Saturday, September 1, 2012

FYI Republicans: Tocqueville Was Actually Insulting America When He Referred to It Being "Exceptional"

Is this true?  From Chris Rodda here.


Anonymous said...

OMG, you are linking to HuffPo. And you expect to be taken seriously? You just tipped your hand here.

Another cultural Marxist, just as I had suspected. You just completely undermined you "position", if indeed on can call that collection of cant an neuroses a "position".

No serious mind--and no sober, adult American--has nothing but contempt for huffPo and what they represent.

Jonathan Rowe said...


I guess you aren't aware of the logical fallacy "poisoning the well." I mainly linked to it because it is Chris Rodda on Huffpo and we cover her work and she sometimes stops by and chimes in. Perhaps she will chime in on this thread. :)

Tom Van Dyke said...

Ms. Rodda's work seems to specialize in David Barton, not history per se. One tends not to get the complete story when reading polemicists.

In the 1920s, the lingering specter of World War I and austere German reparations battered Europe's market-based economy, giving rise to class tension and stark inequality. For worn-down workers, socialism and communism started sounding like pretty good ideas. A world revolution -- indeed, the rise of the proletariat -- seemed possible, and the Communist International was stoked.

But the Americans just wouldn't fall into line. The United States had long since passed the United Kingdom as the world's largest industrial power, but hadn't yet plunged into the Great Depression. To members of the U.S. Communist Party, it was a paradox. Why, in the what appeared to be the purest capitalist Western economy wasn't there any desire for egalitarianism? Had Marx been wrong when he wrote socialism would, inexorably and universally, emerge from the ruins of capitalism?

America's radical left considered the national condition, contrasted it with Europe, and concluded leftism would be a hard sell stateside thanks to characteristics forged along the frontier. Americans were different: individualistic, profit-crazed, broadly middle class, and as tolerant of inequality as they were reverent of economic freedom. The nation had "unlimited reserves of American imperialism," lamented Communist propaganda at the time.

In 1929, Communist leader Jay Lovestone informed Stalin in Moscow that the American proletariat wasn't interested in revolution. Stalin responded by demanding that he end this "heresy of American exceptionalism." And just like that, this expression was born.

jimmiraybob said...

Another cultural Marxist, just as I had suspected.

Hilarious. Brilliant theater. I will tip the waitresses, waiters & bartenders enthusiastically.

Bravo! Or perhaps Brava!

jimmiraybob said...

I’ve just scanned Democracy in America and there are a few other things that de Tocqueville had to say while writing about America (in just Volume 1): “Great, great people, great nation, greater, greatness, and greatest.” He goes on, “good, better, best, fantastical, wonderful, brilliant” and also “important, necessary, irresistible, and indispensable.” And, “blessed and humble,” also too.

Now I suppose some commie-socialist Marxist agitator will be along any minute now to explain the so-called “context” of these words. Well, phooey ya party poopers.

Angie Van De Merwe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JMS said...

Tocqueville recorded at length his first encounter with the “exceptional” phenomenon that the American people he encountered seemed to share a great devotion to at least the outward forms of religion:

“On my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things. In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country. My desire to discover the causes of this phenomenon increased from day to day. In order to satisfy it I questioned the members of all the different sects; I sought especially the society of the clergy, who are the depositaries of the different creeds and are especially interested in their duration. As a member of the Roman Catholic Church, I was more particularly brought into contact with several of its priests. . . . To each of these men I expressed my astonishment and explained my doubts. I found that they differed upon matters of detail alone, and that they all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point. [1:319-20]

For Tocqueville the principle of the separation of church and state lay at the foundation of any democratic order. Any infringement of that separation, he feared, would undermine the authority of religion.