American Exceptionalism is a pervasive force in the United States. Since the founding Americans have believed themselves to be freer than the other nations of the globe. It is a philosophy which can been seen on both the political right and left in the United States. This exceptionalism has given Americans a feeling of almost divine mission, but is it in any way justified?
No, America is not exceptionalShow moreShow less
America being exceptional is a national myth which is inconsistent with the reality of global history.
American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr noted in his The Irony of American History that "Every nation has its own form of spiritual pride." Commenting on the notion that Americans were exceptional due to their commitment to democracy, he recorded "These examples of American self-appreciation could be matched by similar sentiments in other nations. But every nation has its particular version. Our version is that our nation turned its back on the vices of Europe and made a new beginning."
Niebuhr notes that all nations have their own mythology that makes their national identity special and unique. American Exceptionalism is no different. It is a national myth but ironically indistinct from other national exceptionalisms.
[P1] All nations have national myths.
[P2] Exceptionalism is the United States' national myth.