Friday, August 28, 2009

The Tipping Point

I wonder how socialist a country has to be in order to be socialist. I mean, maybe we already are, and all this kerfluffle is wasted breath. What a relief that would be! We could all just acknowledge we're socialists, or else go underground and start to work on the great capitalist revolution. Now that's a delicious thought, isn't it? Capitalist revolutionaries? Stock brokers at the barricades, overturning file cabinets and setting them on fire! Throwing safe deposit boxes at the tanks!

Where was I?

Oh yes, the tipping point. Assuming we're still capitalist, will it be health insurance? Is that the deciding factor? How many corporations does the government have to bail out? Or is it total money spent versus number of corporate entities? I'm not sure. I've looked around at the conservative blogs, but can find nothing. You'd think they'd have a list. A guidebook.

Maybe even a threat level with its own color spectrum.

Part of the problem here, of course, is that socialism is just a word. It's never been clearly defined. Same as capitalism. It's more a matter of self-definition: we is this; they is that. As long as we are we and they are they, then this ain't that. And there can be no tipping point, but only the eternal threat of tipping.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

American Know-How

We're really proud of this. We don't seem to be very clear about the specifics (just try searching on 'american "know-how" ' and see what you get), but we're very clear that we have it and that it's American. A couple of points occur to me.

First, it's curious that people implicitly assume that American know-how magically evaporates in the halls of government. Indeed, "American know-how" (often presented as "good old American know-how") is set as the counterpoint to American government. American know-how exists in the individual, in the family, in the independent business, in corporate business -- everywhere, in fact, except in government. No one seems willing to explain this strange sociological phenomenon.

Second, I deeply object to the notion that "know-how" is American. This is an especially bizarre notion given that America is a nation of people from almost everywhere except America. So "know-how" cannot possibly be American, either in character or in location. Are we to believe that no one else on the planet is clever? Persistent? Resilient? Inventive?

I wonder if Russians speak of good old Russian know-how. Or if there's a similar phrase in Sri Lanka or Senegal or Luxembourg. (I actually would relish speaking of Luxembourgeois know-how). This is another instance of where nationalism is just plain wrong. Not just factually wrong but inimical to the human condition. Think how much better, how much healthier it would be to speak of human know-how. To do so would be to confer confidence upon all our brothers and sisters, not merely to those who happen to serve under the same flag.

I'll go on a nationalism rant another time.