The herd of well-dressed lemmings

This article about wiretapping is worthwhile, if only for the point it makes at the end about how Europeans both mistrust corporations and trust governments much more than Americans. As cultural generalizations go, in my experience that is pretty much true, and I admit that it is perhaps the one aspect of European culture that most baffles me. Most Europeans really seem to regard their governments as fair, impartial arbiters removed from the tawdry self-interest of corporations and individuals, rather than just another participant in the competition for resources, and the one that is uniquely enshrined with coercive powers in a society to boot. I don’t think I will ever understand the fear of corporations, who may be pretty ruthless but, in the end, cannot force one to do anything (except by means of governmental corruption), whereas the entity that can lock up anyone at any time is trusted. But it’s impossible to understand European social views without taking into account this difference in outlook and values.

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