surviving model of human progress." Maybe some
>> Americans think this self-evident, but the rest of us see it as a
>> clumsy arrogance born of ignorance.
>> Europeans tend to regard free national health services, unemployment
>> benefits, social housing and so on as pretty good models of human
>> progress. We think it's important - civilized, in fact - to help people
>> who fall through society's cracks. This isn't just altruism, but an
>> understanding that having too many losers in society hurts everyone.
>> It's better for everybody to have a stake in society than to have a
>> resentful underclass bent on wrecking things.
>> To many Americans, this sounds like socialism, big government, the
>> nanny state. But so what? The result is: Europe has less gun crime and
>> homicide, less poverty and arguably a higher quality of life than the
>> U.S., which makes a lot of us wonder why America doesn't want some of
>> what we've got.
>> Too often, the U.S. presents the "American way" as the only way,
>> insisting on its kind of free-market Darwinism as the only acceptable
>> "model of human progress."
>> But isn't civilization what happens when people stop behaving as if
>> they're trapped in a ruthless Darwinian struggle and start thinking
>> about communities and shared futures? America as a gated community
>> won't work, because not even the world's sole superpower can build
>> walls high enough to shield itself from the intertwined realities of
>> the 21st century.
>> There's a better form of security: reconnect with the rest of the
>> world, don't shut it out; stop making enemies and start making friends.
>> Perhaps it's asking a lot to expect America to act differently from all
>> the other empires in history, but wasn't that the original idea?
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