Miscellaneous (한 + EN)

American exceptionalism

2021-02-26 22:31
... this backlash [against American exceptionalism] may actually prove a source of hope. It may not entirely restore public belief in America's unique virtues, but it may reverse some of the trends that sapped that belief in the first place. ...

[George] Kennan, and like-minded mid-20th-century intellectuals such as Walter Lippmann and Reinhold Niebuhr, considered America's political system superior to the Soviet Union's. But they argued that, paradoxically, what made it superior was its recognition of American fallibility. America, unlike the U.S.S.R., bound its leaders within restraining systems of law that denied them the right to unfettered action no matter how convinced they were of their own good intentions. That same spirit led the United States to help build institutions like the United Nations and NATO, which gave smaller nations some voice over America's behavior, and won the United States a measure of legitimacy among its allies that the Soviet Union never enjoyed.

As young men, Lippmann and Niebuhr had seen two epic visions—Woodrow Wilson's dream of a war to end war, and the socialist dream of a revolution to end class oppression—turn ugly. And it was their disillusionment with political crusades that woke them to the importance of building restraints against America's capacity to do evil rather than merely unleashing its supposedly innate inclination to do good. Perhaps young Americans, having in their formative years watched Bush's epic post-9/11 vision breed lies, brutality, and state collapse, and America's celebrated capitalist system descend into financial crisis, have gained their own appreciation of American fallibility. Let's hope so, because as Niebuhr and Lippmann understood, the best way to ensure that America remains an exceptional power—better than the predatory empires of the old world—is to remember that we are not inherently better at all.

— Beinart, P. (February 3, 2014). The end of American exceptionalism. The Atlantic.




Probably this was the article that made me fully realize why Thanos cannot beat the Avengers—and why Thanos is less American than the Avengers. Because to do good should be less cherished than not to make evil happen.