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Who’s the greatest?

That’s like asking who’s favorite sports team is the greatest. They all are. People feel similarly about their culture. To Americans, America is the greatest. Well, to Europeans, Europe is greatest. The Chinese know that they’re the greatest and have been for thousands of years before Europe let alone the U.S. came along.

How do you measure greatness? Being #1 on every list? Is bigger always better? What about this idea: less is more?


Europe

Eurocentrism

the practice of viewing the world from a European perspective and with an implied belief, either consciously or subconsciously, in the preeminence of the European social model.

The European social model is a common vision many European states have for a society that combines economic growth with high living standards and good working conditions. Historian Tony Judt has argued that the European social model “binds Europe together” in contrast to the “American way of life”.

European states do not all use a single social model, but welfare states in Europe do share several broad characteristics. These generally include a commitment to full employment, social protections for all citizens, social inclusion, and democracy. Examples common among European countries include universal health care, free higher education, strong labor protections and regulations, and generous welfare programs in areas such as unemployment insurance, retirement pensions, and public housing.

The world with China in the center

The world with China
in the center

Child Well-Being In Rich Countries

After Living in Norway, America Feels Backward. Here’s Why. A crash course in social democracy.


China

Sinocentrism

an ethnocentric perspective that regards China to be the center of civilization and superior to all other nations (diagram on left). In China, common names for China include “Zhonghua” (中华/中華) and “Zhongguo” (中国/中國), Central Kingdom, most excellent center.


United States

American exceptionalism

American exceptionalism refers to the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other countries. … Historian Gordon Wood has argued, “We Americans are a special people with a special destiny to lead the world toward liberty and democracy.” …Although the term does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense. To them, the United States is like the biblical “shining city on a hill,” and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries.

How great is the U.S.?

How great is the U.S.?

The case for American exceptionalism was made recently by Newt Gingrich in the video A City Upon A Hill: The Spirit Of American Exceptionalism – trailer

It is a fact-free case that uses the word “belief” repeatedly. In contrast, the fact-based case for the U.S. not being the “greatest” country in the world was made by Jeff Daniels in the opening scene of the HBO series The Network.

Most Americans think the U.S. is great, but fewer say it’s the greatest
Pew Research Center, July 2, 2014

The decline in the view that the U.S. is the greatest country in the world has occurred across most demographic and political groups, but it has been particularly acute among Republicans.

Ranking America – a site for information about the U.S. – How does the U.S. rank in …


Australia

Australian exceptionalism

Australian Exceptionalism”…. let that phrase roll off your tongue.

Now stop laughing for a moment if you can!

There’s something about that phrase that just doesn’t sit right with us. We’re not only unaccustomed to thinking about ourselves that way, but for many it’s a concept that is one part distasteful to three parts utterly ridiculous – try mentioning it in polite company sometime. Bring a helmet.

We’ll often laugh at the cognitive dissonance displayed by our American cousins when they start banging on about American Exceptionalism – waxing lyrical about the assumed ascendancy of their national exploits while they’re forced to take out a second mortgage to pay for a run of the mill medical procedure. That talk of exceptionalism has become little more than an exceptional disregard for the truth of their own comparative circumstances.

But in truth, we both share that common ignorance – we share a common state of denial about the hard realities of our own accomplishments compared to those of the rest of the world. While the Americans so often manifest it as a belief that they and they alone are the global benchmark for all human achievement, we simply refuse to acknowledge our own affluence and privilege – denialists of own hard won triumphs, often hysterically so.

Never before has there been a nation so completely oblivious to not just their own successes, but the sheer enormity of them, than Australia today.