In previous posts my dear friend medievalotaku has been building an explanation and defense of The Cult of America, of which I wish to add just a smattering of material to; The Cult of America, as ominous as that sounds to anyone who fears the word Cult, or I suppose to anyone who fears or loathes the American Nation, is simply the characteristics that make up the national ethos and general character of the people of America. In general, Americans will act a certain way or have a certain view point that goes beyond political boundaries and settles into the realm of character. An outward expression and an example would be that Americans give and expect personal space. Why they do this though is the more interesting topic. Americans are raised from their earliest days to understand and defend personal property and ownership; beginning with the body but quickly advancing to the simplest forms of property rights. This is also why Americans have historically been far more willing to defend themselves and their property against transgression or trespass. Down to the core, Americans believe that what’s theirs is theirs, and no one else can partake of it without consent.
An interesting contrast that I have seen through some of my travels in Asia: personal space is far more limited, and private property and ownership is less of an object of thought than it is in America. That is not to say it is any less important in the legal system or in the reality of prosperity, but it is not a constant viewpoint that something or some space is mine as opposed to belonging to someone else or the community. This is not to say that everyone is passing around backpacks and cell phones on the public bus, but people certainly do not believe that a certain spot is theirs or a seat that they have been in for the past hour belongs to them.
Perhaps that is all to ambiguous so I will use another example: The propensity to simply take something or grab something without asking permission is much more common. Again, this is among friends because generally the central Asian societies are very polite and considerate of others, especially elders; but among friends simply grabbing or taking something from another is common, and yes often playful. It does play into the mind set of the culture though. An elder brother or sister can simply take something from their younger brother or sister or friend. Now of course the natural displeasure of the property owner is there when his book or Game-Boy is taken away, but there is an engrained acceptance of such acts that is never developed in American society. Even among siblings American children are for more expressive and denounce the unfairness of situations involving the theft of their property, even when the perpetrator is an older brother, a close friend, or a classmate.
There is something in our culture that trains and builds the respect for personal space and property. It begins at a very young age, and it shapes our entire culture. This admittance of the natural law naturally leads people to expect and demand created law to align itself and protect what we see clearly as natural and correct. And even if someone were to argue that it only looks like a natural law, but is really an environmental byproduct, self-perpetuated in the culture, it is clear that this characteristic of American society has helped to build up the institutions of property rights, the justice system that defends property rights, and the general increase in economic productivity. Our sense of ownership naturally lends itself to a sense of gain and loss, driving our people toward productivity.