Posted on 01 October 2012.
Ironically, for a country that boasts freedom of speech as the most important value for a society, any criticism concerning an aspect of the modern life in the US is viewed as unpatriotic and unacceptable Without denying the fact that living in the United States has numerous positive features, there are also several harsh realities to account for, especially for minorities and low-income citizens.
In a democratic system, people should take advantage of their rights and perform a lucid analysis of their society rather than accept the bedtime stories that the politicians and their corporate masters feed them via the media. Let’s take a short tour of the most common misconstructions regarding the modern United States society.
1. America is strictly a meritocratic society
The ideology that hard work and perseverance represent the key to success in America is commendable, yet inapplicable in the real world. In fact, many times authorities and privately owned companies will fail the average/low income American citizen. At the same time, excellence in your field and a good work ethic will not always provide sufficient leverage for transcending poverty. To put it simply, the original meritocracy concept has evolved towards oligarchy and financial/social stratifications become increasingly obvious.
2. There is equality between all citizens of the US
Are marriages between partners of the same sex considered legal yet? How long ago were the laws concerning the civil rights, the voting and the benefits of disabled citizens introduced? And, more importantly, why did these laws have to be established? That’s right, because the society in the US has a historical inclination for marginalizing certain minorities. There is no such thing as equality unless it is mandated by the law and sometimes, not even then.
3. Things were better in the good old days
When we are speaking about the good old days in America, we are typically referring to the 50s, a period that was allegedly all about simplicity, every citizen knew his role in society and life was bliss. However, let’s not forget that it was also a time of segregation and the fact that this idealized picture of the US in the 50s represents nothing more and nothing less than a carefully constructed marketing campaign. Rather than construct a society that adapts to the people, the role of this campaign is to make people adapt to a predetermined dogma with domineering gender dynamics and inflexible class systems.
4. We’re all living the “American Dream”
Again, the idealistic representation of the “American Dream” has few things in common with reality. In short it has been replaced by aggressive banking practices, vanishing retirement funds, fraudulent credit institutions, sky high interest rates, foreclosures at every turn, so on and so forth. And these are just a few of the barriers that stand between the average income citizen and the “American Dream”.
5. This country was founded on the idea of freedom
Well, if you examine the early history of America, you will notice that it was founded on the principles of slavery and segregation rather than freedom. The concept of freedom refers mostly to the autonomy of the white population and the condemnable practices against different color minorities continued for centuries. At the same time African, Latino and Asian immigrant communities were not assimilated into the mainstream until much later.