Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal, did a post comparing the Mediterranean lifestyle compared to the American lifestyle, and apparently a commmenter who has lived in both Italy and America weighed in on the topic at his own blog, entitled: A Brief Rant About America:
The one thing that Italy has that America lacks is a culture that is not entirely dominated by the “machine” (the technological complex that demands hours of work on a treadmill every day to keep crappy consumerism alive so that our survival becomes dependent on businessmen making money). In Italy, people aim to live like human beings: they don’t work like maniacs; they don’t eat like maniacs; they go bankrupt and don’t care. When the American dream (of a career selling crap to people who don’t need it) becomes an impossible nightmare for them, they retreat to the fields and become shepherds — instead of camping out on Wall Street and demanding handouts from their fatcat overlords.
Great start to a rant, but the American dream needs an addendum here:
...of a career selling crap to people who don’t need it, so that they can service their own debt they used to buy crap they don't need either.
In America, we are still living with the kind of idiotic mindset that makes work a virtue for its own sake. We work really hard at tasks, so hard that we cannot be bothered to stop when feedback indicates that we are digging ourselves into an impossible hole (creating hell instead of heaven). We value effort over achievement, profit over sustainability, size over function, specialization and concentration over tinkering and liberal understanding. We go to school to become cogs in “the machine” — to turn our brains off of human concerns so that we can dedicate them wholly to minute tasks that make money for businessmen (for the most part: some of us do dodge the bullet! but we see those who don’t in our classrooms, our churches, our workplaces, our gyms, our hospitals, and so on). We work to “do a job” that we frequently couldn’t care less about, probably because it is usually as boring as heck (with its primary contribution to humanity being the perpetuation of busywork, which we worship with religious fervor).
Good rant. What he really notices here is nothing more than the influence of the Corporatist/Fascist machine that is the SYSTEM that America operates in. Education and mass media influence are all designed to instill two primary ethos in us all: to become materialistic consumers of corporate products and services, and to become the HUMAN RESOURCES that serve as the cogs and wheels of the machine that provides those goods and services to feed that corporate mass media driven, consumerist ideal.
Side note on my strange position between conservatism and liberalism. It is really funny. Everyone firmly on one side sees all these nefarious conspiracies on the other: depending on which set of friends I talk with on any given day, I am alternately a card-carrying member of the KKK or the Weathermen -- a reactionary fascist who loves big business or a fire-breathing communist determined to make sure every kindergartner in America knows how to have anal sex. What nonsense! There are not really vast grassroots conspiracies in American politics, in my experience: just people at the top exploiting people at the bottom in tried and true ways to maintain their position, throwing the occasional bone to an ideological cause they believe in "because that's the right thing to do" -- as it is, sometimes.
Precisely. There is no real, substantial difference between "conservatism" and "liberalism" at this point in time. They are both two sides of the same coin - the right and left hands of the same leviathan, the all consuming, forever expanding Government/Corporate conglomerate that seeks to enslave us all.