Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thinking about US/America

The U. S. became a big success. This success seems to include both wealth and power. You get the picture.

Compared to other countries of about the same size, it is richer. I propose a way to comprehend the existence of such events.

To what is the success and/or the power of this entity - a term I like to use is "US/America" - attributable? The success of the USA, as a preeminent country, with a record of respect for human rights, liberty, and individual freedom of expression is mostly attributable to something like an economic method.

If so, then what it is not attributable to is "ideals" --- nor the "ideas" --- of liberty --- of democracy, and of human rights, and so forth. It is not that those things are not important. In other words it is not that US/America does not have human rights. It does. But it is not mostly attributable to ideals.

The "ideals" are of not such great impact.

If we want to understand this matter of the nature of America, why America exists, or where its success comes from; or this matter of the American phenomenon, which Toqueville and others have all had their shot at explaining, we should use this approach of thinking about an economic method, not a society driven by "ideals". That means not to look as much at the intellectual heritage, etc. (This sounds a bit like Sartre's "existence over essence".)

And in going back to the idea of an economic method, while discounting the value of "ideals," we nevertheless should not forget culture. Culture becomes important, later in the discussion. But for now just understand that you've got to discount "ideals" and put the causal emphasis on economic method. This is all characteristic of the original view that I have worked out and that I think explains the capitalistic historical period better than other approaches.

If we read Gordon S. Wood on the way that US/America transitioned from a pre-Revolutionary status-conscious society, to its new "American" nature (a change that he thinks of, rather weirdly, as "radical"), or, in fact, if we look at the combination of class and relaxed that we see in the pictures of Norman Rockwell, then we may get the hint we need.

What made America so successful? There seems to be a method involved which has something to do with relaxing some of the social convention, or rigid class aspect, and letting the force of markets come to the fore, as everyone scrambles for jobs in the developing capitalist society.