The mother of all paradoxes, the American social model
The dismal demise of the American Dream (if it ever really existed), the dream not of what we believe it was but of what we wanted to believe it was.
"It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude." ( Aldous Huxley in a 1962 speech at Berkeley)
By Gaither Stewart
(Rome) It’s undeniable that the American social model is a paradox in the world. All you have to do is look around at other nations and the difference is clear as the Rome sky in July. Even though today at the nadir of its profound social crisis because of its flagrant, outright failure, America continues unabashedly to hammer away at its people how fortunate they are, while simultaneously proposing itself to the world as the paradigm, the quintessence, the very epitome of western civilization. But is history not carrying America into a faded American Dream?
Ah, the American Dream! To the degree the model appears to the rest of the world as honeycombed and as full of holes as Swiss cheese, the more America’s ideological operation morphs into a contest between good (the US model) and evil (the rest). America’s private struggle between good and evil becomes in turn the ideological platform and the inspiration-justification of puritanical, individualistic and greedy America’s age-old universal crusade against the rest of the world. Moreover, lest one forgets or believes the crap, the American social system is all the more insidious for human society today because it has become the social model for the world of capitalist globalization.
How did it come about that the ballyhooed “American Dream” is based on nothing less than social injustice? The self-righteous social trajectory described in the glowing terms of “freedoms” in the Bill of Rights (e.g. the right to have arms) is undermined by a social philosophy of niggardly, tight-fisted individualism implying the right to individualistically shoot down fellow students or foreigners called terrorists who resist. Thus the poisonous combination of that individualism and the glaring absence of an incisive workers’ movement is the original sin that has led the nation and the world at large under its sway into the blind alley of entire unprotected social classes, irrational environmental hostility, and pre-emptive, perpetual war.
The great paradox is that the list of declared, claimed and proclaimed—but not guaranteed—fictitious rights for Americans have deflated and become non-rights for others.
We see it all around us. In places the world shrinks. In others it expands. Things change and shift around. But America Land of the Free, part of the shrunken world, tries not to see its shattered dream. Dazzle their minds with impossible dreams. Implant in their mindsets visions of triumph. Then, mask the inevitable loss of hope by the masses. Feebly old dreams try to resurface and again vanish. The glamorous glitter of once-upon-a-time has been reduced to a tacky faint flicker of the lonely used car lot or the mottled colors of empty Burger Kings blinking in the night. Begrudgingly, cars get smaller. Houses run down. Legions of Walmarts experience a sense of abandonment while beautiful celebrities look out of TV screens soothingly and travel around the world and buy villas on Lake Como.
Meanwhile, Europe’s one hundred year old social state based on a spirit of solidarity is weakening and ceding ground to the selfish American capitalist-individualistic-everyman-for-himself society and its neo-liberal allies of the European Union. Yet the European Idea of the social state hangs on and resists. There is still a veritable abyss between the American market model based on individualism (that is the hosanna-ed American Dream), with a high rate of mobility at the cost of a low level of protection of its people, and the European system based on the social state, which is the European Idea.
The absence of a solid and stable workers movement in the USA which should be this nation’s third party is responsible for America’s anti-social answer to what is in essence a social issue. Once-upon-a-time workers movements and trade unions in America chalked up some important achievements. That was a long time ago. On the east side of the ocean the workers movements had a close relationship with the rise of the nation states and the effects of the industrial revolution and the eventual emergence of the social state.
America ’s dissonant voice is instead the anti-social divergence of the model projected by the USA. Therefore the pernicious halo surrounding propagandistic Americanism. Therefore, the transformation of the American Dream into nightmare. That impossible dream, that at the very most dream-gone-wrong, that incubus, has in turn provided the foundations for an enduring Corporatism-Fascism, in America stubbornly referred to as individualism.