Understanding America

2006-04-11

I have this working theory about America: it's essentially a nation full of crazy people. The basic notion is a corollary of the principle of first effective settlement -- i.e., the fundamental character of a place is set by those who settle it. Now, who settled America? For the most part, crazy Englishmen. The latter part ties America to the Anglosphere. But it was the crazy ones who got on a creaky boat for a two-month voyage across the stormy Atlantic (with a 20% or greater chance of death) only to be plunked down in a howling wilderness with none of the comforts of home. Those crazy settlers started to carve out a new civilization, and lots of crazy immigrants joined them -- originally from England, Scotland, and Wales, but then also from Holland and France and Germany and Ireland and Italy and China and now the entire world.

I've been meaning to write up this idea at greater length, but it seems that John D. Gartner has beaten me to it. I'll be reading his book soon.


Peter Saint-Andre > Journal