Thursday, 14 August 2008

What's Good For Goose

Publius has an excellent article over at Obsidian Wings about how one of the many, many problems with American Exceptionalism is that there's an equivalent phenomenon in any country of sufficient influence. For every hawkish dolt like Bill Kristol convinced that the US is the bestest country ever and can thus do what it wants with impunity, there's some Russian equally convinced that Russia is the greatest nation of Earth and can do whatever it damn well feels like. It's one of those interesting phenomena that it never seems to occur to rabid nationalists that their ludicrous bellicosity on behalf of their own nation is morally equivalent to (and just as potentially dangerous as) other rabid nationalists' ludicrous bellicosity on behalf of their nation.

Or, to put it another way, American Exceptionalism is entirely unexceptional.

7 comments:

Gooder said...

What the heck is American Exceptionalism?

SpaceSquid said...

The belief that the US is qualitatively different from any other country, often justified by its proponents as being due to the Constitution, their love of "freedom", their massive global influence, their (alleged) commitment to Christianity, or some or all of these combined. It's part of what fueled the "Manifest Destiny" bullshit that led to the American Indians getting rounded up onto Reservations.

My point is that this smug insistence that America is somehow fundamentally different to all other countries is something that any nationalist of any sufficiently powerful country can claim, simply by employing the same cherry-picking of history and current affairs that Kristol et al tend to rely on.

Senior Spielbergo said...

Can I claim to believe in "Jerey Exceptionalism"? Only of course Jersey really is qualitatively different from any other country and as soon as we get the bomb we'll prove it!

SpaceSquid said...

Who the hell would you nuke? Guernsey? Wouldn't that leave Jersey, y'know, inside the blast range?

Senior Spielbergo said...

Well we shall have to create the Spindizzy first, but then of course we can drop our bombs on rival tax havens with relative impunity… Also save us research money on building those pesty long range missiles

Gooder said...

So someone decided that nationalism wasn't good enough and pointlessly invented a new term. Got it.

SpaceSquid said...

Not really. It's certainly true that AE represents a type of nationalism, but that hardly makes the term redundant.