Remind me again why the USA is the most powerful country on Earth?

22 10 2005

For Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham, it’s because “ignorance is viewed as a natural resource, far more valuable to the prosperity of America than oil or timber.”

As broadcast recently on Radio National, Lapham gave a speech to the Sydney Writers Festival in May this year, opening with a series of excerpts from the History papers of American high school and university students:

This is a history of civilisation as told in a collection of college and high level high school students:

Civilisation woozed out of the Nile about 300,000 years ago. Flooding was erotic.

David was a fictional character in the Bible who pleased the people with his many erections and saved them from a tax by the Philippines.

Religion was polyphonic. Featured were gods such as Herod, Mars and Juice.

The Greeks invented three kinds of columns: Corinthian, Doric and Ironic. They also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

Plato invented reality. Pythagasaurus fathered the triangle. Archimedes made the first steamboat and power drill.

Rome was founded sometime by Uncle Remus and Wolf.

Neoplatonists celebrated the joys of self-abuse.

A German soldier put Rome in a sack. During the Dark Ages it was mostly dark.

Machiavelli who was often unemployed wrote The Prince to get a job with Richard Nixon.

Ivan the Terrible started life as a child, a fact that troubled his later personality.

The government of England was a limited mockery. When Queen Elizabeth exposed herself before her troops, they all shouted, Hurrah! Then her Navy went out and defeated the Spanish Armadillo.

When the Davey Jones index crashed in 1929, many people were left to political incineration.

The USSR and the USA became global in power, but Europe remained incontinent.

We in all humidity are the people of current times. This concept grinds our critical seething minds to a halt.

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