Recently David Sirota (1), author of the book ‘Back to our Future: How the 1980’s Explain the World We Live In Now’ wrote an article entitled ‘Rethinking American Exceptionalism’ (2), where he touched on valid points regarding examples of American exceptionalism using examples of Health Care, Freedom and Military Might. In the end he says: “…the true sign of American exceptionalism is an American that starts saying yes… [to] less exceptionalism in how much we spend on the Pentagon, how many wars we initiate, how many casualties we incur and how many people we kill?”. The history and meanings of the word itself make a fine adventure (3), coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1835-40 to mean “a uniquely American ideology, based on liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire.” (4). The Protestant concepts of Manifest Destiny & “The City upon a Hill” imply American superiority and an untouchable/chosen quality which many conservatives and neoconservatives still support today, see Mitt Romney’s criticism of Obama (5). Thomas Jefferson used it to express the idea that America would be the “shining”, yet “benign beacon” of Liberty and “freedom of self government”… for the world over. Lenin also used it in regards to the American Communist party in the 1920’s and it’s belief that it was above the laws of Marxism. For many post-nationalists, such as Howard Zinn (6), it applies rather to the concept of a lack of Virtue that he (as well as a growing American body), felt had crashed against the walls of what are called the historical and current American imperialist actions and intentions abroad as well as tyranny at home. Socrates was said to have used the word ‘excellence’ as a human quality to be strived for in all things, but most of all in respect to the search for moral truths and one’s actions as an act of piety as well as being the obvious and logical human path. It is this Socratic definition that seems to ring truest for Exceptionalism… for hasn’t Socrates remained an exceptional example of a seemingly otherworldly and unattainable moral code that has yet to truly reflect itself within any Political or Scientific body? What is human exceptionalism/moral excellence in Science?
Taking a glance at the current moral attitudes of most scientists of the Accepted Scientific Body, one can easily assume that most support Global Peace and other such virtues of human morality, especially those scientists concerned with the environment, war, famine, natural disasters, public health, social sciences and much more. There are various organizations devoted to furthering these virtuous causes like “The World Science Day for Peace Development” the week of the 11th of November (7), which sprang from the UN’s 1986 “International Year of Peace” and continues today. There is also the USC research project on Science Diplomacy (8), where… “The primary purpose of this research project is to broaden the understanding of science diplomacy in the context of the wider field of public diplomacy.” There is a pervasive attitude held by many that… “Science can eliminate many of the irrational fears that drive the worst of human behaviors.” (9), and lend a hand to the Political process of global peace and morality. In the words of the 1962 Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling “I believe that there will never again be a great world war… I believe that it is the discoveries of scientists upon which the development of these terrible weapons was based that is now forcing us to move into a new period in the history of the world, a period of peace and reason…” (10), reflects a generally accepted worldview of peace and science expressed by Alfred Nobel himself. There are also attempts to change the face of Science itself using the concepts like Post-Normal Science (11), originated by Thomas Kuhn, especially when applied to the Global Warming Scenario as in this piece by Toumo Saloranta from the U. of Bergen, Norway (12). If we are to assume as Science does (as well as the UN), that the only way to achieve peace and unity on this Earth we share is to create a very real fear of global death with enough “mutually assured destruction” (13) to end most of life many times over, have we not then given up much the options we might need to seek this unity on paths without bombs? The name of this path to unity is called “Now I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds” (14), isn’t this the very same death that happens to everyone eventually? Does anyone really need a bomb to understand and comprehend the very simple moral questions surrounding death? Do we need Science do defend morals, or can morals stand together as one and become united without but lifting our thoughts with but a few fingers to the internet? This begs another question, can the internet (as it seems rights are compromised), even realistically alleviate the need for the bombs with creating a transparent and agreed upon morality, one opposed to the current Scientific solution which seems more like ‘Romper Room’ – a not so new “Reality” T.V. show… and the rates are still skyrocketing. Taking nothing for granted, one friend recently asked me if he really had to ask anyone on this Earth the “permission to live here right now”… without the need of bullies with bombs looming over our heads every day of my entire life? (born in 1968)-
4) Lipset, Seymour Martin, American Exceptionalism, pp. 17–19, 165–74, 197
6) Zinn, Howard (1980). A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present. Harper & Row
“Fawkes” by Randal Roberts http://www.allofthisisforyou.com/gallery/12_fawkes.html