Culture Con

I will be writing a column for the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s magazine Wisconsin Interest. They are calling it Culture Con. You can read the first one here.

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  1. David R. Papke

    I was intrigued to see the reference to Richard Hofstadter and his observations on the “paranoid style of American politics.” Hofstadter was one of the nation’s premier historians in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and I had a chance to have lunch with once during my undergraduate years. I don’t think he would for a second limit American political paranoia to either end of the political spectrum. Americans of all political stripes, he thought, were prone to perceiving evil forces lurking around every corner.

    In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to argue for any variety of American “exceptionalism.” The argument seems to be that our “uniqueness” is more a matter of ideology than actuality. However, I still think Hofstadter has a point. The nation’s extreme belief in individualism, its sense of itself as a chosen land, and its general superiority complex invites a paranoid reaction when society does not function as well as we think it should. Consider, for example, the efforts on the left and the right to blame somebody for the current recession.

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