It’s Not Complicated
What Greatness Is Not
American greatness is not a soaring stock market, the world’s most powerful military, furibund nationalism, an imperialist foreign policy based on lies, rapine, opportunism and the classification of civilian dead and wounded as “collateral damage.” It is not advanced systems of surveillance and repression, nor sophisticated medical systems and procedures exclusively for those who can afford them. It’s not kowtowing to white supremacists and nazis, nor separating families and consigning them to wire cages where they can be–and are being–sexually abused by their keepers. It is not a regime dedicated to subjugating, subverting and exploiting resource-rich countries, usually by buying off, threatening, or elimnating their leaders.
What It Is
It is basic wellbeing for 100% of the population, including decent housing, living wages, free education from pre-school through university or advanced vocational training, universal health care, and of course, paid maternal and paternal leave for blessed events. Pleaase don’t pretend that this is economically impossible for the richest country in the world. It isn’t. Most of Europe has these rights guaranteed already. These lucky countries–let’s call them “commonwealths”–also offer egalitarian civil rights, non-politicized judiciaries, and humanitarian penal systems designed to rehabilitate, not castigate. Most of them have clear divisions between church and state. A truly democratic government has no need for “spiritual advisors.” They are just a cheap, reliable form of influence peddling aimed at under-educated electors.
Here’s the Hard Part
Let’s start out by acknowledging the reality. The citizens of the United States are victims of more than a century of brainwashing in favor of hardball nationalism, predatory capitalism, and ruthless imperialism in their dealings
with other countries. These bitter facts have been downplayed for Americans during many decades, cloaked in secrecy and hypocrisy: “Our mission in Iraq is to liberate the Iraquis from a cruel dictatorship and to neutralize their weapons of mass destruction…” And don’t forget the false-flag operations and other black ops.
It was not until the events of September 11, 2001, that President George W. Bush removed the gloves and unleashed the dogs of war on Afghanistan and Iraq in broad daylight. Ironically, neither of those countries was responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, nor were either of the ensuing wars won by the Americans. Iraq continues to fester. And even after being mauled by the Russian military for 10 years (March 1979-February 1989) the Afghan resistance managed to entertain the American forces for two decades more. Today the Biden team has picked up where the Trump administation left off, and American troops are on their way out of Afghanistan. The Taliban now controls 60% of the country and well-informed observers think they will be in control of the entire country within a year or less. So much for American military grandeur.
Education or Child Abuse?
There are all kinds of child abuse–physical, psychological, economic, sexual– and all of them leave lasting consequences. But there’s another one that seldom gets mentioned and it’s as damaging as all the others. It’s the moral and ideological abuse caused by teaching children false “truths” and baseless historical “facts.” Teaching children that they are superior and uniquely entitled, simply for being Americans, is profoundly damaging. Teaching them that Americans are endowed with unique “rights” to rule other people’s countries as if they were their own is dishonest and deforming. Raising them to believe that happiness can be bought is soul destroying. All of these familiar American commonplaces are sowing destructive mental illness in the DNA of a great nation. The country’s toleration of white supremacist and Nazi ideologies sets dismal examples for these same American young people. Nonetheless, all of this brainwashing is their daily bread.
Young Americans are schooled with pre-cooked ideas based on misinformation, exaggeration, magical thinking, opportunism, cynicism, and ultra-nationalism. They are thus conditioned to become Pavlovian responders who drool and snarl at the mention of words like “socialist,” “Russian” or “universal medical care,” all of which are considered totalitarian. (In fact, the only Americans who enjoy the cozy benefits of socialism are members of the military and the United States Congress, the only two American collectives entitled to universal health care–including dental.) These ready-to-digest anti-collectivist notions are instilled from earliest childhood along with Santa Claus, the Baby Jesus, and the Tooth Fairy, and are essentially indelible. Konrad Lorenz would say they are “imprinted” on American young people. No amount of plain-vanilla facts will ever erase their influence.
The Road to Authentic Greatness
In order to achieve authentic greatness the country requires flipping over like a pancake. Anything less would not make a significant difference. American values and attitudes have been twisted and perverted for so long and so
effectively that the possibility of rectifying them in the short or medium term looks remote. Americans would be obliged to unlearn/relearn most of their deepest-rooted underlying beliefs in an impossibly short time:
American exceptionalism–Americans are not endowed with special unique rights and privileges over other people and their countries, resources, beliefs and customs, nor to impose their supposedly “superior” predatory free-market capitalist values on anyone, neither foreign nor domestic. The same goes for their religions. They are not entitled to use their abundant resources to evangelize whole societies of innocent underdeveloped countries with American varieties of absurd magical religions. People, no matter how innocent, are entitled to have their traditional beliefs and customs respected.
If America is ever to be great it must rid itself of its superiority delusions and start to respect other people’s lives, ideas, values, and natural resources, however appetizing their oil, minerals and pineapple plantations may be.
American “Rugged Individualism”–Most Americans see themselves first and foremost as individuals, not as members of a collective. In fact, any form of collectivism sounds subversive to most of them. They are stubbornly proud to
be self sufficient, to make their own way in the world, not relying on the assistance or support of their neighbors or the government and actively despising those who do. They tend to forget how public schools, libraries, and fire departments have helped them along the way. Most of them would be hard pressed to define “solidarity.”
American Democracy–Despite record levels of corruption, voting limitations and financing procedures that would be illegal in an authentic democracy, Americans consider their democracy to be exemplary, worthy of being exported to less fortunate nations. They are so devoted to their brand of truncated democracy that they are prepared to invade any country with another form of government and execute “regime change.” That is to say, start killing its citizens and not stopping until they have accepted the American imposition of a form of government more to their (the Americans’) liking. This is doubly true for any country with “communist” or “socialist” in its name, governing philosophies that cannot be tolerated by American patriots under any circumstances.
American History–To most Americans the history of their country is a saga of freedom and heroism, a model for the elevation of other less-fortunate nations. Not only is this the impression the majority of Americans embrace, but it’s actually taught in 11th-grade American history classes across the country. The very textbooks are larded with lies, euphemisms and ommisions which support the myths of American beneficence and idealism, when nothing could be farther from the truth. Specious notions of America’s demented “manifest destiny” to grab, occupy and exploit other people’s countries would be comical if they were not so sordid and costly in terms of human lives and suffering. No, America, your destiny was never “manifest.” It has always been–and remains–counterfeit, illicit, and brutally implememented.
A First Step–A positive first step in achieving American greatness would be to start admitting immigrants fleeing from the hell holes the Americans have created for them in Central America and other places and providing them with homes, jobs and education for their children.
This could not be done all at once, of course, but gradually. In a generation or two they will have made a significant contribution to American society. These refugees, having trudged the length of the isthmus between North and South America, bearing their babies and all their earthly goods on their backs, will have also brought with them the thing that the United States needs most urgently: humanity. Humanity is not a collateral nor incidental element in the greatness of a country.
It’s the very heart and soul. It’s not high finance nor sophisticated military hardware that makes a country great. It’s the thoughtfulness, generosity and moral rectitude of its people. Without these vital factors a country is prone to fall victim to cynicism, greed, and brutality to the point where poverty is a crime and a great swath of citizens are obliged to live without the means of fulfilling the most basic needs for human life in a modern society.
The American news today is about macro realities: economics, war, crime and offical corruption. The mainstream news sources–all big businesses–seldom stoop to the human level and when they do it’s merely anecdotical. What’s to become of the poor, the weak, the infirm, the homeless, the under-educated and the hopeless? They’re Americans, too, and must be entered into the greatness spread sheet. For now they’re computed just as liabilities from the point of view of government bean counters. Nevertheless, one wonders how much potential is lost among these “losers?” How many Stephen Hawkings, or Jesse Owens, or Nina Simones or García Márquez’s?
So, who will embark on the re-humanization of America? We have seen that it’s not complicated. Which is not to say that it will be easy. Or even possible.