I grew up all over the world (Arabia, Africa, various Euro countries) and first encountered the USA at the age of 21. I subsequently moved back in my early 30s and remained for 27 years. There were several things about the USA that astonished me at first:
- A very, very, very repressed attitude towards sexuality of all kinds. Basically fear, neurosis, shame, guilt, confusion, ignorance, and avoidance
- Whereas people in other nations are reasonably clear (on average) about that nation’s shortcomings, US citizens live in a perpetual Disneyesque fantasy — they genuinely believe they are the “greatest” nation on Earth, the only ones to have freedom & democracy, etc. I think this is because so few ever travel, and of those few that do, only a tiny fraction speak enough of a foreign language to interact with the natives. Thus US citizens live in a perpetual bubble of misinformation
When I read de Toqueville I was amazed at how many of his observations still pertain today. But then I thought about the fact that the USA is truly unique. It has a political structure created by educated people who were products of The Enlightenment, who’d read Locke and Montesquieu. But the nation is peopled almost entirely by those who came from the very bottom of their various social hierarchies. Generation after generation of peasants came to the USA to make better lives for themselves, but they brought no knowledge, no sophisticated culture, no interest in anything beyond acquiring wealth. Their obsession with material well-being is what enabled the USA to become so economically dynamic for such a long time, but the downside was to create a nation in which there is little leavening of culture, knowledge, and curiosity. In the USA wealthy people go to the opera for the most part to show they can afford the tickets, not because they are enthralled by the Queen of the Night’s aria.
There are some wonderful people in the USA but like anywhere else they’re spread thinly. I was fortunate enough to encounter, very occasionally, US citizens who weren’t repressed and sexually warped beyond help. But for the most part it’s a cruel culture that emotionally cripples people from their very earliest moments and just as with the insane level of gun violence this sexual repression is considered “normal” by the vast majority and will never, ever change.