James Truslow Adams in 1931 defined the American dream as,
“life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.”
There are a few things which were off with this. For example, 1930’s America was Jim Crow America. This was the same America that would 11 years later put Japanese Americans in internment camps. So I am a little sceptical that the everyone alluded to in the definition of the dream meant everyone. Also this clearly ignores the entrenched class-warfare that has gone on since the inception of this nation.
My friend is black like me, so becoming a citizen for him is a risk. Think of what that means to accept that you may be gunned down, imprisoned , arrested beaten up, tazed, killed for no reason, other than the colour of your skin. That is a serious commitment. If he believes despite all he has read and seen ,that America is the place to be, then it is only right as the greatest Patriot of my generation to support him.
For those of you who don’t know, I am the greatest patriot of my generation because I am embrace America for what she is, I don’t try and change her I voice my opinions and she ignores me. We both know that if I were to voice then too loudly or rally other people together who believe in equality, social mobility, the end to worldwide war warmongering the last image I would see before I received that bullet to my head would be the smear campaign about me on TV.
America for me is an idea and the USA is the reality of how far we have reach that idea. This one figure summarizes where we have reached so far on our quest to “make America what it ought to be”. One of my favourite sayings came from the Occupy Wall Street Protests: “Wake up from the American Dream. Create a livable American reality.”
I think that the immigrants coming into the USA still carry with them the seeds of hope necessary. I think that there is still some hope from today’s youth who don’t buy into the corporations are people and the rest of the propaganda hurled their way.
So to a future where we leave behind this crippled idea of the American dream and look forward to living sustainable with each other
I’m not American, so please don’t be offended, but I believe the underlying malaise in the USA is caused by a concept of individuality that has no basis in reality. To outsiders like me, this ethos of sink or swim by your own efforts ignores the reality that co-operation is the glue that binds human societies, not dog-eat-dog competition. You can be an individual and yet still believe that your fellow man has a /right/ to live and prosper. You can be an individual and yet still believe that you have a responsibility towards others. And you can be an individual, believe fervently in democracy, and yet still believe that Corporate Capitalism is just a dictatorship disguised as consumerism.
Here in Australia we’re probably closer to the European ethos. We have a cultural of ‘mateship’. What it boils down to is the idea that everyone is a mate, and deserves a helping hand when they’re down. Of course Indigenous Australians are lesser mates than white Australians, and new Australians are lesser mates than old Australians, and women are somewhere in-between. Sadly no cultural ethos is perfect, but it’s something to build on.
Maybe what both our countries need is to get back to what democracy is all about – equality.
I am definitely not offended at all. I would say that the idea of person-hood or individuality is a major issue especially if corporations can be by law considered individuals. I think it was always a rigged game. It was the aristocracy who created the laws and basis of this country. The following words come from James Madison: “power must be in the hands of the wealth of the nation, the more responsible set of men. Those who have sympathy for property owners and their rights” In general, men who understand that a fundamental task of government is “to protect the minority of the opulent from the majority”. The way our system is built here was always a pyramid scheme. The idea of the American dream was a poisoned carrot held in front of the masses to make them work harder and do more for their OverLords. Basically this is a tyrannical plutocracy that deals more in illusions than and democracy in the traditional sense.
I have always been sceptical of the European ethos. The American ethos is not far removed from it’s former European ethos, and I should say also that Western Europe is a massive investor in and supporter of US Neocolonial activities worldwide. I agree that a return to equality while not a panacea can remedy many social ills as well as “rethinking competition”
ehh just my thoughts lol sorry for the rant
Hi MrMary, that quote was a real eye-opener. I’m sure I’m not alone in believing that America used to be the bastion of democracy. To now discover that it was never meant to be anything of the kind is rather shocking.
Here in Australia we literally began from the exact other end of the social spectrum – can’t get much lower than a convict. As such, I think our cultural identity still reflects those ‘don’t trust the bastards’ attitudes.
I truly hope that what comes out of all this upheaval is something closer to the ideal of democracy. 😦
I think the message ive have seen a lot is that the system was always designed for a particular group of people to benefit. I think that most any system. With that said a lot of energy has to be spent selling the illusion to others. The illusion of inclusion is terribly expensive but it makes everythign work
I am an optimist! I think things will change. I hope its during my lifetime too !
The illusion of inclusion. That is one powerful concept. Despite having tamed most of the world, we humans still need to be included in a great big protective society to survive. So long as we thing we belong to the ‘in’ crowd we support them because we think we’re supporting ourselves. I guess the people of Ukraine finally got sick of waiting to be included. For them the illusion went sour. I think that’s a lesson all governments should heed. I wonder why we find it so hard to learn from history, even when it’s playing out in front of our eyes?