The American Dream 250

Here am I spreaking at the Oxford Union, in entertaining mode.

You can see the other speeches in the debate. The Motion “This house still dreams the American Dream” was defeated.

The following week the motion “This house believes that Israel is a force for good in the Middle East” was also defeated. I hear Peter Tatchell was excellent.

I don not think the format of such debates is antiquated and irrelevant. It helps get students thinking, and you get a range of opinion denied an airing elsewhere. I can never get to say those things on the mainstream media.

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250 thoughts on “The American Dream

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  • angrysoba

    Mary: Fancy admitting to eating whale meat. OK for the Greenlanders who have little else to eat but Japan, with sufficient resources not to kill whales, has no justification.

    Actually, I was Googling around a bit to find out if MacDonalds is evil, arch-evil or pure evil and discovered that they’re actually not bad. It seems they source a lot of their food from sustainable soya farmers in Brazil and even Greenpeace like them these days. Ironically indeed maybe Happy Meals are just that. I think we need to get McDonalds up to Greenland quick and save the whales. It could be that they will forever be tainted with the unpardonable sin of being Yankee Imperialists and purveyors of that naiive cheerfulness so despised by gritty miserablists, but that’s the American dream for you… 🙁

  • Jemand - The Power of Prayer

    Motion defeated because no guy can resist a natural blonde in a skirt.

    Enjoyed the video Craig.

    A few things :

    1. The much discussed silence of the previously mirthful audience when you mentioned the theft of Palestinian land has been completely misrepresented here by some commentators. It is quite clear to me that when you transitioned from the humourous remarks to a very serious issue, you took your audience by surprise and gave them a reason to pause for thought. Nobody expected your blunt statement of fact. They were momentarily stunned by the starkness between their own comfortable existence and the cruel reality that Palestinians must live through, each and every day. To clap and cheer in response to that miserable thought, would have been most incongruous – almost selfcongratulatory. It was a solemn, fleeting moment, and they observed it as such. As your American Dream President declared – “Mission Accomplished”.

    2. What’s the deal with creamy-blonde vs platinum-blonde? What’s wrong with an all-over ‘Assange’? Take it for a test drive for one day and if it doesn’t work out, flip it back. For less than 100 quid, you will know where you stand.

    3. Now don’t arc up and get all sensitive on me here. Or send any of your angry flying monkeys after me for observing the obvious. These issues need to be discussed in the open. From the neck down, you look like me. I’m doing something about it – what are you doing?

  • angrysoba

    The Sea Shepherd crews are the ones ramming ships; it is hardly surprising that a self-styled pirate gets locked up for sinking vessels and bragging about it.

  • Herbie

    Well, Angry.

    Whilst we’re obviously now in a state of flux, you’re not disagreeing that the American dream and indeed Western standards of living more generally, were sustained by the poverty, war and starvation that many across the planet had to endure?

    Or, are you?

  • Villager

    Mary thanks for highlighting that whale article and situation.

    Angrysoba, that’s good then, you can now become a prole though i doubt very much you will be any less angry. But thank you so much for sharing with us your very enlightened gullet-view of The American Dream.

  • Villager

    Clark, thank you for that–helpful, as always.
    There’s a lot of technical jargon on that 2nd link youtube-dl Download Page you sent me.
    i’m not even clear how the download is triggered. Do you reckon its safe then to go ahead and for me to attempt that?
    Appreciate your time.
    Best wishes

  • Clark

    Villager, the download is free (GPL) and open-source, so it’s at the safest end of the software spectrum. Using the downloader requires a little persistence with the technicalities; you need Python installed (there’s a link on the page in case OS X doesn’t include Python by default). It’s too off-topic for a full discussion here but I’ll help out by e-mail if you like.

    But it’s really better to treat Flash videos as a social problem. It’s only Adobe’s commercial power that foists their near-monopoly upon us, Adobe Systems is a good example of how the American Dream tends to eat itself. So it’s best to boycott Flash video as much as you can, and persuade websites to use other formats. Working around the problem doesn’t help to solve it at its source.

  • Clark

    Villager, the bottom two-thirds of technicalities on that downloader page are about signing and checksums. This enables people with the know-how to verify that what you’re downloading really is what the site is offering, and hasn’t been modified or “infected” in any way. I’ve installed the downloader myself. All the checksums verified properly. The downloader works. It saves target video files in your home folder in whatever format they were in before being “wrapped” in the voodoo Flash container.

  • Villager

    Clark, thank you Sir. Am seeing a friend tomorrow who’s clued-up and whose safe oversight should help me to it tomorrow. Appreciate your pointing me in the right direction. Hope you’re keeping well and have a good weekend.

  • angrysoba

    Herbie: Well, Angry.

    Whilst we’re obviously now in a state of flux, you’re not disagreeing that the American dream and indeed Western standards of living more generally, were sustained by the poverty, war and starvation that many across the planet had to endure?

    Or, are you?

    That sounds like one of those terrible Oxford debate motions “This House is not in disagreement that the West lives well off the backs of the poor!”

    I think no, Western standards of living don’t require poverty, war and starvation and in many cases resulted in the opposite. I think it is too simplistic to think that when one person gains something another person loses something. I probably once did wonder if it was true, but a good book is Guns, Germs and Steel which showed how humans went from being hunter-gatherers to being able to grow far larger amounts of food, freeing up much of the tribes to do other things, develop their technologies, trade with other groups and generally increase their stock of things. I think that around the time when you and I were born there were fewer people living, less food, more famine, more poverty, more disease and people in the West had a lower standard of living. So, how is it that standards of living, longevity etc… have increased while poverty, war and starvation have gone down?

  • angrysoba

    Villager: Angrysoba, that’s good then, you can now become a prole though i doubt very much you will be any less angry. But thank you so much for sharing with us your very enlightened gullet-view of The American Dream.

    Oh, please don’t take my use of the Orwellian epithet seriously. Or my claims to munching on whale. As for the American Dream, the stereotypical view of the clueless Yank munching on MacDonald’s and watching FOX news was that provided by Craig Murray in the debate. All I am saying is that if that kind of lifestyle is what someone wants then I don’t particularly care. It was then that Herbie suggested that lifestyle was very destructive, but I think that’s more dogma than reality.

  • Anon

    Villager (and Flash users in general).

    Just a bit more info

    If you do us Flash YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST KEEP IT UP TO DATE. SAME GOES FOR JAVA. (Caps Over). I’ve seen a few machines infected via Flash and Java exploits recently.

    To confuse things further it is possible to be using a different version of Flash Player in Firefox, Chrome, IE. Chrome now has its own version of Flash Player built in.

    Check current Flash Version in browser at

    Check Java Plugin at

    Note that both Oracle and Adobe have been releasing security updates every few days like there is no tomorrow recently. Again you absolutely must not ignore these updates if you use them.

    Btw, Java latest available update is known to have a security hole currently being exploited. Expect another update for that any day now.

    You should update whether you are using Windows, Mac or Linux as all three operating systems have been targeted recently. Apple, facebook and Microsoft are just some of the companies who have admitted infections inside their firewalls recently.

  • Vronsky

    There’s nothing particularly American about the American Dream – it’s a set of quite ordinary aspirations. Americans who are seriously interested in equality of opportunity for all regardless of birth are usually recommended to move to Denmark.

  • Mary

    WTF? Insurgents? Aged under 7? Get out now, Obama and Cameron and the rest of ISAF and take all your evil with you.

    Nato apologises after two Afghan boys killed

    The Nato-led Isaf force has apologised for the deaths of two Afghan boys, killed when a helicopter fired on them, mistaking them for insurgents.

    The boys, aged under seven, were killed last month in rural Uruzgan province.

    Isaf commander Gen Joseph Dunford said the mission took “full responsibility” for an incident he said was a tragedy.

    Analysts say civilian deaths enrage the Afghan people and President Karzai, who recently stopped his troops calling in foreign airstrikes in built-up areas.

    That move came after a 13 February incident where a Nato airstrike requested by Afghan forces killed 10 people, including five women and four children.



    Hammond today (remember Pushy Perry is his PPS) is saying Welfare or Defence. The pathetic man is holding a gun to our heads. Gerald Howarth Con Aldershot has just been on Sky News speaking of how bad the defence cuts were when he was in Liam Fox’s department when Fox was minister, and how they are a thousand times worse now. What evil men speaking evil nonsense.

  • Anon

    One final bit of Flash Player nonsense for Android users.

    Adobe have removed Flash Player for Android from Play Store completely. This means, if you have Flash Player on your Android mobile/tablet, you no longer get automatic security updates even though there are very serious security holes in the last auto-updated version. However Adobe still release security updates and you can still update Flash Player manually by going to – Note there is a different version for download for Ice Cream Sandwich and GingerBread. Not supported on Jelly Bean but the ICS version will work on most Jelly Bean devices.

    Bottom line is if you have Flash Player on the phone and the version doesn’t match the latest version listed by Adobe then update it manually.

  • Mary

    It has been said that Google manipulate the You Tube viewing figures. When I posted it on the Geneva thread yesterday, it was new and had 13 viewings. I thought it strange that the counter had stayed the same after I watched it through. 24 hrs later it is registering 156. I don’t belive the number. It has been posted on Medialens too. If the video is about a puppy playing or aimilar the numbers zoom up. How do Google do this?

  • Clark

    angrysoba, 4:25 pm

    “All I am saying is that if that kind of lifestyle (clueless Yanks munching on MacDonald’s and watching FOX news) is what someone wants then I don’t particularly care.”

    There are reasons that you should care. Your “clueless Yank watching FOX news” votes, and poor voting choices, particularly in the US, degrade everything for everyone. Your MacDonald’s-munchers have children; you probably agree that children should be protected from religious indoctrination; they’d be better off protected from corporately promoted products that are specifically designed to be habit-forming, too.

  • Clark

    angrysoba, assuming that social problems remain localised is usually a mistake. Such arguments are often used to promote various “wars”, like the “War on Drugs” or the “War on Terror”. Somehow, this can morph into “it only harms those who indulge” depending upon which direction most benefits corporate profits.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Conflict

    “We do not support rampant corruption; we do not support rampant selfishness; we do not support the destruction of international law, and what George Bush did to the United Nations in illegally invading Iraq was just as devastating as what Hitler did to the League of Nations when he invaded Poland.”

    I am urged to emphasise the fact we are lumbering if not noctambulating along a route to the final battleground, the showdown with Iran and her allies China and Russia. A road that must lead to to the 21st century extinction of mother earth and her guardians.

    Thank-you Craig for your prescience.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Occasionally, anti-American derogations arise to direct blame elsewhere. Not all Americans are ignorant and base, munching cheetos while watching Fox news. I have found, every culture, every social order, contains the good and the bad. My anecdotal, non-scientific research leads me to a range of 15-25% of the general population actually exercises their brains and possess curiosity, while developing a healthy distaste for their own narcisssim, and directing energy outward, to a greater or lesser degree within that sub-group. That perspective has led me to believe the same proportions exist in opinions, attitudes and beliefs of the Worldwide community. So maybe you should let up on the bigotry, whether well-meant or not.

  • Clark

    Ben Franklin, well said. Remember folks, Bradley Manning was an intelligence analyst for the US military, a member of a much reviled group. That’s just one example; we can all think of plenty more.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Thanks, Clark. I don’t think our Host shares your perspective, however.

    “Disliking Americans is a hobby”. I don’t find the tongue-in-cheek self-deprecatory rhetoric takes the sting out of Craigs rant. How is it America has the lead on the avarice? Has the United Kingdom somehow been duped into a lack of self-awareness? I hesitate to speculate how long Craig has harbored such resentment, but he does have his nose in the air quite a bit, lately.

    I wonder if he reads the History of British global dominance with a sense of nostalgia and sees the American Colonies with the same pair of eyes as he sees Mohandas, India and Pakistan…

    “I told you so…..”

  • Fool dream

    There is a difference between dream as imagination, a seed, and day dreaming; day dreaming is very difficult to avoid – maybe as bad as passively accepting state PR propaganda dreams.

  • Mary

    You will remember the Underwear Bomber.

    Abdulmutallab was convicted in a U.S. federal court of eight criminal counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted murder of 289 people. On February 16, 2012 he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    Did you ever know of the evidence of Kurt Haskell an American solicitor who was on the same flight?

    He wrote this pre trial. Wonder what he thinks of American justice now. Dec 2oo9 slow to load.

  • Herbie


    You only have to look at the history of US involvement in South America to see that the US standard of living depended on dictators and poverty for the great mass of people living in its constituent contries.

    The same pattern is repeated across the globe.

    It’s fairly straightforward stuff.

    Anywhere there are resources that the West needs, then the people of that country will not be allowed to enjoy self-determination. It’s as simple as that, to date at least.

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