Make the Most of the American Dream



All societies have a modus operandi, Britain has a liberal democratic constitutional monarchy that has evolved over millennia that has been authenticated by its constancy and reliability tested by history. The USA too has by rights won itself the enviable ‘American dream’ baptised in its war for independence that is ever present in American consciousness. But USA also dominates its 18th century freedoms by writing history of today and in the foreseeable future by way of social fluidity and rigourous demand for social inclusion by way of ‘paying your way’. Americans are the most aware of tax increasing or tax cutting nations in the world, but there is a consistency a recognition that the meteoric rise of America globally requires absolute commitment to protecting its past and defending its pre-eminence and global omniscience by every citizen paying his metaphorical contribution. Americans are both the courageous underdog( in terms of the cultural and social inheritance of having to leave the old continent that stifled and rejected their hopes for a better life) as well as the ‘go to’ people to clear-up their or someone else’s problem.

America appears unique yet wholly inward looking. Yet potentially it could be the blue-print for emerging giants such as India, China or Brazil. Has America been too successful and too open to originality? For me Dickens exposed the social deprivation of Victorian Britain but it is the familiarity of poetical colloquialism particular to America expressed every day by all Americans that tell us more about the highly original new forms of division in the America, an inventive soap opera which chimes almost universally by ‘linguistic’ reinforcement. Here is the basic format: America is optimistic and hard-working, a ‘regular stand-up guy’, yet is far more damning of those who don’t conform in America, such as ‘schmucks or joe shmoes, losers or bums’- an amalgam of the true linguistic ‘melting pot’ of all cultures and languages, cultivated into pithy vibrancy. Although in Britain we have tried to refer to brazen yobs as vulgarians or philistines, ‘chaves’ isn’t as popularistic as American lyricism to convey positive and negative social messages codified and disseminated into the court of public American opinion. ‘Let me level with you’, this American slang is an aggregate of sociological and social anthropological rules in an idiom particular to Americans, in order to bond and unite the country, and decipherable by all Americans at the same time. This American identity also thrives at the expense of those living outside its literal and metaphorical boundaries in order to warrant the dashing but ruthless ‘in your face’ American brand of positivism. Brilliant. Why do you need political spin doctors when you speak English in a way that is exclusively American?

So we now know ‘the American way’ is based on a shared vision and an enabling one that requires loyalty to share the same idiosyncratic values and opportunity, united by the spine of American thinking, the ‘American dream’ and canonised by the individualisation of a language which has been revolutionised and transformed by Americans.. ‘Why not?’ has become ‘Yes we can’. From an outmoded 18th century the USA pioneered change, incentivised the individual, and out competed the rest of the world for a century. Why should it feel guilty of wealth status and power, when in a country the size of a continent, you can choose to whistle a different tune if you so wish, as long as it doesn’t conflict with the export of the values of opportunity and the domestic market of adaptability . What the USA may make of a worn-out old codger like me I don’t know. But like Americans I demand the preservation of self-definition, and like most Brits I’m grateful that America rather than its deadly rivals remains big and beautiful.


© 2019 Stephen Hornsby-Smith

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