26 October 2011

American Exceptionalism 2.0?

"American Exceptionalism has routinely been underestimated by America’s *adversaries. We  have argued for the last year that powerful trends are reshaping U.S. that will lead to result a rebirth of American manufacturing, coupled with positive business trends, and just as powerful political trends are shrinking the size of government and its capacity to intervene in the economy. The combination of these trends will create a sustained upward spike in the American economy." ~ Chris W. Street at BigGovernment.com

This is the second time this week I've read an article about America's comeback.

British business writer, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard just wrote a piece about world power being centered, once again, in the United States. Evans-Pritchard begins his piece with this assertion:

The American phoenix is slowly rising again. Within five years or so, the US will be well on its way to self-sufficiency in fuel and energy. Manufacturing will have closed the labour gap with China in a clutch of key industries. The current account might even be in surplus. (More here.)

With the wreckage we see all around us (brought to you by ruling class elites in government and academia), it's hard to fathom America recovering from our current mess any time in the foreseeable future. But, as someone once said, the darkest hour is right before dawn. (I've also heard the darkest hour is right before it goes pitch black.)

But, I suppose it is possible that institutional academia will have to put off their celebration of America's decline for another century. Now that would be worth celebrating.

*Would that include the enemies of American Exceptionalism?

Next post: Institutional Academia, The Tea Party & Occupy Wall Street ~ Who's Right?


Vince said...

One of the ironies in reading your posts on American Exceptionalism is how much I am reminded of Northern citizens' and soldiers' war speeches. It's somewhat startling how they passionately they viewed the United States--the nation-- as the world's only hope for salvation from forces believed to be incompatible with democratic government and liberty. Anyway, it's given me a new way to look at the (sometimes seemingly metaphysical) question of the North's "cause" in the Civil War. Here's an example of one such speech (scroll to bottom for sword presentation speech) from my web project on my hometown and the Civil War:
Lancaster at War--Better Know a Soldier: Elias H. Witmer

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Vince. I think the irony comes from a lack of understanding of many Southerners view of our country. That's not a criticism, just an observation. Many Confederates were no less convinced of the South being the only hope for self-government.

That being said, I understand the irony as well. As they say, it's complicated. For example, whenever I hear the term "American Exceptionalism", memories of my grandfather come immediately to mind: A lifelong Democrat who didn't care for Ronald Reagan. He fought in WWII and, after the war, worked for DuPont for over 40 years as a machinist. He rarely purchased any item unless it was American made, yet had a Confederate flag hanging in his office, as well as the CSA seal. He was very patriotic and proud of his service during WWII, yet once told me how much he despised war saying (at the height of the Cold War), that the only way he'd fight the Russians was if they crossed the Blue Ridge (into the Shenandoah Valley).

AE is, in a very broad sense, believing America has a unique and special place in the world. That it has, overall, been a force for good. That its economic and republican form of government (as envisioned by our Founders), along with its Judeo-Christian legal system, has allowed it to become the greatest nation on earth.

Thanks for the comment.

Vince said...

Thanks for the response. I've spent comparatively little time researching popular justifications of the war by pro-Confederate Southerners, although my understanding is that they leaned more toward the practical than the philosophical, at least relative to the North. That is, appeals to defense of "hearth and home", protecting economic and social institutions, repelling the invader, etc. were given precedence to higher-level concerns. Anyway, it'd be interesting to see a more thorough analysis (which I'm sure someone has done) of those justifications across the South and how much they appealed to more visceral causes vs. more developed political ideas. Have you done any investigating of those types of questions for your hometown or for your ancestors?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I think, to many Southern traditionalists, philosophical *is* practical. In other words, their philosophy underpinned their practical experiences and vice versa, e.g. an agrarian lifestyle and economy. Without getting too deep or too far off topic here, the religious philosophy that underpinned most Christians in the South was non-gnostic. (Is that a word?) In other words, they did not view the material world in a dualistic fashion, at least not consciously. (If what I just said makes absolutely no sense to you, don't worry about it.)

Specifically, if you want a political and philosophical discussion/justification by a Southerner, you might start with Jefferson Davis's "The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government."

No, my own ancestors left very little on this topic in writing. What little I know has been passed down orally and through a few letters one of my ancestors wrote to his wife while serving in the Confederate Army.

Thanks for visiting and reading Vince. Hope that helps more than it confuses.

Vince said...

I understand what you're saying, but it's not really what I was trying to get at. Maybe put another way, I'm wondering where Confederate soldiers' reasons for fighting fell on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs...were they mostly concerned with basic issues of security or did they--in 1861--try to assemble more complex and nuanced models of what a government should be to make sense of the Civil War's chaos? And I think religion probably played a very important role. The answer could be that the "cause" emphasized both basic needs (e.g., security) and higher needs (e.g., liberty), but I don't know if and in what proportions. Hmmmmm...maybe I should spend some time on the Valley of the Shadow project.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Vince - I think the reasons are likely as varied as were the individuals who fought - patriotism, fear, wanting to prove manhood, anger, desire for adventure and glory, boredom, etc, etc - not really all that different for why young men join armed forces today.