America is truly a wonderful place. I love the land, the people, and our amazing American heritage. What a wonder! A land of pioneers forging their own way in uncharted territory, built, discovered, and invented things that would change the world positively forever. So independent and self-determined were our ancestors, they braved battle against the world's most powerful military, to throw off the oppressive state once and for all. In victory, a new country was born.
But America wasn't just country - a political construct - it was something more. America was a people held together by confession of a creed, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." No more would man be ruled by another. American's declared that it was the individual who was sovereign. That the state existed only at the people's will and it's powers came only by their grant. No longer were people to serve the state. As their creation, the state was to serve them.
The Ancien Régime was abolished. Arbitrary hierarchies were gone. Governors were held liable for the same laws of the governed. And people came to America from all over the globe, staking their own claim, on their own terms, in this new "land of the free."
We've come along way since.
Founded on the principles of individual liberty and limited government, America now boasts of an overreaching federal government that has become the most powerful and most expensive the world has ever known. Quickly disbanding the Continental Army after the Revolutionary War due to American's deep distrust of standing armies, we now have a Pentagon engaged in perpetual war. Add high taxes, burdensome regulation, a central bank, the welfare state, and it's enough to give up hope. But don't despair.
America is not the government. Never has been. Never will be. The government is just a problem that we've dealt with successfully before.
America is our families, our friends, our communities. America is our traditions, our culture, our heritage. America is not a political construct, but a creed - a Declaration of Independence!
On the first day of B-school, they had an expert on international culture who consults with major companies come and give us some behavior and attitudes test and then explain the outcome. The bottom line is that Americans are *extreme* outliers. American culture is unique. Despite all the crap that has happened, Americans are as culturally exceptional as they were in de Tocqueville’s day.
They reject fate and believe in in the power of individual choice. American celebrate mavericks; they’d never say, “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down”. On a very fundamental level, Americans value others as free individuals and expect those around them to do the same. There is no deference to authority, experience, or seniority, Americans expect people to justify themselves by their words and deeds, not because of who they are. Individualism and freedom are not political ideas here, they are cultural values, to the point that even the enemies of freedom must pay lip service to them.
Americans believe in the rule of law with almost religious fervor. That the state has to justify not only every exercise of power but even its very existence, is a uniquely American attitude. When Americans say that the state “can’t” do something they don’t mean it as a procedural formality, but as a statement of metaphysical reality.
America succeed b/c of the people and despite the government. Everywhere else seems to have *needed* political leadership to get anything done, but Americans by and large just take care of business. Politics is not a field that attracts the best and brightest, America doesn’t produce great statesman, but that’s b/c its best people have better things to do. Politicians may talk of taxing the rich, but even on the left, very few would begrudge Gates, Dell, or others who made their fortunes with “honest” work.
In short, what is good about America is everything that riles the Europeans, offends those from the Far East, and mystifies everyone else.
Please click over (above) to read the whole post about our great American culture. You'll be glad you did!
American culture is unique. As self-determined individuals chasing our own dreams for our own purposes, we don't need (or even want) a "national purpose" handed down to us by some state demagogue from above. We don't need to be governed, because we govern ourselves quite well. We respect our individual differences as we cooperate and help each other the best we can. And while we've certainly allowed the state to creep its way into our lives, our American ideals have not been lost. They are natural to us. It's simply time to take them back!
Previous discussions of this theme have resulted in 3 of the most popular posts I've ever written (listed below). So if you haven't had the opportunity to read them yet, please take the time to do so now. God bless America!