Saturday, 5 December 2009

American Journeys and American exceptionalism

The young man who sought the meaning of life among the poor and in religion, and the train driver who knew nothing of the world twenty miles either side of the tracks he drove, were both in their different ways expressions of American 'exceptionalism'. [Alexis de] Tocqueville, who coined the term, would have found their like in 1831. That is to say, at some level both shared the assumption of Americans, from the Pilgrim Fathers to George W. Bush, that America is different from all other countries because America is a country - the only country - blessed by God.

The idea is essential to the doctrine behind the War on Terror, to the strength of religion, the weakness of the social security system, the pervasiveness of the flag and other symbols of the nation; to its violence, its self-deceits and hypocrisy, its inability to confront its own contradictions, its childish fears and paranoia, and its mind-numbing provincialism. It is also, very likely, the reason for its power, its creativity, its capacity for self-renewal, its numberless heroic examples and the desire of people everywhere to live in the United States.
From American Journeys by Don Watson


ricky said...

I enjoyed reading your blog. Just planning to walk Kumano Kodo Kohechi route in January. I also noted you are using Amazon and suggest you take a lokk at Book Depository which has free postage. I don't know how long for NZ but around 2 weeks for Sydney. Thank you for the blog.

Walking fool said...

Thanks for the comment. Kumano Kodo is definitely on my "to do" list. But won't there be snow in January?

Oh, and thanks for the Book Depository tip.

ricky said...

so far this year has been very warm so am hoping there will not be snow. I think the advantage of January is that there will not be very many people and also it is drier than other months. the Kii peninsula tends to rain.

grantmcdonagh said...

Good quote. Abebooks is the best source for deleted/second hand books worldwide. Deals vary with individual sellers.