The end of the American dream

The American dream has faded, but its contradictions and promises still shake the world that is following what is happening there. This leadership ability still makes the USA a superpower. However, a superpower whose contradictions are increasingly visible.

The United States of America, along with China, has been the country with the most media resonance. This situation results not only from being the world superpower, but also because its internal and external role is being questioned. In this, the United States and China have in common the fact that the pandemic and the upcoming global changes are already having an impact, creating dissatisfaction at the internal level and reinforcement of positioning at the external level.

The pandemic, with devastating effects on public health, and the initial ineptitude of the authorities generated an increase in internal discontent. The assassination of George Floyd touched old wounds, exacerbated by the internal situation, characterized by rising unemployment and discontent with some public policies. The turmoil that followed and spread to the rest of the world testifies to this discontent. This propagation shows how the United States is still the world superpower, capable of influencing other countries internationally, taking thousands of people out in a pandemic time.

That power is still there. It is curious to see how the protests had repercussions in all countries, although the situation had occurred in the United States. Demonstrations in front of US embassies were rare, carrying the protest to national realities, despite the specificities of each country. For example, the multiethnic presence is not identical in all countries where there have been demonstrations, neither in their demographic volume, nor in their constitution, nor in their impact on local society.

USA, an American country

There is no doubt that the United States faces a difficult time in its history as a young nation. It is interesting how the country fits among the western nations and leads them, being often overlooked its genesis and evolution. The United States is the result of a British colonial project and its independence was defined by an elite if not European, at least Europeanized and identified with its values.

In fact, this situation is common to countries across the American continent. They are States born of colonial / imperial projects, whose independence was designed by descendants of colonists, thus maintaining all the class privileges that existed until then. Most of them are still slave societies at the time of independence, differing from slave societies.

In the slave society, the production system and society bear the mark of slavery, all hierarchies are created from the existence of a type of work, performed by people who have no social or citizenship rights. Even in American countries, where this has been erased, as in the case of Argentina, this memory has been recovered, in the sense of realizing how society dealt with slavery and how this situation marked the local culture and society.

The work did not immediately shift to free work, assuming variants that went through servant work, especially in large public works or in the moments following the liberation of the enslaved people.

The asymmetry between the elite and the descendants of former slaves and the immigrants who, however, provided new alternatives to production, was always very marked and very slowly reflected in the structural changes in these societies. As such, they are also characterized by post-coloniality, although this term is rarely or never applied to the case of the United States.

The contradictions inherited from a colonial society with slave-like characteristics are unlikely to be erased, but it is surprising how these marks have remained today, despite the long struggle for civil rights. The way in which people are classified among Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, etc., despite being native to the United States, still shows the differentiating mark according to the individual's alleged origin, relegating him / her immediately to a certain fringe of society .

It is also worth noting that the only ones that need to be classified are Euro-Americans, as long as they are not Latin. All this diversity has hindered the homogenization of American society, despite this dream - the American dream of prosperity, freedom and individual fulfillment.

Read the United States

Coincidentally, and even before these events that agitate American society, he had started to read a book entitled “A special summer”, written by Elin Hilderbrand, published in April by the Readers Circle. At the time, what attracted me to the book was the fact that this author wrote it when she was 50 years old, referring to the reality of her country in the year of her birth.

In 1969, humanity conquered the moon, in the footsteps of the United States, fought in Vietnam and there was unrest for the civic rights of the “African-Americans”, many of them already professionally highlighted people (in the book there are characters who are judges or doctors) , but still separated from a multiracial social interaction. Although the narrative takes place in Boston, therefore far from the confederate states marked by racial segregation, social distance still persists among people of different ethnic origins.

This book, while not being literarily ambitious, is still a very pleasant reading about the life of those times in the USA and also a reflection on the social role of women in a society in which transformation was urgently needed. Oscillating between the acclaim of American values ​​and their questioning, the book has no heroines and the final message is enlightening: hate is only overcome with love; discrimination is only fought with approximation and understanding.

The various women, with different ages and beliefs, symbolize the various shades of this society: the most authoritarian and conservative woman, the progressive young woman involved in civic combat, the young woman who sees her life transform with marriage, the teenager who he is discovering the contradictions of the world and the mature woman who symbolizes the exemplary mother and wife. These narratives constructed in the feminine intertwine and also expose the contradictions of that society.

The USA conquered the moon, but there was a society to rethink on land. And, as one of the characters says, the perfect and harmonious world was crumbling. If the moon gave to the USA, the international statement that was missing and helped to export the American dream, this same dream was collapsing for Americans who lived all the contradictions of a society that oscillated between a libertarian culture in Woodstock and a conservative society. The humanization of heroes, from those who go to the moon to those who sat in the American Senate, contributes to this demystification of the American dream.

After the dream

After 50 years, many of the problems raised by these characters continue to characterize American society. The American dream has faded, but its contradictions and promises are still shaking the world that attentively follows what is happening there. This leadership ability still makes the United States a superpower. However, a superpower whose contradictions are increasingly visible and which, in order to implement President Donald Trump's motto, "America First", will first have to solve its domestic problems and face its past as it is.

Never before had any country gone from a position of colonial subordination to a position of world leadership, ensured by the end of the Second World War and the resulting new order. Everything was new and promising, so it was probably believed that the American dream could reach everyone, even without structural changes in society and mentality. This did not happen. The idea of ​​an American dream that was exported was not able to overcome the 60s of the XNUMXth century in its own country.

After the dream, reality remains. The truth is that the United States has not yet allowed the American dream to become democratized. This task is more arduous than maintaining international leadership in this time of crisis. Even with its leadership challenged in the future, it is guaranteed that the United States will still make life very difficult for those who want to change their status quo. Therefore, the question of whether the United States is successful or not lies inside, because this is also the country that voted for President Trump to refocus on himself, right on his own problems. Will the country manage to resolve in a short time what it has not managed to change in five decades?


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