Where do they come from?
"it’s the unbalanced implementation of the gift that makes the world so messy, not the gift itself." love that. maria montessori would agree
Beautifully written, Tessa, and very intriguing. I've been studying A Course in Miracles for a couple decades and it agrees with you that the quest for 'specialness' is the root of all dysfunction, preventing the recognition that we're One. I wonder, however, if Russia is entering a new era with the BRIICS-BRI cooperation and Putin's domestic policies of supporting local production and small businesses while telling the oligarchs they should "think about their legacy. While money and assets will lead their heirs to drink, a good name will be something they can be proud of."
Lovely essay - thank you Tessa! As someone with an eastern bloc background, I recognize both sides of that coin, and try to walk that hard-to-find limen… While either “exceptionalism” may well start with a politician hiding in a bush & scamming, I’m quite sure it will end with said politicians screaming.. ;)
I'm new to your Substack. You are truly an incredible writer, really enjoyed this post. In there, you said that Russia is currently being Americanized. Would you please write more on this current and ongoing Americanization of Russia (unless you already have, I'm gonna go read more of your posts now, haven't seen anything else by you). Very concerned that Russia will adopt the worst of American culture while basically ignoring the best of it and will as a result become even more dysfunctional. What are all the ways Russia is being Americanized and do you think this is ersatz/"surface level" Americanization similar to the Hellenization that the Middle Eastern cultures experienced when Ancient Rome conquered them but then the Hellenization began to fade away afterwards when Rome's culture deteriorated further and they stopped caring about trying to push any cultural norms on others or do you think that this is a legit long-term change of values and beliefs at the core of the Russian spirit and it won't go away? Thank you very so much in advance :))
You share many important insights here... including addressing the elephant I can't unsee who's taken up residence in our human living room:
'Any speculation about what caused the initial shift from the original “old normal” to the very experimental phase of history we are in right now (weird but true) is a speculation. It is very hard to determine. Maybe it was boredom, the urge to go for an adventure and “try something different” without realizing that the uneventful feeling of having all bases covered was not a bad thing, and should be appreciated. Maybe it was corruption, a feature of the mind that human beings are prone to, especially when out of balance. Or perhaps it’s just that the human species collectively entered our “teenage years,” and we are learning about the cost of being delusional the hard way.' (Plus the novel hypothesis of being prey to parasites!)
Viva la speculation! It's sorely needed on this matter of our true nature, where we went wrong, and how to recover our lost natural humanity. Your writing is well aimed at that heart. <3
What a lovely lot of people are here!
More philosophy hours please! :)
I’ve always likened the United States (through my immigrant eyes) as the spawn child of Willy Loman and Superman: afraid and embarrassed to be anything else but a-OK and with an utterly daft sense of saviour complex. People always asking you “hi, how are you?” But not really asking you, not really wanting to know. And how are you supposed to respond anyway? It’s ok to admit you’re not ok sometimes. It’s ok not to fake through it. I still love this big oaf of a country. Or rather, I love its people - kind, easygoing, with a great sense of humour. And let me tell you, if it wasn’t for the USA, the world would have already succumbed to 4IR. Thanks for holding the line, America. Thanks for being so effen stubborn with so many saying no to the damn jabs. And for having so many guns in the hands of private citizens. I can’t ever pull a trigger to hurt a human but just the thought of the government not being the only one with weapons let’s me rest easy.
This is brilliant, true and funny.
Good stuff, 1/2 thru all ready poof thank you-
Upon reflection I couldn’t help but realize it isn’t the “special” about a person but the “specialty “ the use of their God given gifts and every single time. Lol
As an outsider to both, if I may opine it is this:
Russians and americans are both obsessed with success if it is something which can be rubbed in the face of neighbours, detractors, opponents and competitors - both in braggartly ostentatious ways as well as in friendly.
But americans put this above survival, whereas russians do not. American exceptionalism takes the position the US has occupied an improved upon since the end of WW1 as a natural state. Russians do not. The russian empire is old. It has waxed and waned throughout history. It has been threatened by everyone from us swedes to the poles to the Teutonic Order to mongols and tartars and kazaks and itself.
It is in the bones of every russian I think, a knowledge that was has risen will sink, and what has sunk may rise again.
Whereas americans act as if their position is a force of nature, as if their nation exists as a consequence of their holy scripture, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and not through ruthless unsentimental realpolitik, war and genocide. Add to that how white americans are blind to the sad fact that race and culture/ethnicity is not just exotic food, folkdances and food, and a hat you can swap as you can any commodity, whereas russians knows full well that one people must rule one land - two people can no more rule together than to men can marry the same woman at the same time.
It is to be hoped for those of us stuck in the middle with you, that Russia remembers all the other times her despot of a ruler has led her people to the brink of Doom. It is eequally to be hoped for, that the US matures and again realises that deeds indeed must suit words and that words does not change the nature of deeds. History has no favourites, and all empires fall.
Sometimes, their people survive. Sometimes they become a mixed mongrel horde until a new ehtnicity emerges from the mix of races. And sometimes the most violent, aggressive and prolific of the peoples of the collapsed empire exterminate or subjugate the others.
Eventually, all monuments are sand. This, all european peoples know in their bones. The americans have yet to learn this bitter lesson in person.
This is terrific, Tessa. You say, "It’s that mindset, that algorithmic scarcity-based social arrangement that human beings decided to collectively engage with a some thousands of years ago, after millions of years of trusting their relationship with nature and with the spirits and feeling no need for anxious hoarding." What caused this? The transition from egalitarian, trusting humans to isolated, paranoid, deeply sick egos came about by the need to protect agriculture's new riches via armies and priesthood. Modern version -- the gambit of "leaders" force-feeding nationalism (a k a patriotism) to the "peasants" until they willingly participate in their own destruction via phony wars. Allow me to quote from my Let's Burn the Flags of All Nations: "Nationalism is a dead-end/The nation-state is a criminal enterprise/Patriotism is a trick." Modern nation-states are only four centuries old yet through their "leaders," always in ceaseless competition with one another, we have been brought close to our annihilation. And here's an up to the minute postscript: we must not fall for the idea, common among those resisting Klaus Schwab's Great Reset, that these nefarious semi-humans wish the end of the nation-state. No way. They simply are resetting it to Nation-State 2.0. Because the same greedy, capitalist consciousness planning human-flavored robots has been running nation-states since their inception.
I know people have a weird globalist vibe with this song but actually, I think Lennon was describing a world of communication leading to anarchy.
"Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you
And the world will be as one."
Where do you get the idea that archaic cultures weren’t riven with conflict? Complete nonsense. And none more warlike than indigenous Americans. Please feel free to cite examples of these cultures where dominance patterns and sacrificial rituals to mitigate intraspecific strife were absent. We are pussy cats compared with Cheyenne, Sioux, or any other grouping on any continent at any time. The only constant in any culture is conflict and the more or less successful systems of rites and prohibitions to contain conflict and prevent outright bloodshed.
The notion that ‘elites’ are peculiarly evil while we their victims are *good* doesn’t bear scrutiny. Everyone is corrupted by power. The issue today isn’t that people in power have suddenly become malign but that institutional mechanisms for keeping power in check have disintegrated, or been corrupted which boils down to the same thing.
Otherwise I couldn’t agree more with your analysis of “digital slavery” only that it’s mistaken to attribute it to a malign cabal. If you gave the average man a billion pounds he’d soon turn into a power crazed monster too especially when he realises how simple it is too control the channels of mass communication and exert influence in the service of political power by the same mass marketing techniques that sell consumer items.
The original meaning of American exceptionalism, unfortnately, has been lost. It was always about an idea, not something organic in the people. It couldn't be in our blood, beause we were a mixture from the beginning. As Alan Bloom says in "The Closing of the Amercian Mind", you can become an American in a day, and that has generally not been true of any other nation.
The idea of America is that people are free by their very nature, and no one has an inherent right to rule over others. Government is merely our shared project to protect those rights that we have by nature, and which the government in no way grants but only protects.
Too few understand this now. Events of the last two and a half years have served to make it more evident by contrast. It's a sad reality that we often don't even know that we have something valuable until we lose it. Or until we're in danger of losing it.
If we lose this country, the idea of America, there is no other country to fall back on, no external entity we can rely on to save us and restore our heritage. I can only imagine how in some future age the idea of freedom could be recovered. We must not lose it in this one.
American exceptionalism was a basket full of myths that Americans believed about themselves. Surely after the last two years, that fantasy has been put to rest?
Canadian exceptionalism never was... and we have suffered less as a result. Having a chip on your shoulder is a horrible curse for a nation.