|i think that to have the impression of your own country as a nation apart is dangerous, and i wonder how many americans share this self-conception of dragon's.|
the american populace is often characterised in the media of other nations as being out of touch and unaware of it's own footprint on the world. the idea that americans arent able to find most countries on a map, let alone tell you what their own nation is doing to them is a common one.
i wonder how true this view of americans is in general, how much the population is blithely unaware of their own nation's history of aggression and intervention.
(clearly other countries are just as bad in lots of ways.
america is just people, and people are bad.
the only difference i see with america is that historical accident has led them to a place where they have a higher capability for destruction than most, and more political room to use it.)
I think you have to understand the history of Americans seeing their (our) nation as a nation apart... I'm not defending that perception at all, but I don't think you can understand it as mere chauvinism and stupidity. (In a similar way, though I find Christian Fundamentalism repugnant, I think it's hard to judge it fairly or accurately without a good understanding of the dogma behind it.) America is a new country but with a very strong narrative and mythology. The Land of Opportunity, the cowboy ethos of individualism and isolation, the American Dream capitalist ideal, the concept of the US as the great superpower of the world... it's hard to convey how much this is imbedded in the American psyche. It's something most of us take a critical look at it, because I think maybe it's a (the?) sustaining myth for us - without it the average American would feel very much at sea. We have joined the global economy but psychologically we are not at all caught up with globalism. Psychologically, as a whole, I think we're still very much caught up in our Cold War image and unwilling to let it go despite all signs that times have changed. Nothing so catatrophic as, say, the fall of the Soviet Union has happened to us to jar us out of our fantasy. For the average American, reality may be too difficult to face. As I listen to the news and the NPR shows about the true state of the nation and the world, I sometimes am gripped by a panicky suffocation - I'm not going to emigrate anytime soon, but I feel so powerless, caught up in a great, crushing machinery that does not answer to me. Our country has the most economic inequality, and the least social mobility, of any civilized nation in the world. We have rampant homophobia and racism built right into the system in which we live. The whole mechanism of government is corrupt to the core, motivated and moved by money, of which we (the average Americans, with our limited social mobility) have none, and therefore we have no voice. I'm hardly surprised Americans believe Saddam had WMDs. Americans still believe "if I work hard enough I can make it big," when the truth is the people at the bottom of the economic ladder have a 7% chance of making it to the top. In such times denial may be the only way to survive, which I know sounds dramatic, but that's the way it feels sometimes even for me.