The American Fantasy Land

Crossroads Fantasyland - dualdflipflop Flickr

One of the comments to a post by David Seaton was this quote by Bertrand Russell.

“In America everybody is of the opinion that he has no social superiors, since all men are equal, but he does not admit that he has no social inferiors, for, from the time of Jefferson onward, the doctrine that all men are equal applies only upwards, not downwards”.

We do not see ourselves in a realistic light but in the way we wish we were or hope to become.  This is true of racial relations, finances, politics…you name it. The so called American Exceptionalism.   This is evident int the tax proposal of the president to except the first $250,000.00 of income from the tax hike. To same the Middle Class. But as Ted Rall points out in this column,  this is hardly middle class. More like the top 2% of earners.  Especially since the median income is $49,000.00. Bit of a difference, wouldn’t you say.

The problem is that these people do not see themselves as rich or part of the top 2% partially because a good number of them live well above their means as was pointed out in a story a while back of a college professor who said he did not feel rich. Then is was pointed out that his expenses were well above his income.

There is also a kind of snobbery that plays here as well. My mother who was a teacher for many years would say how her fellow teachers would vote republican because they were “professionals” even though a teachers salary was well below that of a steel worker. But they were “professionals” and not blue collar.  Of course teacher’s unions have changed that at bit in recent years.

And as Chris Hedges says, Americans are notorious at turning a blind eye to uncomfortable truths.   Like our justification of military involvement in other countries and how they will love being liberated by us. That we live in some post racial society simply because you don’t here the “N” word much any more.

We try to hide all these uncomfortable realities, mostly from ourselves like the fake town in Blazing Saddles.   And worst of all a lot of Americans believe the town is real.  That we are what we tell ourselves we are.  Our politicians preach these illusions and the media and Madison Av. sell them.  We build freeways around the cities so you don’t have to see the decay and force the homeless out so we can tell ourselves how economically just we are. And we claim to have a free market economy even though companies get hand outs from government and go belly up the minute military contracts get cancelled.

But this is nothing really new. Europe believe the same caricature of themselves as well. It took a world war to change this view.

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