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gruff one

Culture in the U.S.

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12 minutes ago, gruff one said:

Not done, hoped you would have given me more time to read the whole book.

OK, if I misunderstood your post, I'm sorry.

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Posted (edited)

If there is a common culture in the US then it’s at a foundational level that we don’t even notice, like the ocean in which we swim, and it is also in common with the other western democratic societies, e.g. classic liberalism: agency of the individual, the right to be free of harm from others, a value/worth in each human life, self-determined government, freedom of thought and expression, moral judgment for those who harm others, responsibility for the vulnerable (e.g. parents for children), admiration for those who sacrifice for the common good, a tendency to materialism and consumerism.  Those aren’t absolutes for every individual but they’re so widely held that they represent a foundation for our culture.  We don’t even notice that we absorb these as young children.  But this common culture definitely does not extend to views on architecture, family structure, or any of the other things in the OP.

But beyond that deep foundation there absolutely are wide cultural gaps in the US.  The guns, gods & gays rednecks vs the latte-sipping, effete, woke vegans are exaggerated cliches, but they do anchor opposite ends of a spectrum.

I’ll echo @Wilbur in recommending Woodwards’s American Nations for a very throughtful treatment that’s anchored in history. 

Edited by Iskaral Pust

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The only common culture we have in the US is one of consumption, if you want to even call it that. 

Everything else is not particularly shared. From the value of work, to the value of individualism (there are a LOT of groups in the US who are not remotely into the kind of individualism espoused by neonazis), to the value of other actual people, to the value of gender, race, origin, language - these are such varied things that they are not the same. 

The idea that they are indeed the same is about as white supremacist as you can get - it entirely erases the existence of these cultures. 

I'd recommend everyone just put the white nationalist on ignore. 

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20 minutes ago, Fury Resurrected said:

I have not “integrated myself”. I was forced by economic circumstances that were engineered to create generational poverty for cultural holdouts to be integrated. The US culture, as evidenced by the ignorance of your original post- does not accept this and is not doing anything to change it at all. Tribal police cannot prosecute nonmembers (ie- white people) for felonies committed on the reservation. State and federal authorities do not take the jurisdiction only they can claim. Indigenous women suffer a 51% rape rate because of this loophole, which is a federal law. No amount of me suing or yelling or standing outside with a sign as you put it will change that the laws of this country are a tool of genocide against my culture.

Integrate, integration a bad choice of words, maybe accommodate? My point would be that the common culture of the US is what let's you be you. It's not a red/blue politician. Injustice is ongoing in this country. Is it getting better? I think so. Could it be better? I hope so.

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Do posters here not believe in common cultures for any country?  Do you also think there is no French culture or Brazilian or Canadian or Jamaican or any other culture that exists within the bounds of a nation state?  Or is it just America that has no common culture?   

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Just now, Cas Stark said:

Do posters here not believe in common cultures for any country?  Do you also think there is no French culture or Brazilian or Canadian or Jamaican or any other culture that exists within the bounds of a nation state?  Or is it just America that has no common culture?   

America has several common cultures in it. For that matter, so does Canada (with Quebec being quite different than the rest of Canada). There are some nations that are largely homogenous in culture, but that's certainly not going to be universally or even majority true.

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DMC, I used integration as a mixing together, assimilation as the denial and replacement of a culture.

Karlbear, you seem to have conflicting posts.

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1 hour ago, gruff one said:

Integrate, integration a bad choice of words, maybe accommodate? My point would be that the common culture of the US is what let's you be you. It's not a red/blue politician. Injustice is ongoing in this country. Is it getting better? I think so. Could it be better? I hope so.

Again, way off. Both red and blue are oppressive political regimes toward indigenous people. Neither red nor blue are cultures. Different cultures exist in this country, but they are not delineated by politics.

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1 hour ago, Cas Stark said:

Do posters here not believe in common cultures for any country?  Do you also think there is no French culture or Brazilian or Canadian or Jamaican or any other culture that exists within the bounds of a nation state?  Or is it just America that has no common culture?   

I've actually seen this opinion quite a lot on TikTok (when I stumble across the more tumblr-y portions), mostly by people lamenting being American and wishing they had a culture. Usually they are referencing things that either they do have but don't notice (ie a holiday that is commonly celebrated by many people, which they find amazing and novel in another culture but boring and drab in their own) or something like a traditional cultural garb or makeup which not every culture has anyway and which again they don't recognize in more familiar forms (like blue jeans).

It's really difficult to describe a culture that one is both part of and that has become somewhat dominant in the wider world. But I agree with the post above that if you think America doesn't have a culture, spend a long-ish chunk of time in another country and then come back. Or date someone from another country and realize how many things you have to explain to them and vice versa.

And of course just because something is part of a culture doesn't mean at all that everyone participates in it! For example, guns are 100% part of American culture, even though many many of us wish that they weren't. And we may not own guns ourselves or shoot guns, but they have a presence in our society that shapes our culture.

I dunno, like I said, it's hard to define. But I think there definitely is a real American culture, and the Red vs Blue thing is more a matter of subcultures.

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25 minutes ago, Fury Resurrected said:

Again, way off. Both red and blue are oppressive political regimes toward indigenous people. Neither red nor blue are cultures. Different cultures exist in this country, but they are not delineated by politics.

Back to the OP, I stated I didn't think there was a blue state or red state culture.

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Blue state vs red state is not a real thing, but urban vs rural is. And a lot of the critical swing state races were decided in the suburbs, which I guess is also its own sort of culture.

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18 minutes ago, gruff one said:

Back to the OP, I stated I didn't think there was a blue state or red state culture.

This really shouldn't be difficult. 

Are there bright cultural lines on the map of the United States such that everyone in the blue states behave one way and everyone in the red states behaves another way? No. Are there regional and local cultural differences in the United States? Obviously yes. 

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Cultural homogeneity has largely become an illusion in developed countries. If you can let go of the make-believe, you realize it's really a fractal, with the only convincing ensemble being the family (and then, not even all families).
The first reason for that is the diversity of cultural aspects available in a developed country, that has obliterated many of the traditions and rituals that could bind people together.
For instance, meal-taking was still a national ritual in France when I was a kid, one that largely transcended geographical and socio-economic boundaries. This "gastronomic meal" was included by UNESCO in the "intangible cultural heritage of Humanity" in 2010. Ironically, at that point it was already disappearing, with younger people turning to much lighter meals, especially international dishes like sushi (extremely popular in cities). While it's common to joke about French folks taking long lunch breaks, the reality is that the habit is being lost and most people at work will go for a sandwich or delivery these days. In a nutshell, there are now forms of international habits that trump tradition. More people watch Netflix than the traditional "national" TV channel(s) for instance.
Then there's the socio-economic dimension, which has always been underestimated. To stay with the "French gastronomic meal," the reality is that this was largely an upper-class and then a middle-class tradition, that was only emulated by the working classes in the 20th century (especially in the second half of the 20th century). Whatever impression of "cultural homogeneity" existed was really another national myth reinforced by two world wars. The reality was that the lives of working-class folk was always one thing, dependent on geography too (since working-class habits are reliant on cheaper options, themselves dependent on geography), while wealthier people had their own traditions, largely dependent on a specific type of education (that included much of what we think of as "culture", i.e. literary classics for instance).
Anyway, in my personal experience I've always had more in common with people of my age group and socio-economic class, almost regardless of their origin, then any random person from my own "nation." I could always relate better with working-class kids from Britain, Germany, or Spain, then upper-class French folks. For instance, when I worked for some months in DC, I remember the American I was most comfortable with was the one with a working-class background ; she'd got into uni with a grant, while others, being in prestigious unis like Georgetown, were actually from rather wealthy families. Second best was someone who had emigrated to the US from El Salvador, whose "culture," at a glance, was completely different from mine, and yet whose habits and thoughts were much closer to mine than wealthy people from my own country. In fact, I've remained in touch with my Salvadoran-American buddy through the years and even saw him three years ago in Paris. By contrast, I had a very good friend from an upper-class bourgeois family for fifteen years... But as adults the cultural differences proved overwhelming.

To put it simply: the very idea of national cultures should probably be taken with a grain of salt. There was certainly something like that for a time in the 20th century in Europe, but it was also encouraged and promoted for political purposes. And overestimated, I believe. In reality, cultures are continuously evolving, and are wildly different depending on generations and socio-economic factors, not to mention -in many places- origins, ethnicity, and religion. Like nations, they are largely dependent on one's willingness to adhere to them.
 

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so what would you call those traits which distinguish a person from one country from a person from another country? Like the fact that in some countries it's socially acceptable to talk to strangers and in others it isn't, or that smiling at strangers is either normal or creepy, or that a shop assistant is expected to be polite or isn't expected to speak to you at all?

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14 minutes ago, Filippa Eilhart said:

so what would you call those traits which distinguish a person from one country from a person from another country? Like the fact that in some countries it's socially acceptable to talk to strangers and in others it isn't, or that smiling at strangers is either normal or creepy, or that a shop assistant is expected to be polite or isn't expected to speak to you at all?

The question is fallacious: such cultural aspects are not divided along countries' borders.
It's a well-known fact that Eastern French départements (Alsace & Lorraine) have more in common with neighboring German Länders (Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland, & Bade-Württenberg) than distant French départements (like, say, Corsica).
Similarly, South-West France is culturally homogenous with neighboring Spanish areas : it's called "Basque country" for a reason, with a people that is linguistically and ethnically (genetically) distinct. In fact, the Basques claim their own nation.
I was personally born in Brittany (Bretagne), and some parts of Brittany will have more in common with... Ireland (yes, Ireland) than most of France. There is even a famous Celtic festival in Lorient that gathers people(s) that share a... Celtic culture. And of course, many people in Brittany (Bretons) claim their own nation, distinct from the French nation-state ("Y'a toujours un con avec un drapeau breton" has become a famous joke).
In a nutshell: cultures, nations, and countries do not perfectly overlap. And as these things go, France is relatively homogenous, compared to say... the UK? ;)

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Posted (edited)

I think what @Rippounet stated is more obvious when you live in Europe, or probably any other country with a long (written, accepted) history and have many other countries as neighbours, rather than in a huge country with a short (generally acepted) history, with neighbors only to the North and the South, which you "only" had to take from the natives (whose history is not a part of the national narrative) a couple hundred years ago (when the idea of nations as somewhat "natural" was already accepted).

I do agree that many people on the left see this, and apply it wrt their own country, but then readily accept (and try to justify) anything "cultural" of more foreign "cultures".

Edited by Mindwalker

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well, I do live in Europe, and I do agree with Rippounet to an extent, but I'm also from Silesia which belonged to a number of countries over the years and I definitely feel like we have much more in common with the rest of Poland than with Czechia or Germany. And the Scots might have their own country and culture and possibly even become independent but they're not culturally distinct enough from an average Englishman that they're not called English any time they venture on to the continent ;)

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