July 21, 2004


I just added two new blogs to my blogroll: Bjørn Stærk and Baltic Blog. They are both great bloggers in their own right, but added to that is the fun of seeing the world from a different geographical perspective. In particular, I am interested in what I call fringe countries – countries that don’t fit into a super-national grouping (like Europe or Latin America) and aren’t big enough to be their own group (like the US, Japan, or China). Israel is a fringe county. So is Iceland. Finland is too, I was looking for a good Finnish blog for a while, and though Bryan Ashcroft helped me look, I didn’t find any. Well, now I have a blog from Estonia, which may be equally fringe (I don’t know yet). If you know of any good fringe-country blogs, please tell me about them!

Bjørn writes about Norway’s love-hate relationship with the US:

Also don't miss the story of how a travel article Bawer wrote for the New York Times in 2001, unremarkable except for a few unfavorable references to the level of service at the Norwegian farm he'd stayed at, made big news in Norway. Aftenposten's Washington correspondent Morten Fyhn wrote a front page story about it, the grumpy farmer became a media hero when he struck back at rude, vulgar Americans who came to his farm expecting McDonalds burgers. Morten Fyhn dug up a critical article on Norway's social democracy that Bawer had written for Cato, and could triumphantly reveal that Bawer "isn't just unhappy with the service in Flatdal, he dislikes most things about Norway". The image of the vulgar, fast-food eating American had been complemented by that of a "thundering", "condescending" conservative. A real farce.

My solution: First, admit to ourselves that the US is a great culture, with great art, learning and science. Second, to stop being so damn preoccupied with it and start building our own, even greater culture. Not just so we can win a p***ing context. Not a culture defined against whatever the Americans do, while copying them badly, but one that learns from what Americans do right, ignore all the rest, and politely try to outperform them at their own game. Embrace the America dominated global culture with all the awe it deserves - then set about to improve it.

You can find some of the same attitudes among some Israelis. The interesting thing is that it’s most prominently displayed on the far left – the same people who seem to hate Israeli culture too. Bjørn is right. The ones with the most respect for their own culture have least trouble liking another culture. The problem is that the left has purposely alienated themselves from humanity. They are alienationals. Maoz Azaryahu:

While most of the public is "national," the elite minority is what I call "alienational." Alienation is a built-in part of the Left. And what they're alienated from is common sense. Why does every peddler in the market understand more than many intellectuals? You could say that it's because the Left is evil. This isn't true. You could say that it's because the Left is stupid. Also not true. The problem is not with the "sense" - it's with the "common."

Posted by David Boxenhorn at July 21, 2004 11:28 PM
Comments & Trackbacks

At least the Norwegians were insulted by a real person, and not by a dog puppet.

Australia used to have a problem with this, but we seem to have mostly grown out of it.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at July 22, 2004 04:42 AM Permalink

What do you mean, Norway a fringe country? We're the center of the world!

Posted by: Bjørn Stærk at July 22, 2004 07:02 PM Permalink

× Network: