American Idealism

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American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 7th, 2017, 1:14 am 

It seems most Americans fall prey to an unobtainable ideal of success, and when they fail, they resort to the propagation of that ideal by taking on the virtues that support it. An example would be hard work, or "selflessness." Both are constantly praised by Americans. They believe there is some merit in being a "working man," and exhausting themselves ten hours a day doing a job that will eventually be done by automatons. They refuse to see the destruction of themselves, in their enthusiasm for their work. The destruction of their own instincts for self propagation, by working for an American ideal, that they will not achieve. This idealism teaches them to take pride in being a slave. This kind of idealism is pushed on children at an early age. Parents who will praise an "honest day's work," when it is only manual labor, or some other pleasure lacking job. Also, Americans propagate this ideal through the success of others. They believe in equal potential, if one person can succeed so can I. They continue to praise the capitalist system, in case they somehow become wealthy. They want nothing in their way, if they do. They don't want the rich heavily taxed, because they could become the rich. Americans love the rich and hate themselves, so they take on the virtues that make others rich. One man will work till his grave so another could be wealthy, and live this American ideal. If you had to perform a psychoanalysis of the typical American, what would you say?
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Braininvat on December 7th, 2017, 10:47 am 

Just curious if you have actually visited the U.S. and met with actual Americans. Some of your assertions seem to consist of misleading generalizations.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 7th, 2017, 11:00 am 

Which parts are misleading generalizations?
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Braininvat on December 7th, 2017, 11:10 am 

This idealism teaches them to take pride in being a slave.


This line seems clearly designed to provoke, rather than promote a calm discussion. I have better things to do with my morning. Good day to you.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 7th, 2017, 11:21 am 

Is there not some truth in it?
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 7th, 2017, 11:30 am 

I wouldn't class encouraging a "hard days work" is capitalistic at all.

There are some very obvious cultural differences between Europe and the US. I think it was Lomax who brought up comedy ... yes it was, in the CK Louis incident ... anyway, one good difference to look at is the comedic tradition and the differences (although it can well be argued that today these differences are blurring.)

The major difference I notice is a sense of isolation and insulation I tend to attribute to the US because of geography and political domination.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 7th, 2017, 12:23 pm 

I don't think I did that. I said encouraging a "hard day's work," feeds into American idealism, because it celebrates being a member of the lower class, and proliferating the wealth of others. It's as if they're saying "If I cannot be wealthy, i'll make sure someone else will." I understand what you mean about Americans being insulated from the outside world. An example is ignorance of other countries government leaders. What do you mean comedic traditions and differences?
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 7th, 2017, 7:18 pm 

Inrealtime87 » December 7th, 2017, 12:14 am wrote:... If you had to perform a psychoanalysis of the typical American, what would you say?

There is no such thing as a typical American - or a typical pelican, for that matter - and one cannot psychoanalyze either without very close individual scrutiny. But there are aspects of American culture and ideology upon which you have touched, howbeit superficially.
This is a topic that interests me greatly and to which I have given attention over some decades.
If it's okay with you, I'll take your post away for a day or two and try to come up with a considered response.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 7th, 2017, 7:30 pm 

Thank you, I thought the post was being viewed as a rant with no basis in reality, and I considered reporting it.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 8th, 2017, 12:17 am 

I would also add that regions and generations differ quite dramatically.

I still don't understand what you mean by "hard work"? If anything I would perhaps associate "win at all cost" with the American view of the world (that is quite dated though and mostly an 80's "yuppie" thing), it is likely some of the older generation are still stuck in that mindset (eg. Trump ... but hardly "typical")
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 8th, 2017, 1:12 am 

The phrase a "hard day's work," in America, is typically used to glorify or celebrate menial labor or doing a job that is undesirable, and is a kind of prideful obedience. An obedience glorified by American idealism.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 1:27 am 

BadgerJelly » December 7th, 2017, 11:17 pm wrote:I still don't understand what you mean by "hard work"?

Nobody does. Yet every candidate for a public office, and their wives, have to put that phrase - either way around - in a speech close to the end of their campaign. They usually also refer to some immigrant ancestor - more likely from Europe than Africa, because.... uh...

If anything I would perhaps associate "win at all cost" with the American view of the world

And on the other hand, there is also https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethics-everyone/201007/winning-isnt-everything
"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." This infamous quote, often attributed to Vince Lombardi, actually orginated with college football coach Red Saunders, though Lombardi did say it as well.
... and apparently, later wished he hadn't and changed it to: 'making the effort,' which brings us back to "work hard".
I can believe that a professional football player works more than his coach... but then
if I consider that a salt-miner in Virginia makes $20-30,000 a year, and the CEO of the company he works for gets 10-15,000,000, can I really believe that the guy in the office works 500 times as hard as the guy at the salt-face?
Of course, that's not a valid comparison, because, chances are that the coach used to be a player before his knees gave out, but the miner and the CEO were never in competition, or any comparative situation.
And the woman on the podium plagiarizing the pretty speech has never worked at anything except looking pretty; the woman whose speech her speech-writer ripped off is a lawyer.
Do they work harder than salt-miner?
I doubt it.
Do they both get rewarded more than a salt-miner?
You bet!
But not as much as football player.
Last edited by Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 1:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 1:37 am 

Inrealtime87 » December 8th, 2017, 12:12 am wrote:The phrase a "hard day's work," in America, is typically used to glorify or celebrate menial labor or doing a job that is undesirable, and is a kind of prideful obedience. An obedience glorified by American idealism.

That would be "an honest day's work" and it used to mean respectable semi-skilled and unskilled, full-time labour, back when there were trade unions and a working class. The working class in America has been disappeared; subsumed into a nebulous idea of middle class, which has stretched from a $150,000 a year investment banker to anybody who can get a mortgage and health insurance. IOW, everybody who pays income tax.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 8th, 2017, 1:38 am 

Serpent -

That is a different question. The CEO does a job they can do and the "salt-miner" can't. Work "harder" ... I don't think you can compare the two. One thing is for sure, the pressure at the top end is generally higher given that their mistake could lead to 1000's of "salt-miners" losing their jobs.

I think we could end up talking about something more general here. As to the American psychology ... it is VERY different, but that is not to say all Americans are the same. Given the size of the country we'd be better off looking at particular sections of American society and, as I mentioned, the generation differences - which leads me to view the youth as being more globally at one than ever before given their approach to global communications.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 1:50 am 

BadgerJelly » December 8th, 2017, 12:38 am wrote:Serpent -

That is a different question.

It's not a question. It's a comparison of hard work.
The CEO does a job they can do and the "salt-miner" can't. Work "harder" ... I don't think you can compare the two.

Sure I can. 8-10 hours a day at the salt face, sweat pouring down your back, breathing in those chrystals, every muscle aching; then you drive the rusty (even if it's only two years old, cause it's parked every day downwind of the mine) pickup home, maybe stop opff for a beer and the high-point of your week is Thursday night bowling. Vs. 5-6 hours a day in an air-conditioned office with leather chairs; luxury car, use of the company jet to the company's suite in the Grenoble Hilton; 3-martini lunch on the expense account, yak on the phone to other executive and sign whatever papers your secretary - oh, sorry, executive assistant - can't fake.
One thing is for sure, the pressure at the top end is generally higher given that their mistake could lead to 1000's of "salt-miners" losing their jobs.

And their health coverage, just about the time the first symptoms of lung disease show up, and maybe their pensions, as well. The CEO walks away with a $2,000,000 severance package.

You're right - no comparison.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 8th, 2017, 2:04 am 

Serpent -

I'm not biting. Speak plainly and frankly if you want to engage with me please. Playing on the ol' heart strings aren't going to change the facts.

Your attitude seems deeply bias. You wish to parcel up all CEO's as if they are the heartless murderers. I think that's just plain silly. I would also argue that it is disingenuous to pose "salt-miners" as the most normalized example of corporate attitudes towards its employees.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 8th, 2017, 2:14 am 

Yes politicians do promote themselves based on the American Ideal, glorifying "simple" lives and praising the working man. But of course they should praise the complacency, and obedience of the working man, they are the self sacrificing members of society. They give their lives so others can be wealthy, but they do not view their behavior this way, they are prideful when it comes to their societal position in America, due to an American Ideal.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 8th, 2017, 2:54 am 

I guess you're just saying that the US has a tradition of opposing "socialism". Fair point. The broader impact of this is debatable. There are dangers within "socialism" as there are elsewhere in the political sphere.

I think, from my myopic position, that the American Ideal is about aggressively fighting for what you believe you deserve. This is both a bad thing and a good thing. Bad if you believe you're entitled to more than you deserve and good if it drives people to push for their dreams and prosper (here we'd clash into the "win at all costs" view of things).

Speakng more broadly I do think there is something to be said about western attitudes in general that seem tied into capitialism. That is the degree of individualism we seem to all aspire to. I think this is another area where Americans may have traditionally been more concerned with self perception and seem to love self-help books ... and again, I have both praise and concern in vastly differing areas here too!

There are a number of identy issues being brought to the fore in the sociopolitical realm. It is no wonder that many feel threatened. We're in unfamiliar territory.

I am not really sure what the "American" is. If I was to talk about any other nation I would find myself in the same situation. I think all stereotypes of national identity have some rather contrary patterns to them. Both friendly and hostile.

I generally view patriotism as a new religion trying to stifle the old religion, and take up some of its methodology! I guess its a necessary means of group and self identity that happens to be a very easy one to buy into and far less distressing than sitting alone in a corner discovering your own sense of self as both meaningful and meaningless. No wonder the worlds so contrary! haha!
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Braininvat on December 8th, 2017, 11:02 am 

Inrealtime87 » December 7th, 2017, 4:30 pm wrote:Thank you, I thought the post was being viewed as a rant with no basis in reality, and I considered reporting it.


I suggested your OP contained generalizations. I did not call it a rant. But feel free to "report" any disagreement or challenge to your statements. That always fosters healthy discourse.

Is is possible that some of the pride you observe in the American working class stems from the fact that, whereas the rich just move money and papers around, the workers actually produce the goods that our civilization depends on? When did you last see a rich person fixing a leaking roof or faulty plumbing, or getting a car running? When did you observe a rich person harvesting a food crop and getting it prepared to eat? Is it possible the source of pride is not solely the ability to work hard, but the competence in keeping our civilization running? I think calling this "slavery" might be reflecting a lack of respect for what the working class actually does to make your life possible.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 12:38 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 8th, 2017, 1:04 am wrote:Serpent -

I'm not biting. Speak plainly and frankly if you want to engage with me please. Playing on the ol' heart strings aren't going to change the facts.

Which of my statements is non-factual?
Your attitude seems deeply bias.

There is bias and there is prejudice. If a man deliberately runs down a pedestrian with an SUV, am I required to say "There was fault on both sides." ?
You wish to parcel up all CEO's as if they are the heartless murderers.

I didn't use words quite so emotional as murderer - but before you decide whether even that is inappropriate, glance over the history of health insurance legislation in the USA - who advocated for and who opposed medical care for the working class. Or the Trumps' latest tax reform.
In any case, executives do get sizeable cash bonuses for streamlining the work-force and maximizing profits. And quite generous parachutes if they run a company into bankruptcy.
I think that's just plain silly. I would also argue that it is disingenuous to pose "salt-miners" as the most normalized example of corporate attitudes towards its employees.

I didn't. "The salt mines" is a long-standing shorthand reference to hard work.
You can substitute navvy, orderly or construction worker if you prefer.
In any case, the 500-1 pay ratio stands, and so does the disparity of opportunity to compete for the top job.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 8th, 2017, 1:48 pm 

Braininvat
I meant get rid of my own post.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 6:28 pm 

For what it's worth ---

It seems most Americans fall prey to an unobtainable ideal of success,

Not Americans alone; every culture has its ideal, its hierarchy, its structure of status, its rules for achieving status, and its own measures of success. Have you looked closely at examples of success in modern USA? Many are entertainers or athletes; some are business moguls; some are political figures. Each of those categories has a separate mythos.

One myth they all have in common is the self-made man: that is, the notion that these categories of success are equally accessible to all Americans, the only obstacle being the individual himself.
Like all myths, it has an element of truth – so long as you don’t examine the statistics. It’s theoretically possible for any child to become a famous baseball player (minus 40%: there are very few girls’ teams where a talent scout would ever show up to recruit) – you just need talent (there goes another 30+%, including the physically inept) persistence (subtract another 10% for the boys who have obligations or circumstances that keep them from devoting the necessary time to practice) good early training (-15% for kids with no access to teams and coaches), desire (aka ruthless ambition -1%) and the good luck to be noticed (-2%) and only then you get to compete against the remaining 1% for a place on a minor league team, from which competition that 0.01% of truly successful baseball players will emerge … until an injury or owner’s franchise bankruptcy makes them redundant.
But you never see the disqualified, the dropouts and casualties – you only see the guys under the bright light. That what keeps the myth in the public consciousness.
and when they fail, they resort to the propagation of that ideal

I wonder. My impression is that it’s not those who have tried and failed who perpetuate the myth; it’s rather those who do not try at all – for whatever reason: they know they haven’t a chance, or they have no real desire, or they already have another path laid out; by those who benefit in some way from all the young hopefuls who do try and/or the parents who invest in their offspring’s eventual success and of course, by the power structure that benefits from the myth itself.
by taking on the virtues that support it. An example would be hard work, or "selflessness." Both are constantly praised by Americans.

Those are two independent concepts. Much misunderstanding results from folding two subject areas into one investigation.
The virtues themselves exist independently of each other and of the belief-system; they exist in all persons and societies to various degrees. Selflessness is more of a religious notion than a practical or social one, but you can use altruism and co-operation to explain the willingness of people to join in collective projects and their desire to contribute to the welfare of their community. Those civic virtues are genuinely valuable and genuinely admired by most Americans. That’s what makes them so very easy for the cynical to exploit.
They believe there is some merit in being a "working man,"

There has been merit in that status. Not so much anymore, with high unemployment, low job security, frequent (though far from universal, if you believe Undercover Boss) lack of reciprocal loyalty by employers toward reliable service, the increasing use of casual, undocumented and sub-contracted labour, and such non-employment non-responsible arrangements as offshored and on-call services.

While hard physical work is an iconic sales gimmick for pickup trucks, that growing shift in valuation has favoured the striped collar, highly educated executive with refined taste (the icon of luxury sedan advertising). The working man has become more of a butt for situation comedy: he’s overweight, opinionated but ignorant; slightly dishonest, but not bright enough to put anything over on his skinny waspish wife or his disdainful, savvy children; boastful but anxious. Some of that stereotype will certainly be true of some of the people we know, and we laugh at them, because, paradoxically, we want to pretend it’s all fiction, while we know it’s a little bit true – but of somebody else, not ourselves. This is a way of purging and externalizing the fear of our own ineffectuality.
and exhausting themselves ten hours a day doing a job that will eventually be done by automatons. They refuse to see the destruction of themselves, in their enthusiasm for their work.

They see it well enough, but their choices are not governed by idealism. Their choices are limited, always constrained by the need for, and the difficulty of obtaining, money. Fear of automation, as well as offshoring industry, is one of the reasons that working people support such irrational candidates for public office. A promise to champion their cause, however empty, is better than no hope at all. This far-stretched, unrealistic optimism is also what drives ever higher sales of lottery tickets and other kinds of gambling. The fairy tale of becoming a self-made pillar of industry has long ago given way to the forlorn long-shot of a clever son inventing some computer gizmo or a pretty daughter growing up to be a movie star, and to the more sordid one of grandmother hitting the jackpot, dropping dead and leaving it all to us.
… This idealism teaches them to take pride in being a slave.

No, it doesn’t. Slavery is so distasteful a notion to the American ideal that they kept steadfastly denying its very existence, even while several forms of legal servitude were a vital part of their economy. That truth is overlaid with another prevailing national myth: that of personal liberty. People who have never read their own constitution, let alone examined its practical application, remain convinced that America is the home of the brave (not people with panic rooms and guns, who allow their own civil liberties to be purloined by more and more agencies that supposedly protect them). The myth of the rugged individualist persists among a people who will buy any frivolous device, uncomfortable body-image enhancement or nutrition-free beverage for a chance to pretend that they’re up-to-date, fashionable, with-it.
This kind of idealism is pushed on children at an early age. Parents who will praise an "honest day's work," when it is only manual labor,

Only? What is your personal reason for devaluing physical work? Anyway, the children aren't buying it: they want to get a degree and be managers.
…. They continue to praise the capitalist system, in case they somehow become wealthy. They want nothing in their way, if they do.

That’s not why they support capitalism. They’ve been systematically – and quite aggressively – brainwashed against considering any alternative as either ridiculously unworkable or brutally coercive – in any case, fatally flawed.
They don't want the rich heavily taxed, because they could become the rich.

That’s not why. It’s because they are constantly told that taxing the rich will make America uncompetitive; will drive the employers away, leaving them with no jobs at all. They’ve been convinced, too, that absurdly over-compensated executives carry some heavy load of responsibility that they themselves could not bear; that giving the bosses even more money will dispose the bosses toward making more worker-friendly decisions.
It’s a form of propitiating the prevailing gods, rather than paving the road to their own ascention.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Inrealtime87 on December 8th, 2017, 7:44 pm 

Thank you guys for your well thought out responses. This idea is only in its infant stage for me (obviously), and I just wanted to see what people would say in response to it. I will probably try this again in a month or so with a much more nuanced OP, one that is connected with real concepts in psychology.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 8th, 2017, 8:14 pm 

Meanwhile, there is a ton of reading you can do.
I'd start with US history, in conjunction with the popular literature of each period. If you have time for only one of those, go for the literature: it gives you more direct insight into what and how people think at any given time. From the psychological standpoint, that's more revealing than the views of someone living 200 years later, in a very different world.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 9th, 2017, 3:54 am 

Serpent -

Which of my statements is non-factual?


Did I accuse you of any such thing? I get the message:

There is bias and there is prejudice. If a man deliberately runs down a pedestrian with an SUV, am I required to say "There was fault on both sides." ?


Not interested in this kind of rhetoric.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 9th, 2017, 2:33 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 9th, 2017, 2:54 am wrote:[Serpent - Which of my statements is non-factual?]

Did I accuse you of any such thing?

I got the impression that you did, yes.
Speak plainly and frankly if you want to engage with me please. Playing on the ol' heart strings aren't going to change the facts.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 9th, 2017, 9:58 pm 

Serpent -

If I need to explain the context we've got a serious communications problem. If you take that as an accusation I cannot help you. Reread the post and the facts I were stating.

I don't for one instant believe that anyone can do the CEO's job. Nor do I believe all people in high positions deserve to be painted with the same brush anymore than those on lower wages in lower positions.

I do think there are good eggs and bad eggs at every level and experience has shown this to be true enough for me.

Regarding the main question about the US I am not in a very good position being an outsider. I can only say that the way elections are run and advertising feeds the society at all levels, and viisibly influenced my home country (I remember distinctly seeing the changes on tv in playground and in sports). Globally I think there has been some very nice pay-offs from American globalisation. There are, as always, flaws too.

The dominating force is the play between corporate interests and government I believe. This is the area where the US suffers and topped off by the commercially plied "competition" I think this also fans the flames. I think there is a certain hangover from the 80's with the "win at all costs" attititude in the business world.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 9th, 2017, 10:58 pm 

BadgerJelly » December 9th, 2017, 8:58 pm wrote: Reread the post and the facts I were stating.

Back atcha!

I don't for one instant believe that anyone can do the CEO's job.

Maybe not. Nor does everyone ever get a chance to try. Nor do all CEO's do it well.
But, come on, the guy was talking about "hard work". 500 times the pay? In Norway, it's something like 17 times. They still get competent CEO's and the workers aren't shafted. The reward disparity in America is insane.

Nor do I believe all people in high positions deserve to be painted with the same brush anymore than those on lower wages in lower positions.

But the same rules apply to who gets what and gets away with what. Doesn't mean they all abuse it, just that they all have the opportunity. And the biggest, most ruthless corporations are in a position to buy the most political clout to bend the rules to their own best interest.

Globally I think there has been some very nice pay-offs from American globalisation. There are, as always, flaws too.

Maybe so, but that wasn't the topic; hard work was.

I think there is a certain hangover from the 80's with the "win at all costs" attititude in the business world.

I wouldn't worry about that. With the freedom of movement capital enjoys now, there is nobody to win or lose against: you just buy into all the companies that manufacture a certain product and standardise the industry - prices, warranties, availability, parts; everything. Competition is a joke.
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Re: American Idealism

Postby BadgerJelly on December 9th, 2017, 11:41 pm 

Back atcha??

You "got the impression"?

bye
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Re: American Idealism

Postby Serpent on December 10th, 2017, 12:07 am 

bye
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