Europe versus USA

One of the things that always strikes me during travel is how insulated we are in the USA from the rest of the world. Some of this is geographical – ie the USA is a huge country and folks don’t often move across national borders unless you are in the handful of cities that border Mexico or Canada. But even then the interactions are not like those in Europe where folks seem to maintain a sense of national identity as well as a mutual European identity. Not to suggest Europe does not have it’s share of problems, rather I just think it’s interesting to see a group of countries interacting so effectively and cooperatively with respect to so many things (Currency, trains, trade, border controls, etc, etc). However I think our isolation in the USA is more cultural and historical than geographical. As the key global power since WWII, it’s been far too easy to ignore how interconnected the world has become, and how impossible it is to isolate ourselves economically, militarily, and culturally. Finding the best (and free) Wifi at the Burger King in Munich, we sat watching Musit TV clips which were about half German rock stars and half USA. All over we’d hear the radios playing US pop and rock, and I was struck by how despite all the US economic and military presence all over the world, arguably the most powerful part of globalization is … US pop culture.

 …. to be continued …

(the Europe trip coverage will mostly be here:

4 thoughts on “Europe versus USA

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  2. I agree with this. Even the cobblestone’d “Altstadts” of the rhineland now have Burger Kings, McD’s,pizza hut etc. Sort of a disappointment (and many germans agree). Thankfully traditional open air pubs, bistros, etc. exist.

    Europeans’ linguistic skills never fail to impress me, however. Most educated germans, at least in western part, speak fluent English, of the British variety (the average stooopid Americanisch will mistake them for brits), along with french, probably some italian or spanish, maybe scandanavian tongues as well (or polish, farther east)–and latin or greek as well.

    That’s not just the case with scholars or professors, but engineers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, etc. ‘Mericans are lucky if they manage 10th grade level language skills

  3. Yes Horatiox I’m also always impressed with how many in Europe can chat fluently in several languages, especially the younger folks. Talking with two young Belgians in perfect English I asked if they’d had many years in school. Yes they said, but the way they *really* learned English was from watching … US TV show “Friends” and US movies, which they clearly loved.

    Which leads me to wonder if the USA could largely take over the world without firing a shot simply by pumping free internet and TV shows everywhere along with coupons for free Big Macs and KFC Chicken. Sure would save a lot over M1 tanks and Stealth bombers.

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