AmericanDelusions is changing.
AD started out focused on the disparities between our American values and the actual practices and results that we experience. In light of events in the US and around the world over the past 5 years the focus has shifted to the questions outlined in the essay Our Social Nature and the Future.(opens in new window)
AmericanDelusions Pre-History (before 10.2021)
Delusion – fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact.
Our delusions come in two forms: value statements and concepts of how our society works. The former heavily influence how we understand the workings of our society and thinking about how to improve it.
Every society creates delusions, myths and stories to explain where it came from and how it works. These are so ingrained in the culture that they form a central base for how members interpret their relationship to the environment and to family, neighbors, and society at large. These delusions are taught to us by our parents, extended families, schools, religions, government, and corporations. Mass media reinforce them continuously. The rich and corporations understand this quite well and seek to exploit our need to understand our place in society and how that society works. They support and, as required create, delusions that shield or justify their activities and the gains from those activities.
American Values – how we perceive the world and our place in it
- Democracy – people choose those who govern, every person has a vote and equal weight. Access to the political process is open.
- Exceptionalism – we are the beacon of hope for a democratic just world
- Freedom – the US is the freest and best country in the world. Everyone is created equal. We have free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, equal opportunity. separation of church and state
- Free Market Capitalism – markets provide us with the best living standard in the world, markets make rational decisions about what get produced not government, markets give everyone a chance to make themselves better
- Meritocracy – hard work, brains, skills, these are the keys to the top of the pile in America. Study hard, work hard and you will get ahead.
- Mobility – geographic – we can choose to live anywhere in this huge country.
- Mobility – social – being born poor, working class or middle class does not mean that you cannot rise to the top. Our children will do better than us.
- Pragmatism – practical working solutions to problems are preferred over abstract thought and complex designs.
- Progress –
- Small Government
- White Supremacy
This list of values is extracted from personal experience living in America for over 70 years and a survey of literature about American values. It is not definitive and you are encouraged to think about your own experiences and do further research. I specifically left out values such as practicality and efficiency, timeliness, informality, directness and openness and others. Here are some resources that I found useful:
Six Basic American Cultural Values (https://vintageamericanways.com/american-values/ accessed 7/31/2020)
- The Values Americans Live by L. Robert Kohls (http://www.sacredheartnorfolk.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Values-of-American-Cultures.pdf accessed 7/30/2020)
21 Charts That Explain American Values Today by
Society: the basics by John J. Macionis, Fourteenth Edition. Pearson Education, 2016
The important idea here is that our culture includes values that support how our society is structured as it is and how we as individuals exist within its frame. Without getting lost in an extended debate about a precise list of these values, we need to keep the fact that these values exist and be continuously mindful of their roles in shaping our approaches to the facts of the current situation and the possible range of alternatives for the future. Further, these values are regularly and purposively exploited by the rich and corporations to further their interests over the bulk of the population.
Social-Political-Economic Structures – the machinery of our society
Here are the systems that are the subjects of our investigations:
- American Empire
- Justice, Police, Prisons
- Political System
- Security State
- White supremacist system
This series, American Delusions, describes important delusions, contrasts them with the facts surrounding them and explores how these delusions fit into a pattern that sustains the organization of our society in its present form.
A Work in Progress
I have been working on American Delusions for more than three years. You will see that there are posts dating back far earlier. I imagine that I will be still be working on these topics many years into the future.