American exceptionalism is an intuition about the United States, a country that occupies a special place among the nations of the world primarily because of its unique origins as the exception to the world's tyrannies. The concept of "American exceptionalism" may be defined as the notion that the United States, by virtue of its origins and ideals, its struggles and accomplishments, stands apart from — and, in some eyes, above — other nations. Originally historian Larry Schweikart identified four important pillars which combined to create American exceptionalism:
- Morality rooted in Christian principles
- Common law
- Free markets and the rejection of government-based mercantilism
- Private property with written titles and deeds
The concept is often interpreted to mean, "If America does it, it's right," bringing the idea of American exceptionalism into controversy and disrepute in recent years, both in American domestic and foreign policy. It has been criticized as outdated and jingoistic. It has been used to promote notions such as "American Empire", global hegemony, and the "Liberal World Order". The idea of "American exceptionalism" in the hands of neoconservatives and liberal globalists took on sinister, dictatorial, and supremacist overtones and is cited as a cause of World War III.
Throughout the entirety of human history, nearly all people have lived under some form of tyranny or another be it communism, monarchism, progressivism, fascism, or theocracy; some tyrannies heredity, others established by fiat or coup, and yet still other tyrannies as the result of elections such as Democratic Socialism. America has stood alone in human history as the one exception to the rule of rulers.
Alexis de Tocqueville is commonly cited as the originator of the phrase, and once said that the United States held a special place among nations because it was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy. He specifically cited the American Founding as the basis of this exceptionalism. Tocqueville wrote:
|The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven. Let us cease, then, to view all democratic nations under the example of the American people.|
|Many important observations suggest themselves upon the social condition of the Anglo-Americans, but there is one which takes precedence of all the rest. The social condition of the Americans is eminently democratic; this was its character at the foundation of the Colonies, and is still more strongly marked at the present day.|
Edmund Burke, who is sometimes referred to as the Father of Conservatism, wrote about what made Americans truly exceptional. He said: "They augur misgovernment at a distance; and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze." What he means is that early Americans did not wait for government to hurt them, they kept an eye out in advance. Patrick Henry told Americans to "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel", and Burke confirms that they did exactly that.
|In this character of the Americans, a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole: and as an ardent is always a jealous affection, your colonies become suspicious, restive, and untractable, whenever they see the least attempt to wrest from them by force, or shuffle from them by chicane, what they think the only advantage worth living for. This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies probably than in any other people of the earth.|
Post-Cold war unipolar world
In the post-Cold War unipolar world, the concept of American exceptionalism was hijacked by neoconservatives and globalists to exempt the United States from international law. The U.S. appointed itself in a neoliberal "rules based order" as the "world's policeman", making up the rules as it suited itself to benefit Western globalists, oligarchs, and multinational corporate interests, often in violation the Charter of the United Nations and other treaty obligations. No single nation or bloc of nations could challenge American military or economic power. Much of the rest of the world - even trading partners, recipients of foreign aid, and countries under U.S. defense alliances such as NATO, viewed the excuse of "American exceptionalism" to exempt itself from laws other nations were bound to respect, as an attitude or form of "supremacy."
Donald Trump is the first president in modern history to shrug off the notion of American exceptionalism: "I don’t like the term,” Trump said at a Texas campaign rally in 2015. “I don’t think it’s a very nice term. ‘We’re exceptional, you’re not.’”
- American Dream
- American Enlightenment
- Sociology of "atheism is un-American" view
- Culture of the United States
- James Rosen. Texas Textbooks: Is America ‘Exceptional’?, May 20, 2010.
- Will U.S. be 'Exceptional' in Textbooks?, Fox News (foxnews.mobi), May 20, 2010.
- Ukraine: The Tunnel at the End of the Light, Robert Freeman, February 28, 2023 Consortium News.
- The Ontological Incoherence of American Imperial Exceptionalism', William Schryver, February 23, 2023.
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 2, page 36-37
- Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume 1, page 42
- Edmund Burke, Speech on Conciliation with the Colonies
- Orations of American orators, Volume 25
- The Roots of Obama's Rage
- "Psychology and disorder." American exceptionalism and its consequences. American exceptionalism and its consequences. PATRICK LAWRENCE, SEP 6, 2023