How Americans Are Exceptional

Column by Paul Bonneau.

Exclusive to STR

No doubt many here have noticed the back-and-forth about “American exceptionalism.” On one side are the ruling class and oafish neocons generally; there is no point wasting our time examining their viewpoint on it. On the other are e.g. Lew Rockwell and his writers, who seem to take the phrase “American exceptionalism” as only a euphemism for the neocon worldview, perhaps because it is usually neocons who go on and on about it. Otherwise they act as if exceptionalism didn’t exist.

I’d like to see if we can get anything useful from the concept.

For one thing, we can start by saying people everywhere in some sense are the same; e.g. genetically. We can also say that there are different “flavors” of people, both genetically and culturally. I am not bothering with the genetic component here.

For another, the question comes up, what people exactly are we talking about? The American ruling class is drearily the same as any ruling class, although their mastery of propaganda and other such tools seems better than most (probably as a result of more money available to develop them, and long experience in using them). But I am not talking about the ruling classes.

In what sense are Americans different, and better?

I can think of two particular items: 1) we’re heavily armed, and 2) we’re not very interested in what the rulers think--unless by default, we think the opposite.

I doubt many will argue with the first, but I’m guessing few people understand how much this affects the culture, and also affects point 2. To be armed is to give the rulers and their minions pause. Now, it seems a bit silly to think so at first glance, given over two million Americans in jail and the expression of fear washing back and forth across the culture, and the high numbers of murder-by-cop. In what sense are cops being deterred?

One thing that has appeared as a result of the latest push for gun control is the massive public and private non-compliance by gun owners (reportedly about 94% in New York, for example), combined with a reluctance on the part of the ruling class to push it, and a huge amount of unwillingness of their minions to enforce it. And note also what happened on the Bundy ranch. In what other country do these sorts of things happen? In other countries, when the rulers start to bash firearms, the people dutifully turn them in; or at best, bury them. Here, they go out and buy another.

The existence and spread of homeschooling happened primarily as a result of willful noncompliance with statutes put in place by educrats over the decades. In what other country has this happened?

On the second point, we need only contrast America with England. In England there are class divisions; the peons always look up to the ruling class at the same time they scorn them. Hell, there is still a queen in England! Here, class divisions are about as invisible as it is possible to get, despite the huge spread in income among people. The housing stock is all mixed up. Class mobility is way higher than in England. Outside of the context of “ruling class,” the word “class” is almost meaningless in America.

Bill Clinton hated guns, and Obama hates them even more. These two have become the greatest gun salesmen in history, since they are presidents in America rather than in some other place. Where else has this happened?

Congress passed NDAA, which at least theoretically allows the security apparatus to toss you in a cage and throw away the key. Obama has the power to kill anyone on a whim. Lately the Spanish government has enacted harsh anti-free-speech measures; but our even more evil government’s attempts in this direction have flopped. I don’t see people curbing their speech, do you? If anything, it has gotten much hotter in recent years.

I think the disdain for ruling class wishes is intimately tied to our being heavily armed, and vice-versa. Being armed enhances one’s courage. Why wouldn’t everyone take advantage of this fact?

We are exceptional, but not in a way the rulers appreciate.

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Paul Bonneau's picture
Columns on STR: 106


floppytilleyhat's picture

I loved this article. If anyone's interested, there's another article with a similar viewpoint written by a Brit over at Takimag.

Paul's picture

Thanks for that link, it was a good one.