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  #1  
Old 03-08-2004, 09:12 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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How did the USA get so powerful so fast?

The basic question is this: How and why did the United States get in the position to have the worldwide cultural, economic and military influence that it does today?

I heard the theory a while back that three things were required for "superpower" status. A large landmass, a large population and a powerful economy. The United States has all three, of course. But there are other countries that could possibly meet the same criteria. China, Russia, Brazil and India have the landmass and the population. Great Britan, France and Germany might also be able to pull it off. So that leaves economic power.

So why us? Why aren't the Brazilians or Indians competing with us for influence? Did it have something to do with being the country in the best shape after World War II? Or were the pieces in place before then? Did the cultural influence of our european forefathers in the first hundred years of our history set the tone?

And perhaps the most loaded question of all....is there an aggressive/competitive streak inside the anglo-saxon culture that encouraged and enabled the world domination we see today?
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  #2  
Old 03-08-2004, 09:15 AM
Bruce_Daddy Bruce_Daddy is offline
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Capitalism and no more than 2 weeks of vacation a year.
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Old 03-08-2004, 09:31 AM
bookbuster bookbuster is offline
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"the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
----------

Samuel P. Huntington





Yeah what he said, and having slavery for 100 years always helps a country "start in the right direction."
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Old 03-08-2004, 09:44 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbuster
"the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
----------

Samuel P. Huntington





Yeah what he said, and having slavery for 100 years always helps a country "start in the right direction."

So you are saying that aggression and forced labor are the foundation upon which the United States built the empire of today?

Slavery assisted in the primarily agricultural setting of the south, but not in the factories of the north.

And neither "organized violence" or slavery had anything to do with the great number of inventions and other intellectual achievements of the West.
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Old 03-08-2004, 09:52 AM
Dogface Dogface is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbuster
"the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
----------

Samuel P. Huntington





Yeah what he said, and having slavery for 100 years always helps a country "start in the right direction."

Brazil is western.
Brazil had slavery.
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  #6  
Old 03-08-2004, 10:02 AM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is offline
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the 2 great wars played a major role, but im not sure how exactly. I've seen many documentaries about war that say WW1 was how the US became a world power and WW2 is how the US became a superpower.

I've wondered about this too somewhat, but mainly about the west. How did the west coast of the US go from being lawless indian territory with sparse wooden towns to having first world status in about 50 years?

Considering that the US evolved at the same rate as any other developed country i don't see what is necessarily impossible about a country developing an industrial/economic base rapidly. Countries like Japan & Russia underwent pretty fast development during short periods (japan in the late 19th century, Russia mid-early 20th).

India & China used to be strong world powers 500 years ago or so. Then India got conquered by the British, and the Chinese went into isolation and the EUropeans overcame them technologically. Roughly 800 years ago empires like China, Ghengis Kahn and the muslim empire were more powerful than european empires. I don't know exactly why that shifted or how the US rose to the top though. Probably the fact that the US has 5-8x the population of all the other developed countries. I dont think US per capita education rates or military spending as a % of GDP are much different than they are with other developed nations.

I wonder how much of that was on topic.
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Old 03-08-2004, 11:04 AM
zamboniracer zamboniracer is offline
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According to writer Frank Deford, America became great because soccer ISN'T the national sport, which makes sense to me.
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Old 03-08-2004, 11:06 AM
Dogface Dogface is offline
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The interesting thing about the pseudo-explanations advanced so far is that they are all so very "only the USA really exists, everything else is but a backdrop". I put forth the following hypothesis:

The USA did so very well not only because it had lots of land, resources on same land, and lots of people on that land, but also because, during some very important periods, there was nobody around that had both desire and a practical chance of knocking the USA back. Mexico couldn't. Canada had no interest and far too little manpower. The UK wasn't interested--too expensive. France? No interest and not enough navy to get past US naval power. Spain? We ripped them a new hole when the matter came to direct confrontation. Russia? No interest until after WWII. Ultimately, it's as much an ecological question as an "historical" one. Much like European colonization of North America can be explained in terms of biological "swarming" events as much as any "social science" explanation would work, likewise, the power of the USA can be explained in terms of the "foreign weed" effect. The USA had no "natural competitors" who were close enough and strong enough to make a difference.
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Old 03-08-2004, 11:31 AM
Knowed Out Knowed Out is online now
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Off the top of my head, I'd say the US had opportunities for colonists to actually keep their wealth, instead of just exploiting the land and sailing back to the mother country and having the royalty get their cut. The original settlers rejected any notion of a caste system, so the poor weren't kept illiterate and forced to do manual labor for no recompense. That means more citizens have the desire to contribute to the industry and wellbeing of their country.

Plus, the US's geography is such that there's a lot of fertile land, and it's not crisscrossed by barely passable mountain ranges as Europe and Japan are. The climate is neither too cold or too hot, so the weather isn't too oppressive for the most part. There's plenty of shore line, accounting for a sizeable navy. I'm thinking when the US expanded westward, they adopted a frontier mentality that got them accustomed to facing any type of potential danger, so that philosophy got them steered on course to becoming a world power.

I don't have the source with me, but the UK was aware of America's quick rise to power in the late 19th century. They accepted this, saying "Thank God they speak English."
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  #10  
Old 03-08-2004, 11:36 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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What about the Louisiana Purchase? France enabled the expansion of the United States at a time when it was much less capable than it is today. Although I think if France had refused to sell the land, it would have been taken anyway. The French would have been forced to choose between fighting and giving up. If they had chosen to fight, would the UK have joined in? Perhaps France's desire for cash prevented the fledgling union from being snuffed out or delayed....allowing Western European countries to build and consolidate power.
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Old 03-08-2004, 12:15 PM
Fern Forest Fern Forest is offline
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We had a long time to practice democracy under the protection of the Brits during which we managed to work out a lot of the little kinks. So that after nearly 200 years at it we were ready for a go of it on our own. That seems to me to be very important. I look at all the revolutions and coups and whatnot of the past 220 years and it seems that so many leaders and people failed to really understand the nature and power of democracy and the length to which you have to go to protect it.

I'd wager that had a lot to do with the quality of our leaders in the early days. They had already learned not to trust themselves completely so we get checks and balances. They felt patriotism towards their nation and when confronted with opportunities to gravely injure the democracy chose not to do so. All of which gave our economic base a tremendously long and relatively stable period in which to grow. Our economy passed both Germany and the UK in size much earlier then I think most people would guess.
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Old 03-08-2004, 12:56 PM
akennett akennett is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil One
What about the Louisiana Purchase?
This question really highlights Dogface's point that the US had virtually no real foreign threat to expansion and the fact that balance of power politics dominated the era. We went to France to negotiate for the purchase of New Orleans, so we would have a port for the Mississippi shipping. France, instead, offered us the Louisiana Territory. Why? Well, because there were a considerable number of "westerners" in America that were quite ready to take it. The farmers in what was then the western fronteir of America needed the navigation of the Mississippi in order to survive.

France, almost undoubtedly, could have defeated an American incursion into Louisiana. Remember, at the time, France was a military power - quite unlike what they are thought of today. America had no real naval power at the time, and France could have landed troops in the territory, and based naval operations in the West Indies. However, the Louisiana Terrotiry really wasn't of much importance to the French. The West Indies were a much more profitable area, and the attentions of the French nation were turning toward the creation of a European Empire (short, funny looking guy called Napoleon was involved in that one).

Here is where balance of power politics come into play. With both a Euorpean war raging and and an attempt to make a move in North America, Britain would probably have come down hard on the French. France and Britain were hardly on good terms at the time, and a large French army on the NA continent would certainly be seen as a threat to British Canada and the British West Indies. The British Navy would have descended quickly on French ships trying to move and support troops and would have made the defense of Louisiana very difficult.

Spanish power was rapidly declining and soon after this period they would be a non-factor (Mexican-American war 1840s, Sp-American war 1890s?) in detering American expansionism. British Canada was not really a threat at all. The war of 1812 showed that. The British push south from Canada was effectively checked, the southern push into New Orleans was thwarted and it was really only the front in the middle states that amounted to anything, as it was heavily supported by naval power (which Britain had in spades).

Not only was America largely free from the interference of European powers from the early nineteenth century on (unlike most other parts of the globe), the US was also able to maintain its own desired level of isolationism from the problems the European nations created for themselves. The US was free to develop on its own terms. Throw in a healthy supply (as already mentioned) of arable land, good climate, natural resources, and population and you get a ready recipe for success.

Then there is the American attitude of the period. To their minds, not only was greatness in reach, but it was the American destiny. Read what European observers (such as de Toqueville or Chevalier) said about the spirit of the American people; their drive, their enthusiasm, their undying belief in progress. I'm not saying that the drive for greatness is unique to America or to the time period, but it was a singular passion for the almost the entire population (or at least of the entire free population) and it really drove the American people. One example of this is the practice, during the industrial revolution, of the Americans to build their machines out of wood. They did this, knowing that the machines would soon wear out, becuase they believed that by that (admittedly short) time a better machine design would be available. They were always looking to a better future.

With this freedom from interference and the resources and attitude to make the best of the country, America could develop to the point that when, during WW I, it decided to enter forcefully into world politics, it had the power and ability to do so at the height of power. Again, when we entered WW II, we were able to do so on our own terms. At this point, the current (or recently past) situation developed. Europe had been through two devastating wars, on their own territory, in the past 30 or so years. Their populations, resources, economies, and infrastructures were destroyed. America's, on the other hand, were largely untouched (perhaps made stronger). Asia and Africa were just beginning to see the end of the actual colonizations of their lands; the effects are still felt in most, if not all, of those areas.

Russia grew as a counter-point to America, but their country had been ravaged by the wars and by a series of revolutions the likes of which we haven't had. The lingering effects of the czars and the feudal-like state were still being felt. They had never fully industrialized, and skipped past capitalism direct to socialism/communism. This was not an economically good move. The driving force behind their actions was ideology, and one that most in the country probably did not believe (as the corrupt nature of most people kept it from being fully implemented). It was a hollow(with the very large exception of the development of nukes) threat to American supremacy, and rather than cehcking the growth of America, Russia fueled our rise.

With the collapse of the USSR, there was a power-vacuum as a nemesis to the US. It won't be filled for a very long time, if at all. Asymetric battles will now be the rule whenever the US is involved. I see a parallel between our position and that of Rome at its height. Their will be skirmishes and threats in hot-spots across the world, but no real enemy we can march against (or who can march against us). The major difference being that the American Empire is not one of lands, but cultural and economic. Like Rome, we will fall - not at the hands of an equal rival, but by overextending our reach, schisms at home, and opportunistic thrusts by less powerful enemies. Only then will American power be within striking distance of another nation or confederacy.
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  #13  
Old 03-08-2004, 01:48 PM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil One
...is there an aggressive/competitive streak inside the anglo-saxon culture that encouraged and enabled the world domination we see today?
IMHO, right?

No, not aggressiveness, per se. Starting with the Greeks, Western/European culture developed an attitude toward warfare that was generally not matched elsewhere. An army had to get a decisive victory; soldiers were commanded, tactics were developed, and hesitancy was suppressed. IIRC, John Keegan described the difference in the Greek vs. the Persion attitude to battle: The Persians would come in quick & perhaps a little pell mell and retreat, everyone was in fear for his life and acted as such; the Greeks had no hesitancy--they charged in as one with no regard for their lives, fortified by the knowledge that only when soldiers are prepared to give their lives will they be ready to win.

This idea of giving up individuality, of using organized tactics, and of seeking decisive victories was developed through the Romans and so-on in Europe. They didn't have a monopoly on it, of course, the Mongols & Shaka Zulu being a striking examples that these notions were not strictly European. Elsewhere, even major organized empires failed to see warfare in this sense. The Inca empire, for example, didn't fight to win war in any sense that we'd understand, but instead needed a supply of sacrificial victims. Some native Californians would actually take the arrow heads off their arrows for battle, generating reports of combatants leaving the field looking like pin cushions and surviving without too much trouble.

It is this attitude toward warfare that made Europeans so effective. Spain, for example, had just finished a long and terribly brutal war to kick out the Moors. It was a war to eliminate an enemy; to totally dominate the opponent using whatever means were available; to execute faithfully assigned tactical operations with both vigor and fatalism. Cultures that were not prepared for this simply could not stand against it. Imagine yourself as a member of an army ten-thousand strong. Your intention is to run up to your enemy and klonk him on the knee and cripple him, or bonk him on the head to kill him, and retreat before his buddies could get at you. Your method is to dance like a boxer, waiting for the right opportunity to strike and then get out of harm's way without getting hurt; to show that you can do it and get some recognition from your community. You want glory in battle. Inasmuch as you have a battle line, it is fluid and not cohesive; individual members and groups darting out to strike when opportunity is there; dropping back as the opponent thrusts forward, trying to strike you.

The other army, unbeknown to you, has no such attitude. No individual waits for an opportunity; no individual retreats to avoid danger. They form in an organized line--every so often you see a guy up front with no weapon at all, he's just holding a flag--and no steps out of the line. On a signal from their commander, they all rush you in unison. They don't wait for opportunity; they all come charging at once with nothing but determination on their faces; no fear, no hesitancy, no doubt. Your army has ten-thousand members and out-number them by ten or twenty to one, but that is of little comfort as you watch them barrel in en masse and crash into the ranks in front of you with reckless abandon. Since your battle line wasn't well organized, those who were farther in front are mowed down effortlessly as they face two or three opponents at once. Your front ranks, decimated, seek to retreat from danger, as they normally would, but doing it all at once and crowding and shoving in an attempt to get out of the enemy's reach. Of course, the enemy keeps coming and those who fell trying to run backwards are eaten by the machine. As the retreating ranks create a wave of congestion, those nearest the front have no where to go and, probably overwhelmed by shock and fear, are set upon by the enemy. Of course, those front ranks are too packed together to effectively parry or block, being reduced to swinging their weapons up and down, and are helpless against the simple, straight thrusts of the enemy's sword coming in repeatedly with accuracy and speed. Those not quite in the front see those in the front being disembowled by the enemy, who have nothing but blood-lust and rage in their eyes, and realize something very important: I'm next. Now they truly panic and turn to run, but they can't because everybody else is in their way. With their backs turned and tightly packed in a frenzy of fear, the enemy advances at walking pace slaughtering men left and right who are literally helpless and unable to defend themselves. There is no battle taking place, it is nothing more than a grade-A slaughter of a helpless foe.

Based on what I've read, that's how I picture the arrival of the Spanish in the New World. The Europeans had developed a model of warfare that was simply too effective for anyone without it to stand a chance. Thunder-sticks and metal breast-plates wouldn't make a bit of difference, IMO.

Quote:
So that leaves economic power. ...So why us?
We had the climate and culture to embrace the Industrial Revolution. The expansion of capital is a significant element in macroeconomic growth, and the higher growth rate over time adds up. By the time Brazil or India may have gotten on track to industrialize, we had a huge head start that just keeps adding more growth. I don't know about Brazil, but as far as I know India wasn't a place that the British tried to industrialize. So if they started to do so in, say, 1940, we would still have had a massive head start. With all the existing capital, human capital, and infrastructure, along with our already larger economy, catching up would be very difficult.

One other advantage would be the fact that individual states couldn't impose tariffs on other states. I'd imagine that if Europe shared the same arrangement, then we wouldn't be so powerful relative to the Europeans.

IMHO, of course.
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Old 03-08-2004, 03:57 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Well, since this is IMHO...

Not to be un-PC, but don't discount the superiority of "ideas" here. After all, the growth of America is but a subset of the rise of western European civilization to global pre-eminence from 1400-1945. For over 500 years, the American continent had the luxury of having the intellectual and financial resources of a much greater civilization than itself to draw on.

For example, the Declaration of Independence was written in the same summer that saw the printing of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and the first installment of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: American intellectuals, such as they were, had almost a decade to mull over these two books (and others, like Locke), and when it came time to create a country, the ideal that they chose was a federated Republic in which the individual citizenry were endowed with inalienable rights to assembly, speech, press, etc.

Take that, add to it the ongoing scientific revolution, the brand new industrial revolution, no income tax for the first 120 years of the country, an immigration policy second to none in accepting new people (yet always chronically short), and an unspoiled continent roughly equal in size to Old Europe itself and you have what Tony Bruno calls a stonecold leadpipe lock.
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Old 03-08-2004, 06:33 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbuster
"the West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do."
----------

Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel Huntington is an idiot, and the Clash of Civilizations theory is essentially a big lie designed to keep American policymakers in a Cold War mindset. Huntington and his ideas have no place in the twenty-first century, no matter how much he tarts them up to make the appear fresh and modern; the bipolar order of international power politics is gone, and won't come back no matter how hard Washington think tanks wish for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evil One
I heard the theory a while back that three things were required for "superpower" status. A large landmass, a large population and a powerful economy. The United States has all three, of course. But there are other countries that could possibly meet the same criteria. China, Russia, Brazil and India have the landmass and the population. Great Britan, France and Germany might also be able to pull it off. So that leaves economic power.
None of those things are required for 'superpower' status. Great Britain had neither a large landmass nor a large population when it became the de facto kingmaker in the Concert of Europe. The Soviet Union had neither a powerful economy nor a particularly large population.

The term "superpower" is entirely relative; the United States became a superpower after World War II not because it had become incredibly powerful, but because its competitors had been savaged enough by the war that they were no longer in a position to challenge it. Aside from the extremely unlikely chain of events which resulted in the Manhattan Project, we might still be simply the dominant state of the New World.
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  #16  
Old 03-08-2004, 09:25 PM
Cardinal Cardinal is offline
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I vote for:

1. Lots of resources

2. Lots of people

3. Lots of industrious people, the type who would say, "Lets move off the continent, Ingrid, this place just isn't working for us anymore."

4. Incentive to work and invent, because the government isn't going to just grab anything you do.

5. Isolation from destruction in wars (unless you happen to fight amongst yourselves).

6. Openness to good ideas from everywhere.


I argue that slavery slowed down the advancement of the economy, because it would have been better to bring in immigrants of the same numbers who were free to work AND think and create.
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  #17  
Old 03-08-2004, 11:24 PM
Urban Ranger Urban Ranger is offline
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The US profited greatly from WWII, particularly during the early parts of the War. Also, it was the only major power that escaped destruction.
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Old 03-09-2004, 12:09 AM
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Rarely can it be said that a nation was DESTINED for greatness, simply by virtue of its geography or population.

Fact of the matter is that there are lots of factors that can make a nation stronger, but in almost every case great nations are built by great leaders (relative to their peers), men (and women-theoretically) that are able to tame the aristocrats, control the army, unify the state, inspire the people, and install a government that can carry out their vision for the continued greatness of the nation.
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  #19  
Old 03-09-2004, 02:09 AM
bookbuster bookbuster is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
Samuel Huntington is an idiot, and the Clash of Civilizations theory is essentially a big lie designed to keep American policymakers in a Cold War mindset. Huntington and his ideas have no place in the twenty-first century, no matter how much he tarts them up to make the appear fresh and modern; the bipolar order of international power politics is gone, and won't come back no matter how hard Washington think tanks wish for it.
Damnit Damnit Damnit. I was saying to myself before I used the quote - "maybe I should check this guy out to see who he actually is before posting." Nah. Too lazy.


Didn't know he had that clash of civilizations idea. I agree that is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.




/lesson learned
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Old 03-09-2004, 03:06 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookbuster
Damnit Damnit Damnit. I was saying to myself before I used the quote - "maybe I should check this guy out to see who he actually is before posting." Nah. Too lazy.

Didn't know he had that clash of civilizations idea. I agree that is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

/lesson learned
You should feel neither stupid nor naive for buying what he's selling.

a) he does sneak in a good point here and there, and

b) some very important people subscribe wholeheartedly to his views.

To those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Samuel Huntington is a foreign policy wonk who came up with the idea that the Islamic world and China would band together to fight the West. He makes his theories plausible by lumping entire continents into a group of seven "civilizations" (as well as a few sub-civilizations, like Africa). The general rub is that the Cold War mindset which led to NATO and the EU and similar institutions is a good thing and ought to be retained, because when the Chinese and the Arabs attack we'll need it.

His ideas are stupid because a) his civilizations are often connected by geography or a language and nothing else, and b) the Chinese and the "Islamic world" (as if such a thing existed in united form) each have as much in common with the West as they do with each other, and c) because his ideas are essentially based around preserving an old world order completely at odds with the reality of modern international relations.

I was a little harsh when I called him an idiot, because he has done some remarkable things, and at the close of the Cold War his theories were mostly spot-on. Idiots aren't generally named President of the American Political Science Association. Still, the whole Clash of Civilizations concept is at best inaccurate, and at worst a lie being parroted to preserve the status quo.
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  #21  
Old 03-09-2004, 07:35 AM
js_africanus js_africanus is offline
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How about The Protestant Work Ethic?

:flees room:
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  #22  
Old 03-09-2004, 08:29 AM
notquitekarpov notquitekarpov is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
Take that, add to it.....snip..... an immigration policy second to none in accepting new people (yet always chronically short).....snip......and you have what Tony Bruno calls a stonecold leadpipe lock.
Interesting bias that - having an immegration policy giving preference to short people. So, can we say that the power of America was built on dwarves? Would that then be a case of "giants standing on the shoulders of dwarves" to misquote Newton?

But seriously and back to the OP, I am interested that nobody had mentioned the contributory factor of your Civil War. I read somewhere that by the time that finished a breakneck industrialisation of the country (well the North anyway) had taken place which already put the USA in first place economically in the world. It was just they did not realize their latent power until WW1.

Could having a Civil War just when warfare was becoming industrialised, and requiring the whole (man)power of the country, might have been (economically) a benefit in disguise?

If so I suspect the WW1 and WW2 just pushed that process on.

Good thread this though - some very stimulating views!
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  #23  
Old 03-09-2004, 08:38 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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Don't run too fast. If you remove "Protestant" from the phrase, you've hit on what I believe is an essential component of nation-building...a motivated and industrious populace. I don't think that Protestants have an exclusive franchise on the concept, but there is plenty of irrefutable evidence that the work ethic was a huge factor in the move west in the 18th and 19th centuries. What happened to the economy in the Soviet Union further proves my point. If the people don't care, they will not be productive. No productivity means a dying economy.
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  #24  
Old 03-09-2004, 09:18 AM
KidCharlemagne KidCharlemagne is offline
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At the risk of seeming incredibly un-PC: Think of the guts and willingness to tolerate uncertainty and risk that it would require to come to a country that you
knew virtually nothing about. Think of the willingness to grab the bull by the horns and take initiative to improve one's lot in life. These are the same traits that are needed to succeed in business. The USA is the end point of a certain selection process that weeds out, or at least keeps out, people without these traits. The early USA was essentially an "entrepreneur drain" on Western and Eastern Europe, China, etc..
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Old 03-09-2004, 12:22 PM
Farmwoman Farmwoman is offline
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I don't think that's un-pc at all. For the first couple of centuries all but the native population was selected based on character traits well suited for progress.

What I really wanted to add is somewhat related: I think the rise of the US is largely a result of timing. The nation was (is) young at a time when the world experienced an uprecedented rate of change. Granted, some of this change, like the revival of democracy, was nurtured in-house, but I believe the absence of an old-world paradigm allowed for spectacular innovation and a culture of self-serving adaptation.
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Old 03-09-2004, 02:18 PM
JohnT JohnT is offline
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Also, this seeming "rise from nowhere" is something that has happened elsewhere... Japan itself went through two phases of industrialization (1870-1940, 1946-today) and enrichment, while China is currently undergoing the process of re-awakening that the West has feared since Napoleon. How the US and Europe respond to the rise of an Asia (and eventually Africa) wanting to flex her global muscles is going to be the story of the 21st century.

What is interesting is that Asia will gain her power by the very means that gave the world to the Europeans: scientific research, technical application, rational methods of organization and distribution, and financial sophistication. Whether Democracy and human rights will be involved in Asia's growth is another matter - I think we were rather fortunate in that regard, imho.

Here's a thought: think about how America would've been different if we had published the Declaration in 1848 (year of the Communist Manifesto), fought the british for 7 years, and then found our country upon the principles of Marx and Hegel?
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  #27  
Old 03-09-2004, 11:52 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
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A lot of small advantages, compounded over a very long time.

The U.S. has maintained a more dynamic, more competitive, more efficient economy than other countries, mostly through having a more limited government role and giving markets more ability to work.

A difference in 1-2% productivity growth per year, compounded over 100 years, will result in a large gap.
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  #28  
Old 03-10-2004, 12:32 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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We got lucky to start with. The nation was founded on a big continent full of fertile land, a variety of natural resources, and natives who were unable to resist when we took it.

Second step was being the right distance to the rest of the Western world. Close enough to pick up what we wanted (culture, trade opportunities, immigrants. etc.) but far enough we could ignore what we wanted to (wars, Marxism, smelly cheese, etc.).

Then once we had a good set-up, we held an open house. The people who imigrated to America tended to be the ones with initiative - the ones that were willing to settle for what they had stayed home.
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Old 03-10-2004, 07:33 AM
Evil One Evil One is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnT
Here's a thought: think about how America would've been different if we had published the Declaration in 1848 (year of the Communist Manifesto), fought the british for 7 years, and then found our country upon the principles of Marx and Hegel?

Then the American economy would have collapsed around the time the Nazis were rising to power and we would all be speaking German as a second language.
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  #30  
Old 03-10-2004, 08:57 AM
Odesio Odesio is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dogface
The USA did so very well not only because it had lots of land, resources on same land, and lots of people on that land, but also because, during some very important periods, there was nobody around that had both desire and a practical chance of knocking the USA back. Mexico couldn't.
During the 1840's Mexico had a decently trained professional army. So I'd say Mexico had a chance to knock the USA out of the running during the Mexican American War. England had a chance to do it during the War of 1812. Had the British won the Battle of New Orleans we might live in a very different country.

Marc
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