The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'america'
Not that long ago, the Hummer was king of America's roads; a ex-military truck, chromed for the consumer and with all the aggressive ugliness of a pit bull, it soon became synonymous with a certain form of all-American assholery, a combination of machismo, belligerence and callous indifference worn like armour. Then the price of oil went up, and the dealers' yards started filling up with unsellable Hummers. And then General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection, and decided to sell off a number of marques to raise some desperately needed money to keep the wolf from the door. A construction equipment manufacturer in China (that's Communist China, by the way, not Taiwan) was found who was willing to buy the brand and start making Hummers. Joe Sixpack and NASCAR Dad could rest assured that they would still be able to buy a Hummer, though in future, this icon of all-American triumphalism would be made in China, like a cheap Wal-Mart DVD player.
Now, it trns out that the Chinese government's planning agency has blocked the takeover of the Hummer brand, on environmental grounds.
Now that's got to hurt.
Artist/musician/pundit Momus, who has a fairly nifty blog, has some words of advice for all the Americans who have been talking about moving to Canada/Europe:
For those of you thinking of leaving America today -- and there are many, I'm sure -- I'd say just do it. Walk away. Leaving Britain is the best thing I ever did. I lived for years there feeling like a political and cultural exile, trying to fight back with satire and a thousand subtle forms of stubbornness and resistance. But being an 'internal exile' is not good for the soul. My struggle with attitudes which seemed toxic to me started making me as hard, cynical and corrupt as the people and the attitudes I was fighting.
I became a world citizen. I started to think in terms of cities, and even districts of cities, rather than nations. I made my own cut and paste environment, a place where I felt comfortable and valued. I selected its elements from the internet and the parts of the cities I loved and went to live in. I count the moment I left my incorrigible homeland as the moment my adult life really began. I am now a much happier and better adjusted person.
If enough talented people leave the US, and if it keeps running up gigantic budget deficits by fighting wars, it will shrink to a manageable size. America is clearly on an identity quest. Let it become a red dwarf, shrunk down to its rural red states. Uninventive, intolerant, unproductive. That's its way of discovering 'who it really is'. Meanwhile, somewhere nicer, you can be discovering yours.
Eric Raymond has written a smug Libertarian critique of Iain Banks and Ken MacLeod, rooted in the fundamental notion of the total bankrupcy of socialism and indeed the undeniable supremacy of the Free Market. No Ayn Rand quotes though. And here's Charles Stross' rebuttal.
(IMHO, the Randian/Propertarian argument of the supremacy of the Free Market is somewhat naïve, for the reasons Charlie describes (markets are good for some things but not all); the recent fashion of defining everything as being, in its basic sense, a market is rather daft. OTOH, I don't think the future belongs to any variant of Marxism (which was, after all, constrained by its 19th-century backgrounds).)
And then there's the "Cowboys vs. Eurotrash" subtext that usually emerges in the whole recurring argument, with predominantly American Libertarians making smug digs at the bankrupcy and impending collapse of Eurosocialism (usually coming down to how the ultimate oracle of the Market has shown that Big Macs and Britney Spears are inherently superior to baguettes and Johnny Hallyday, and any argument to the contrary is just the elitism of sore losers in the global cultural marketplace), and left-leaning Europeans pointing at rampant obesity, firearm deaths and other aspects of the Ugly American stereotype in response.