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Monday, June 14, 2010

 
The American Way Of Life

What is it? Chicago Boyz contributor Lexington Green offers a list of ten defining characteristics. Read the whole thing.

Commenter Peter Jackson noted:

The history of humanity is one of tribalism, where the interests of the group supersedes the interests of individuals. America is the only sustained experiment in the opposite of tribalism, individualism.

I'll go a step further. The "American Way" celebrates the welfare of individuals outside our tribe. We want everybody to have peace, freedom and prosperity, not just ourselves. We celebrated when the Berlin Wall fell, and when Iraqis voted in free elections for the first time. The American private sector sends relief to strangers around the globe, sometimes even to people who don't particularly like us.

Alexis de Tocqueville observed:

Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools.

Tribalism not only values the tribe over the individual, as Jackson noted, but it confines the individual to one tribe. Under the "American Way" individualism forges tribes; they serve as markets for the voluntary pursuit of common interests. Each person has multiple interests and thus belongs to multiple tribes.

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