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Old 08-08-2002, 10:22 PM
syncrolecyne syncrolecyne is offline
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Are Are any "Western" or Christian countries more conservative than the USA?

By conservative I mean not only politically but more in terms of cultural and social attitudes toward sexuality, religion, and the like.

I get the impression, especially here, that in terms of acceptance of various features ranging from mild nudity on television to public breastfeeding to "underage" drinking; the United States is seen as hoplessly puritanical by the rest of the Western World; who seem to believe that they are long past hang ups over such trivial issues of modesty.

The way some people seem to portray it, next to the Netherlands or Sweden; the United States seems more akin to the Muslim world when it comes to certain aspects of public morality. Are there any other western countries which have these sorts of 'culture wars', on everything from Harry Potter to topless sunbathing?

By the way, I suppose the definition of "western country" is a debate unto itself...

Last edited by tomndebb; 02-12-2013 at 06:27 PM. Reason: This ZOMBIE thread was revived after ten and a half years in Post #50.
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Old 08-08-2002, 10:36 PM
Lumpy Lumpy is offline
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A lot of Latin American countries have somewhat schizoid attitudes towards sexuality. Depending on the circumstances they have both a lot of promiscuity AND puritanism. Basicly a war between what's "proper" and what "everyone does", especially for women.

American Catholics have a reputation for being much less hampered by Church rulings than many predominately Catholic countries. Ireland still makes it pretty tough for women seeking abortions for example.

In some countries with a strong culture of "machismo", murdering an adulterous wife is considered justifiable killing, at least unofficially.
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Old 08-08-2002, 10:49 PM
Sparc Sparc is offline
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You can safely put your bets that most every European country looks pretty much like a quaint and benign version of Sodom and Gomorra from an American moral majority perspective.

Especially the prudish aspects of American culture is one of the things that Europeans take great glee in snickering at behind American’s backs.

All that being said its not really viewed with any derision and strangely America is also considered the bastion of hedonistic debauchery, There is a perceived double standard that somehow is intricately woven into the stereotype image Europeans sometimes hold of America.

I guess it’s the paradox of a much higher degree of libertarianism and a far more rigid morality that dumbfounds a socially constrained but morally liberated European.

You’ve actually struck at one of the major cultural conflicts there is between our proud Unions.

Sparc
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Old 08-08-2002, 11:05 PM
syncrolecyne syncrolecyne is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lumpy
A lot of Latin American countries have somewhat schizoid attitudes towards sexuality. Depending on the circumstances they have both a lot of promiscuity AND puritanism. Basicly a war between what's "proper" and what "everyone does", especially for women.

.
I do know Latin America is pretty divided; Brazil strikes me as an anything goes place - but I think Chile still has laws prohibiting divorce. I have lived in Mexico myself so I know all about that double standard on sex - which still exists in a milder form in the USA.
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Old 08-09-2002, 12:36 AM
GingerOfTheNorth GingerOfTheNorth is offline
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I have recently moved to the Eastern US, after being born and raised in Canada. I'm going to firmly say that Canada is more conservative in many ways, but more open in others.
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Old 08-09-2002, 02:11 AM
ruadh ruadh is offline
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Ireland is quite conservative in a lot of ways. Birth control and divorce were only legalised within the past generation; abortion is still illegal and will most likely remain so for a long time to come. Nudity is OK on television but there are far more restrictions on pornography and things like stripping or lapdancing than there are in the US.
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Old 08-09-2002, 02:18 AM
CyberPundit CyberPundit is offline
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In terms of actual policy some part of Europe may be more socially conservative than the US. In addition to Ireland, as ruadh mentioned , perhaps Bavaria (in Germany) when it comes to issues like abortion and separation of church and state in public schools. I am not sure though.

And of course in the US itself there are huge difference between different regions and cities.
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Old 08-09-2002, 06:53 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Well, Vatican City, I'd presume, but I guess that's not the type of country you were thinking of.

I'd say you'd pretty much have to rule all of Europe out; especially if you're talking about nudity. Typically conservative countries in Europe include Austria (Jorg Haider, anyone), Bavaria and a smattering of others depending on your definition. Switzerland can be construed as conservative. Scandinavians accuse their countries of being conservative in many ways, despite the commie-pinko image they seem to get in the States.
Britian can be a bit uptight when it comes to sexual mores, but nudity isn't that big a deal. Many tabloid papers have a page-3 girl (topless chick on page 3) which serves no editorial purpose.

Here in Budapest, for example, I have to pay to get HBO, but my normal cable package includes hard-core pornography from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. Topless beaches are generally no big deal; women routinely sunbathe topless in our equivalent of Central Park (Mararet Island.) Even in the more conservative parts of Germany, fully nude spas are not at all uncommon. Europeans in general have a more relaxed and, IMHO, much healthier attitude toward the human body.

Everywhere I've ever been in Europe, alcohol laws are also much more relaxed. 18 is the official drinking age in most European countries, but this (from what I've seen) is rarely enforced. I've seen 14-year-olds buying hard liquor without any problem. I have never heard of anyone being carded. Plus, drinking alcohol in a public area is usually ok. In Scotland, I would routinely drink a beer or two on a long bus trip. In the States, forget it. You'll get kicked off. Here I can walk down the street with a beer and not have to worry about a cop citing me. Makes it fun when I forget about these laws and go back to the States.
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Old 08-09-2002, 07:52 AM
Hemlock Hemlock is offline
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The answer is pretty simple - there are 2 USAs. Look at a map of who voted Democrat and who voted Republican in the last general election. The big cosmopoltan cities around the coastal areas are at least as laid back and liberal as the trendy bits of Europe (in practice). The rural heartland is god-fearing and - what did Tom Lehrer say? "in the land of the boll weavil, where the laws are medieval..."

There are some seriously conservative places in the UK (bits of N Ireland and Wales), and I think in Germany, Greece, etc - in their own ways But I've never seen guys masturbating in the street except in Dupont Circle, DC (OK, at halloween). The problem is that people over-generalize (like Sparc with his obsession about "our unions".) There's even less of a Europe than there is a USA.
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Old 08-09-2002, 08:40 AM
Sparc Sparc is offline
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Fantastically enough I agree with you Hemlock, and for once the jab is well taken, but you do know that my constant hammering ‘the Union’ is more agitprop than anything else.

That being said, the general level of admissibility of nudity, sexual references and so on is significantly higher in Europe. References to violence, or depiction of violence on the other hand are generally more restricted.

The issue of religion varies dramatically across Europe; the big general difference lies in how acceptable it is to mix politics and religion. Any European politician that routinely ended public address with; "God bless you," would be pretty short lived.

Other things that are on average more accepted are abortion, homosexuality and drug use, but once again this varies dramatically across regions. For instance as far as drug use goes; Sweden is far, far more conservative than the US and has the most harsh drug laws in the Western World.

Bavaria was mentioned… yes we are the bastion of conservatism, but on the same token we are the bastion of eccentricity and libertarianism. A walk in Munich’s inner city park the English Gardens (the biggest inner city park in the world BTW) on a warm sunny day will entail meeting a fair amount of people walking around in their birthday suits, right in the middle of the city. There is even a tram line were you are allowed to ride one stop naked since it connects two points along the Isar river were you jump in, let the stream take you on a fun ride of about one kilometer and then either walk or tram it back (for obvious reasons this portion of the tram line is free of charge). Munich also has the second largest gay community in Germany. Meanwhile the crucifixes won’t come off the classroom walls, drug possession and open use is far more restricted than in the rest of Germany and an abortion requires so much paperwork that many girls go out of state to have it done.

Sparc
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Old 08-09-2002, 08:55 AM
pldennison pldennison is offline
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My impression from the month I recently spent in Germany, and in conversation with locals and my co-workers, is that both cultures perceive each other as hopelessly conservative in some cases and hopelessly libertine in others.

The nudity/sex question has already been addressed at length, but in most ways, Germans are less hung up about it than Americans are. After 10 p.m., full-frontal male and female nudity was not at all uncommon on television, nor was at least softcore pornography of the Skinemax/Showtime variety. (And even raunchier, in some cases.)

One program, a variety-type show, had an act on that I could never imagine seeing on American cable television, including pay-per-view. It involved two men who appeared completely nude, and used their genitals to "do impersonations." This involved grabbing and pulling on their penises and their scrotums to arrange them in different shapes. They even got volunteers from the audience to help them out.

Not to mention the legalized prostitution in Germany. Right in the center of Frankfurt, just a few blocks from the Hauptbanhof and within walking distance of the business district, are brothels called "Eros Centers," brimming with prostitutes. There are also private "nudist clubs" in Germany, called FKK Clubs, which are essentially brothels.

But in other ways, there were some very conservative practices. The shops in Frankfurt close early during the week, at 7:00 p.m. That's everything -- grocery stores, shopping malls, general stores, the works. If you want to shop, you do it during work, usually at lunch. (And everybody takes lunch.) On Saturdays, hours are short, like 11:00 - 6:00. On Sundays, most everything is closed, except restaurants. It's much like the "blue laws" in some American towns.
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Old 08-09-2002, 08:58 AM
TwistofFate TwistofFate is offline
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Ireland is still struggling to come out of the shackles of a Nanny-state.

at least I freaking well hope it is.
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Old 08-09-2002, 09:16 AM
Neidhart Neidhart is offline
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What about Spain and Portugal? They had the reputation of being pretty conservative countries, at least when I was young.
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Old 08-09-2002, 09:34 AM
Sparc Sparc is offline
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Re Portugal and Spain. Very mixed Neidhart. Portugal has the most lax drug laws in the EU, curfews on bars and restaurants don't exist, and the minor laws for drinking are more or less not applied. Nudity on TV is OK. Meanwhile the country remains pretty Catholic in respects extra-marital sex, abortions etc. etc. You can say that it's all along Hemlock's and my proposed double standards. Spain is pretty much the same.

BTW Hemlock, I already agreed with you in my first post if you read carefully. I was attempting to expose the stereotypes, not trying to perpetuate them; maybe I wasn't very clear though.

Law restricts opening hours in Germany. Weekdays no shops can only be open till 8 PM. Saturdays till 4 PM and Sundays you are not aloud to transact business except in the form of certain services like serving food and beverages or provide sexual services.

Which leads to the topic of brothels; yes it is legal in Germany, albeit regulated in as much as that a prostitute must register with the state, have a clean bill of health and may only provide her services under organized circumstances without solicitation. Hence the brothels are sort of franchises with each prostitute being his/her own business of sorts. Much abuse exists though and most recently a whole ring of forced prostitution involving slave trade with the Eastern European states was uncovered - real 19th century stuff. Zoning laws for how brothels are aloud to be situated vary across the federation. In Bavaria you are not aloud to run a brothel within a city perimeter for instance.

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Old 08-09-2002, 09:42 AM
Sparc Sparc is offline
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Allowed goddamn it…I hate when I spell the wrong word right so that the spell check doesn’t help my addled brain the way it should.
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Old 08-09-2002, 12:05 PM
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The fact that half the time American conservatives are railing against Big Government restrictions and half the time they're clamping down on things like sex really calls into question what "conservative" even means.
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Old 08-09-2002, 12:14 PM
Mandelstam Mandelstam is offline
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I dunno, sqweels, paradoxical though it may seem, I think you've nailed one very prominent strain of US conservatism: you relegate economic affairs to the workings of the so-called free market, but you police private morality in whatever fashion you can.
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Old 08-09-2002, 12:19 PM
Sparc Sparc is offline
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You might want to separate it down to fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and reactionaries (neo-conservatives). I for instance am a fiscal conservative a social liberal and hence conservative centrist by American standards and libertarian by European standards.

I deplore the moral majority attitude, while I hail anything that streamlines government.

The division of politics into Conservative and Liberal has long since stopped making sense if you ask me.

Sparc
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Old 08-09-2002, 12:23 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sparc

Law restricts opening hours in Germany. Weekdays no shops can only be open till 8 PM. Saturdays till 4 PM and Sundays you are not aloud to transact business except in the form of certain services like serving food and beverages or provide sexual services.
Goodness, I've never heard of blue laws that left a loophole for sex trade work! When I was in England it was very frustrating to all of us Americans that there was nothing to do on Sundays; perhaps we should have gone to Germany instead.
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Old 08-09-2002, 12:56 PM
Hamish Hamish is offline
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I've often wondered why our neighbours to the south are so socially conservative.

I live in a country that's on the verge of approving gay marriage. Meanwhile, down south, homosexual sex is still illegal in several states.

We have gays in the military. We have women in combat positions in the military.

We settled the "socialized medecine" debate quite some time ago.

A politician's sex life is unlikely to affect his or her chances of re-election.

Environmental issues are taken much more seriously in Canada.

We're very, very slowly legalizing marijuana.

All of which puts us in stark contrast with our nearest neighbours. So does anyone know why America is one leap to the right of (most) of the rest of the Western World?
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Old 08-09-2002, 02:52 PM
Mr_Friendly Mr_Friendly is offline
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id guess the federal system allows more diversity as matters of policy can be set at a lower level and hence can more easily reflect local attitudes. or the cynic in me just says americans are slower than the rest of us. *ducks and covers*
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Old 08-09-2002, 04:00 PM
ElJeffe ElJeffe is offline
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It seems to me that America, generally speaking, tries to make sure that it can accomodate a wide variety of tastes. A lot of people don't want their kids seeing nudity all over the place. A lot of people don't care. So we have basic cable, where nudity is verboten, and pay channels and movies and such where you can see all manner of sexual frivolity. If anybody in the US wants to get their rocks, they can find all manner of twisted crap catering to pretty much any fetish. But if you don't want to have anything to do with that, it's comparitively easy to avoid it.

Also, as Hemlock mentioned, there are different levels of sexual accomodation depending on where you live. Don't care if you see porno mags and naked postcards being peddled on the street? Live in San Francisco or LA. Don't care for that stuff? Move to a smaller community. I've never been to Europe, but is it safe to assume that similar situations exist in many of those countries? There are more and less sexuality-oriented regions to live in?


Jeff
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Old 08-09-2002, 09:38 PM
Mersavets Mersavets is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by pldennison
One program, a variety-type show, had an act on that I could never imagine seeing on American cable television, including pay-per-view. It involved two men who appeared completely nude, and used their genitals to "do impersonations." This involved grabbing and pulling on their penises and their scrotums to arrange them in different shapes. They even got volunteers from the audience to help them out.
Sounds like Puppetry of the Penis. They're Australian.
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Old 08-09-2002, 11:34 PM
GingerOfTheNorth GingerOfTheNorth is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Hamish
We have gays in the military. We have women in combat positions in the military.
Not only does Canada allow gays in the military, but it provides same-sex benefits to those employed by the federal government, including the military. As well, there is a Captain in the Canadian Army (unfortunately his name escapes me, but he was Francophone) who joined up as a man, and had sex-reassignment surgery covered under his medical benefits provided by the military. And then, he retained his job after recuperation.

Tell me that's not liberal - but then try to find a condom commercial on Canadian TV.
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Old 08-10-2002, 12:22 AM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Re: Are Are any "Western" or Christian countries more conservative than the USA?

Quote:
Originally posted by cuate
The way some people seem to portray it, next to the Netherlands or Sweden; the United States seems more akin to the Muslim world when it comes to certain aspects of public morality.
As a whole, I wouldn't be so certain that the Netherlands is without a significant contingent of conservatism. I say this because I'm from a very large extended family with many members in the Netherlands ( I was raised in Canada) and they are all deeply influenced by Calvinism. In my youth I was not allowed to dance, go to movies (shouldn't support the wicked actors/actresses), work on Sunday, join a union etc. As I young kid I was commanded to separate myself from the "world". I ended up feeling I was very special and different from my Canadian classmates. As a result of the death of my mother when I was a teen and the subsequent rejection of Calvinism by my father, I was able to break free from the mindset that controlled us.

But the Calvinists, although constantly talking about what is wrong with the "world" never make any effort to participate in the political arena. And growing up in Canada in the 50s and 60s, I was surprised to learn that the country which spawned Playboy magazine, I am Curious Yellow, Mondo Kane also had many citizens who were deeply religious and increasingly flexing their muscles politically. Still, I don't think they are as puritanical as the Dutch Calvinists I know.

So I suspect that most western countries have their fair share of Christian zealots/fundamentalists, but in America they are much more political. Seems rather ironic in view of thier constitution, separation of church and state et al.
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Old 08-10-2002, 10:10 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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going to malta next week.
can't sunbathe topless.

bummer.

very strongly catholic island.
  #27  
Old 08-10-2002, 10:36 AM
sailor sailor is offline
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I have heard Malta is a beautiful place. Not that I would have any interest in discouraging topless bathing by pretty girls but I wonder what makes half of northern Europeans flock down to the Med to roast in the sun and acquire tickets for skin cancer. I know a woman who must be about 40 but her skin is that of a 60 year old because it is so wrinkled and leathery, the result of years of "sunbathing". Enjoy Malta, but take good care of yourself.
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Old 08-10-2002, 01:02 PM
Hamish Hamish is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by GingerOfTheNorth
Tell me that's not liberal - but then try to find a condom commercial on Canadian TV.


I've seen quite a few -- on Muchmusic, and on CBC during Degrassi.

It depends on where you are, I guess.
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Old 08-11-2002, 12:08 AM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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What Hamish said. In particular, "We settled the "socialized medecine" debate quite some time ago. "

As did the remainder of the industrialized world. On this basis alone, the US qualifies as very conservative.

-flowbark, centrist by European standards, right side of far left by US standards.
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Old 08-11-2002, 12:37 PM
Milossarian Milossarian is offline
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cuate:
Quote:
I do know Latin America is pretty divided; Brazil strikes me as an anything goes place

Not as much as you might think, from seeing scenes of, say, Carnaval in Rio. Get outside the big cities, and it's not exactly puritanical by any means, but more conservative. Not too different from the U.S.

And Rio is much more "anything goes" than Sao Paulo. Most parts of Brazil don't celebrate Carnaval the way Rio does. It's more a traditional, folklore, street dance type of thing.

Nudity is a bit more common on television. Sexual references are more loose in things like commercials. You'll have as much difficulty finding a topless beach there as you would in the U.S., despite what the Western perception is. But yeah; the bikinis are tiny.

As Lumpy said, most all of Latin America has that machismo thing going on. And the dichotomy of being 90-plus percent Catholic, yet sexually liberal. Extra-marital affairs on the part of men are almost expected. But they are still expected to be kept discreet.

Good girls don't; but the men there would be lost if that idea was adhered to.

I don't think there's a place on the planet that doesn't have inconsistency in its social mores.

And no, I don't know of another Western nation more socially conservative than the USA. Did America become a superpower because of its social conservatism, especially over its first 150 years or so? Or did it become one after things started loosening up? Kind of interesting to think about.
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Old 08-11-2002, 08:47 PM
Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is online now
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Did America become a superpower because of its social conservatism, especially over its first 150 years or so? Or did it become one after things started loosening up?

I honestly am not sure whether the US was more conservative than Europe during its first 150 years.

I would be inclined to make left/right comparisons only after, say ~1880. YMMV.
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Old 08-12-2002, 11:52 AM
ElJeffe ElJeffe is offline
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Quote:
Did America become a superpower because of its social conservatism, especially over its first 150 years or so? Or did it become one after things started loosening up?
The US didn't become what most would consider a "super-power" until after WWII, mostly due to fears about communist expansion. We recognized communism as a threat, and saw the USSR's desire to expand its borders, and realized how disastrous it would be if communism were allowed to become wide-spread. This caused as to beef up our military, and take a more active role in worldwide peace-keeping; prior to WWII, the US had been pretty isolationist.

As to whether or not this was the result of increased conservatism? Hard to say, but I would think not. Conservatism is typically pretty laissez faire about most things, which would seem to explain better our world outlook *prior* to WWII - doesn't concern us, not our problem, we'd probably only much up the works if we got involved - a good philosophy in general, but we took it to extremes. It's true that nowadays conservatism is associated with strong military, but I'm not enough of a social historian to say if this has always been the case.

Jeff
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Old 08-12-2002, 01:18 PM
IzzyR IzzyR is offline
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Question

I have a good friend who is British and whose wife is French and is very familiar with both countries, and has lived in the US for some time now. He tells me that a fundamental difference between the US and Europe is how seriously people take their (ostensible) ideals. Specifically that Europeans talk the talk but don't walk the walk, while Americans do.

Thoughts?
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Old 08-12-2002, 03:39 PM
pldennison pldennison is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by flowbark
What Hamish said. In particular, "We settled the "socialized medecine" debate quite some time ago. "

As did the remainder of the industrialized world. On this basis alone, the US qualifies as very conservative.
Well, it is worth noting that Europe and Canada have been able to devote money to that and other social programs because they haven't had to spend as much money on defense for the last 50+ years. Since the American armed forces spent the postwar period, up until the Warsaw Pact imploded, protecting Europe with what was essentially an occupying force, Europe was free to devote its financial resources elsewhere. And Canada has benefitted from both the large number of forces stationed at home and our nuclear arsenal.
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Old 08-12-2002, 08:13 PM
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>> Specifically that Europeans talk the talk but don't walk the walk, while Americans do.

Funny you should say this because just recently we were discussing western values and how the US likes to preach them in China and other places but then turns around and will not cooperate with the ICC, the protocol for prisons inspections to prevent torture and stuff like that. It seems to me Europeans are the ones walking the walk and not the US.

On a different note: Today an Iberia ("a wing and a prayer") Airlines 747 had one of the motor catch fire shortly after takeoff from JFK so they had to turn around and return. The passengers had to jump out on the chutes and some were injured. A TV crew was interviewing a young Spanish woman and she said "Well, yes, there was tension and we were a bit scared but on the whole people were calm. . . except for a crazy American woman who started chanting "Halleluja, praise the Lord' and stuff like that".

I'm telling you, if a woman seated next to me starts doing that, I punch her so hard she's not going to feel like saying anything for a while. What a jerk. Just what you need in an emergency landing is a crazy woman who thinks she is preparing to die and cannot do it quietly.
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Old 08-12-2002, 09:27 PM
Neurotik Neurotik is offline
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Of course, Mandelstam, one could ponder the other way...did Europe lose its influence because of its social conservatism, especially over its last 150 years or so? Or did it lost it after things started loosening up?

Anyway, my guess is that during the up until about WWII, US and European social morality was roughly equal. It's really only in the post-war period that the two have begun to seriously diverge.
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Old 08-12-2002, 09:37 PM
matt_mcl matt_mcl is offline
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Someone asked about Spain. My mom was worried too, but then one must remember that she had last been there thirty years ago, and we all know who was in power then. Since Franco's death, the destape has greatly opened up Spanish culture, especially in the cities and especially in (say) Catalonia, which was always very anti-Franco anyway. Madrid has an amazing village (Chueca) and a 500,000-strong pride parade, and Barcelona has an immense gay population and is just minutes away from the Provincetown of the Mediterranean (Sitges). I was much more comfortable being openly gay in Spain, even in the fairly conservative Castillian capital Valladolid, than I would have been just about anywhere in the US.
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Old 08-14-2002, 01:24 AM
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pldennison
Well, it is worth noting that Europe and Canada have been able to devote money to that and other social programs because they haven't had to spend as much money on defense for the last 50+ years.

Worth noting. Worth downplaying.

1) Much of US military spending reflected the conservatism of the American people, relative to the rest of the world. Reagan's military buildup, where spending topped 6% of GDP during peacetime, might be an example of this. It is not clear for example that the US needed the MX Missile, the B1 Bomber and the neutron bomb to contain the Soviets.

1b) It might be argued that the US stood up to its international responsibilities in a way that Europe did not, so that enhanced US military spending indeed reflects a true lefty or at least liberal outlook. I'm dubious, but I think that's the sort of argument you would have to make to assert that the US is not far-far to the right of the rest of the world.

2) I agree that enhanced US military spending crowded out spending on social programs and private investment for that matter. I dispute the notion that it played a key role in blocking Universal Health Care though. A look at the National Accounts is revealing.

Spending on various items, as a share of GDP, 1993
Code:
Item               USA     France     Germany     Sweden      UK
Tax Revenues      .30       .44          .39        .50       .34
Military Expendit .05       .03          .02        .03       .04

Health Expendit   .14      .10          .09         .08       .07
(1994)

Life Expectancy    76         78.4        76         78.1       76.4
(1996)

Infant Mortality   6.7       6.2          6.0         4.5       6.4
While US military spending exceeded that of our NATO partners by 1 or 3 percentage points of GDP, US taxes (and therefore total spending was 4-14 percentage points lower. (Sorry I don't have spending figures handy.) So you can't blame our big guns on our aversion to butter.

Moreover, the US health care system results in more spending (as a share of GDP) and worse health outcomes (as measured by life expectancy and infant mortality).

In other words the US's aversion to socialized medicine results in more resources devoted to health care with worse health outcomes at a national level. This isn't surprising, as duplicative paperwork, malpractice, etc. drives up health costs, while inability to pay for care drives down outcomes. Again, I would say that the health care situation alone demonstrates the pronounced rightward slant of US society, relative to the remainder of the industrialized world, at the cost of human life. zing!
  #39  
Old 08-14-2002, 04:02 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Though it's true that the large coastal cities (and I think in this sense one can also include Chicago), cultural attitudes are more relaxed than in the interior. But even in L.A. or N.Y.C. the differences between Europe and the U.S. in this regard can be very stark. In all of L.A. County, from the end of Malibu to Seal Beach, we have miles and miles of beach, and not a foot of it where one is allowed to go nude. There are a few places where people traditionally "get away" with it, but these are patrolled and people do get citations. If you're female, you can get away with a tiny nearly-nude type of swimsuit, and no one will --ahem--bat an eye, but if you're a male and try to do the same, people will snicker and assume you're gay, or some type of perverted exhibitionist.
  #40  
Old 08-14-2002, 08:58 PM
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I suspect that coastal Democratic Senators Diane Feinstein, Maria Cantwell, Joseph Lieberman, Christopher Dodd, etc. would all be comfortable in a European center-right party.
  #41  
Old 08-15-2002, 05:53 PM
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I would argue that the U.S. has a generally more "liberal" attitude toward long-term immigrants than does the European West. In some Western (otherwise) Democracies you can literally NEVER become a citizen even unto third generation in country. FWIW and very unscientifically, I have anecdotally heard two or three times from immigrants who had been in Eurpoe first that the U.S. is more open and accommodating toward them than European countries, especially as far as the “people on the ground” go. I have not heard the reverse but this IS anecdotal & not scientific, more IMO.
  #42  
Old 08-16-2002, 02:33 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by pldennison
My impression from the month I recently spent in Germany, and in conversation with locals and my co-workers, is that both cultures perceive each other as hopelessly conservative in some cases and hopelessly libertine in others.

The nudity/sex question has already been addressed at length, but in most ways, Germans are less hung up about it than Americans are. After 10 p.m., full-frontal male and female nudity was not at all uncommon on television, nor was at least softcore pornography of the Skinemax/Showtime variety. (And even raunchier, in some cases.)

One program, a variety-type show, had an act on that I could never imagine seeing on American cable television, including pay-per-view. It involved two men who appeared completely nude, and used their genitals to "do impersonations." This involved grabbing and pulling on their penises and their scrotums to arrange them in different shapes. They even got volunteers from the audience to help them out.

Not to mention the legalized prostitution in Germany. Right in the center of Frankfurt, just a few blocks from the Hauptbanhof and within walking distance of the business district, are brothels called "Eros Centers," brimming with prostitutes. There are also private "nudist clubs" in Germany, called FKK Clubs, which are essentially brothels.

But in other ways, there were some very conservative practices. The shops in Frankfurt close early during the week, at 7:00 p.m. That's everything -- grocery stores, shopping malls, general stores, the works. If you want to shop, you do it during work, usually at lunch. (And everybody takes lunch.) On Saturdays, hours are short, like 11:00 - 6:00. On Sundays, most everything is closed, except restaurants. It's much like the "blue laws" in some American towns.
  #43  
Old 08-16-2002, 02:43 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is offline
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The hamsters must be getting tired, I just repeated someone's post!

I can't retype everything I said right now, but I wanted to say that I never thought that limited shop hours were an expression of conservatism. It just means that European retailers prefer to stand down on the evenings and weekends, and give everyone a break. Probably that's more liberal if anything.
  #44  
Old 08-16-2002, 03:18 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Javaman,



It depends. If the little shop at my street corner is closed is closed from noon to 3 pm, it's because the owner thinks it has more important things to do at this time than working and selling things. But if the large department store in downtown Paris is closed on sunday, it's because the law requires it (to protect the employees from being pressured into working during the week-end). Note that I do agree with this law, but it's certainly not liberalism (though it's not conservatism, either. Despite the sunday rest having its roots in christiannity, religion isn't the reason why these laws exist today).


Perhaps in the case of Germany (or at least some german landers which are rather conservative from a religious point of view) where this kind of laws tend to be stricter than in France, religion and conservatism play a more important part, though. I really don't know.
  #45  
Old 08-16-2002, 03:40 PM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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Concerning immigration, I'm not convinced it's a conservatism issue, but indeed it seems to me there are important differences in the way immigration is perceived. It doesn't seem to be an US vs Europe thing, though, but more something grounded in national cultural expectations. For instance, taking countries which have a large immigrant population, in my limited understanding, things work roughly this way :


-The UK seems to have a "communitarist" model. Immigrants can relatively easily become citizens, but would tend to live in somewhat separate communities, keeping their language, customs, etc...

-France would tend to have an "integration" model : citizenship is relatively easy to get too (jus soli, roughly similar to the US) but they're expected to become 100% french (socialy, culturaly, etc..) ASAP.

-Germany would have a "separatist" model : citizenship is difficult to obtain (jus sanguini), and immigrants aren't expected to become "germans".


Of course, these are gross generalizations, but law-makers as well as the population seem to have these models in mind when dealing with immigration issues or debatting about them.
  #46  
Old 08-16-2002, 03:48 PM
essohbee essohbee is offline
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While it is true the swedish laws regarding narcotics are quite strict it's otherwise a rather liberal country. After 10 pretty much anything goes on both state controlled and privately owned TV-stations. Seperation of state and church was completed in 2000. While there is a party with outspoken christian ideals, their support amongst the population is rather small. While we have high taxes and spend to much money on the defence it's worth noting that health care and all state controlled education is free.

Hmm.. what else? Through the years I've had sex ed. 4 times during school and the attitude towards youth sexuality is often very open. The age of consent is set to 15.

Next topic, gays. In Sweden gays can marry (or, rather, register partnership, it works as a marriage in all aspecs (IIRC) besides the fact that the church refuse to aknowledge it), they can do military service (which is still on conscription basis, although far from all have to do their service today) and they can adopt children. I also believe that officers are prohibited by the law to ask if a person is homosexual and if someone choose to come out, they are not removed from service.

Speaking of the military, women are allowed into all branches and different services, but it is on a voluantary basis to apply. Once they have applied they have all the rights and duties as everyone else doing military service.

And, oh, the death penalty is outlawed by the constitution.

I think, as someone put it, more conservative in some ways, less in others.
  #47  
Old 08-17-2002, 07:39 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is online now
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Quote:
Originally posted by GingerOfTheNorth
I have recently moved to the Eastern US, after being born and raised in Canada. I'm going to firmly say that Canada is more conservative in many ways, but more open in others.
Ginger, care to elaborate a bit? I'd be interested in hearing your views.
  #48  
Old 08-17-2002, 08:56 PM
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One element I'm curious about from people who know lots of places is censorship. Like the various German laws restricting Nazi refernces and symbols. Growing up with the old "I may hate what you say, but I'll fight for your right to say it " morality, it always seemed fairly restrictive. How do freedoms of speech compare in general.?
  #49  
Old 08-18-2002, 09:30 AM
clairobscur clairobscur is offline
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As far as I can tell, there's no country where freedom of speech is viewed with more reverence than in the US.
  #50  
Old 02-10-2013, 03:47 AM
PETG57 PETG57 is offline
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Most conservative christian country

Cyprus, a member of the EU in eastern Mediterranean, is by far the most conservative Christian country. The majority of Cypriots are Greek Orthodox. I consider it the Ïran of the Christian world".

Last edited by tomndebb; 02-12-2013 at 06:25 PM. Reason: This post revives a ZOMBIE thread from 2002.
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