National Lies: The Truth About American Values
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Winner of the Creative uRGe Award for “Best Published Nonfiction” (San Diego Mensa, May 2010)The author begins with a paradox that has often bewildere...
Hardcover: 442 pages
Publisher: Axroide Publishing; first edition (March 16, 2009)
Package Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
Amazon Rank: 9572291
Format: PDF ePub TXT book
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“"If Americans were to percieve reality clearly and embrace it fully, they would proclaim the following: We are the myrmidons of modernity. We have succeeded in subordinating the unruly and conflicting impulses of individuals to collective regulatio...”
foreign observers. They see a country that tolerates, even celebrates, individualistic self-assertion and disrespect for authority. At the same time, they realize that Americans are capable of great material productivity, which has resulted in an enormous amount of national wealth and power. How is this possible? What has kept all these energetic, self-seeking individuals from running into conflict with each other? What has induced them instead to work together and function collectively with remarkable ease and efficiency?The answer to these questions can be found in what the author designates as "the American formula." The first half of the formula consists of beliefs which motivate individuals. Americans are convinced that their personal efforts will bring them whatever they desire. Even though they are often highly unrealistic in their expectations, these serve the useful purpose of fueling their energy and productivity. Americans also believe that the very nature of reality has been fashioned in their favor--as well as in the favor of all humanity, for that matter. Their "panglossian" faith (as the author calls it) is largely an illusion, but it helps to maintain their morale at a high level.The second half of the formula consists of the means of social control. These prevent the energized and active Americans from falling into disorder and conflict. It leads them to form groups and induces them to accept discipline imposed by groups. One of the most original and striking parts of the book is the section in chapter five which analyzes the precise synergistic balance that Americans have struck between individual motivation on the one hand and collective regulation on the other. Chapter six explains how they have managed to maintain and sustain the balance between these two contradictory forces--by accepting and applauding the one (individualism) while refusing to recognize the very existence of the other (social controls).The book goes on to describe various challenges and difficulties that the American formula has faced during the course of history up to the present day. And it demonstrates how the formula has succeeded in coping with all of them. Consequently, the author is able to end with an "Optimistic Conclusion," in which he foresees similar success in the future.This is, in short, a challenging and controversial but also a rewarding and original work. Not everyone will agree with everything it says. Some people may become upset because it questions their unthinking orthodoxies and comfortable beliefs. But open-minded and inquisitive readers will find its new ideas highly stimulating. They will also appreciate its carefulness of organization, which constructs a chain of argument and exposition in a logical sequence of steps. And they will enjoy the clarity of its style, which presents even quite abstract concepts in a way that is readily comprehensible.