Notes On The Greatness Of The American People

There's a new post at my main blog.

You can read it there and/or comment on it here, if you wish.

I hope to return soon with more.


Not so terrible

Welcome back, WP. I wish you a full recovery from your ailments.

However, I am bothered by your recent post, and Mr. Floyd's similar remarks on the cravenness of the American "general public." I agree that the so-called "greatness" of the American people is mythological, a self-congratulatory tool to keep us in our places. However, I resist the opposite conclusion as well.

I don't know where you live -- although it seems like you have not been getting out much as of late -- and I know Mr. Floyd lives as an ex-pat, so I have to assume that much of what you both know about "the American people" is based on personal recollections, television, and mass media, if that. I have to question how much you know about or interact with working people in this country or, as the case now, non-working people struggling to survive. So many of us like to think "everyone" agrees with us, that "we" can know and understand what the "mass of people" believe, even when we know this cannot be true. So you and Mr. Floyd can pronounce the American populace to be a bloodthirsty lot, or deliberately indifferent to the slaughter(Drunk and torture(Drunk committed in our names, based on your perceptions of people in your neighborhood or newspaper or on the street, or based on the crimes to which we have acquiesced for all these years.

I think reality is a bit more complicated. Yes, among (what I would call) the petit bourgeois groupings (mainline Democrat politicos, NY Times readers, professionals of all races, etc.), there is a sickening adherence to the Democratic Party line, etc., etc. They say war is "sadly" unavoidable or somehow "human." They blame "right wingers" for all evils, point to non-existent "progress" on race issues, the promise of Obama-ism, and other nonsense. Yet dig a bit deeper into the broader populace and actually talk to real people about the world and their lives, and you find something else. You find widespread opposition to the wars, to banker bailouts, to torture, to murdering innocents around the world. I work with prisoners and ex-prisoners. They have no illusions about the nature of the US government, nor do their families and friends. Nor do most of the African-Americans I have ever met, or most working class whites. Or retirees. Or the unemployed. Or (documented and undocumented) immigrants. Or countless others who don't read/buy/listen to the mass media outlets, to media pundit blowhards that liberals take so seriously. I don't have some unique window on the American mind, but I get out a bit, I engage people and, in many cases, I actually like people. The more people I meet, the less I know about what "everybody" thinks.

As smarter folks than I have characterized other periods, the working class in America is in an assessment period, a period of figuring things out -- how to get out of the current morass, and how to do it soon. We are struggling at the local level to save our neighbors' homes, keeping our sons and daughters other students from joining the military if we can, fighting banks and insurance companies and oil companies with every form of protest, and resisting the police/army/social workers who invade our homes. We are learning about the non-existence of American democracy, about how hard it is to create change, about the treason and fealty of our masters. But we know that there are more of us than them, and we can and will resist.

May Day was an American creation. The IWW and the Teamsters, Dr. King and Malcolm, Suffragettes, gay liberation -- these were American inventions for the most part. It seems odd to think so when we encounter the throngs of Ipod-ers, cellular dialers, and mass media emoticons, but people are not always what they seem. Americans have within our history and our psyches the capacity for rebellion, and victory. We are not "exceptional," but we are not the passive worms many leftie pundits like to pretend we are. Don't place your bets against us just yet. The war has not even started.

Please prove me wrong!

Thanks for your comment, pjerome. I understand that we see different slices of America: we move in different circles and we know different people and how could it be otherwise? I am pleased to hear you say that countercurrents are building. But I can't agree with you when you say "The war has not even started."

As I see it, the war has been going on for more than 60 years. It started in 1947 when Harry Truman signed into law the National Security State. Truman's new law secretly established psychological warfare against the American people as an element of national policy. That element has never since been shaken, let alone stirred.

In my opinion it is NOT true that "the war hasn't started" but it IS true that the opposition to the National Security State still hasn't got itself organized.

And that's a shame, because it was a time-sensitive mission, and now -- 60 years behind and still not up and running -- it has much less chance of success than it would have had when the need for it first became apparent.

We no longer have any constitutional rights, we can be stripped of our citizenship and imprisoned forever in black torture sites -- or simply killed -- if the president deems us suspected terrorists, and threats such as these have certainly been used (with some success) against activists trying to organize (which is virtually impossible in our brave new 24/7-surveillance world).

Those activists not susceptible to threats have simply been infiltrated and arrested and held for "preventive" measures if they happened to be in a place where something "important" was going to happen.

It is very difficult for me to see how anything but groetsque tragedy can come from the situation as it is currently aligned ... but I would love to be proven wrong.


For more on Harry Truman and the National Security State, please read this article from my archive: Two Pounds Of Truth About A Million Tons Of Lies

I would enjoy seeing pjerome

I would enjoy seeing pjerome explain how he **knows** what WP and Chris Floyd have experienced, to form their opinions on the American People.

I'm always reluctant to treat seriously those who damn with faint praise, especially when the damnation is not of an ironic or sarcastic sort angling for a comic response.

This is what I mean by damning with faint praise:

I am bothered by your recent post, and Mr. Floyd's similar remarks on the cravenness of the American "general public."

Well, well, well. Such wonderful snarky faint praise.

I didn't see it that way

I don't see pjerome's remarks as "praise" (faint or otherwise), nor do I see them as "snarky". It looks to me as though a reader who disagrees with me made a couple of comments to that effect. Fair enough. I don't expect (or require) praise.

I do try to start discussions and I am pleased when others join in. And I don't mind when readers disagree with me. But I do hope that most of them will get what I am saying.

And -- just in case there is any doubt on this point -- I am *not* saying that the "general public" is "craven", or "fat" or "lazy" or any of the other adjectives that pjerome used that I did not.

I chose my words very carefully.

The words I used were:

-- ignorant,
-- arrogant,
-- inward-looking,
-- self-absorbed, and
-- addicted to the daily fiction

Anyone who wants to argue with me about this (or anything else I've written) is free to do so. But they should do so with a clear understanding of my position. So here it is, spelled out in more detail.

MOST (not all) of the Americans I know -- both personally and online -- are INCREDIBLY IGNORANT about the history of their own country, NOT TO MENTION the rest of the world, which they typically DON'T MENTION, because they DON'T CARE. AT ALL.

And despite their profound ignorance, they think they already know all they need to know, and all they'll ever need to know. This state of unreality is maintained in large part by the daily bullshit, on which they are totally dependent, because it confirms their "right" not to know, and not to care, about what goes on in their country, and even more important, what their country does in the world.

Each of us sees a different "cross-section" of "the general public", so to speak. No doubt pjerome sees a cross-section of America that is more marginalized, more dispossessed, and struggling harder than the cross-section I see. In other words, they are individually less powerful and less able to effect change. That's not so good. But on the other hand they're more motivated. And I cannot complain about that.

But I do wonder about the nature of the motivation. If -- as I suspect and as pjerome's comments seem to imply -- any nascent resistance is motivated by concerns about how wealth and power are distributed inside America, and not by concerns about what America does to the rest of the world, then it serves to strengthen the main point of my essay -- and the main point of my blog in general -- rather than refute it ...

... because in that case, the "resistance" amounts an argument over how to divvy up the loot, while the murder and plunder go on unabated.


I would love to be proven wrong. But I am not expecting much. And my expectations do not reflect "defeatism" or "despair" or any of the other words pjerome used. My expectations are based on the most realistic analysis of the situation that I can make.

In my "spare" time, I play chess, poker and several other games of tactics and strategy. These games are all different but they share a common characteristic: at every stage, each of them requires a calm and accurate analysis of the position. "Defeatism" taints the analysis with despair or fear of losing; "Victory-ism" taints the analysis with undue optimism or faith in non-existent resources. In any of these games, either of these tendencies will cost you dearly. And in order to become a winning player, I have had to learn to weed out these impediments to accurate analysis.

Reality is not a game, of course, but analysis is analysis. You gather as much information as you can and you try to figure out what it means. That's all I've been doing here, in this piece and on my blog in general.

As usual, I would love to be proven wrong. But it's gonna take some doin'.


I have re-read Winter's article, pjerome, and frankly, I can't find one sentence I disagree with. Though you raise some good and valid points, you are complicating something that is quite simple by raising the (almost obvious) point that not everybody living in the United States ascribes to the American Exceptionalism dogma. You quite rightly say, "I think reality is a bit more complicated." And so it is. But this argument that WP is making isn't complicated at all. It is very simple and straight forward, and what's more true. Where isn't it?

You haven't to my reading countered any of Winter's points except to say they are not universally applicable to the entire US population. It is undeniable that the lower down the ladder you are socially, the more readily you are able to see what's hidden under the skirts of those above; to readily see the actual agenda in play. And these sectors are suffering, too, from this same exceptionalism. But then, everybody does, some more than others, and some sooner than later, of course. I would welcome your further expounding it on this and what may be done to alleviate the problems you mention, but it is not the issue at hand here. Though, of course, it is connected as I said and agree.

You are citing the "Not Everybody" argument that Jewish people trot out at every opportunity, and yes, I'm looking at you, Grimblebee. This argument, as it applies to Jews, has been beautifully unpacked for us by A Peasant here and here on this blog. This rebuttal of the "Not Everybody" argument applies equally to Catholics, Christians in general, the so-called 'White" nations and the United States in particular.
If you haven't read AP's rebuttal, I commend it to you.

You finish with, "Don't place your bets against us just yet. The war has not even started." But that's the point, the trouble and the telltale, isn't it? "The war has not even started" and yet there seems to have been plenty of time for it to do so!

The questions then are; "when will it start?", and, "How will it start?"


Silly me for entertaining the goodness of Mankind, and of America. But I remain an optimist. A country that can produce a Martin Luther King and a Malcolm X in the same era is not so bad in my book. Do Americans get carried away with the image of America as the perfect model of democracy, and as the land of the Lord? Yes, but certainly not the majority. I think about only 30% believe that America can do no wrong. But the rest are knowledgeable of American history, both of the good and the bad, and are not in a constant state of delusion, regardless of how politicians like Romney and Palin seem to think so. Flattery can only take you so far. Look at Dr. Paul, he's never flattered his supporters, and look at how much support he has gotten. Believe it or not, but more and more people are beginning to crave after the truth, and a people that want to know the truth want to achieve greatness. So I think there a lot of decent people in America. Also, I should make it clear than I'm not an American.

Well said WP

Enjoyed this article - I wish it was not so. Again, reality bites but that's where we need to live.
Thanks to you Canadians, Brits and Aussies who try to sober U.S. up.

I think many of you would find Jerry Fresia's ( an ex-pat living in Italy) Towards an American Revolution worth the read
and it's free at the link below:


Thanks for this

I've been reading for a while but I still have a long way to go ... so far it looks really good.

Here's a link to the site: Toward an American Revolution


Thanks for the website on Revolution. It was definitely interesting!!

Remain an optimist, by all means ...

There is nothing silly about that.

Without hope, we have nothing. But the same goes for truth.

We are awash in hopeful fiction, and in my opinion one of our greatest needs is to winnow out the fiction and throw it away -- forever.

It is indeed true that America produced Malcolm X and Martin Luther King in the same era, but that era was finished 40 years ago. Quite a few things have changed since then. Martin and Malcolm are both dead, their killers were never brought to justice, their programs and their causes have been soundly defeated, "their people" are more subjugated in more ways than they were back then. (So are the rest of us).

In that interval the legacies of both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King have been besmirched, tarnished, and perverted, and now -- even as we speak -- urban (i.e. black) America is covered in propaganda suggesting that Obama's rise to the presidency is somehow the fulfillment of Dr. King's famous dream.

This is hogwash, of course, and murderous hogwash to boot, and (again in my opinion) we are better off noticing and mentioning these things than merely smiling and nodding and moving on as if nothing were amiss.

I hope to say more these things and many others, and possibly even tie a few of them together, in the near (or medium-term) future. And, as you will see if I can manage to write the series I have in mind, hopeful fiction ranks very low on my list of values.

Bob in Prague's picture

Crime and Punishment

Another thought provoker, Winter - kudos! As I was reading, it struck me that this American attitude traces directly back to Raskolnikov, the murderous protagonist in Crime and Punishment. He had what Dostoyevsky called a "Napoleon complex" - whereby he imagined himself so exceptional, and his survival therefore so critical, that it was OK for him to murder and steal to ensure his continued existence. Of course had it not been for Porfiry Petrovich, he would have gotten away scot-free.

So where is our Porfiry Petrovich? Turns out he was the direct ancestor of Columbo, so perhaps we should just appoint Peter Falk Special Prosecutor to unravel this unholy mess that America has become. Then we can live happily ever after. Just a thought...


So glad you are back. you have been missed..Thank you all for the good reads.....Blessings

Not so terrible 2

I agree that the assault on our liberties, not to mention the American assault on the rest of the world, started a century or more ago, and continues. The war that has not yet started in earnest is the fightback. There is plenty of room for defeatism, and I engage in it myself quite frequently. Hell, I litigate on behalf of people brutalized by the most massive and hideous prison system the world has ever seen, here in the US of A. I know despair.

But I also agree with Truth Excavator that a country that produced Malcolm and Martin can produce their successors. We have to start organizing independent of the twin parties of capital, which many of us are doing. For obvious reasons, the mass media ignores or tries to kill these efforts, but they exist. What we must do is avoid at all costs the kind of defeatism and self-loathing that reinforces the image of all Americans as dumb, fat, ignorant slobs, too alienated to understand their oppression. Change will be led by small numbers of committed people who win the support and loyalty of masses of people. Without hope -- not delusion, but hope -- we truly are defeated.


But the best I can see is that "America", as such, doesn't produce people; maybe carrots and trees.

Martin and Malcolm, if I may be forgiven for being familiar with these truly great men, were produced by their parents and nurtured by them and their families (well MLK at least. Im afraid I do't know about Malcolm X), their communities and their African/American culture and values. And the America you generalise about, pjerome (if I'm understanding you) largely, if not totally, rejects this culture and everything to do with it except come 'Gold Medal" time.

This "America" exists only in PR company boardrooms as best as I can tell. And to talk about it otherwise is to advance the very agenda that is oppressing your clients (and the rest of the world).

We have a huge problem with nomenclature and terminology and the marketers and manipulators are having a field day with it, and us. "Jews" and "antisemitism" are topical examples, as well. They twist and turn these words inside out and end up getting away with murder. Literally.

This needs a broader and more in depth discussion, I feel, pjerome. And I would think you are alive to all this and I, personally, would welcome your thoughts on this entangled subject.

small numbers of committed people

Some good thoughts here; thank you very much.

I especially liked reading "Change will be led by small numbers of committed people".

We certainly have a small number here! Wink

McJ's picture

Large numbers of small numbers

Me too! Small numbers of committed people can fly under the radar, unlike large numbered groups which are more easily infiltrated and manipulated. It's the way to go - networking large numbers of small numbered, committed groups of people. It's like whack a mole, those suckers are hard to catch, they keep popping up all over the place. smiling

"The most unpleasant truth in the long run is a far safer traveling companion than the most agreeable falsehood." Emerson

McJ's picture

Spreading hope

Are there lots of good Americans working to expose the 'dark side'? Sure are, there are some great ones posting and commenting right here on this blog as well as, Canadians, Aussies, NZer's, Austrians and...many more! I don't see evidence of the 'good guys' making headway against 'the beast' but perhaps more time will help - which I think has pretty much run out while our heads have been in the sand or in front of the teevee or listening to some nonsense or imbibing some pacifying substance. I don't see America producing a leader/saviour anytime soon and I'm not sure how effective he/she could be in our times. The truth is just way too ugly for the masses to acknowledge even if it is right there shouting in their faces. And how many of us would have the personal courage to step forward and join this leader in taking responsibility for what has been happening in our names. The rare individuals indeed, I suppose! And if Martin Luther or Malcom X or Christ himself showed up right now they would likely be labeled a terrorist, arrested, tortured and locked away in some black site. The overwhelming majority of people would not even know about it. The rest of us would justify it (or look the other way) because we have been pacified and conditioned to fear for our own safety.

I just don't see a movement happening anytime soon. I am still open to miracles which might, just might (fingers and toes crossed) be hidden in the actions of 'small numbers of committed individuals'. There is always room for hope and that's a good thing! I just wish I had more of it. Thanks to you and T.E. for spreading some around here. smiling

"The most unpleasant truth in the long run is a far safer traveling companion than the most agreeable falsehood." Emerson

We ARE that city on the hill....

A city that has no sewage treatment plants, so we let our fecal matter and urine roll and tumble downhill and splatter upon other nations.

A great people? How can a nation whose people know who won the last Super Bowl or NASCAR race, or gossip endlessly about Hollywood buffoons 'wardrobe malfunctions' and know little or nothing about what is taking place in their name in DC be great?

That rooster strutting about the yard and clucking up a storm thought he was great too, until he met the axe blade.

McJ's picture

Well said!

Well said, I like that! smiling

"The most unpleasant truth in the long run is a far safer traveling companion than the most agreeable falsehood." Emerson

I Hate America!!!

Well, that's not quite true. I am not stupid enough to hate an entire nation. And besides, I cannot say the word "America" without thinking of all the fine countries, and all the wonderful people, in both North and South America.

But I think it's fair to say that I hate what the United States Of America has become. If Martin Luther King were alive today, he would either be in prison, living abroad, or writing an obscure blog that nobody read. Malcolm X would definitely be in prison, or dead.

Many good US citizens have stood up over the past few years to protest what's happening to the USA. Some of them might have become that next hero for this generation. But what has happened to them? They were dragged through the mud, they were silenced, they were ridiculed, even those who supported them turned against them or were silenced. The State is watching you now. WWII Fascism has won.

It's fair to say that a revolution of some sorts (preferably peaceful) is needed, but there are no guarantees that it will happen, nor are there any signs as to how it can come about.

We wait, we watch.

McJ's picture

Hello Ghandi

Nice to see you back Ghandi! I see all the Ozzie's are here tonight (today your time wink ).
I know how you're feeling. It is so hard to watch this going down and it's not just the USA. You wouldn't believe the crap that is going on in Canada right now. (Well actually I know you would...).
Couple of quick examples:
Our junior foreign minister was recently in Israel and announced that an attack on Israel would be considered an attack on Canada - imagine our surprise on learning this.
The Canadian government (without consulting parliament) just agreed to a further integration of our military forces with the US. The US can now deploy it's forces in Canada when they deem it necessary.

"The most unpleasant truth in the long run is a far safer traveling companion than the most agreeable falsehood." Emerson

So true....war has been

So true....war has been going on for 60+ years and it's now just another industry that no one wants to stop with everyone, but taxpayers, making profit. The sacrifice is that some have to give up their loved ones to make the war profits.

How are you going, WP? The

How are you going, WP? The former "Bukko in Australia" here. I got the answer to what I checked your blog for, seeing that "Gandhi" is still alive. Get back to blogging, you bastard! (Not you, WP, just G. He dropped out, the lazy bugger.) How else am I going to keep up with what's happening down there without HowardOut, Gandhi?

As for me, the Mrs. and I immigrated to Canada. Not by MY choice, mate. I bloody loved it Down Under. But I would have had to get divorced to stay. It was still a close choice, let me tell you. Nice to be a bum-wiper, so that I can move legally from country to country.

The Canucks are slightly more sensible than Americans, but they're so close to the U.S. Empire that they do not see the fatal flaws as well as Aussies do. I had much better political conversations with people in Oz than I do with those in Canuckrainia.

Good luck and good health to you.

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