How heartily sick the world
has grown, in the first seven years of the 21st century, of the
American idea !
Speak with any non-American,
travel to any foreign country, and the consensus is: The American
idea has become a cruel joke, a blustery and bellicose bodybuilder
luridly bulked up on steroids, consequently low on natural testosterone,
deranged and myopic, dangerous.
What is most questionable
- indeed, most dangerous - about the American idea is its very
formulation: that there is a distinctly American idea, standing
in contrast to Canadian, British, French, Chinese, Icelandic,
Estonian, or mere human ideas.
Our unexamined belief in American exceptionalism has allowed
us to imagine ourselves above anything so constrictive as international
makes our imperialism altruistic, our plundering of the world's
resources a healthy exercise of capitalism and "free trade."
From childhood we are indoctrinated
with the propaganda that America is superior to other nations;
that our way of life, a mass-market "democracy" manipulated
by lobbyists, is superior to all other forms of government; that
no matter how frivolous and debased, our American culture is
the supreme culture, as our language is the supreme language;
that our most blatantly imperialistic and and cynical political
goals are always idealistic, while the goals of other nations
are transparently opportunistic.
Perhaps the most pernicious
of of American ideas is the revered "My country, right or
wrong," with its thinly veiled threat of punishment for
those who hesitate to participate in a criminal patriotism. The
myth of American exceptionalism begins with the revolt of the
Colonies against the British crown. In 1776, what a thrilling,
exhilarating American idea !
But in the first decade
of the 21st century, in a vastly altered world, and considering
the higher degree of civilisation embodied by Canada - which
waged no war against the British and was disinclined to rush
into war or celebrate the violence of the frontier or declare
itself exceptional - it might be a timely American idea to examine
our very origins.