One example of this is in the use of the word 'government'. As a crude oversimplification, Americans mean something very different from Europeans when they use this word. For many Americans, the government is a potentially tyrannic meanie that is after the hard-earned money of the tax-payers and has no real reason for existing in the first place. For many Europeans, at least those from the so-called old Europe, the government may be something viewed with a bit of sceptism but it's not seen as inherently different from other organizations human beings create. If governments are not to be wholly trusted, neither are large firms or large churches and so on.
This is all linked to the meaning of the word 'freedom', and this is surely the one word where definitions vary all over the place. Who knows what George Bush has in mind when he talks about freedom? He appears to believe that the god of the Methodists has given it to all the people on this earth, but he has never given a Biblical reference to this promise, nor has he ever explained what he means by freedom. I suspect that he's talking about the freedom of corporations from laws and regulations, not really about the freedom of individuals from exploitation by corporations. His actions support this view more than any other view.
January 27, 2005
Thoughtful musings over at Echidne: