Don’t Know Much About…

I have no doubt that most Americans have realistic assessments of their interests in and knowledge of world politics, as reported in this study: they don’t know much about it and they don’t care. Americans are practical people and many Americans can travel 500 miles in any direction and still be in the United States. Such knowledge really doesn’t have much use in their day-to-day lives.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many Frenchmen had some notion on Spanish politics or if Italians had knowledge of German politics. How much knowledge do Europeans have about Japanese politics?

5 comments… add one
  • Well, I don’t know about the self-image meaning there is a fundamental difference in approach.

    But yes, incentives drive interest, and American insularity comes from very practical incentives. And yes, Europeans have stronger practical incentives to be interested in ‘foreign politics’ – I’d wager that probably due to greater exposure there is probably a sensible difference in “wider interest” in foreign politics, that is practical experience with practical incentives in being interested….

    Ergo, I think you’re slightly wrong in a detail, but it’s something I agree in general on.

  • I don’t think we can make excuses for American ignorance of the outside world. We’re the world’s only superpower. We have bases everywhere. We have comittments everywhere. We have interests everywhere. We pay for all this fun. We ought to know that Spain isn’t in South America.

  • And?

    The ordinary man on the street has no real incentive to change his ways mate.

  • “We ought to know that Spain isn’t in South America.”

    I am guessing that Michael Reynolds gets his knowledge of Americans lowlier than him from the Onion. That’s the only place I’ve ever seen anything suggestive of that “Spain is in South America” notion.

  • Triticale:

    In fact I was quoting a Spaniard, or at least a Catalan. Not sure what he calls himself.

    As it happens I’m willing to bet that 30% of Americans would place Spain in S.A.

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