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February 8, 2007

The Other American Exceptionalism

So far, the interview with Danny Postel about his pamphlet Reading "Legitimation Theory" in Tehran in my column yesterday hasn't exactly set the Interweb on fire.

Maybe one of those "skyhook" blogs will pick it up and change all that. Or a Digg listing? If you can help, please consider this a pititful cry for same.

One response to the piece came from Richard Nash of Soft Skull Press, who put into words a thought that has crossed my mind far too many times:

I can't help but feel that the most valuable area in which progressives could practice self-criticism is in the arena of reflexive anti-Americanism. Progressives seem to practice a peculiar kind of American Exceptionalism wherein America is the exception to the rule that not everything a given country does is intrinsically awful. Or, alternatively, a sociological expression of that quasi-narcissistic psychological formation that D.W. Winnicott talked about where an infant fails to be able to distinguish between itself an the world and takes on a form of omnipotence that presumes that it is a hurting machine, that everything it does is wrong, a situation as likely to produce fucked-up behavior (on an individual or imperial level) as the omnipotence that thinks that everything it does is right.

Of course this is a terrible, for some people unbearable, thing to consider: If the United States is not the unique locus of either good or evil in the world, then you have to start, you know, thinking....And that's just going to be frustrating. All that gray. Who needs it?

See also my two columns from a while back about blogging in Iran, here and here.

Posted by smclemee at February 8, 2007 10:32 AM


Change begins at home. You should link to your columns here when they come out!

Posted by: Aaron Swartz at February 10, 2007 6:53 PM