Monday, July 09, 2007

"Americanness": On July 5th, Peter Beinhart and Jonah Goldberg debated immigration on their "What's Your Problem" web TV show, but I was interested in their raising the question of what is "Americanness." This seems to me to be a very important topic that people are starting to talking more about. Off the top of my head, I'd say a values list would include the following:

freedom (minimum limitations)
individualism
self-reliance
practicality
technology
work ethic
competition
materialism
religiosity
can-doism
optimism
self-determination
belief in progress
belief in enlightened self-interest
cultural egalitarianism
tolerance
nuclear over extended family

I'm focusing more on cultural than political values. Other ideas? Am I wrong on any of these? If I can get a list together, I can look at the data to see if the values are currently held, and I can look to see what kinds of immigrants support such values, and which do not.

10 comments:

roissy said...

risk-taking, although that could probably be lumped with optimism.

Kurt9 said...

openess (vs limits)
positive sum (vs zero sum)
dynamism (vs stasis)

Dennis Mangan said...

Sentimentality.

dearieme said...

Holdingbeliefs about American history that are almost completely wrong.

Anonymous said...

Dissent;

Acceptance of Newcomers;

Kurt9 said...

Here it is, folks:

Openness vs. closeness
Decentralization vs. centralization
Networks of equals vs. Hierarchy
Entrepreneurship vs. big business corporatism
Dynamism vs. status quo
Innovation vs. doing things the same old way
Individualism vs. collectivism
Capitalism vs. socialism
Life vs. death
Freedom vs. statism

agnostic said...

Somewhat related to dynamism -- rootlessness. Americans move around a lot more than elsewhere, and that has a huge effect on the power of the group / community to pressure individuals to follow its norms, desirable or undesirable.

A person's "community" isn't like a home they're staying in over the long term, and which they feel worthy of investment. They're more like hotels, where you feel less responsibility to keep things neat and tidy.

Kurt9 said...

I would say that "community" means those people with whom you share a common dream or goal with (i.e. the cryonics community or the transhumanist community) rather than being defined by physical location.

Anonymous said...

anti-intellectualism

agnostic said...

I would say that "community" means those people with whom you share a common dream or goal with (i.e. the cryonics community or the transhumanist community) rather than being defined by physical location.

But that's at least somewhat contradicted by Putnam's new big study showing that ethnic diversity of your physical community has a large impact on the level of trust, etc. Steve Sailer just posted a link to a survey of levels of volunteerism, and it looks like ethnic diversity was a good predictor there as well.