Cultural heritage and kinship and American’s lack of passion.
I read a piece not long ago on the origins of the popularity of Adolph Hitler and what he was saying and who he was speaking to. It was focused on Pan-Germanism – the Ethnocentric movement to unify all those of German heritage. One of the keystones of Hitler’s appeal in Austria, Hungary and Prussia – to name but a few. A very strong and deep seated almost tribal belief and/or feeling. Much more than some political nationalism. More a nativism.
When it was stated that the Soviets won WWII for the Allies, they were corrected. It was the Russians winning it for Russia by shear strength of will. What Finns call Sisu or the British “Pure bloody mindedness” . Fighting on not for some political ideal but for their Russian kinfolk and heritage.
It was this deep seated feeling of native-ism and cultural/religious tribalism that was responsible for one of the last bloody conflicts on the European continent. Resulting in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia republic. Resulting in no less than 8 separate autonomous states. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. The only things that kept this entities together as one republic were the heavy handed tactics of Marshal Tito and a lot of Soviet troops.
I was not as aware of how deeply seated this situation was until after viewing Michael Palin’s New Europe series. Where he visits most of the countries that emerged after the breakup and fall of the Soviet Union. Examples being those I sited above as well as Trans-Dniestr – a break away territory from Moldavia. They even fought a civil war over it. The people there speak Russian and consider themselves mostly Russian. It’s what binds them together. Which is a bit precarious since Trans-Dniestr lies between the rest of Moldavia and the Ukraine – where proclaiming ones Russian is NOT a way to win friends and influence people.
The Ukraine is very much anti-Russian and speaking anything but Ukrainian is at best frowned upon.
Moldavia itself has more a kindred connection with it’s western neighbor Romania, where the main language spoken is Romanian. In fact there was a movement to unite both countries into one. They are still working to get some closer relationship established.
Then you have Kaliningrad Oblast. It sits on the Baltic Sea right between Lithuania and Poland. Part of Russia but not connected to it. It’s population is nearly all Russian.
When people spoke of the country it was more in a cultural/clannish or even ethic way than political. Nearly all – if not all – having deep traditions, beliefs and backgrounds all their own and going back many hundreds of years. With music and arts that are still practiced and they are proud of. And a great deal of passion for all of it.
Which of course brings me to this country. It’s a common misconception that the USA began as this “Great melting pot” where everyone would get along just fine. I would not say it as such. More like masses of people who where trying to escape various forms of oppression and poverty in there country of origin. Just as they are mostly today. And that they did not so much “get along” as they avoided contact unless necessary. Easy enough to do initially with gobs of land to dot it in after the natives were removed. Each keeping for a long time there own culture and traditions.
With large populations of Scandinavians in the upper peninsula of Michigan and Wisconsin. Germans in and around Iowa. Irish in the North East. And each city with enclaves of various nationalities – each grouped separately.
The US has not real culture or tradition of it’s own. It’s a mish-mash. And it still goes on with new immigrants associating and living mostly with those of the same background. What Americans refer to as American culture and tradition is something that has been manufactured by some Wall Street firm and marketed to them by some Madison Av. advertising firm. Mom, the girl next store and apple pie sold to you with a 20% off mark down. All clean, white and christian.
But this facade is wearing thin and the veneer showing cracks. And I feel that one of the things we are seeing these days is a pent up desire to be able to define ones self and ones group by something more than a superficial view as sold by the media. What ever that maybe.
This innate need for some kind of tribal belonging trumps politics, even though it appears to manifest it self there. Indeed I fell that it is one aspect of what drives the expanding political divide we are having. That our advances in communications have had the opposite effect on our relationships enabling people to align themselves in more deeper in a tribal and clannish manner but also creating more divisions by the increased contact with each one.
This false America of white anglo saxon christians is fading away at break neck speed as more and more groups show their need to be recognized and respected. The immigration issue and even the gun issue plays into this as white America becomes just one more of a number of different clans. And the election of a black man to president makes this doubly obvious.
When I hear someone say “America is a christian nation” the word white is never said but always implied.
That this country will be able to remain as on without some very oppressive measures would be surprising. And extreme oppression would not be tolerated by anyone regardless of their ideology or ethnic background.
Of course Wall Street will try to make hey on this as they do everything. Like and addicted gambler they will try to bet on the outcome and influence it, but I do believe they will fail since it’s always the gambler that has to get out of town fast.
And we are seeing this now not only in political realignment but in the continued change in physical/geographical demographics as well. One can denigrate this behavior as archaic and insist that we here and elsewhere should be above all this. But it is deep within the human psyche and goes back thousands of years. The basis for racial distrust and hatred. And will take many generations to rise above.
But give all of this the one thing I find missing from the verbiage from both the right and the left is passion. Any strong expression of how they feel. It’s nearly all what I call “head stuff”. Thought rational that lacks real feeling. The kind you got from the civil rights marches and MLK. And the peace movements of the 1960s and RFK.
Too many separate groups each with their own agenda which they may feel strongly about but not passionately shared by all. So each are easily manipulated. A cumulative expression of passion on a single issue was last seen in this country during the 1930s and the rise of unionism and socialist though. And most of these folks where white working class. Now quickly becoming a minority.
How can you become passionate about the right to own a big house and snazzy car ? It’s totally superficial. Which may also explain why despite what is going on economically and politically there has not been any real uprising. And why it has been fairly easy for TPTB to put down any attempt.
Even the so called tea party has fizzled. No real passion there just a group of pissed of immature spoiled brats.
Our lack of any real cultural heritage and there fore lack of real passion is what is keeping the status quo alive.