Archive for November, 2010

Preface:

I wrote this some time ago, and it has become slowly popular. I had become deeply irritated by the scorn heaped on our American friends for their American Dream by the European press:

america flag american dream american dream

Gideon Rachman, in his ubiquitous column for the FT, writes that he really likes America, its just, he says, that he can’t stand the American dream. Presumably he does this with a straight face, as if the two were distinguishable . It’s a popular sentiment though, one that  just bristles with all the charm of snobbish establishment, dripping with that all too common European superiority that you find on every page of every rag from Le Monde to whatever tabloid lines the shelves of Balkan supermarkets.
He doesn’t like this idea “that you can be whatever you want to be.”  This oh so American idea. This idea, he says, this one: “the American dream.”
Now there’s a thought.
Presumably the fact that “this idea” is not the American Dream is either unknown or irrelevant  to Mr  Rachman, and many of his  readers, as he heaps scorn upon scorn upon it. Certainly more relevant is the purpose of the pithy little piece of posturing, which as far as anyone could possibly make out appears to be the offer of advice on democracy that he offers up to the (then) American presidential hopefuls.
In between doses of scorn, contempt, self righteousness, and outright insolence, he ridicules US attempts at bi-partisanship and offers, to boot, his astonishing insights on not just democracy, but freedom too, complete with a good dose of euro-styled sarcasm, to boot. And all this delivered with the very matronly tone of the ever correct moral high ground, that comes from just waking up on the Dark Continent.
However, no doubt  Mr Obama was both delighted and grateful at the advice, not to mention McCain, considering the long and fruitful history Europe  has with  democracy.
If I recall, half a century  ago, much of Europe was under the thumb of dictators and tyrants….
The very dark continent had by then, adopted and rejected, the ideals of the American founding fathers. But rest assured that they had not given up on dreams.
On the contrary, it was European dreams that pulled us all through two world wars, and a cold one. Yet instead of saying thanks for saving us from Teutonic hell, its
“..anything you can do we have done better. Just don’t mention the war, we’ve come so much further since then. Well at least the Germans have….”
And as for our European dream-busters, from their wonderful and brand spanking new union of self, ideas, and political destiny, constantly pooh poohing US attempts at everything from democracy to burger king, lets not forget one currency doesn’t really make a union, but you don’t hear nasty giggling about that from across the Atlantic.
Which begs the question : What’s so bad about the American dream ?
So its not the oh  so Milan chic-london-jaded-berlin-efficient-paris-gourmet-spanish-design-balkan-yuck -coke-head-herion-jungian-bulemic-know-it-all-psydo-intellectual-euro-existential-angstridden-rainy-stylsh-dark and damp fare of the ever sophisticated and growing family of Eurocrats.
So what ? Who cares ? I for one am sick and tired of all this must-end-badly and be sad-if-its-going-to-be-credible crap that these Europeans keep feeding us twits in the colonies.
The Euro dream is the nightmare we should all be watching.
Besides which, history indicates that Europeans are not to be trusted with their grand schemes of social engineering. And this latest incarnation of Pan European nationalism smacks of most terrible eschatology.
Mr Rachman, and all the ships at sea, the American dream comes not from Hollywood, Oprah or even the Hillary, and if you had bothered to pay attention at school in history you would might have known that. Unless you dropped history of course, for New British Cuisine  or Pan European Aspirations in the new Global Economy etc ad infinitum.
But having said that, “this idea”  – that a man can become anything, whilst not THE DREAM, nonetheless still has merit, methinks.
Not of course in the Eurozone.
But, and dare I say it, in the new world.European Union American Dream
Dreams, in this context are less of what you watch in your sleep and more of what you hope for in the waking hours, if you still have hope. And I say this with reverence in respect of the culture of hopelessness, deeply embedded in European thought.
Outrageous, you say, not at all.
Consider the source.
The ancients.
Even better, the classics.
Indeed, that place from which most Eurotrashing begins.
Classic, is a term applied by post modern Europeans to refer to timelessness in lines and form. But it is more than that, expressed often in the following type of comment;
“ Gosh, dear, I just cant bear the look of that Chrysler , this American aesthetic is so brash, so gaudy, so lacking, ahh… really! Will they never get that less is more?”
Well no.
It’s that deeply held affinity for “the Classic” that haunts the dusty, intellectual corridors of Euro-Land. It refers back, to the ancients, to the classics, to mummy, daddy and grand pah pah. The quest for classical lines, music, food and art. The embodiment of classicism, reflected and regurgitated over and over again from Bacarat through  Bently to Benz.
This is how, you see, an architect in Gstad and a waitress in the Balkans both get to lay claim to the aesthetic inheritance of ancient Greece and Rome with a straight face.
Beyond form, in the gritty swamps of substantive ideas, the yearning for classical origins still slithers around perceptions in Europe, and the nature of hope too, draws its genesis from these murky mythological puddles. American dream
Hope, you may recall, had an ugly origin, it was the very last evil to be unleashed upon the world by one overeager European called Pandora.
And so, hopelessness becomes an essential building block in the Euro-psyche, underpinning the deepest distrust of ideas that trade in the currency of hope.
Not forgetting of course that it allows one to be so jadedly disdainful of the ignorantly hopeful, whose ideas jar European sentiment just as much as their bad taste, and all this because of Pandora and her box.
Oh yes, you heard it here first …hope is alive and well in the American dream, scourge of European intellectuals, and fear of the axis of evil…hope underpins the value system of American society.
This idea that you dislike so, Mr Rachman, and the American Dream, are simply aspirations, good, decent, common or garden, salt of the earth aspirations, unmitigated by Gucci, Nietchze or The London Financial Times. Totally out of sync with European Existentialism and why, if you had a telescope you might see the red white and blue on the moon.
Obstacle and difficulty are not grounds for dimissal. An aspiration is not fodder for ridicule. Even more, unachieved aspirations are not failed, dear sir, they are simply yet to be.
The expression of the aspiration that anyone can become anything is simply a  long term expressions of an idea that is central the American psyche. Its not the bland, ridiculous, literal idea, that Mr Rachman would have us believe, its just an expression of a simple idea.
Merit over class.
Something so very un-European.
And before, you get on your noble high horse, m’lord, its obvious why you don’t like that idea.
The American dream, Mr Rachman is just that. A dream.  Could you perhaps be a gentleman and give another man his dreams ?
Besides, these Americans have a habit of making their dreams come true.
If only you could ask King George.george king american dream
He too, had an American Dream he could not stand.
If you liked this piece then read about how the American Dream has become the dream of the rest of the world:
“the red white and blue is not just a flag, its an idea or finding america, just up your street, even in africa.

american imperialism american dream

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