NYTimes: email from Israel

Stephen D. Williams sdw@lig.net
Wed, 03 Oct 2001 00:11:07 -0400

Grlygrl201@aol.com wrote:

> In a message dated 10/2/01 9:27:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
> sdw@lig.net writes:
>> We can decide, with at least some degree of self-critical neutrality,
>> that a certain practice or belief is 'superior'.  Of course superiority
>> has to be measured on various axis, but this isn't too hard when
>> comparing cultures, beliefs, and practices.  It's also not too hard in
>> many cases to sort those ideas into more and less primitive.  Do I
>> really need to point out examples?
> sure, go for it.  with self-critical neutrality, why don't you list in 
> descending order of superiority some cultures, beliefs and practices?
> geege

I know better, but here are a few stream-of-thought responses:

(Order within groups is not clearcut and depends on your axis 
precedence.  For instance, I tend to think that France's romantic social 
fabric is more advanced and more healthy than the US's traditional 
puritanical views in certain aspects (i.e. adultary).  At the same time, 
they are too trusting of socialism-flavor governance.  In other words, 
personal relationships seem smoother there (France) and business/citizen 
relationships seem smoother here (US).)

Overall social/political/cultural performance:

best practice (to date):  
US/CA/GB/FR/AUS/NZ/Others, modern era

Japan (racist, government confusion), India (red tape, the rest is a 
guess as I have little data and only stories from Indian friends)

N. Ireland, Cuba, Brazil (fragmented knowledge: they don't have outright 
genocide, however Brazil's abuse of natives and street-orphans isn't 
very civilized.)  Note that these are mostly modern with minor political 

Russia is in the US Chicago gangster era, or just after on the axis of 
economic system evolution.  It hopefully can progress through the 
various stages quickly but it could take a generation or two to 
completely saturate in the system.

China (pre-democratic gov., etc.)

Congo, Afghanistan  (canabalism-derived culture, genocide, abuse of 
women, death sentences for everything)

Primitive and/or horrifically regressive meme disease:
Regimes of:
Pol Pot, Hitler, Ivan the Terrible (maybe), Spanish Inquisition

On other axis:

Medical care:
Modern medical care vs. witch doctors vs. faith healing vs. leaving the 
(The best way to fund medicine in general is up in the air.  Is it more 
like defense or entertainment?  Very confusing.)

Forms of gov:
Representative Democracy with modern features ('safety net', defense, 
certain regulation) vs. Communism/Socialism

Owning Housing:
The US system of mortgages/banks/Fanny Mae/investors
simple banks/investors/mortgages
indentured servants
feudal systems

I won't go into detailed resolution here, but it's pretty plain on a 
case by case basis:

Humanism (AHA see: humanist.net)
Progressive/adaptive/positive Religion  (For some definition of progressive)
Orthodox religion (for some definition of orthodox)
Oppressive religion (those that cause unnecessary mental anguish and 
abusive and/or militant religion (any religion that actively attacks others)

This ones easy, right?  (Guess again.)