Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It is possible for me to have more objections to a paragraph than there are words in it

For example:
America is a Utopian society. It aspires to an achievable perfection, a middle-class egalitarian meritocratic democracy with no kings, no pharoahs, no rulers by inheritance or divine right. In this it is different to Britain, where I grew up, which has class differences that in many ways no side really wants to erase, rather only to throw the other down, or keep them down.

10 comments:

Soj said...

Sounds a little bit like Gilbert du Motier, although in his case I guess we can cut him some slack :P

Ethan said...

Wow, way to bring up some dude I haven't thought about since fifth grade.

Jack Crow said...

Would love to read all the objections. It would make up for you subjecting that paragraph on the rest of us.

Ethan said...

A brief rundown off the top of my head:

1. "America" ≠ "The United State"
2. Even if it does, "America" is an abstract concept and as such does not aspire to anything.
3. I reject the notion that "a middle-class egalitarian meritocratic democracy" is anything approaching "perfection."
4. Nor is it achievable, because if everyone is middle-class, class ceases to mean anything and the whole concept of the sentence becomes meaningless.
5. USian society is explicitly set up for rule by inheritance and divine right.
6. Britain at least has a semblance of a social safety net; while this is not close to my ideal society either, it is at least easier to be abjectly poor and survive there.
7. By not attempting to make its class distinctions completely invisible, Britain makes it at least easier to discuss and fight against these divisions.
8. How dare you equate the "sides" of the class struggle, as if there were anything approaching parity of numbers, or power, or culpability, or anything else.
9. Similarly, how dare you equate the powerless "throw(ing the powerful) down" to the powerful "keep(ing the powerless down."

Admittedly for word count that only takes me as far as "America is a Utopian society. It aspires to an," but it's really nice outside, so I'm sure anyone who's experiencing less favorable weather and has the inclination could pick up from there.

Ethan said...

Hahaha, typo in #1.

almostinfamous said...

apparently whatever turned the wings obsidian affected the brain also

fish said...

This is the best of all possible worlds.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

That quoted passage was bizarre in its naivete, Ethan. So Obsidian Wings grew up in the UK, moved to the USA, and after living here, concluded that the USA is not class-based, and is utopian?

And that statement, or set of premises, is not sarcasm -- but rather, is sincere?

Anyone who has lived here for a while should be able to see the class divisions in the USA, as they are quite clear to me and have been for a long time. However, the person who struggles regardless of trying to see such divisions can find his/her answers in the funny book by Paul Fussell called, naturally, "Class." Fussell argues comically and convincingly for a nice stratified USA class system, and even provides a way for some of us to step outside that hierarchical caste layering by giving us a "Category X" group, whose membership is open and welcoming, provided the interested human is eager to step outside the fairly obvious classes that the USA provides.

True, it's not as overt and formalized as it is in India -- but in practice, it's not that different either. It's more de facto than de jure, but it is there all the same.

Ethan said...

I think the most telling part of the post that I didn't quote is where he says "All this was apparent in the first few weeks I spent in the US, and it took years to really appreciate the ways in which the aspiration to that Utopian ideal has been made futile for a large section of the population." In other words, Jacob Davies is really really comfortable, and it took him years to look beyond that comfort and realize that there are other people around him who might not be so comfortable. Maybe years from now he'll appreciate how wrong is he is about the rest of his analysis. Maybe he's just slow.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Heh heh heh. Yeah, a glacier's pace might be a lot faster than Jacob's uptake.