March 14, 2009

Why do liberals assume that "be more like Europe" means "more like Northern Europe?"

Obama's supporters say he wants to make the U.S. more like Europe, yet the examples you hear from liberals about why this is a good idea usually come from Northern European governments. Why do we assume that a bigger government in the U.S. would be more like the government of Norway than the government of Italy?

Italy's a wonderful place, but it's not really a showcase for Big Government.

For example, I ran a test in 1980: I sent my parents a postcard from downtown Rome on Tuesday and another postcard from Vatican City, a separate country about a mile away, on Wednesday. The Vatican City postcard arrived home about three weeks before the postcard I had entrusted to the Italian government for handling.

It's not exactly a secret that the Italians are lousy at government. They'll tell you that. In fact, quite a bit of the motivation for the creation of the Euro currency was that the Italians wanted to outsource management of their money supply to the Germans.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

Britain, Canada, and Australia seem more relevant since they share the same British traditions and lie between America and the Nordic countries in welfare state activities. They tend to work pretty well, as British culture tends to be pretty individualistic and law-oriented rather than clannish. Admittedly, the U.S. is more racially and ethnically diverse, but it has a fairly low level of corruption by international standards even so.

This is complicated by the ethnic diversity in the U.S.

Anonymous said...

"The Vatican City postcard arrived home about three weeks before the postcard I had entrusted to the Italian government for handling."

Could've been divine intervention.

Anonymous said...

Why do we assume that a bigger government in the U.S. would be more like the government of Norway than the government of Italy?

For the same reason liberals think they can turn black Africans into Swedes, liberals are members of an insane religious cult that has no basis in reality whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Albania part of Europe too ?

Now that would be nice ! Big Government dealing in pimping, drug-running and fencing stolen cars.

Just kidding, of course

Henry Canaday said...

One good test of how well a liberal welfare state works is how many street people (aka the homeless) you find per block in a major city. Two years ago in Munich, a city of more than a million, it took me two days to find the first street person, and he was a drunk who had just come out of a bar at about three in the morning and passed out on the sidewalk.

By the time I saw the drunk, two German policemen were standing over him, saying, politely but insistently, "Wachen sie auf, wachen sie auf." He wach-ed auf and was soon on his way to whatever combination of help and reformation the Germans arrange for people found lying on the street.

Paris, Rome, and England generally are much more like America in their self-congratulatory tolerance, and effective callousness, toward street people. I think that is a pretty good indication of where an American government, spending 45 percent of GDP but unable to realistically adapt its policies to the needs and demands of difficult citizens, will end up.

anony-mouse said...

Evidently non-Vatican Romans have an activity more enjoyable to do than handling letters.

Employees of the Vatican, lacking such an activity evidently become better at handling letters.

Simple as that.

stari_momak said...

Do Obama's supporters really say that? It seems to me that Obama's detractors do, esp. those of the neoconservative sort -- Victor Hansen, Mark Steyn, and the like (I enjoy Steyn, but he is a neoconservative). Me, I think Obama hates Europe. There is no other way to explain his snub of Brown.

Anonymous said...

Judging by his actions he's aiming at 1920s Germany.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that for American liberals wanting America to be like Europe is more about bashing America and wanting it to be like somewhere else than it is about Europe. I've heard more than once from European left-wingers that they wanted their countries to be more like America - they say this is because America is more "diverse", less white, etc. I fully expect the commenter "John of London" to feel this way, for example. And didn't Sarkozy's wife say something like that a few months ago too?

Also, northern Europe is the part of Europe that least resembles any non-European parts of the Old World. All the stuff that makes Europe unique is observed there in greater concentrations than in southern Europe. Why shouldn't people identify the whole through its most characteristic parts? I'm sure that when foreigners think of America, they're more likely to imagine cowboys and their descendants than Mexican or Chinese immigrants.

There is another aspect to this: the powers that be use the common man's instinctive respect for old European high culture to push leftist ideas. We're not supposed to notice that Europe stopped producing any high culture back around WWI. And that before WWI, while it was still producing the aforementioned high culture, it was very very right-wing by modern standards. Europe is left wing NOW, and that's the only thing that the NY Times wants us to emulate. But the fact that in the minds of most folks the word Europe is still fuzzily connected to Beethoven, Michelangelo, beautiful cathedrals and other obvious signs of advanced civilization probably helps the liberals' cause a little. I think that on the instinctive level a halo effect is supposed to occur here.

D H Smith said...

Why indeed flatter ourselves that Americans can manage a bigger U.S. government as well as the Italians manage theirs? Can we rule out even worse outcomes? There are plenty of examples to look at.

Stopped Clock said...

To be fair, I dont think the liberals who do this are geographically incompetent; they're just using Europe as a shorthand for the EU, which is more or less a German/French collaboration. Note too that conservatives do this just as much.

It is a good point, though, to note that both conservatives and liberals often see the world as if it consisted of just Europe and the United States, and so we hear arguments about how oddly conservative the US is, because people only bother to compare it to EU-topia, ignoring East Asia, post-Communist Eastern Europe, and the whole Third World.

Bob said...

The ways I would like America to be more like Europe are less stupid foreign wars, better food, a better health care system, better public transport, and lower levels of immigration.

On all five of these counts Italy does a superb job.

Life expectancy is higher than the US despite much lower health care spending, food is vastly better down to the better tasting fruits and the cheapest diners, public transport is vastly better and is practical even in small towns, and Italy has a "net migration rate" that is 1/3 lower than the US (and a much higher percentage are from 1st world sources).

H. said...

That's consistent with what I remember from my days studying art history in Rome. All of us sent postcards home from the St. Peter's post office, because it took less time for them to arrive, and because it was safer: Italian postal workers, we heard, sometimes shred letters when they go on strike. Given the ever-growing Latin population of America, a bigger government might well prove more like Italy's than Sweden's.

LemmusLemmus said...

Henry,

your experience in Munich has little to do with how well the German welfare state works. The Munich government is well known for pushing homeless people out of the central city so they don't stain the sights for tourists like you.

simon said...

Obama is by far the least 'European' President the US has ever had.

He resembles modern EU politicians inasmuch as he is also a transnationalist socialist steeped in Gramscian & Frankfurt School neo-Marxist orthodoxy.

If anything, he hates the real, historical Europe even more than they do.

Anonymous said...

The US and Argentina are both largely European descended societies, but while the US population is historically from the British Isles and Germany, Argentina's is from Spain and Italy. This is the reason for the differences in continuity of governments and currencies between the two countries, in my opinion.

Staash said...

A Northern European only works for Northern European populations. Of course, nobody who wants to keep his job will tell you that.

Steve's post reminded me of this old joke:

In heaven the English are the police, the French are the lovers, the Germans are the mechanics, the Italians are the cooks and vintners, and the Swiss run everything. In hell, the English are the cooks and vintners, the French are the mechanics, the Germans are the police, the Swiss are the lovers, and the Italians run everything.

Henry Canaday said...

Lemmus:

Thanks for clarification. But I saw practically no homeless in Nuremberg or Dresden either, and I tried to get around as much of these cities as possible.

Proofreader said...

Obama's socialist policies are more Venezuelan than European. At least that's the broad direction they're taking.
Socialism Chaves style distributes wealth among its supporters.
Obama similarly hands funds to bankers, swipples and NAMs, his natural voters.

SFG said...

I heard that same joke but with the French and Italians in heaven switched.

And from what I hear, German police are very polite, everyone just has the Gestapo stereotype stuck in their head.

Here's one I think many of the Gamesters will appreciate:

Heaven is having an English house, an American salary, a Chinese cook, and a Japanese wife.

Hell is having a Japanese house, a Chinese salary, an English cook, and an American wife.

Don Quixote said...

Ah, the myth of the "pure European Spanish-Italian" Argentines. That old trope just won't die, will it? Have a look at some of those proverbially "pure Argentine Spaniards and Italians":

http://www.imagesud.com/altiplano/argentina/argentine-gaucho.jpg

http://www.brendanfitzpatrickphotography.com/images/gaucho%20web.jpg

http://www.imagesud.com/altiplano/argentina/gaucho.jpg

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1104/1307726050_ac0f1d35c9.jpg

Time to get the facts straight, folks.

As for the stable Argentine economy, here is part one of a 12 part video documenting the progressive collapse of the Argentine economy in 2001:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH6_i8zuffs

Here you will not only see more "pure Spanish-Italian" Argentines, you also will see real people reacting to their economy sinking into the toilet. Coming soon to a city near you.

dearieme said...

"Italy's a wonderful place, but it's not really a showcase for Big Government." Oh yes it is, it's just that the Big Government that did so much for Italy ended with the onset of the Dark Ages.

Ross said...

When liberals say they want to be more like Europe, it is the Europe of their imagination rather than the one that actually exists.

Ask them if they want school vouchers like Sweden or an immigration policy like Denmark and they aren't that enthusiastic.

Hugh Oxford said...

I'm on holiday in the US from Britain, and my message to you is this.

If you're thinking about being more like Europe: Don't. It's a disaster. Our societies are emasculated, emaciated, welfare ridden, post-Christian, demographically collapsing, Islamising and utterly lost.

We have become taker, not maker orientated societies. We have lost our vigour and energy and have become hyper-statist.

It's been our nemesis. I would fear for the future of Western Civilisation if America followed Europe down that route.

headache said...

I'd say Obama's template is South Africa.

Anonymous said...

The same can be said for the health care system. I hear Americans constantly harping on why we should have health insurance like Europe. I always ask, "which country?" in responce. Inevitably they mean Sweeden or Germany or maybe France. The reality is that ours would have to look more like Mexico not Italy. If we want to be like Sweeds we need to act like Sweeds and we cannot do that by importing illegal aliens with 6th grade educations.

Svigor said...

Simple as that.

Your insight is profound. Thank you, Obi-Wan.

albertosaurus said...

Italy's a wonderful place, but it's not really a showcase for Big Government.

That's true. How odd.

Italy used to be the best governed state in the West maybe in the world. That stopped in the fifth century of course, but the people then are largely the same people now - except for the infusion of more Northern Europeans. Rome's strength was government- not science. They were also good at civil engineering. Hence the aphorism - the Greeks had the brains the Romans had the drains.

The founding fathers were all fully aware of Rome's genius for government. They all read Plutarch and Tacitus. They attended popular plays based on Roman historical events. They pondered the lessons to be learned from the Fall of the Roman Republic. Their descendant's built Washington's Federal Triangle with Roman temple architecture.

Italian (Roman) governmental genius if it survives anywhere today, survives in the US Constitution. Italy itself seems to have somehow lost its way.

Then again Vegetius remarked how all the real brains in what we would call the sciences today were Greek brains. The last time I looked Stockholm wasn't awarding a lot of physics prizes to Greeks.

Mr. Anon said...

"SFG said...

And from what I hear, German police are very polite, everyone just has the Gestapo stereotype stuck in their head."

Yeah, consider the following thought experiment: You are arrested. Would you prefer to be arrested by a.) A german cop, b.) a chinese cop, or c.) a mexican cop?

I think most people would choose option a.

RKU said...

The US and Argentina are both largely European descended societies, but while the US population is historically from the British Isles and Germany, Argentina's is from Spain and Italy. This is the reason for the differences in continuity of governments and currencies between the two countries, in my opinion.

Actually, I'd argue that Argentina is one of the strongest counter-examples to the notion that "ancestry" always trumps culture.

From everything I've read, Argentina's population is overwhelming German and Italian, but built upon a Spanish cultural substrate.

On the other hand, the Germans and Italians who immigrated to America built their communities upon an Anglo-Saxon cultural substrate.

There's a huge, huge behavorial difference between Argentina and those parts of America which are very heavily German and Italian...

rast said...

The ways I would like America to be more like Europe are less stupid foreign wars, better food, a better health care system, better public transport, and lower levels of immigration.

And the ways I'd like America to stay more like America:
- widespread gun ownership
- free speech
- I was going to list some other things but they are mostly gone already...

Life expectancy is higher than the US despite much lower health care spending,
When adjusted for race and the higher crime rate? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say Argentina was stable at all. Just the opposite. And it is because it is populated by southern Europeans not northern ones. Throw in some Indian ancestry if you like. It doesn't change the point, which is the same as Steve's.

Anonymous said...

Of course the real model for our entire political class of both parties is Latin America - where "the people" shut up and do as they're told and the elites don't have to even nod to such nonsense as democracy and representative government or rule of law.

Anonymous said...

Have a look at some of those proverbially "pure Argentine Spaniards and Italians"

Nice pics. But according to the CIA Fact Book, 97% of Argentines are of Italian or Spanish descent, with only 3% non-white.

Here'a picture of somebody from the Argentine political class.

http://www.fanpix.net/picture-gallery/677/27677-eva-peron-picture.htm

Here she is with her husband.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b8/Peron_y_Eva_-_casamiento_civil_-_1945.jpg

And here's their current President.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cristina_Fern%C3%A1ndez.jpg

Easy on the eye, but maybe their real problem is putting women in positions of power.

Anonymous said...

I've heard more than once from European left-wingers that they wanted their countries to be more like America - they say this is because America is more "diverse", less white, etc.

It's interesting to see the left taking this tack, which has no basis in early leftist thought. I suspect they believe that the communist utopia is best arrived at by degradng the wealthy white West into the sort of capitalist hell-hole which Marx sought to refute. That is, they seek to create the problem to which they themselves will then provide the solution. For now at least, the worse the better.

Meanwhile the foolish and corrupt capitalists fulfill their historical role of selling the rope which will be used to hang them.

simon said...

German cops are pretty good by world standards. Try French cops for the Hell version. French mechanics probably aren't bad though, when not on their 3 hour lunch break.

jack strocchi said...

Steve Sailer says:

Italy's a wonderful place, but it's not really a showcase for Big Government.

The way Italy works is that most people work around the government, not just off the government. So the government is irrelevant for many social purposes, apart from taking a big slice of income.

The real social problem of Italy is the nepotistic networks that have emerged in the interstices of civil society. The end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Old Left was supposed to augur in a New Italy which could be more like the Northern European states like UK, FRA and FDR.

But instead the old quasi-criminal conspiracies re-emerged. Now artfully managed by Berlusconi, the epitome of a dodgy insider-trader.

One good thing about Italy is that it is xenophobic about other non-Italian, or at least non-European, cultures. For some inexplicable reason the country that brought the world the Catholic Church, contract law, Michealangelo, Gailileo, Alpha Romeo and the worlds most popular healthy cuisine is in no great hurry to drop its own cultural heritage. We dont our street culture to wind up looking like some global bag lady parade, with a crazy patchwork quilt of diverse cultures blotting out the architectural grandeur.

Foreign people learn Culture from Italians, not the other way around.

Bill said...

There is no way, no how, America could ever emulate Northern Europe.

Just holding our society together these days requires a police state (in blue areas).

Northern Europeans are far more cooperative and less contentious. Even the whites. I remember the horror displayed by one of my Scandinavian exchange student friends when he witnessed youth violence in our inner-city high school -- he was a big guy skilled in judo, but was scared out of his wits when the guns came out. BTW, the British Isles, the origin of our culture, are not that similar to Scandinavia.

In America, liberals daydream about having a Scandinavian-style welfare state, but they get it totally wrong, because they want to implement it through coercion (or at least they know that's what it would take). This is really why Scandinavian style socialism wouldn't work here: you'd have to jam it down people's throats, whereas the Scandinavians mainly agreed to it.

To implement a truly socialist state here, we'd need a Soviet-style gulag system for all the "troublemakers", and that would be a bloody mess. America is already straining under the weight of attempting to regulate its citizens. Frankly, I think we're already about as socialist as we can handle, not to mention afford.

Svigor said...

Yeah, consider the following thought experiment: You are arrested. Would you prefer to be arrested by a.) A german cop, b.) a chinese cop, or c.) a mexican cop?

That depends on the answers to two questions. 1) Am I guilty? 2) Am I rich?

Anonymous said...

Check this out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKAM2iNO0_E

Muslim riots in Sweden.

Anonymous said...

"But according to the CIA Fact Book, 97% of Argentines are of Italian or Spanish descent, with only 3% non-white."

CIA fact book is not at all reliable for racial mixture in Latin countries. There is a lot of hype and wishful thinking on this subject, and the Latin Americans themselves are very confused and disingenuous on the subject. The upper class and aspiring classes want to present themselves as pure European, Indian-ness is associated with poverty and primitive living conditions, etc.

Most of those photos above are from the first few pages of images that came up with an image search for "Gaucho"--cowboy. Not much cherry picking at all was needed to find those faces.

Like the rest of Latin America, Argentina has a more European upper class (very visible in the collapse video) and a more Indian lower class (notice the soldiers). The Argentine upper class might be less mixed than similar classes in Mexico, but the mixed classes are there in abundance. No way is 3% mixed accurate. Not even close.

The "realists" need to get their facts straightened out. Part of the major confusion of the Anglosphere in dealing with the Hispanosphere is a failure to understand even who these people are. "Latino" is considered an exotic ethnic group in Spain by the Spanish.

Back to main topic, SWPLers are more like N. Europeans than other Americans. The most purely Europeanish cities in America are probably Boston and New York in terms of culture, politics, psychology, and lifestyle.

There really isn't much to compare a Georgia Good Old Boy with in Europe, except in less developed countries like Russia maybe. There is no mainstream European version of a Sarah Palin. There is no first or second amendment in Europe, not even close. The old fashioned American sense of personal liberty simply does not exist in their societies. We Americans are on our own when it comes to that.

Do Americans even realize that in the Black Forest of Germany there are fake cut-outs of woodland creatures, because the real ones are long gone? Where do you think all that French philosophy about "Noble Savages" came from? They were talking about us, mixed with more or less fantastical ideas about the Indians. We are in a different world out here, far from the cramped and tidy grey cities of Europe.

SFG said...

"Then again Vegetius remarked how all the real brains in what we would call the sciences today were Greek brains. The last time I looked Stockholm wasn't awarding a lot of physics prizes to Greeks."

The answer is, of course, evolution. There's no reason to assume national character stays constant over time. The warlike Vikings became placid welfare-state Scandinavians over time, just like the spark of genius appears to have left the Greeks for the time being. Whatever selective pressures occur over time can shape a people, and leave them different than when they started. Much as I hate to use this example, the biblical Hebrews weren't particularly clever or verbal, after all, more of a warrior race, and probably would have considered their citified descendants to be rather wimpy...

David Davenport said...

Life expectancy is higher than the US despite much lower health care spending ...

I bet that white and East Asian Americans' life expectancy is as long or longer than that of white Italians.

Anonymous said...

The higher life expectancy in Italy is probably due to the diet, which is considered the healthiest in the world.

From my reading of "Dreams from my Father", I am under the impression that Obama was rather dismissive of Europe when he encountered it, en route to Africa. That it had no personal significance for him, or relevance to his search for "race and inheritance". Which is an interestingly solipsistic approach to culture ...

The Obamas do seem to be food snobs, though, with their preference for international cuisine - their arugula, "poupon", wagyu beef, scallops and so on. Like all snobs, they seem to be trying to prove something: their sophistication, perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Steve,
The reason that the italian postal system is or was unrelaible was that in a classic make-work scheme to benefit the impoverished south, every single letter posted in Italy must travel south to Sicily for sorting, where it is sorted in ahuge great big integrated facility and thence from Sicily the sorted letters are sent on their way around the country.
Thus a letter sent from one Turin address to another Turin address must travel hundreds of miles to Sicily and back again.

Anonymous said...

Ask them if they want school vouchers like Sweden or an immigration policy like Denmark and they aren't that enthusiastic.

How great is Denmark's immigration system really? They're 5% muslim and growing, so just what are they supposed to have gotten so correct?

Stopped Clock said...

I believe the 97% figure for Argentina refers to the white/mestizo population and 3% to the pure Amerindian population. Even that is probably more a measure of language proficiency than of race.

I wouldn't assume an image search for "gaucho" would just turn up Argentines, though. It's a pretty widespread word.

Anonymous said...

I think it's funny how you Northern European types rip on Southern Europeans and especially the Italians so much, for being backwards, unproductive, and undeveloped. The GDP per capita between Germany, France, and Italy is about the same.

"Life expectancy is higher than the US despite much lower health care spending"

I'm in the medical field and I get tired of explaining this over and over again. The life expectancy of the U.S. will never match Western Europe or Japan because the demographics are different. The life expectancy of blacks is so sharply lower that it brings down the overall average. When adjusted for race, the various groups in the U.S. approximate their ancestors in other countries.

RKU said...

I think it's funny how you Northern European types rip on Southern Europeans and especially the Italians so much, for being backwards, unproductive, and undeveloped.

Actually, my impression is that this is incredibly tame stuff compared to what Northern Italians regularly say about their Southern compatriots.

I'd say that one of the funniest political one-liners ever was from that head of the powerful Northern League: "Garibaldi didn't unite Italy---he divided Africa!"

Simon said...

SFG:
"The answer is, of course, evolution. There's no reason to assume national character stays constant over time. The warlike Vikings became placid welfare-state Scandinavians over time..."

I've met a few Norwegians, and IME the Viking is right there behind their eyes, waiting to burst out. Try mentioning Jotuns/Thor/Asgard to them, and watch their eyes...

Ronduck said...

Hugh Oxford said...

If you're thinking about being more like Europe: Don't. It's a disaster. Our societies are emasculated, emaciated, welfare ridden, post-Christian, demographically collapsing, Islamising and utterly lost.

Except for the Islamizing part, how is that different than the US?

Antoine Zhang said...

I agree with RKU - I've known a lot of Northern Italians, who have displayed the strongest resentment towards Southern Italian, whom they consider to be compatriots in name alone.

Saying that Italy has a high GDP comparable with that of Germany or France is disingenuous if you are using it to assert the economic strengths of the Mediterrean region - it's the Po River Valley in the north which contributes disproportionately to economic output. The south lags far behind.

Gene Berman said...

Don't fault the Italian postal system. The model described works
quite well for Federal Express; the
whole company is based on that model. They just ship to Memphis instead of Sicily.

Ronduck said...

Gene, if a package is sent to one of FedEx's regional sorting centers and its destination is within its service area the package is sent right back out to that destination without having to be routed through the central sorting center in Memphis.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there was a time when many liberals specifically thought of southern Europe, specifically Italy, as a model for emulation - the 1930s.

Anonymous said...

Italy used to be the best governed state in the West maybe in the world. That stopped in the fifth century of course

No, that stopped in c. the 2d Century BC. If I were a big Sailerian, I might point out that this was when the slave population and Greek immigrants started to dominate over the native Italian stock.

Anonymous said...

Then again Vegetius remarked how all the real brains in what we would call the sciences today were Greek brains.

Ancient Greece went into demographic decline pretty early, well before the rest of the Roman Empire did. Historians agree that modern Greeks have a huge slavic admixture. The only dispute is whether modern Greeks have any Greek in them.

Gene Berman said...

Ronduck:

Makes sense, as do most (though not all) things. There's a good "Italian" joke there somewhere. Maybe Jack Strocchi can help us out there.

Gene Berman said...

Anonymous:

You're right. I guess there's a lesson to be learned there: make the trains run on time and you'll be hung from a lamp-post (or something like that).

himali said...

"Ancient Greece went into demographic decline pretty early, well before the rest of the Roman Empire did. Historians agree that modern Greeks have a huge slavic admixture. The only dispute is whether modern Greeks have any Greek in them."

I do not think Europe ever recovered the contemplative civilization of the Greeks--the Romans were something entirely different--The modern day Europe--I think the barbarian blood resurfaces too much and gets in the way--after all Europeans only became great again when they tossed away Semitic fairytales and went back to their true roots during the Renaissance when they put Christianity to the criqitue of scinece and logical thinking.
The modern day Greeks-a very unimpressive lot--resenbles peoples from the Balkans.

himali said...

"No, that stopped in c. the 2d Century BC. If I were a big Sailerian, I might point out that this was when the slave population and Greek immigrants started to dominate over the native Italian stock."

No it started when the traitor Constantine adopted Christianity--Europe produced nothing for more than 1000 years after the onset of Christianity during the dark ages-- you can see it in the art--European mythology is abandoned in favor of Semitic mythology which is created using European knowhow--only when christianity was put to the critique of science did Europeans begin to achieve any greatness again--their barbarian aspects (in terms of those that had no culture but copied from Greece and Rome) wells up too much and causes a lot of mishap, still it seems to me---
As for the Greeks, they were infinitely more advanced than the Romans in everything except Administration and Engineering perhaps. But art, philosophy, mathematics, literature--can there even be a comparison?