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The American Dream
Realistic ideal, or Utopian nonsense?
The idea of the American Dream is the subject of much derision from anti-Americans, and understandably so. It stands as a repudiation of cynical re-imaginings of history that caste America as the latest iteration of colonial oppression that covers the world like a plague to be disinfected, dismantled, and discarded into the dustbin of history. The fact is these ideas are as popular as ever, at least outside the institutions that have been captured by the real plague consisting of managerial class elites whose collective incompetence grants us the promise of untold devastation. As these effects spill over beyond the capacity of what the Cathedral can hope to spin, it is worth reflecting on the origins of this idea that I consider to be the heartbeat of Americanism.
Before examining the genesis of the phrase “The American Dream”, I think it is important to acknowledge the anti-American straw man version of this noble idea. You’ve almost certainly heard before that the American Dream implies that anyone can become rich and successful in America if they just work hard enough. This is obviously nonsense, and so provides an excellent straw man version of an idea to attack that, in reality, has the same rich intellectual tradition as Americanism itself.
So, who coined the phrase? In 1931 James Truslow Adams wrote the book “The Epic of America” which forever tied the phrase “The American Dream” to Americanism. In this book Adams defines the idea as such (emphasis mine):
“a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
From this passage we can see that since its inception, The American Dream has always recognized that innate ability is a non-modifiable factor. This recognition makes it clear that The American Dream is not Utopian in any way. In Utopia, we don’t have to contend with biological reality, in The American Dream, we do, and this simple definition from the originator of the concept proves it. (NOTE: One innate capability that I believe has a tendency to distinguish Americans from anti-Americans is risk tolerance. There are many such innate differences, but I think this one is of particular import)
While the American Dream isn’t Utopian, it is definitely idealistic. Since there are people that develop ideas in a way that I adore (e.g. Michael McConkey) who profess an aversion to incorporating idealism into analysis, I think this is an important point to address. To be clear, I don’t think there is an objective ideal for all mankind, but I can at least imagine what would be ideal for me, given my subjective preferences. Since the most consequential of these preferences are consistent (or at least not mutually exclusive) for all Americans, I think it is fair for us to openly strive for American ideals, without regard for how offensive this might be to those who don’t share our preferences. This is especially so for those of us who reside in the USA. My ideal is America. Through some great fortune I was born in the only country on earth founded on ideals, and I just so happen to find myself enamored with these ideas to the point that for me, Americanism legally qualifies as religious belief. This isn’t utopian, but it is idealistic.
Since it might still be difficult to imagine that the realization of ones ideals won’t lead to a perfect world (this is a mistake that those with unconstrained visions make, those of us with constrained worldviews recognize that perfection is unattainable), I offer a vivid narrative sketch of what America looks like from another individual I have an intellectual crush on, an anonymous Canadian academic that goes by the pen name John Carter. Although the author doesn’t bill it as such, I believe his article entitled “Safety Last” is the American Dream brought to life. We can be sure it is no picture of Utopia, because as much as it represents the world I would prefer to inhabit, I imagine it is simultaneously a terrible nightmare for the anti-Americans among us to contemplate. If anything illustrates why these anti-Americans have fought so hard in their long march to capture our institutions and our government, this is it. We have incompatible visions. While the economy isn’t a zero sum game, the battle to assert the American Dream certainly is. To the extent this vision can prevail, anti-Americanism and all concomitant ideas lose what amounts to a fixed share of power and influence. Should the American Dream be restored to its rightful place as the eminent ideology of influence in the body politic, it will necessarily leave several million U.S. citizens very disgruntled about having to live in peace with people they despise. To address this, I think it is time to resurrect an old saying. As this saying goes, “This is America, love it or leave it!”. When initially popularized in the wake of 9/11 (at least to my recollection), the meaning of this saying was perverted to conflate the idea of America with the U.S. government (a rhetorical trap the anti-war left has routinely blundered into). This perversion is nothing short of blasphemy in the church of Americanism. When used appropriately, however, I quite like it. Let the globalists assimilate the rest of the world, and let the anti-Americans among us emigrate and hate their homeland from afar if they really feel that strongly about it. For any anti-Americans that might have the temerity to suggest that we leave, I submit to you my paraphrasing of a great moment in cinema: “No way! Why should we leave? You’re the ones who suck.”