Although it is still debatable what exactly Thomas More meant with his book Utopia, generally people seem to agree that the island called Utopia was supposed to represent a perfect world. In that, it definitely shares something with the US: both were meant to be a perfect world. Unfortunately, though, they also share the fact that they failed, as there is this one big issue with the entire idea of Utopia: it is impossible.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection. Actually, it was great that the founding fathers of the US had such huge ideals and that they tried to realise them, and it is definitely not something they should be blamed for. However, now that the world has managed to spin around the sun about 237 times since these people declared independence and started building their Utopia, a lot has changed, and for what was supposed to become a perfect world, that’s a bit problematic.
See, US culture and politics seem to be rather stuck at these founding fathers. Whereas in for example the Netherlands nobody really cares what William of Orange would have thought if he saw modern day policies, in the US, it still seems to be a big deal. There is a lot of pride about these people who helped set up the nation, and even though they lived three centuries ago, they are still constantly mentioned in politics.
But times change. That Utopia that was already unattainable to begin with is now even more unattainable. For example, Thomas Jefferson imagined the US to be a nation in which almost everyone had their own independent farm, and although this might come as a bit of a shock for the really patriotic American, that’s not going to happen anymore. In fact, about 99% of the population wouldn’t even know how to grow a proper potato, nevermind an entire farm full of them.
Of course, the US wasn’t the only Utopia in world history. As always, it’s the ones you hate the most who you have the most in common with, because as it happens, many of the countries the US has been at war with had such Utopian ideals: Communist Russia and Vietnam, and perhaps to some extent even Hitler’s Germany, which in fact didn’t differ very much from Jefferson’s Utopia, both in its goal and in its methods.
Those times have long passed now, though, and people in the US cannot be blamed for what their ancestors did any more than Germans could be blamed for the Holocaust. But unlike Germany, in the US, there is still that sense of pride about the founding fathers, and those Utopian ideals still exist. Even now the goal for politicians is to create a perfect society, and the idea that the US is in some way special seems to be here to stay.
But this is the 21st century, and perhaps that means it’s time to let that nationalism go. After all, nationalism is the most unreasonable ideology there is. It is the idea that somehow, your own country is more special or more important than the countries of those 7 billion other people, and for some reason, all those 7 billion people believe that THEIR country is the best. It is ridiculous, and it only makes politics more irrational. Perhaps that’s what the US needs to do to restore itself as a first world country and to catch up with countries in Western Europe: they need to accept that they are not the best nation in the world.
Don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And what if you’re new to this page? Try having a look at the list of most popular posts!
More on this topic from Dean Richards: