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The American Dream



I enjoyed this segment but the interview Moyers had on the same show with two Republican's who are upset with their party (for different reasons) was very fascinating. It's well worth the watch - almost makes you long for the Republicans before Reagan or at least their ideals.

Got a link to that segment, Git?

Got a link to that segment, Git?

Friggin' error messages . . .

Bill Moyers show is always amazing. It's one of the few that doesn't play with your sanity.
I think this is the link:

The idea of an "American Dream" has always bothered me. Isn't it an intellectual waste of time? Don't get me wrong, I like Bill Moyers a lot, and his guests are usually very intelligent and insightful, but who cares about the "American Dream?" It can be defined in many ways of course, but it is usually associated at least in part with the idea of wealth. And, at the same time, with some notion of moral goodness. That's a dream alright, this land was stolen from Native American tribes, they were murdered en mass and subjected to every kind of atrocity. America built vast wealth using slaves here and abroad. We treat immigrants like dirt, beat wave after wave of newcomers down until they organize into gangs to begin to defend themselves and slowly become accepted as citizens, we pillage the wealth of any nation we can get away with it in, and still convince ourselves we are heros. it's a protracted bloody story of barbarism. After WW2 the "dream" was a two car garage for every Leave It To Beaver assed "traditional" (white Christian homophobic) family and a gold watch after retiring from a meaningless and boring career in a grey flannel suit. Why would we try to appropriate that dumb old phrase and give it some justification or new life now? Do ya think? Just wonderin.

a-blob, your post is thought provoking and since you seem to be asking for feedback, allow me:

the idea of the american dream may be an intellectual waste of time, and your take on americas development as a "protracted story of barbarism" may be accurate (though one-sided) but i don't think there's a cause and effect relationship there. i think the dream as it applies to the original settlers (or doesn't apply, as i will attempt to show) needs to be disentangled from the dream as it applies to later waves of immigrants, first, and second i think your take on gang formation by those later immigrants is misleading.

the original theft/rape of the land and decimation of it's inhabitants was accomplished by, lets call them the "founding fathers". the later european immigrants and, of course, the black slaves and their descendants are largely free of guilt in this matter. conversely, it seems to me that the "founding fathers" can't really be blamed for in some way "beating down" these later immigrants and forcing them to form gangs to protect themselves. true, large groups of immigrants anywhere have always and will always form gangs, but protection from an oppressive majority is only one, highly variable component in why they do this, and sometimes isn't a factor at all. look at the current wave of russian immigrants in america- powerful gangs, yes, but oppressed? i think not.

anyway, the american dream, as it's used in the vernacular, has nothing to do with the "founding fathers" and their treatment of the native american population, or even their high minded ideals of the equality of man, etc.- which i think is where you're getting the "moral goodness" component you mention.

no, the "american dream", as a phrase and as a concept, comes from those later immigrants and their dreams of escape from poverty and oppression to a land of comparative equality and economic oppurtunity. i don't think, unfortunately, there's a moral component to it, unless you want to acribe morality to the concept of dignity. because that's what it boils down to, i think- a dream of survival with dignity. but firstly, and mostly, survival. the people who are fighting the current "illegal" mexican immigration think that what they are denying these people is just economic advancement at the expense of hard working mer'kins. but if they themselves were dropped into the situations that many of these immigrants are fleeing,(oh!wouldn't that be lovely!) i think they'd be much more inclined to see it as a matter of survival. that's also part of the american dream, imho. america is absolutely gigantic. there's room for everybody.

in a nutshell, the american dream isn't really american at all. it's an immigrants dream.

indeed :) thanks for deconstructing that, jonathan. i readily confess that my post was a rant, and as such, one sided. i think you summed it quite accurately there - "the american dream isn't really american at all. it's an immigrants dream."


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