What makes a Country Great?

Use this forum to discuss the June 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, What Makes America Great by Bob Dowell
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Sushan
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What makes a Country Great?

Post by Sushan »

This topic is about the June 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, What Makes America Great by Bob Dowell



This author has tried to show what has made, and currently making America great. Despite America's greatness (or not) is a separate topic to discuss, this book gives rise to a much bigger question.

How can we say a country is great? What is greatness actually with regard to a country? Is it its history, current status, GDP, people, economy, politics, or something else? Or is this merely a word used to discriminate countries and their people? Or is greatness merely an illusion?
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Sushan wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 7:13 am How can we say a country is great? What is greatness actually with regard to a country? Is it its history, current status, GDP, people, economy, politics, or something else? Or is this merely a word used to discriminate countries and their people? Or is greatness merely an illusion?
In the positive sense of "that's great!" - intended as praise - I am struggling to think of a single great country, past or present.

But "great" might also mean "powerful", and there, there is no lack of prospective candidates. But not one of those candidates approaches the positivity of "that's great!", I'm afraid.

So it depends on how we mean the word "great". 🤔🤔🤔
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

Post by gad-fly »

Sushan wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 7:13 am
What is greatness actually with regard to a country? Is it its history, current status, GDP, people, economy, politics, or something else? Or is this merely a word used to discriminate countries and their people? Or is greatness merely an illusion?
Is it . . .? Yes, everything. Great is a general adjective to compliment. Is it a word to discriminate? Someone hunting for demon would say that. Is it an illusion? To say that is a delusion to escape from facing reality.
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

Post by chewybrian »

Pattern-chaser wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 12:01 pm
Sushan wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 7:13 am How can we say a country is great? What is greatness actually with regard to a country? Is it its history, current status, GDP, people, economy, politics, or something else? Or is this merely a word used to discriminate countries and their people? Or is greatness merely an illusion?
In the positive sense of "that's great!" - intended as praise - I am struggling to think of a single great country, past or present.

But "great" might also mean "powerful", and there, there is no lack of prospective candidates. But not one of those candidates approaches the positivity of "that's great!", I'm afraid.

So it depends on how we mean the word "great". 🤔🤔🤔
Did you ever read "Island" by Aldous Huxley? It's a great book. He uses the story as a vehicle to lay out his idea of what an ideal society would look like. It was not about GDP or military power, for sure, but about enabling every citizen to experience the most complete and fulfilling life possible. Children were taught logic and science and math, but also (and more importantly) creativity, kindness, empathy and such. I don't want to spill too much if you haven't read it.
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Sushan wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 7:13 am This topic is about the June 2022 Philosophy Book of the Month, What Makes America Great by Bob Dowell



This author has tried to show what has made, and currently making America great. Despite America's greatness (or not) is a separate topic to discuss, this book gives rise to a much bigger question.

How can we say a country is great? What is greatness actually with regard to a country? Is it its history, current status, GDP, people, economy, politics, or something else? Or is this merely a word used to discriminate countries and their people? Or is greatness merely an illusion?
I haven't read that book, but I think I have a fair knowledge of what is about based on reviews. Most likely I will never read it, unless I wanted to vomit.

Talking about "greatness" of a country seems pointless, if not for propaganda purposes or other attempts to play with political ideologies for proselytizing. The appeal to history (and also religion in Dowell's narrative) makes it particularly fitted to these purposes, trying to sell the idea of a "manifest destiny".

If an objective criteria had to be defined for declaring "greatness", I would ask that it focused on current measurable conditions as indicators that a standard of greatness is met.
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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The question only matters when you actively choose the country to live in. If you don't have a choice or do not want to make a choice, then the question is irrelevant.

I move where I am treated best.

I make all my money online. So, there is no requirement for me to be physically present anywhere in particular.

First of all, I do not agree to stay in countries where the government interferes in any way between man and woman, or parents and children.

Most countries outside the West don't do that. So, approximately 80% of the world's surface satisfies this requirement.

Secondly, I do not want to pay income tax or social security levies. In practice, I never have to do that outside the West.

Of course, I also prefer places that have functioning utilities, such as electricity, running water, and fast internet.

I also prefer to live in a building with 24/7 security guard, swimming pool, and gym. But then again, you can get these facilities in all capital cities in the world, and even in many of the provincial cities.

In SE Asia, these things seem to be generally much cheaper than elsewhere.

Furthermore, there also needs to be a relative shortage of men with good finances in the area, as well as a surplus of young, pretty, undamaged women.

SE Asia is exactly like that, and therefore a great area to live in.

In my opinion, living outside the West is much better for your private life as well as for your personal finances. The same dollars buy you a lot more.
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

Post by Good_Egg »

Pattern-chaser wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 12:01 pm In the positive sense of "that's great!" - intended as praise - I am struggling to think of a single great country, past or present.

But "great" might also mean "powerful", and there, there is no lack of prospective candidates. But not one of those candidates approaches the positivity of "that's great!", I'm afraid.

So it depends on how we mean the word "great". 🤔🤔🤔
There are these two dimensions, yes. Power and positivity, if you will.

I think what's meant by "great" in this context is a country that one can take pride in.

It's hard to be proud of a militarily and economically weak country that acts as others tell it to.

But also hard to be proud of a country that's successful only in amorally promoting its own self-interest.

I suggest that what we take pride in is a country that effectively acts in the world to promote our values.

"Making a country great" is about getting back that sense of collective self-belief. The belief that one's country is a force for good in the world, whether that good is conceived as civilisation, or peace between nations, or justice, or any other value.

What it's opposed to is that cultural relativism which insists that no country can ever be a force for justice or civilisation because everyone else's idea of justice or civilisation is necessarily as good as one's own.
"For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" - James 1:20
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Count Lucanor wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 9:30 pm If an objective criteria had to be defined for declaring "greatness", I would ask that it focused on current measurable conditions as indicators that a standard of greatness is met.
I think that this topic, and many similar ones, do not gain anything from an attempt to convert human value judgements into something "objective", defined, and precise. I suspect that such a conversion is not even possible. I wonder why some of us feel such a need for certainty? 🤔
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 7:00 am
Count Lucanor wrote: June 3rd, 2022, 9:30 pm If an objective criteria had to be defined for declaring "greatness", I would ask that it focused on current measurable conditions as indicators that a standard of greatness is met.
I think that this topic, and many similar ones, do not gain anything from an attempt to convert human value judgements into something "objective", defined, and precise. I suspect that such a conversion is not even possible. I wonder why some of us feel such a need for certainty? 🤔
I agree this is not the most appropriate subject for which one would create a standard and measure the performance against it, but any attempt to qualify something, should set up a measurable criteria to do so. Anyone could replicate the measurement and at least we can talk objectively about the distance from the point of reference. That's how we worked out geographic coordinates and came up with very useful stuff to do with them. The reference criteria is disputable, though. Take the definition of "poverty" from the World Bank, for example.
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Count Lucanor wrote: June 4th, 2022, 11:32 am ...any attempt to qualify something, should set up a measurable criteria to do so. Anyone could replicate the measurement and at least we can talk objectively about the distance from the point of reference.
Why on Earth would we wish to discuss a topic like this "objectively"? I think it's pretty clear to all of us that the 'greatness' of a country is not suited to that kind of scrutiny. It's a human value judgement. As such, we're probably lucky that it's even intelligible! 😉
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 11:44 am Why on Earth would we wish to discuss a topic like this "objectively"? 😉
Is it because one would like to have an opinion that is more than one's personal, subjective, visceral, point of view, making it a rational subject of discussion instead of mere exhortation to share one's gut-felt beliefs?
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 11:44 am Why on Earth would we wish to discuss a topic like this "objectively"? 😉
Count Lucanor wrote: June 4th, 2022, 12:44 pm Is it because one would like to have an opinion that is more than one's personal, subjective, visceral, point of view, making it a rational subject of discussion instead of mere exhortation to share one's gut-felt beliefs?
I think many of us would love to be in possession of such an opinion. That is the fatal attraction of Objectivity, that pointless extravagance of intellectual autoeroticism! 😉 The (unattainable) lure of certainty is difficult for some of us to resist...
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 12:55 pm
Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 11:44 am Why on Earth would we wish to discuss a topic like this "objectively"? 😉
Count Lucanor wrote: June 4th, 2022, 12:44 pm Is it because one would like to have an opinion that is more than one's personal, subjective, visceral, point of view, making it a rational subject of discussion instead of mere exhortation to share one's gut-felt beliefs?
I think many of us would love to be in possession of such an opinion. That is the fatal attraction of Objectivity, that pointless extravagance of intellectual autoeroticism! 😉 The (unattainable) lure of certainty is difficult for some of us to resist...
Yes, it can't be denied that no one desires objectivity, science, rationality, out of pure disinterested motivations. I'm with Nietzsche on that. Our drives are always emotional, but between Apollo and Dionysus, it is the latter one that represents the drunkenness of the unmeasurable.
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

Post by heracleitos »

If you are a digital nomad or a nomad capitalist, then economic opportunities in the local economy do not matter.

Therefore, the greatness of a country primarily depends on the extent to which:

(1) the country leaves you, your private life, your income, and your money alone.

(2) the country, or rather the city, has basic utilities such as electricity, running water, and internet.

Hence, most countries outside the West are great.

Even China and Russia score relatively well compared to the West. A place like Mogadishu (Somalia) could nowadays already be more attractive to live in than New York. Cheaper and better!
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Re: What makes a Country Great?

Post by Pattern-chaser »

Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 11:44 am Why on Earth would we wish to discuss a topic like this "objectively"? 😉
Count Lucanor wrote: June 4th, 2022, 12:44 pm Is it because one would like to have an opinion that is more than one's personal, subjective, visceral, point of view, making it a rational subject of discussion instead of mere exhortation to share one's gut-felt beliefs?
Pattern-chaser wrote: June 4th, 2022, 12:55 pm I think many of us would love to be in possession of such an opinion. That is the fatal attraction of Objectivity, that pointless extravagance of intellectual autoeroticism! 😉 The (unattainable) lure of certainty is difficult for some of us to resist...
Count Lucanor wrote: June 4th, 2022, 2:51 pm Yes, it can't be denied that no one desires objectivity, science, rationality, out of pure disinterested motivations. I'm with Nietzsche on that. Our drives are always emotional, but between Apollo and Dionysus, it is the latter one that represents the drunkenness of the unmeasurable.
Our motivations are not at issue here. It's not why we crave (unattainable) certainty, it's that we do crave it.
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