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Why Being Anti-American Is Just No Fun Anymore

How many can give up their daily dose?
How many can give up their daily dose?
Alan Posener

BERLIN - In my local video store, they’ve just created a new section for TV series. The very great majority of the series are American: The Wire, Mad Men, The Sopranos, Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, Girls, Modern Family, Lost, 24, various CSIs, and so on and so forth. The dominant culture in Europe continues to be American.

By contrast, we don’t seem to care much about American politics these days. Forgotten are the aggressive campaigns of the Bush years, when hundreds of thousands hit the streets of Germany to protest America’s war on terror, its “export” of democracy, and to support then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s "German Way." Europe, scoffed the Neocons, came from Venus, the U.S. from Mars. And a good thing too, scoffed the Europeans right back. Today? We Europeans bomb democracy into Libya; chase pirates in the Indian Ocean; march off to a small anti-terror war in Mali – and nobody’s interested. Or somebody asks in irritated tones where the hell the Americans are.

Nobody gets excited about American domestic politics either – mainly because what’s going on on that front – high unemployment, massive government debt – is all so familiarly European. At best the difference is that the American government has rediscovered John Maynard Keynes while we Europeans are assiduous followers of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

For many years those who opposed our immigration policies said we should follow the American lead – they only let the best people in. Now we’re hearing that the U.S. is in the process of legalizing 11 million illegal immigrants. Eleven million! Critics also used to be vocal on the subject of European social benefits, praising the Americans for focusing on the power of the individual rather than a nanny state. Upon closer inspection, it turns out however that tax-financed health programs like Medicare and Medicaid are pure socialism.

Critics may point to all the guns in private hands in the U.S., yet the American government supports a national register of those with mental problems that would make it difficult for the unstable to get hold of firearms. What this boils down to is this: citizens who feel they have a right to own firearms to protect their freedoms have a government that wants to make major incursions into patient confidentiality and privacy of personal information. The absurdity of this is positively European in its dimensions

Long story short: it’s just no fun to be anti-American anymore. Why? As we could have figured out from watching all those TV series we love so much – the Americans are way too much like us.

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food / travel

Legalizing Moonshine, A Winning Political Stand In Poland

Moonshine, typically known as “bimber” in Poland, may soon be legalized by the incoming government. There is a mix of tradition, politics and economics that makes homemade booze a popular issue to campaign on.

Photo of an empty vodka bottle on the ground in Poland

Bottle of vodka laying on the ground in Poland

Leszek Kostrzewski

WARSAWIt's a question of freedom — and quality. Poland's incoming coalition government is busy negotiating a platform for the coming years. Though there is much that still divides the Left, the liberal-centrist Civic Koalition, and the centrist Third Way partners, there is one area where Poland’s new ruling coalition is nearly unanimous: moonshine.

The slogan for the legalization of moonshine (known in Poland as "bimber") was initially presented by Michał Kołodziejczak, the leader of Agrounia, a left-wing socialist political movement in Poland that has qualified to be part of the incoming Parliament.

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”Formerly so-called moonshine was an important element of our cultural landscape, associated with mystery, breaking norms, and freedom from the state," Kołodziejczak said. "It was a reason to be proud, just like the liqueurs that Poles were famous for in the past.”

The president of Agrounia considered the right to make moonshine as a symbol of "subjectivity" that farmers could enjoy, and admitted with regret that in recent years it had been taken away from citizens. “It's also about a certain kind of freedom, to do whatever you want on your farm," Kołodziejczak adds. "This is subjectivity for the farmer. Therefore, I am in favor of providing farmers with the freedom to consume this alcohol for their own use.”

A similar viewpoint was aired by another Parliament member. “We will stop pretending that Polish farmers do not produce moonshine for their own use, such as for weddings,” the representative said, pointing out the benefits of controlling the quality. “Just like they produce slivovitz, which Poland is famous for. It's high time they did it legally.”

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