American Dreams: Freedom

American Dreams sitting on an American flag.

So it’s Independence Day for Americans on Wednesday, and knowing that I myself, and probably this blog, have both enjoyed insulting Americans for sport, I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate all the good things that America has given us.

After an extended period of trying to remember all the good things that America has given us, I am proud to present this blog’s first mini-series: American Dreams.  I hope you enjoy.

Today’s Great American Export is particularly hard to describe.  It’s that concept or ideal that seems hard-wired into Americans, often from birth, of individualism and independence, where everyone can escape from oppression and exploitation.  It’s sometimes called the American Dream, but being as this mini-series is called the American Dream, it would be a bit weird if I used that phrase again.  So I’ll term it ‘freedom’.

There are many examples of this freedom at work in American culture, from the early silicon valley-style startups such as Apple, to the lawless adventures in the Wild West, that were about making a new life for oneself.  Indeed, the concept probably stems all the way from the stories of the founding fathers escaping persecution in Britain for a brighter future, and of course for freedom.

What is harder to point out is where in history this freedom – or rather the concept of it – began to be exported.  It’s there in Woodrow Wilson’s repeated calls for self-determination and public referendums during the post-WWI treaties, but perhaps a more obvious export would be the way America encouraged the other western powers to fight against the USSR-led expansion of Communism with the rallying cry of liberty.

Certainly bad things have happened in the name of this freedom.  Vietnam and Afghanistan may well be considered cases where it was realised that freedom itself means more than simple liberation by a greater power.  However, freedom is something that has often been championed by America, and certainly has found its way into many other people’s lives.  So here’s to freedom as America’s second greatest export.  I can only wonder what will be exported tomorrow.