What Do You Call A World That Can't Learn From Itself?

Published Thursday Dec 21, 2017.

For more, see Umair Haque.

Usually I find Medium posts turn out to be first-draft word salads that don’t carry meaning so much as market the appearance of it. What Do You Call A World That Can’t Learn From Itself? from Umair Haque is an exception. The article compares the cultures of the US and Europe, as well as the directions they’re heading in: where European quality of life is better than the US’, but where both societies are inextricably becoming more like the US.

What does that really mean? We are living in a world unable to learn from itself. What would sane societies do, watching each other, watching each other’s fortunes rise and fall? A sane America would look at Europe, see it’s tremendously higher quality of life in every possible regard, and say, “My God! That is what we should reach for, too!”. And a sane Europe would look at America, see it’s falling life expectancy and imploding middle class, and say, “My God! We must never become that!” But you see, the irony is this: both are doing precisely the opposite. Europe is fighting against becoming more American, and America is not fighting to become more European.

I can imagine not everybody will agree with what’s said here — but I’ve wondered whether this was the case myself before, and haven’t had Haque’s experience to confirm it. Certainly, visiting Europe, I noticed the same difference comparing the UK and Europe’s cultures. Also, I suspect the UK sits somewhere between the US’ culture and Europe’s, so his exaggerated version of what I’ve seen myself checks out.

I like that this doesn’t have a complicated point to make, and it doesn’t spend too long making a small one. It’s an appropriate complexity and length for a Medium post. Check it out here.