Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

Related Post Roulette

18 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Your correct about trying to use other countries as templates for America. It is easy to dream about but hard in practice.

    On the other hand, even for accounting for different viewpoints and filters, that Hanson snip is shockingly stupid. How the hell is he considered smart? He must have been trying to dislike his trip so he had something to write about. OMG there is mass transit!!!! OMG the streets are narrow…Oh i wonder why that might be, what a puzzler….. Small cars…how scary.Report

  2. Zach says:

    If you like that, you’ll get a real kick out of Lisa Schiffren’s compelling critique of Parisian cuisine: http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MmYwM2U4Zjc3ZjgwMDYyNDU0N2JkZjA3ODcwYjc4MzQ=

    This includes gems such as, “There is much excellent food, of course. But who wants really excellent food every day?” and, “Dinner starts at 7, no matter that you missed lunch and want a burger or a salad at 5, not ice cream or a beer. And meals take forever. I like the leisurely lunch as much as any journalist, of course. But not with my kids, every day — which leaves us with grilled-cheese sandwiches, hold the ham. Oh, you can’t hold the ham? Thanks.”Report

  3. greginak says:

    Hmmm some people only travel so that the rest of have to apologize for them when we travel.Report

  4. Creon Critic says:

    I agree in rejecting “facile country-to-country comparisons”. Nevertheless, social scientists’ more rigorous analysis has something to offer – something that can’t be dismissed by referring to public policy in some places as “political outcomes of small, culturally homogeneous European countries.”

    In various developed countries we’re dealing with similar problems: crime, disease, environmental degradation, congested transportation networks. And there’s definitely something to be learned through case studies and comparisons across peer countries (and within the US) – particularly because policy debates often occur around parades of horribles. Each side trots out awful scenarios, Stephen Hawking and the UK’s NHS, in an effort to demonstrate their policy prescriptions are superior. Europe just happens to be a vast trove of evidence for all sorts of things on a progressive’s wish list.

    This reminds me of a discussion between Justice Scalia and Justice Breyer about using/referring to foreign law, Breyer remarks,

    Well, it’s relevant in the sense that you have a person who’s a judge, who has similar training, who’s trying to… apply a similar document… there are different words, but they come to roughly the same thing – who has a society that’s somewhat structured like ours. And really, it isn’t true that England is the moon, nor is India. I mean, there are human beings there just as there are here and there are differences and similarities…. So here you’re trying to get a picture how other people have dealt with it. And am I influenced by that? I am at least interested in reading it. And the fact that this has gone on all over the world and people have come to roughly similar conclusions, in my opinion, was the reason for thinking it at least is the kind of issue that maybe we ought to hear in our court, because I thought our people in this country are not that much different than people other places.


    • Will in reply to Creon Critic says:

      That’s an insightful comment, and I don’t think we should discount each and every comparison between the United States and similarly situated countries.

      That said, Hanson (and others like him) don’t even both to acknowledge deep-seated political and cultural differences when making sweeping pronouncements about what we can learn from Europe. As the excerpt above makes clear, this isn’t exactly rigorous social science at work.Report

  5. Andrew says:

    Wow, a lot of the quoted piece seems to be nothing more than different preferences described in extremely negative ways. A “hedonism of few children, late and long meals and disco hours until the early morning”? I mean, having two or fewer kids, eating dinner at 7 PM and going to the bar until midnight are enough to be part of a hedonist, socialist dystopia? My family ate dinner at 7 or 8 – just late enough that everyone was home and a nutritious meal had been prepared – frequently when I was growing up. Who knew that Omaha was a hotbed of hedonist socialism?Report

  6. pain perdu says:

    Victor Davis Hanson: the thinking man’s John Derbyshire.Report

    • North in reply to pain perdu says:

      Harsh my friend. VDH is a polemecist. Derbyshire is a cranky old conservative coot but he is an intellingent and in some ways refreshingly blunt and honest cranky old conservative coot.Report

  7. Nob Akimoto says:

    How anyone takes Hanson seriously anymore for any reason is beyond me. The man is deranged, his scholarship is shoddy, and he’s a historian, not any sort of social scientist. One need only read his “cultural” histories to know he’s a shallow, uninsightful hack.Report

  8. Bob says:

    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” — Mark Twain (unconfirmed)

    Well, perhaps not.Report

  9. nickzi says:

    As a scholar of Classical warfare, Hanson was solid, if not especially original. As a political commentator he is simply a very generic Little American hack. Sorry, but this is exactly the sort of embarrassing nonsense that Rush Limbaugh peddles about foreign countries, and with even less justification. Neither Italy nor Greece is socialist (not that Hanson actually understands the term), and to suggest any such thing is about as plausible as describing Idaho as “an environmentalist run hippie commune, where guns are banned and men must carry signs apologizing for their inherent phallocratic oppressiveness”. Does anyone seriously think that Berlusconi is a Socialist? Or Kostas Karamanlis?Report

  10. Art Deco says:

    Not too long ago, Athens was being run by a military junta.

    ‘Not too long ago’ would be 35 years ago. Greece has had parliamentary administrations for 53 of the last 60 years.

    Silvio Berlusconi’s checkered career is proof enough of Italy’s retrograde political culture.