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Thursday, November 01, 2012


Neocon writer Clifford May had an amusing piece up on National Review Online’s temporary site today. I say ‘amusing’ because I find the whole idea of Americans fancying themselves as being ‘exceptional’ quite laughable – especially when one reads the reasons why Americans think of themselves as exceptional.

The somewhat delusional Clifford May reckons some of the reasons America is exceptional is because:

The ideas on which this nation is based were revolutionary in the 18th century — and still are today. All men are created equal? Governments derive their powers only from the consent of the governed? We are endowed by our Creator with rights and freedoms that no one can take away? China is nowhere close to embracing such principles. Nor is most of the Middle East, the “Arab Spring” notwithstanding. Latin America and Africa have a long way to go. And in Europe, I fear, the commitment to individual liberty has been weakening.

Well, the theory sounds really good – but then so did the theory of communism and socialism. It’s just that in reality none of them actually work properly.

While the idea that ‘all men are created equal’ is laudable, the reality in America was that, far from being equal, native Americans, African Americans and various other ethnic and cultural groups, including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, et al, for a very long time were treated very much as inferior, indeed, to this day, many still are.

As for the notion that ‘governments derive their powers only from the consent of the governed’; what a joke! In America, governments, like governments the world over, derive their power through corruption, big business, nepotism, elitist networking, lies and good ol’ fashioned propaganda which includes the pretence of practicing ‘democracy’.

Then there’s this business about ‘our Creator endowing us with rights and freedoms that no one can take away’ – unless, of course, your ideology strays too far away from that of the concept of American Exceptionalism in which case you can, at the whim of any official, be arrested as a ‘terrorist’, sent to foreign prisons, tortured, tried in secret (assuming you actually get as far as having a ‘trial’), or you could be extra-judicially executed without trial. So much for ‘rights and freedoms’.

China is nowhere close to embracing such principles?

Nor is America!

1 comment:

Daily Kumquat said...

The myth of American exceptionalism is exceptionally useful to the ruling class and has been carefully cultivated. Very few native-born Americans understand this.

While it is tempting to dismiss Clifford May as (yet another) star-spangled wanker, in this case the propaganda being spouted is well-received by almost the entire country. This myth is part of America's civic religion, and as such enjoys special protection from the demands of logical analysis.

Thus, if one dares to question America's magnificence by pointing out numerous areas in which it performs poorly in international comparisons, one is told to "love it or leave it." Intelligent policy responses that might address such defects are therefore removed from the table, much to the detriment of the ordinary citizen. But for the elite, which profits spectacularly from the world's most effective wealth-concentration machine, this bulwark against internal reform is absolutely indispensable.

Given that the United States is the world's most dangerous military empire, the inability of the American citizenry to perceive its habitual interventions as anything other than noble leaves the rest of the world vulnerable to repeated offenses. And since the United States is also the world's most conspicuous consumer of natural resources, its unwillingness to change its ways dooms the planetary ecosystem to collapse.

The United States is exceptional, alright: exceptionally ignorant, exceptionally arrogant, and exceptionally dangerous. There is, I'm afraid to say, nothing remotely amusing about this putrid cocktail.