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A Nation of ‘Geophobes’

Amid rampant Russophobia and Sinophobia, America’s penchant for Cold-War “national character analysis” will — if left unchecked — lead the U.S. into deepest trouble.

This indifference, this ignorance of other places and people — and Americans’ indifference to their ignorance — is perfectly evident as a thread running through the whole of American history.

We are free to be who we choose to be, in other words; individual freedom being among the existentialists’ highest values. And with freedom comes a minute-to-minute responsibility for everything we decide to do; which is why most of us, while professing our belief in freedom to the very skies, display a bottomless dread of freedom whenever we are threatened with actually having any.


{My own quarrel with the national character crowd hangs off Sartre’s case for being superseding essence. National character arguments paper over politics and history — the ever-in-flux forces that truly matter in determining how the world turns.

Sherman was to lead negotiations but had to satisfy the Senate of her bona fides beforehand. 😟“We know that deception is part of the DNA,” she asserted in reference to the Iranians. 😟

Now have you got the picture?

It passed for diplomacy then and it passes for diplomacy now. America’s prevalent take on the conflict in Ukraine and Russia’s determination to intervene are a sinkhole of national character nonsense. This is why it is next to impossible to have a rational conversation with 99.9 percent of Americans about the complexities of the Ukraine crisis. Nope: It’s all about those Rrrrrussians and what they always do.}

{Closer to our time and circumstances, there is the case of the Poles and other East Europeans — and the Ukrainians, of course. It has long been conventional wisdom that in all matters Russian, those in the former satellites and Soviet republics know best, having lived under Soviet domination.

I cannot think of anything more misguided. The Poles and Ukrainians, in particular, are the last people to ask for sound, balanced judgments of Russia and its people, as their perspectives are more or less defined by presumptions of national character.

And how Americans love the national character presumptions of the Poles and Ukrainians.}

As I have argued on occasions, that period is gone. What frightens the capitalist is the more humane character Putin has applied to his country since his betrayal to the capitalist agenda as it came out of the previous cold war that Yeltsin and Clinton were counting on. As they opened Russia up for global capitalist plundering, Putin soon after began to diminish it.

{Indifference to others, the bliss of ignorance, the coloring-book presumptions inherent in national character perspectives: These are not America’s essence, as Sartre would put it, but choices it has made. It can either grow beyond these or fail in the 21st century. This is America’s choice now, and it is free to make it either way.}

William_Mary 8 May 3
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I can not watch mainstream news, it's a road to ruin.Maybe an anarchist like me is happier dealing with more with my own circle and like minded people. Looks like more abuse is coming down the pipe. Then we will all have to wait for people to get sick and tired of it, all over again, before they charge it. Wealthy and Government won't.


Superb article. I've bookmarked it for future use.

Just used 👍on mofo.

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