National Self-Perception

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by Jeff Thomas, International Man:

Bill Shakespeare had a talent for phrasing basic truths well, and this quote is no exception. (Even if you lie to others, don’t lie to yourself, or you’re in real trouble.)

Much has been said about the American self-image, going back to its inception as an upstart nation that imagined it could succeed as a republic, as Athens had failed to do.

And, indeed, the US encountered the same basic problem as Athens: having once created a republic – a nation in which the rights of the individual are foremost. Maintaining that condition is not only a constant battle, but extremely unlikely over time.

As a form of governance, a republic serves its people well; however, since it doesn’t provide its leaders with much in the way of aggrandizement or profit, its leaders are likely to do all they can to degrade the republic into a democracy. Once having accomplished that, they’re likely to do all they can to degrade it to tyranny.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “History hath shewn that, even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”

He anticipated that, given enough time, the nascent United States would devolve into a tyrannical oligarchy. It has now had that time and has become a tyrannical oligarchy.

It must be said that the US still displays the accoutrements of a proud republic, but, at this point, it’s for show only. The inner workings of the US are not that of a republic, nor even a democracy. The US is quasi-capitalist/quasi socialist amalgam that’s run by a corporatist oligarchy. Whilst it still has an elected president and congress, those individuals are, at this point, cardboard cutouts who are only allowed to pursue their personal pet projects if they fit in with the unelected Deep State that’s truly in charge.

It’s important to mention that the challenge to the republic began in George Washington’s first cabinet, through regular squabbling between the three cabinet members. But, although the deterioration continued for another hundred years, the US did not abandon its principle to stay out of world affairs for its first hundred years. That occurred by 1900, under the voracious nationalist appetite of one Teddy Roosevelt. The US government began its foray into empire and never looked back.

Through two world wars, the US wisely held back as European nations beat each other to pieces. Instead, they supplied the combatants with armaments and charged them in gold. In each war, by the time the US jumped in to win the day, their troops were fresh, their armaments were substantial and much of the wealth of Europe had been transferred to them, assuring that they’d prevail at the end of the war. Consequently, they ended the war the richest nation on earth, whilst the other nations lay in ruins, both physically and economically.

And so began the next era, one in which Americans saw themselves as the “winners” of the wars, as well as the king of the mountain.

By 1958, Eugene Burdick and William Lederer had written their novel, “the Ugly American,” which accurately presented American diplomats as presumptuous and arrogant. Although Messrs. Burdick and Lederer were both American, they were highly objective, and made the effort to see the US and its government as outsiders saw them.

Since that time, the US government has, if anything, expanded upon its presumption and arrogance, declaring in no uncertain terms that it regards itself as the world’s policeman and will enforce its power wherever it sees fit, globally.

In recent decades, it’s demonstrated that conviction, by invading numerous far-flung nations, often for flimsy reasons and, indeed, sometimes for reasons that later proved erroneous. Tellingly, even when the US has been caught destroying a country for a trumped up reason, the US offered no apology, but continued its aggression.

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