Dienstag, 27. November 2007

American Mythology

American Mythology is a collection of essential values and principles that represent and symbolise the United States. Although it has close links to and was influenced by Protestantism, American Mythology is not a primarily religious concept.

  • Democracy
America declared itself independent in 1776 with the Declaration of Independence. The country was founded on democratic principles like participation of the citizen and guarantee of human rights. Most Americans regard democracy as the ultimate political system. In addition, many Americans see their country as one of God’s favour. Therefore, America feels in duty bound to implement (and sometimes even to impose) democratic structures and values to other people or countries in the world in order to enlighten them.

  • Egalitarianism
Individual equality and the absence of class boundaries are fundamental for US culture. Everyone is regarded as equal and social mobility exists. This means the poor but hard-working, virtuous and independent individual can climb the latter and gain prosperity and recognition. Indeed, socio-economic inequality is obvious throughout America, but egalitarianism does not necessarily mean a fair distribution of wealth. It mainly refers to the fact that everyone has the opportunity to fulfil one’s American Dream – even if the preconditions to do so can be (very) different.

  • Individualism
America is regarded as one of the most individualistic cultures in the world: Don’t rely on others but be the architect of your own future. In private life, self-development is more important than the community. In work life, strong individual performance is significant in order to succeed. Although teamwork is appreciated, at the end of the day it comes down to the individual. From a historic perspective, the difficult conditions of the European emigrants’ everyday life made it necessary to rely on own individual skills and judgments to reach aims. Later on, John Wayne was the lonely but independent cowboy, Rambo and Superman were mavericks who fought for justice and Frank Sinatra did it his way...

  • Freedom
In America, personal freedom stands high above peer pressure. The Declaration of Independence clearly states the right of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness". This is a perfect example of the significance of personal freedom in American society. Although freedom of speech seems to have suffered a bit under the Bush administration, the United States are still (one of) the freest country in the world – a fact which many Americans are proud of and take for granted as kind of a birthright.

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