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Old 05-01-2006, 12:41 PM   #1
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Yanks and Brits -- blue staters both?

this is more for fun than anything else, but as a Yank who's spent a bunch of time in the UK and always felt very much at home, i love these various sociological-lite analysis:

[q]The Sunday Times April 30, 2006
Hey Brits, you’re more American than you know
Andrew Sullivan

It’s a strange personal history I have — 21 years continuously in Britain, followed by 21 years and a bit continuously in the US. It can be a distorting lens, but also at times a clarifying one.
When I come back to England after long stretches in America, and visit my old friends and family, I see them move on, age, or mature perhaps, more clearly than if I were here all the time. And that goes for the country too.

After a brief visit, the one thing I can say for sure is that being in London today is far more like being in America than it was two decades ago. From Starbucks to WiFi, much of Londonland — and I include the vast expanse of England that is essentially a satellite of the capital — is indistinguishable from an American blue (Democrat-voting) state city.

Thatcher’s reforms, and Blair’s co-optation of them, have created, from a distance, a pseudo-American society. The energy in Londonland, its vibrant labour markets, its consumerism, its media, its multiculturalism, its unabashed capitalism, have a distinctively American feel. Even the new wave of eastern European immigrants is strikingly like New York in another era.

This is not to say that modern Britain doesn’t have its own cultural roots, or isn’t still distinctly British. Global capitalism was invented by the Brits, after all. And it isn’t to conflate Britain outside Londonland with the capital complex. But the tone and tenor are strikingly more American than they used to be.

Class has clearly diminished in the Londonland mind. People tip bartenders more than they used to. They own shares, make their own retirement arrangements, live near people with different religions and colours, and have turned urban American hip-hop into a strange English hybrid. What else are chavs but some kind of English fusion of “white trash” and “ghetto”, complete with bling? Brits today can even look at someone like David Cameron and be less interested in his class background than in what, if anything, he has to say. How, er, American.

There’s only one flaw in this analysis: how to explain the paradox of rising anti-Americanism. A fascinating new book by the pollster Andrew Kohut and the analyst Bruce Stokes lays out the empirical terrain. It’s called America Against the World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked. And its data are sobering if you are in the Bush administration.

America now has a lower favourability rating among Britons than China does. At the dawn of the millennium, 83% of Brits had a favourable view of the US. That’s now 55%. Only Germany and largely Muslim countries have seen a sharper decline in views of America.

Even more troubling is that for the first time this negative view of a country has translated into growing hostility to Americans as people. In 2002, 83% of Britons had good things to say about Americans. Last year that had slumped to 70%. The numbers are worst among the young. One in 10 Brits under the age of 30 disliked Americans in 2002. One in five disliked them last year. It seems they have not yet quite forgiven Americans for re-electing George Bush.

A great deal of this, of course, has to do with the underlying difficulties of living with a sole hyperpower in a nerve-racking world. Then there’s the Iraq war, along with America’s enmeshment with torture of terror suspects, and on top of that global warming. There’s also a sense — and a not unreasonable one — that America’s evangelical fundamentalists, with their zeal, intolerance and eschatological excesses, have hijacked a once kinder, saner nation.

With all these trends, the differences between Britain and America seem to be growing, not slackening. A new Populus poll found that 67% of Brits believe “Britain’s future lies more with Europe than with America”.

And yet I remain unconvinced. Culture still matters, and on that score Britain is still closer to America than almost any other country. I don’t mean simply the number of San Franciscans downloading Ricky Gervais podcasts, or the ubiquity in American pop culture of reality television created in Britain, or even the cross-cultural franchises of Harry Potter, Tolkien or The Simpsons. I mean rather a residual, tenacious sense that the individual is responsible for his own destiny. Some 82% of Americans ascribe lack of success in life to the individual rather than to society and 75% of Brits share this view.

Even on religion, the differences are less profound than you might think. Yes, Americans are much more observant, but not that much more godly. In fact 94% of Americans believe in God; but 61% of Brits do — not exactly the atheistic society sometimes described. Some 30% of Americans believe abortion is never justifiable, down 3% since 1990; 25% of Brits agree — up 6% in the same period.

The number of Americans who tell pollsters that religion is “not very important” in their lives has doubled from 7% to 14% since 1965. A convergence? Bush isn’t the only national leader who speaks of God. And there’s no member of the American cabinet who won’t say if she is in Opus Dei.

But to me the most telling aspect of Americanisation is anti-Americanism itself. Anti-Americanism, after all, is as American as its opposite. You will find few foreign countries as hostile to Bush as California. The most successful anti-Americans, like Michael Moore, are home-grown. Asked recently whether Americans were “greedy”, 64% of Brits agreed. But 70% of Americans chimed in agreement. Some 26% of Brits believe that Americans are “immoral”; 39% of Americans agreed!

Yes, it’s true. You can’t escape. Britain is not the 51st state and never will be. But 57% of Brits consider America Britain’s most reliable ally. Hate them and love them, you’re stuck with them and they’re there when you need them (eventually).

It’s the meaning of family. And the Anglo-American clan keeps subtly expanding, deepening and complicating itself.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...157700,00.html

[/q]
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Old 05-01-2006, 01:36 PM   #2
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How can anti-Americanism be American? Are you being American if you are anti-American?
It's kinda like the sentence: This sentence does not exist.
I think too many people confuse dissension with anti-Americanism. Being anti-pax Americana is hardly anti-American. There is a difference between hating your nation and hating your government's administration. Sullivan should know the difference between nation and state (Queen and parliament, respectively).
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Old 05-01-2006, 01:44 PM   #3
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Interesting Note...
When I studied in London for four months, my British Life and Culture professor explained that Great Britain has been conquered twice: by William the Conqueror in 1066 (I think that was the year) and in 1996 by Starbucks.
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Old 05-01-2006, 02:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by blueyedpoet
How can anti-Americanism be American? Are you being American if you are anti-American?


i think he's talking about the oft-cited (by the right wing) "blame America first" crowd that lurks in gilded shadows in Manhattan, LA, Cambridge, and much of academia.
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Old 05-01-2006, 02:24 PM   #5
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I understand who is he talking about. From a linguistic standpoint though, it's kind of funny.
Shouldn't we look at ourselves first before we blame others? If we want to be a "Christian" nation we need to keep in mind that Jesus told his followers to clean the speck in their own eyes before pointing out specks in other people's eyes.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:22 PM   #6
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That's a nice article. I always find it interesting though how the media is always so keen to emphasize the similarities between the UK and the USA but so reluctant to do it with other countries. Especially as we're all meant to be 'One Europe' now.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by TheQuiet1
That's a nice article. I always find it interesting though how the media is always so keen to emphasize the similarities between the UK and the USA but so reluctant to do it with other countries. Especially as we're all meant to be 'One Europe' now.


it is striking -- and i think it's more than just language.

as a northeastern urbanist, i feel much more at home in the UK than i do in other parts of the US, even California.

i also think that similarities between the US and Canadians are sort of assumed by the media (though many Canadians would beg to differ, i'm sure).

how about people from the UK? do you feel more "at home" in New York or in Paris?



oh -- and can you tell me what a "Chav" is? haven't a clue.
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

how about people from the UK? do you feel more "at home" in New York or in Paris?
You pay my air fare and I'll tell you

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

oh -- and can you tell me what a "Chav" is? haven't a clue.
I think in the USA you call chavs 'trailer trash'?

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chav&r=f
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Old 05-04-2006, 03:38 PM   #9
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Also known as smicks in Belfast and millies for the female version...Neds in Glasgow I believe as well

All best know as prats in caps

Is this really not the case that any major metropolitan city having a diversity of cultures and creeds will end up reflecting any other major metropoitan city? The article mainly focuses on London, but how does the comparison stand up with other major UK cities?
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Old 05-05-2006, 08:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by LJT

All best know as prats in caps
I gotta remeber that one. Beats 'Townies' any day!
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:01 AM   #11
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Yes but now my phrase shall be immortalised with a spelling mistake
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:19 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by LJT

All best know as prats in caps
I gotta remember that one. Beats 'Townies' any day!
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:22 AM   #13
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No I wasn't on about your spelling mistake...i didn't even notice your spelling mistake...i'm on about my own..'know' is meant to be 'known'
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Old 05-05-2006, 10:27 AM   #14
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We're a right pair us two, aren't we!
Quote:
Originally posted by LJT

All best known as prats in caps
I gotta remember that one. Beats 'Townies' any day!





Now no-one need ever know...
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Old 05-05-2006, 12:03 PM   #15
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we rock
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