T Nation

Economy is Our (US) Culture

A while back I made a statement in another thread where I stated that I think people confuse the American economy with our culture and I was wondering what other people might think of this statement.

One of the reasons I believe this to be true is that we are inundated as a society by mass market media. There is no corner of American society that is untouched by mass “information”. This information that we receive is fettered by individuals whose main objective is to affect our self image in order to scare us into consumption of goods that may or may not be necessary to alleviate those fears. The corporation benefits from this consumption and to a lesser degree so do we (if our needs are truly alleviated). Thus our economy is benefited.

Becasue of this it becomes difficult to see where our economy ends and American culture begins. Is America defined by the “stuff” it produces? For example, are we an embodiment the Ford assembly line and all the other material ingenuities produced to benefit our economy?

Does anyone have any examples where our economy and our culture intermesh? Does anyone think this is just nonsense and need to speak up?

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
A while back I made a statement in another thread where I stated that I think people confuse the American economy with our culture and I was wondering what other people might think of this statement.

One of the reasons I believe this to be true is that we are inundated as a society by mass market media. There is no corner of American society that is untouched by mass “information”. This information that we receive is fettered by individuals whose main objective is to affect our self image in order to scare us into consumption of goods that may or may not be necessary to alleviate those fears. The corporation benefits from this consumption and to a lesser degree so do we (if our needs are truly alleviated). Thus our economy is benefited.

Becasue of this it becomes difficult to see where our economy ends and American culture begins. Is America defined by the “stuff” it produces? For example, are we an embodiment the Ford assembly line and all the other material ingenuities produced to benefit our economy?

Does anyone have any examples where our economy and our culture intermesh? Does anyone think this is just nonsense and need to speak up?[/quote]

Many of our decisions and behaviors – as a nation, as people – are motivated by perceived economic benefit. That is part of what allowed us to become the richest nation on the planet – that we put economic profit so high in our priority list.

So, in that sense, economy is a big part of our culture.

However, that is not all. Our culture is also highly influenced by religious beliefs and some fundamental political beliefs – like Democracy and Freedom – although less and less so.

That such be no surprise for anyone – after all, everybody that immigrated here had one of those three motivators to come here in the first place: seeking more wealth, or run from specific religious or political persecution.

Then again that is true of many – if not all – nations in the World.

I do agree that quite possibly we give more “weight” to money than most other nations, and that may well be because so many people came here in the first place to pursue economic wealth. I will also agree that weight has been increasing, as our other beliefs – religious and political – slowly erode.

[quote]hspder wrote:
I will also agree that weight has been increasing, as our other beliefs – religious and political – slowly erode.
[/quote]
Hmmm… tough call. I would say that the post 9/11 America has become quite a bit more “flag-waving”, almost to the point of ridiculousness. Almost.

Bush’s answer for anything unpopular is “9/11”, right? That’s because he knows he can bank on that politically, and justify all kinds of shit that would have NEVER flown before. What I’m wondering is when the general US population is going to tire of the rallying call and return to business as normal.

It may be a while.

Our American zeitgeist got fucked over when those towers fell.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
hspder wrote:
I will also agree that weight has been increasing, as our other beliefs – religious and political – slowly erode.

Hmmm… tough call. I would say that the post 9/11 America has become quite a bit more “flag-waving”, almost to the point of ridiculousness. Almost.

Bush’s answer for anything unpopular is “9/11”, right? That’s because he knows he can bank on that politically, and justify all kinds of shit that would have NEVER flown before. What I’m wondering is when the general US population is going to tire of the rallying call and return to business as normal.

It may be a while.

Our American zeitgeist got fucked over when those towers fell.[/quote]

Yes, let’s return to “business as usual” like under the Clinton Administration who let Bin Laden alone and the Taliban alone, and look what we got – 3,000 + people in MY CITY dead.

Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…

[quote]steveo5801 wrote:
Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…

[/quote]

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the world was perfect before 9/11, I’m just saying that eventually the 9/11 phenomenon will die out. It is the way of things for time to heal and give us “perspective”.

Example: around 3 thousand people were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, right? Compare that to the fact that since 1995, there have been over 40 thousand traffic fatalities every year consistently; with around 40 percent of those involving alcohol… every year.

I’m not saying that 9/11 is no big deal, I’m just saying that there is daily life to worry about. It’s friggin’ dangerous to get into your car.

[quote]lothario1132 wrote:
steveo5801 wrote:
Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the world was perfect before 9/11, I’m just saying that eventually the 9/11 phenomenon will die out. It is the way of things for time to heal and give us “perspective”.

Example: around 3 thousand people were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, right? Compare that to the fact that since 1995, there have been over 40 thousand traffic fatalities every year consistently; with around 40 percent of those involving alcohol… every year.

I’m not saying that 9/11 is no big deal, I’m just saying that there is daily life to worry about. It’s friggin’ dangerous to get into your car.[/quote]

No question about that! You should see the Belt Parkway (the highway between Southern Long Island and Brooklyn).

However, there is a qualatative difference between the thousands killed on the road each year and the 9/11 attacks. The fact is that you cannot equate peoples’ careless driving behavior with an organized attack on our country and its people by foreign terrorists who wish to actively kill us.

True, we should do all we can (within reason) to make highways safer for people, but the main job of our Federal government, constitutionally, is to protect us from foreign invaders who are trying to destroy us.

The fact is that we cannot go back. One of the main reasons why we have not been hit again, is that we have taken the fight to them.

BTW – remember, we didn’t ask for this – it was the terrorists and our lack of vigor under Clinton, that precipitated the attacks.

People have been paying attention to the economy ever since hunter/gatherers began bartering and trading for the three necessities: food, clothing and shelter.

To say americans place more emphasis on the economy than other nations is not true.

Unless the need to provide for one’s family had been replaced with a dependence on a government to provide your needs, then I would say we do place a higher value on the economy, and rightly so.

[quote]steveo5801 wrote:
Yes, let’s return to “business as usual” like under the Clinton Administration who let Bin Laden alone and the Taliban alone, and look what we got – 3,000 + people in MY CITY dead.

Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…
[/quote]

Are u truly that stupid or is that just an act?

[quote]hspder wrote:
I do agree that quite possibly we give more “weight” to money than most other nations, and that may well be because so many people came here in the first place to pursue economic wealth. I will also agree that weight has been increasing, as our other beliefs – religious and political – slowly erode.
[/quote]
It’s not the fact that we give more weight to money that worries me–though I beleive this trend may be a symptom of our relative culturelessness; it’s the fact that we do not have a more definitive culture than mass consumption that does.

Religion is not a unique American culture; however, maybe there is something to the growing trend of religio-political influences seen in our politics that is reflective of our society. But since our religious influences grew from old-world persecution we cannot rightly call it American. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to claim that as a unique American culture, anyway.

Democracy is not uniquely American either though it might be unique in the way it is practiced. Still, is this the archetype for our culture?

Many of the moral and ethical ethoses of our policy making cannot rightly be called American either since they are all derived from old-world European philosophy. Besides this fact many of these themes are becoming universal in the growing democratized nations.

[quote]Ken Kaniff wrote:
steveo5801 wrote:
Yes, let’s return to “business as usual” like under the Clinton Administration who let Bin Laden alone and the Taliban alone, and look what we got – 3,000 + people in MY CITY dead.

Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…

Are u truly that stupid or is that just an act?

[/quote]

Mind explaining your comment here? Or is this your display of high intelligence?

[quote]steveo5801 wrote:
lothario1132 wrote:
hspder wrote:
I will also agree that weight has been increasing, as our other beliefs – religious and political – slowly erode.

Hmmm… tough call. I would say that the post 9/11 America has become quite a bit more “flag-waving”, almost to the point of ridiculousness. Almost.

Bush’s answer for anything unpopular is “9/11”, right? That’s because he knows he can bank on that politically, and justify all kinds of shit that would have NEVER flown before. What I’m wondering is when the general US population is going to tire of the rallying call and return to business as normal.

It may be a while.

Our American zeitgeist got fucked over when those towers fell.

Yes, let’s return to “business as usual” like under the Clinton Administration who let Bin Laden alone and the Taliban alone, and look what we got – 3,000 + people in MY CITY dead.

Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…[/quote]

Another mindless response:

“It is the predecessor?s fault”

The same S happens in business but it makes the finger pointer look weak.

Clenis was and is a douche bag but you should know better than to pin it on that guy.

[quote]Ken Kaniff wrote:
steveo5801 wrote:
Yes, let’s return to “business as usual” like under the Clinton Administration who let Bin Laden alone and the Taliban alone, and look what we got – 3,000 + people in MY CITY dead.

Yeah, great idea to go back to things “as usual.”

Think again…

Are u truly that stupid or is that just an act?[/quote]

It is not an act.

[quote]rainjack wrote:
People have been paying attention to the economy ever since hunter/gatherers began bartering and trading for the three necessities: food, clothing and shelter.

To say americans place more emphasis on the economy than other nations is not true.

Unless the need to provide for one’s family had been replaced with a dependence on a government to provide your needs, then I would say we do place a higher value on the economy, and rightly so.

[/quote]

Yup.

Jazz, blues and rock. Edgar Allan Poe. Irwing Washington. Minimalism. Jackson Pollock. Edward Hopper. Samuel Barber. Steve Reich. Kurt Vonnegut. George Herrimann. It think they - among many others - represent the better side of american culture.

[quote]karva wrote:
Jazz, blues and rock. Edgar Allan Poe. Irwing Washington. Minimalism. Jackson Pollock. Edward Hopper. Samuel Barber. Steve Reich. Kurt Vonnegut. George Herrimann. It think they - among many others - represent the better side of american culture.
[/quote]
Awesome…I was waiting for someone from an other country to mention jazz or the blues and rock and roll (lest we forget rap and hip-hop). Funny how some of our biggest (most cultural) claims come from freed slaves and the sons and grandsons of freed slaves…

I am not too sure if the average American would recognize the other names…though they may have contributed something to Amrican culture I am not sure it would be considered uniquely American. Did these individuals help generate new genres of intellectual or artistic activity that would be considered unique to American culture?

Thanks for reminding us of “the better side of american culture.”

I fail to see what would be so horrible about commerce being an important part of the US culture.

That was true for the Phoenicians, the people of Athens and the British and the world is a better place because of it.

[quote]orion wrote:
I fail to see what would be so horrible about commerce being an important part of the US culture.

That was true for the Phoenicians, the people of Athens and the British and the world is a better place because of it.
[/quote]
Can you qualify what you mean by “better place because of it?” I am not saying that an economy based culture is totally bad. What I am saying is that it seems to overshadow many of the other aspects of our culture which is further helping to subdue our cultural identity.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
orion wrote:
I fail to see what would be so horrible about commerce being an important part of the US culture.

That was true for the Phoenicians, the people of Athens and the British and the world is a better place because of it.

Can you qualify what you mean by “better place because of it?” I am not saying that an economy based culture is totally bad. What I am saying is that it seems to overshadow many of the other aspects of our culture which is further helping to subdue our cultural identity. [/quote]

I am saying that trade leads to the spread of wealth and ideas, which I consider to be a good thing.

Even the globalisation is a good thing, IMO.

[quote]karva wrote:
Jazz, blues and rock. Edgar Allan Poe. Irwing Washington. Minimalism. Jackson Pollock. Edward Hopper. Samuel Barber. Steve Reich. Kurt Vonnegut. George Herrimann. It think they - among many others - represent the better side of american culture.
[/quote]

Minimalism … American culture ? In my book, they’re opposites. Are you referring to minimalism in the economic sense (efficiency, optimal design), artistic sense, as a way of life (less is more), or in other ways?

[quote]MrChill wrote:
karva wrote:
Jazz, blues and rock. Edgar Allan Poe. Irwing Washington. Minimalism. Jackson Pollock. Edward Hopper. Samuel Barber. Steve Reich. Kurt Vonnegut. George Herrimann. It think they - among many others - represent the better side of american culture.

Minimalism … American culture ? In my book, they’re opposites. Are you referring to minimalism in the economic sense (efficiency, optimal design), artistic sense, as a way of life (less is more), or in other ways? [/quote]

Minimal art, that is what I refer to. Developed in USA in the 1950s.