He added that, "if they attained Paradise, they would move on if they heard of a better place farther west". They welcomed the political freedoms in the New World, and the lack of a hierarchical or aristocratic society that determined the ceiling for individual aspirations.
One of them explained:. The German emigrant comes into a country free from the despotism, privileged orders and monopolies, intolerable taxes, and constraints in matters of belief and conscience.
Everyone can travel and settle wherever he pleases. No passport is demanded, no police mingles in his affairs or hinders his movements Fidelity and merit are the only sources of honor here. The rich stand on the same footing as the poor; the scholar is not a mug above the most humble mechanics; no German ought to be ashamed to pursue any occupation Nor are there nobility, privileged orders, or standing armies to weaken the physical and moral power of the people, nor are there swarms of public functionaries to devour in idleness credit for.
Above all, there are no princes and corrupt courts representing the so-called divine 'right of birth. The discovery of gold in California in brought in a hundred thousand men looking for their fortune overnight—and a few did find it. Thus was born the California Dream of instant success.
Nation-Building, Our National Pastime
Historian H. Brands noted that in the years after the Gold Rush, the California Dream spread across the nation:. The old American Dream The new dream was the dream of instant wealth, won in a twinkling by audacity and good luck. He stressed the process—the moving frontier line—and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process. He also stressed results; especially that American democracy was the primary result, along with egalitarianism , a lack of interest in high culture , and violence. It came out of the American forest, and it gained new strength each time it touched a new frontier," said Turner.
The frontier had no need for standing armies, established churches, aristocrats or nobles, nor for landed gentry who controlled most of the land and charged heavy rents. Frontier land was free for the taking. Turner first announced his thesis in a paper entitled " The Significance of the Frontier in American History ", delivered to the American Historical Association in in Chicago. He won wide acclaim among historians and intellectuals.
Turner elaborated on the theme in his advanced history lectures and in a series of essays published over the next 25 years, published along with his initial paper as The Frontier in American History. But there has been also the American dream , that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement.
It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position The American dream, that has lured tens of millions of all nations to our shores in the past century has not been a dream of merely material plenty, though that has doubtlessly counted heavily.
It has been much more than that. It has been a dream of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers which had slowly been erected in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands Many American authors added American ideals to their work as a theme or other reoccurring idea, to get their point across.
John Winthrop also wrote about this term called, American exceptionalism. This ideology refers to the idea that Americans are the chosen ones, and that they are the light. The American Dream has been credited with helping to build a cohesive American experience, but has also been blamed for inflated expectations. Since the s, numerous authors, such as Sinclair Lewis in his novel Babbitt , and F. Scott Fitzgerald , in his classic, The Great Gatsby , satirized or ridiculed materialism in the chase for the American dream. For example, Jay Gatsby's death mirrors the American Dream's demise, reflecting the pessimism of modern-day Americans.
The two friends George and Lennie dream of their own piece of land with a ranch , so they can "live off the fatta the lan'" and just enjoy a better life. The book later shows that not everyone can achieve the American Dream, thus proving by contradiction it is not possible for all, although it is possible to achieve for a few. A lot of people follow the American Dream to achieve a greater chance of becoming rich. Some posit that the ease of achieving the American Dream changes with technological advances, availability of infrastructure and information, government regulations, state of the economy, and with the evolving cultural values of American demographics.
Similarly, in Hunter S. Thompson depicted in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey Into the Heart of the American Dream a dark psychedelic reflection of the concept—successfully illustrated only in wasted pop-culture excess.
George Carlin famously wrote the joke "it's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it". The vaunted American dream, the idea that life will get better, that progress is inevitable if we obey the rules and work hard, that material prosperity is assured, has been replaced by a hard and bitter truth. The American dream, we now know, is a lie. We will all be sacrificed. The virus of corporate abuse — the perverted belief that only corporate profit matters — has spread to outsource our jobs, cut the budgets of our schools, close our libraries, and plague our communities with foreclosures and unemployment.
The American Dream, and the sometimes dark response to it, has been a long-standing theme in American film. For example, Easy Rider , directed by Dennis Hopper , shows the characters making a pilgrimage in search of "the true America" in terms of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyles. Scholars have explored the American Dream theme in the careers of numerous political leaders, including Henry Kissinger ,  Hillary Clinton ,  Benjamin Franklin, and Abraham Lincoln.
In U. It was this interpretation of the American Dream for a young black man that helped establish his statewide and national reputations. Political conflicts, to some degree, have been ameliorated by the shared values of all parties in the expectation that the American Dream will resolve many difficulties and conflicts. The ethos today implies an opportunity for Americans to achieve prosperity through hard work. According to The Dream, this includes the opportunity for one's children to grow up and receive a good education and career without artificial barriers.
It is the opportunity to make individual choices without the prior restrictions that limited people according to their class, caste, religion, race, or ethnicity. Immigrants to the United States sponsored ethnic newspapers in their own language; the editors typically promoted the American Dream. For many in both the working class and the middle class, upward mobility has served as the heart and soul of the American Dream, the prospect of "betterment" and to "improve one's lot" for oneself and one's children much of what this country is all about.
A key element of the American Dream is promoting opportunity for one's children, Johnson interviewing parents says, "This was one of the most salient features of the interview data: parents—regardless of background—relied heavily on the American Dream to understand the possibilities for children, especially their own children". A fundamental aspect of the American Dream has always been the expectation that the next generation should do better than the previous generation.
Hanson and Zogby report on numerous public opinion polls that since the s have explored the meaning of the concept for Americans, and their expectations for its future. In these polls, a majority of Americans consistently reported that for their family, the American Dream is more about spiritual happiness than material goods.
Majorities state that working hard is the most important element for getting ahead. However, an increasing minority stated that hard work and determination does not guarantee success. Most Americans predict that achieving the Dream with fair means will become increasingly difficult for future generations. They are increasingly pessimistic about the opportunity for the working class to get ahead; on the other hand, they are increasingly optimistic about the opportunities available to poor people and to new immigrants.
Furthermore, most support programs make special efforts to help minorities get ahead.
Tree of Life on Squirrel Hill: A Lament for America
Research published in shows that the US provides, alongside the United Kingdom and Spain, the least economic mobility of any of 13 rich, democratic countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Research in found that among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States. Wilkinson , have noted that the American dream is better realized in Denmark, which is ranked as having the highest social mobility in the OECD. In the United States, home ownership is sometimes used as a proxy for achieving the promised prosperity; ownership has been a status symbol separating the middle classes from the poor.
Sometimes the Dream is identified with success in sports or how working class immigrants seek to join the American way of life. Ownby identifies four American Dreams that the new consumer culture addressed. The first was the "Dream of Abundance" offering a cornucopia of material goods to all Americans, making them proud to be the richest society on earth. The second was the "Dream of a Democracy of Goods" whereby everyone had access to the same products regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or class, thereby challenging the aristocratic norms of the rest of the world whereby only the rich or well-connected are granted access to luxury.
The "Dream of Freedom of Choice" with its ever-expanding variety of good allowed people to fashion their own particular lifestyle. Finally, the "Dream of Novelty", in which ever-changing fashions, new models, and unexpected new products broadened the consumer experience in terms of purchasing skills and awareness of the market, and challenged the conservatism of traditional society and culture, and even politics. Ownby acknowledges that the dreams of the new consumer culture radiated out from the major cities, but notes that they quickly penetrated the most rural and most isolated areas, such as rural Mississippi.
Ownby demonstrates that poor black Mississippians shared in the new consumer culture, both inside Mississippi, and it motivated the more ambitious to move to Memphis or Chicago. The aspirations of the "American Dream" in the broad sense of upward mobility has been systematically spread to other nations since the s as American missionaries and businessmen consciously sought to spread the Dream, says Rosenberg. Looking at American business, religious missionaries, philanthropies, Hollywood , labor unions and Washington agencies, she says they saw their mission not in catering to foreign elites but instead reaching the world's masses in democratic fashion.
In the emerging litany of the American dream what historian Daniel Boorstin later termed a "democracy of things" would disprove both Malthus 's predictions of scarcity and Marx 's of class conflict. Knights and McCabe argued American management gurus have taken the lead in exporting the ideas: "By the latter half of the twentieth century they were truly global and through them the American Dream continues to be transmitted, repackaged and sold by an infantry of consultants and academics backed up by an artillery of books and videos".
In West Germany after World War II , says Pommerin, "the most intense motive was the longing for a better life, more or less identical with the American dream, which also became a German dream". Italian women saw a model for their own emancipation from second class status in their patriarchal society. The American dream regarding home ownership had little resonance before the s. We should like in time to improve on existing legislation with a realistic grants scheme to assist first-time buyers of cheaper homes.
The newly independent Russian media idealized America and endorsed shock therapy for the economy. In his administration announced a plan for widespread home ownership: "Call it the Russian dream", said Alexander Braverman, the Director of the Federal Fund for the Promotion of Housing Construction Development. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin , worried about his nation's very low birth rate , said he hoped home ownership will inspire Russians "to have more babies".
It is used by journalists, government officials and activists to describe the aspiration of individual self-improvement in Chinese society. Although the phrase has been used previously by Western journalists and scholars,   a translation of a New York Times article written by the American journalist Thomas Friedman , "China Needs Its Own Dream", has been credited with popularizing the concept in China.
The concept of Chinese Dream is very similar to the idea of "American Dream". It stresses entrepreneurship and glorifies a generation of self-made men and women in post- reform China, such as rural immigrants who moved to the urban centers and achieve magnificent improvement in terms of their living standards, and social life. The essayist, novelist, poet and social critic died in If you have not read Baldwin you probably do not fully understand America. Especially now. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal. But it is not, finally, the poetry and lyricism of Baldwin that make the film so moving.
Whiteness is a dangerous concept. It is not about skin color. It is not even about race. It is about the willful blindness used to justify white supremacy. It is about using moral rhetoric to defend exploitation, racism, mass murder, reigns of terror and the crimes of empire. And perhaps this attitude, held in spite of what they know and have endured, helps to explain why Negroes, on the whole, and until lately, have allowed themselves to feel so little hatred.
The tendency has really been, insofar as this was possible, to dismiss white people as the slightly mad victims of their own brainwashing. America was founded on the genocidal slaughter of indigenous people and the holocaust of slavery. It was also founded on an imagined moral superiority and purity. The fact that dominance of others came, and still comes, from unrestrained acts of violence is washed out of the national narrative.
The steadfast failure to face the truth, Baldwin warned, perpetuates a kind of collective psychosis.
Lamenting Lost Lives, Lost Dreams - The New York Times
Unable to face the truth, white Americans stunt and destroy their capacity for self-reflection and self-criticism. They construct a world of dangerous, self-serving fantasy. Those who imbibe the myth of whiteness externalize evil—their own evil—onto their victims. Racism, Baldwin understood, is driven by moral bankruptcy, narcissism, an inner loneliness and latent guilt. Donald Trump and most of those around him exhibit all of these characteristics. The crucial thing, here, is that the sum of these individual abdications menaces life all over the world.
For, in the generality, as social and moral and political and sexual entities, white Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any color, to be found in the world today. Footage in the Peck documentary of past murder cases including the lynching of the year-old Emmett Till is interspersed with the modern-day lynching of young black men such as Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. This juxtaposition is almost too much to bear. If it does not shake you to the core you have no heart and no understanding of who we are in America.
He comes back to join the nascent civil rights movement. He was deeply disturbed by a photograph of Dorothy Counts , 15, surrounded by a mob of whites spitting and screaming racial slurs as she walked into a newly desegregated high school in Charlotte, N. In short, he returned to the United States so that black children like Dorothy Counts would not have to walk alone through a sea of racial hatred.
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Martin Luther King Jr. Baldwin was too independent and outspoken about the truth. Baldwin was supposed to speak at the March on Washington , but King and the other leaders of the march replaced him with the actor Burt Lancaster. Baldwin was, like Orwell, an astute critic of modern culture and how it justifies the crimes of racism and imperialism. In film after film Baldwin pointed to the ingrained racial stereotypes of African-Americans in popular culture that sustain the lie of whiteness.
Blacks were, and often still are, portrayed by mass culture as lazy and childlike, therefore needing white parental supervision and domination, or as menacing and violent sexual predators who needed to be eliminated. These Hollywood stereotypes, Baldwin knew, existed as foils for an imagined white purity, decency and innocence. They buttressed the myth of a nation devoted to the ideals of justice, liberty and democracy. The oppressed, because of their supposed character defects, were the architects of their own oppression.
Oppression was for their own good. Racism was a form of benevolence. Baldwin warned that not facing these lies would see America consume itself. Dickens has not seen it all. The wretched of the earth do not decide to become extinct, they resolve, on the contrary, to multiply: life is their only weapon against life, life is all that they have. This is why the dispossessed and starving will never be convinced though some may be coerced by the population-control programs of the civilized. I have watched the dispossessed and starving laboring in the fields which others own with their transistor radios at their ear, all day long: so they learn, for example, along with equally weighty matters, that the Pope, one of the heads of the civilized world, forbids to the civilized that abortion which is being, literally, forced on them, the wretched.
Nearly all African-Americans carry within them white blood, usually the result of white rape. White slaveholders routinely sold mixed-race children—their own children—into slavery. Baldwin knew the failure to acknowledge the melding of the black and white races that can be seen in nearly every African-American face, a melding that makes African-Americans literally the brothers and sisters of whites.