The USA

A survey of pros and cons of the United States of America.

The good

This section is under development.

On heads of state and government

Quoted from Monarchy:
One of the reasons why some Americans apparently imagine that the UK is not really a democracy is that they have no understanding of the crucial distinction in constitutional theory between the roles of Head of State and Head of Government.

In the USA the Head of State is also the Head of Government. This simple fact directly causes or leads to a wide range of political and societal ills whenever the person elected president is not superhuman (which is, more or less, every time there is a new incumbent — Barack Hussein Obama may or may not prove to be superhuman but it is pretty unlikely that he will).

The bad

Despite its enormous variety of origin and its ostensibly high ideals, in many ways American society is rotten to the core.

Firearms

The love of firearms among its grassroots population, and the fact that the right to "bear arms" (meaning the right to own guns of all sorts) is deeply entrenched by being an amendment to the constitution and out of reach of ordinary legislation, is one axample of what is a very bad thing.

Religion

All too many of the population of the USA are active members of religions and compared to Europe, or at any rate to Britain, far more of them are pious — or, rather, zealous — religionists in a way that only compares elsewehere in the world to Al Qaeda and the militant Islamists of Pakistan and Afghanistan: the Taliban. Allegedly, about three quarters of all Americans believe in the creationist myth about the origin of the universe and reject scientific cosmology and Darwinian evolution and the explanation of the origin of life on Earth.

This kind of mediaeval obscurantism in such a large proportion of Americans is under constant attack from less ignorant Americans and others in the English speaking world but is resisted by the typical obscurantist American’s defiance of all attempts to enlighten them from outside and anti-intellectual complacency.

The bad: hypocrisy

The dollar bill

American society is riddled with contradictions and hypocrisy. The First Amendment to the US Constitution “addresses” (Wikipedia) “the rights of freedom of religion (prohibiting Congressional establishment of a religion over another religion through Law and protecting the right to free exercise of religion)” ... but, although it has been used successfully to prevent creationists in the more backward States of the union putting their religious mythology on the public school science curriculum alongside Darwinian evolution, it fails to prevent US Treasure banknotes carrying the theistic legend “in God we trust”.

Fraternities

In American universities, as anybody knows who has ever watched a movie about life on a US college campus, a significant element of undergraduate life is the fraternities (and, for women, sororities). The fraternities are seen by many young male students as groups which they aspire to join; and as is also quite well known such groups have entry criteria and initiation rites and ceremonies, the latter often cruel and degrading despite theory to the contrary.

Incidentally, the American university fraternities and sororities are notably characterized by an extremely childish denotation tradition matched in Britain only by the equally infantile ritualism of Freemasonry: the obsession with (and blind, ignorant conflation of) ancient Egyptian and Greek writing systems and symbology. American university fraternities apparently always name and denote themselves wih groups of two or three letters from the Greek alphabet. This does not entail any of the students in them actually knowing anything about the ancient Greeks, whether their language, their history, or their literature; it appears to be only a feeble attempt to introduce what is in fact an utterly spurious element of historical tradition to these institutions. Wikipedia says: “In modern usage, the term Greek letter organization has become synonymous with the North American fraternity and sorority.”

Here is one specific example of the almost criminal hypocrisy of fraternities. Delta Sigma Phi (ΔΣΦ) is a fraternity established in New York in 1899. According (again) to Wikipedia, at the end of the nineteenth century fraternities were exclusively Christian or Jewish, and barred membership to individuals on the basis of religion. When a group of friends at the City College of New York tried to join a fraternity, they were denied membership because of this, and so they organized the first chapter of Delta Sigma Phi. In 1902, Delta Sigma Phi was incorporated with the purpose to spread “the principles of friendship and brotherhood among college men, without respect to race or creed."