America, in the sense of the United States, is standing, I think, at a cultural crossroads. On the one hand, America’s involvement (not to mention interference) in global issues, such as economy, politics, human rights, education and science, has meant that America has come, in the past a hundred years or so to the very front of the world stage; this of course has meant again that many people have started hating it and reducing it to a variety of stereotypes: America is evil, America is ignorant or stupid, America is arrogant etc. Which I think is partly a misunderstanding of America. But of course, one can’t stand at the forefront and expect not to be booed. It’s part of the game I guess.
On the other hand, leaving any misunderstanding aside, American values do seem to have come to a point where they need to be reconsidered. For various reasons, but not least because at the time when these values were set, they were set in a particular configuration, in a system, which is nowadays no longer here, or no longer functional as such.
So in my post today I’m trying to do two things. First, to try to show that America’s options and attitudes, from foreign policy to Obamacare, for example, are not simply instances of arrogance, stupidity or evil; they are part of what American culture is all about; they are part of in fact a very generous and human mindset. Whether this is still genuinely the motive behind American decisions or governmental policies, is a different story. What I’m trying to say is: there are deep, positive fundamentals for such actions, rooted in American thinking.
Second, I’m also trying to show what the limitations are of these American values in our times. So on the one hand I’m explaining the values behind American actions – so, there ARE values behind them! – but on the other hand I’m suggesting where these values have lost their touch with the modern world.
One quick side-thought. At university I had the option between American and British civilization courses. I chose American. I simply found this culture fascinating. That incredible metaphor that was continually being enacted, that pragmatic action undertaken in the name of the ideal… in fact, it matched my own youth-like desire to give reality the sense of my imagination, and to see my imagination grow real in the setting around me.