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Stereotyping, Racism, and the Discovery of the Individual

Reader comment on item: Do Europe's Nations Have National Characters?

Submitted by Ludvikus (United States), Jan 31, 2022 at 01:01

It is interesting that there is no mention here of the United States) of America. Here, we have White Men vs. People of Color. On the other hand, any other attempt at generalizing results in being accused of Stereotyping, or worse still, of Racism. Is that because we are a Mongrel Nation?

None of the classifications of alleged National Traits appear to have any other than subjective characterization based on some travelers limited encounters with the so-called "there."

What we can do with broad strokes may have some validity. The British late imperial tradition gave rise to the Gentry since the time of Cromwell, and not being Noble, aspired to Nobility by imitation. Prussians, later Germans, inherited Junker states for every son, not merely the oldest. This led to service in the military or the government, and included the "von" in one's name. The French were the carriers of the French Revolution principles of Citizenship.

For broad National Characteristics to make any sense, it is necessary to research and understand the rise of Modern Nationalism in Europe.

But as an American, I prefer reading the book by LARRY SIEDENTOP, "Inventing the Individual: The Origin of Western Liberalism." And that seems safe - in an environment super-sensitive to Stereotype, and especially preoccupied with the History of Slavery, and subsequent Racism.

The issue raised in this discourse presumes the existence of a National Identity. But Putin raises a more crucial identity issue in the last 2 months: are the Ukrainians and Russians one or two People?

Back to us, in the USA: Black Lives Matter? And what about People of Color? And then there's us others, Whites? Finally, what about Jews and Anti-semitism - is it the same as Anti-Zionism? And I have not even got to that growing (in size) acronym which involves one's sexual orientation?


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Daniel Pipes replies:

There's a vast literature on the American national character but that's not my topic here. Europe is.

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