Everyone Likes Canada and the Canadians Know

- - posted in Ancient Archives

This is an interesting survey, but rather flawed in places: It sometimes assumes that people feel a particular way about a country, in a simple, nationalistic sense, but I think most people are more subtle than that.

Attitudes to the USA are often the most complex, and very difficult to push into a simple of answer of ‘favourable’ or ‘unfavourable’. Who or what is being judged - living conditions, foreign policy, culture? A lot of people will consider the USA’s foriegn policy to be obscene but quite like the place, and it’s people. The question assumes a simplistic prejudice, that people think in terms a “country” as one homogenous unit, and as a result, it gives an answer that presents a prejudice that probably isn’t there.

I read an interview somewhere (possibly a book extract) with a leading Jihadi terrorist, who was dedicated to the overthrow of the US but who loved US food, TV and music, and quite fancied living there one day.

The report gets better when it moves on and asks more precise questions, about ‘national characteristics’ (still somewhat dodgy…)

“Americans generally rate themselves better than does the rest of the world, but there are a couple of exceptions. Strikingly, Americans are more inclined than any other public in this survey to say their fellow Americans are greedy.”

and, of course, foreign policy.

The ‘Bad Vibes in the Neighbourhood’ section is interesting, and ‘Where to go to lead a good life” is very interesting indeed: Canada and Australia do best, and even the UK pops up as #1 choice in Poland (?) and Spain (where many British people want to live). I do wonder what the full results were for this question, as the leading choices have rather low percentages.

Most significant, I think, is ‘Better if another rivalled US Power?’: it seems most people surveyed want another military superpower to keep the USA in check. I’d quite like a socio-economic superpower (more than one, preferably) to balance US influence, but the question sounds a like “Do you want a cold war again?”, and returned a worrying answer.

Link: Pew Global Attitudes Project