Monday, December 15, 2003

I'm too busy to blog, which is too bad, between teaching private classes and trying to write. I need you guys to challenge me; I have free time and I am not writing anything but the blog right now. Kick me in the ass. Remind me, "You have this idea for a movie, you have that idea for a book, you have the other idea for whatever. Are you doing anything about them? If not doing that or blogging (blogging is great writing practice, almost as good as whacking off is compared to sex), then what the fuck are you doing?"

Anyway, though, later this evening or tomorrow, I'll do a post on the Spanish media's response to the capture of Saddam. I can tell you right off the top of my head that the newspapers are unanimous in calling Saddam a nasty evil person and that they are also unanimous in persnickety criticisms of the United States and the typical "Yeah, but it doesn't really mean anything" nationalist response.

As George Orwell said and I never get tired of quoting, the nationalist is someone who identifies himself with a power group to the point of becoming obsessed with the comparative prestige of his chosen group. It's just like sports fans. You might choose your team because they're winners or because they are the underdog. You might be in favor of slick, stylish play or crude, effective play. You might like the old-line, conservative team or the new-style, trendy, flashy team. You're quite likely to choose it bcause it was your dad's team or some other significant influence's team. Well, most people who write in the local press are Spanish or Catalan nationalists, and they may have one of several philias (Anglo-, Franco-, Germano-, Thirdworldo-) in addition.

No matter what, the identity that many people around here choose or get socialized into or however you want to put it is constructed in such a way that they are almost never Americanophiles, and America is always seen as the greatest cultural enemy of whatever nationalism they're loyal to. It's not unusual, by the way, for the most snobbish Continental Americanophobes to be strong Anglophiles.

Since America is the cultural enemy, every American triumph must be diminished and every American defeat must be exaggerated. The enemy must not be permitted to gain prestige in any way, because a gain in prestige for them is offset by a loss for us. They think comparative prestige is a zero-sum game, like the mercantilist (NOT Marxist) economic thinkers they are, rather than an unlimited pie of which everyone has a share (dixit Milo Minderbinder), like the free-market economic thinkers we gringos or limeys or guiris that we are. That's why we're already hearing the Spanish press complain about how the Arab people have been humiliated or how Saddam has been shown off like a zoo animal or how this means that the UN should take over control of Iraq or the Internet or both or whatever. The Anglo Protestant gringo yanquis must not be allowed to gain comparative prestige! Our national pride(s) depend on their not taking any of our prestige away from us, which is what they're conspiring to do!

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