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How Do Britons View the World (and the US in Particular)?

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  • How Do Britons View the World (and the US in Particular)?

    An interesting article I just read in the Telegraph entitled The Countries That We Love and Hate reports the findings of a poll which sought to determine what Brits think of the world. Some bits:

    "YouGov's findings – set out in the chart – offer a fascinating insight into how modern Britons see the wider world."

    "One in three of YouGov's respondents regards America as one of the world's three "least safe" countries – more than think the same of Israel, Egypt or South Africa."

    "Decades after the loss of the Empire, YouGov's findings also show that Britons still see the old white Commonwealth countries – and, to a lesser extent, the United States – as part of their 'patch'"


    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...equestid=71777

    With regard to the US, how accurate is this YouGov poll against the feelings of Brits (and other Europeans) who frequent this board? My poll against theirs...
    "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
    --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

  • #2
    I've not visited the USA yet (I went mostly East, Tovaritschi!) but I think the Brish do still view the ex-pink bits of the map as 'our patch' because of the undoubted heavy cultural influence that the former Empire had on them, for good and ill, which still creates a rapport, however that is politically diluted. The USA is viewed as the physically strong adolescent that makes rash judgements and gets all moody, peevishly irritating its more sedate, considered and (allegedly) socially 'mature' older sibling (or parent, along with the rest of the Old World...). Having 'grown out of' our own Empire, I think the Brits are worried that the US will Empire-build in a nineteenth-century pattern, which may have stabilising effects, but possibly making the same mistakes as the British - assuming that everyone else wants to be 'like us'!!! They don't.
    With our genuinely multicultural and polyethnic society in the UK, I feel as if our Empire has actually 'come home' - unfortunately not everyone agrees with me... :(

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't really like the presidents decisions but I guess the country is OK. I've never been there though, so I guess I don't really know. Maybe a little less pollution though please!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TheAdlerian
        I think that America has a great philosophical concept behind it. However, if you talk to the average guy on the street he might give you a very different view. What is what?
        Yup. Precisely why I posted this poll. I'm interested in knowing what the common European thinks of the US based on whatever information they have at their disposal.

        If I didn't live here and had never visited, I'd likely have the opinion that the US is one of the most evil places on Earth. Living here, though, I know this not to be true because I see the common American on a daily basis and I know we don't all think like our current leaders. Pondering this while reading the above article, I became very curious how the views of our British MWM members might differ/match those I was seeing in the YouGov poll.
        "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
        --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

        Comment


        • #5
          You also have to remember that The Telegraph appeals to the most reactionary elements of the middle class -- those who think themselves too posh to buy The Daily Mail, even though they probably agree with its sentiments. The Telegraph Arts pages are probably still the best in what used to be called the broadsheet press, before it followed the lead of New Worlds (which produced a fake tabloid-size Guardian in 1973, as I recall), but it's owned and run by conservatives, unlike The Independent or The Guardian, for instance. The Times has done a lot to try to get some of the Telegraph and Mail audiences. The Times is owned by Murdoch, who also owns the most virulent dumb tabloid, The Sun. All of these factors have to be taken into account when looking at polls. I'm not at all surprised that Telegraph readers regard the old Empire as their patch. I would be surprised to see the same response from Guardian readers. Sadly, cheap nationalism has also been used in the promotion of a Thatcherite economy, which makes the UK (as well as US) amongst the most nationalistic and xenophobic in the EU (though each country has these elements, of course -- generally isolated, unlike many in the UK
          which doesn't need a Le Pen, because the existing parties, anxious to
          keep votes, act according to populist prejudice more readily than do most governments in the older EU countries. In some of those countries such nationalism has all but vanished in the general population. I think it is in the process of vanishing in Britain, in spite of all attempts to build it up, in certain quarters. The problem Britain has, for instance, is that politicians know the EU is a good thing, but are reluctant to discard the old methods of pumping up the economy, which includes a dose of the nationalism you also find in the US. Actually, in my experience, the US shows many signs in her culture of the majority immigration, that of mostly liberal Germans, who make up the largest single group of immigrants, followed by the Irish. This is only an Anglo-Saxon country in terms of its language, sophisticated legal system and its Bill of Rights (the US Bill of Rights follows almost word for word the British of 1689,
          but adds a few extra rights, including freedom of the press). German culture, which also led the world for some years in its incorporation of democratic ideals into its system, is very strong in the US -- not just hamburgers and marching bands, either. Germany should also act as a model and example to the US, in that it had a near-perfect constitution, a highly developed system of democratic representation, and still fell, for almost thirteen dreadful years, to Adolf Hitler and his gang.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #6
            There's the classic dilemma of the freedom of the press fostering a popular reactionary sector, particularly with the 'tabloidisation' of our attention-spans. It's the paradox of the balance between free speech and the popularisation of nationalisatic/ racist rhetoric. Both the US and the UK are in danger of the PC circumscription of genuine 'free speech': Only if we have both (a) a press with a balanced and 'realistic' world-view, and (b) a reaonably educated readership capable of criticism of the material does mass-media free speech mean much. When The Sun and The Mail are so widely consumed, great concern must arise as to the competence of the electorate.

            I think Rebekah Wade's an android...

            Might as well base one's opinions on The National Enquirer.

            Maybe some do... :roll:

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by PWV
              If I didn't live here and had never visited, I'd likely have the opinion that the US is one of the most evil places on Earth.
              I think this idea is tipically american, proper of the likes of Chomsky or Zinn. - if you except islamic propaganda, of course.
              I'd say in the old world we tend to blame "american fascism" - as discussed elsewhere in this forum - on ignorance and stupidity rather than evil....
              There's a typical story about visiting the US I had heard from various people (spanish, french, finnish) and could not entirely believe before I went there myself: people will ask you things like "do you have cable TV in your country?" (or home cinemas, or even washing-machines!!). And even fairly educated types will ask about freedom of speech or basic civil rights, and express their scepticism about the answers.
              This of course does not concern really educated americans like you.....though.....
              Originally posted by TheAdlerian
              I think that America has a great philosophical concept behind it.
              ....I think a fair part, even of the most knowledgeable americans, cannot help but think there is something special and wonderful about American Democracy. IMHO the one outstanding particularity of it is the naive and uneffective ideology it is based on.
              anyway - the bit about unsafety is a cliche around here. I'd say the image of a horde of ignorant brutes dominated by cynical cryptofascist millionaires is quite common - except maybe in the UK.
              Before anyone insults me i'd like to add that I know better.
              I liked America and most of the americans I met. My only issue is that tendency to believe in the superiority - especially regarding democratic issues - of the american system without knowing anything of how other countries do. And often not knowing how America actually does, either.

              Comment


              • #8
                Don't get offended by my vote - I've gone for the "bloody sucks" alternative because that I believe is honestly how a great many of us see the political influence of the US - However does a pat assessment of the actions of a great country's political elite make for a true picture of how I feel about it. No. First of all, I've never been there. I would like - don't know if I ever will, as my partner, who has been there, says she doesn't want to go back. (She wants to go to Cuba - I want to go to Canada to visit my uncle - this is the stalemate at present).

                Anyway - look - I dig American music, American books, I like communicating with Americans. I think there are strong cultural links. I don't like McDonalds or KFC. How do you Americans feel about them? I read Kerouac and read about all the old family-run diners that have been forced out by them (there must be some left). I would have liked these. Same thing with Walmart. I've read enough Emma Goldman, Jack London, etc to know there is a great radical tradition in the States. I would probably put that England "bloody sucks" as well. So maybe its just a meaningless statement!
                \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                Comment


                • #9
                  You're right Mikey ! - as always, as far as i can judge from your posts :D
                  France bloody sucks, too...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Come off it! I live in the US from choice and will soon be living in France from choice. You can't dismiss whole cultures, especially if you've never experienced them. Family diners are alive and well and American radicals can be the best in the world. Texas has her Jim Hightower and Molly Ivens, to name but two. NY and LA are two of the world's greatest cities and constantly stimulate. Both the French and the Americans are friendly. Governments aside, most people are pretty decent. It takes the likes of Bush to turn them into aggressive idiots. You can tell how much better Americans feel about themselves when, like the Navy, they go in to help people. A study of body language -- military in Iraq, navy in Indonesia -- tells you a lot about how people judge themselves.
                    The French, incidentally, have constantly reiterated, through all the shit being thrown at them from the US (and to some extent UK) how grateful they are for the Liberation.

                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Exactly. the US, as the UK or france or any country, "bloody sucks" as a political entity. Not as a culture or a people.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                        Family diners are alive and well and American radicals can be the best in the world.
                        Really pleased to hear it! :D I actually know a real live great American radical - singer / songwriter David Rovics who did a benefit gig for us in the anti-fascist cause.

                        Interesting point about the body language. I wouldn't think for a moment that most of them want to be in Iraq.
                        \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As with many countries, the US is often judged as a whole by the actions of its worst representatives.

                          I dont doubt that a good many continental Europeans roll their eyes come summer time at the prospect of an influx of pasty skinned, bare chested English lager louts.... But of course not everyone in the UK is like that, yet as a nation we still carry that reputation.

                          As a new immigrant to the US, who grew up in England - I can honestly say that the people I've met so far (my wife's family and friends) are in the main, very decent and generous people. Furthermore the town we live in has a real sense of community, kids are well behaved and people here still leave their doors unlocked (something that wouldn't fly at all back in the UK).

                          There are problems here - for instance the lack of public healthcare (which is a bugger if you're not working), but the flip side is generally speaking you can get treatment very quickly, rather than sit on the sidelines for a few months on the NHS waiting lists.

                          If there's something I am concerned with - its the importance placed on church attendance. California is certainly not part of the bible belt, but even so church attendance here is far higher than in the UK (where it is the primarily the purview of the older generation). I do feel a little uneasy when religious lobbyists are influential enough to affect state and national policy decisions. GWB of course won the election because of certain 'moral' issues (rather than the big picture), such as seeking to outlaw gay marriage and a stance on anti abortion. In my view its a rather childish (and dangerous) way to practice democracy.

                          If America has its faults is because generally, it is quite inward looking. Many people here have never left the US and have no experience of what goes on beyond its borders.
                          Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                          Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One of the reasons we're moving to Europe ultimately, aside from not wanting to pay taxes for any more missiles or tanks, is because the average European knows more about the world, including the US. Here,
                            much of the time, I have to spend a lot of time explaining backgrounds before we can discuss issues. It makes me feel like a pompous idiot. This isn't, of course, true with everyone or everywhere, but because the media serves Americans so poorly, it's often true. It is the most immoral failure I know in modern society -- the failure of the American fourth estate to inform the nation but instead to bow to special interests and to so-called market forces. I've no quarrel with market forces in trade, but it's no argument for ignoring social issues and it's certainly no argument for knowingly misleading the public.

                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                            The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                            Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                            The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                            Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              One good thing for Europe has been repressive government in the US -- in the sense that it sends a lot of Americans to Europe. The last big wave was during the McCarthy period. I still believe Joe McCarthy was responsible for the last big cultural revolution in Britain, which led to many good things, including the British contribution to rock and roll!
                              I'd guess there are a lot more Americans heading for Paris, like us, again at the moment. I'm not abandoning the US altogether, incidentally, especially while my much-loved mother-in-law is still alive and living over here.

                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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