The American Spirit (Key Principles)


Most people agree that the United States are the greatest country on earth. For years, I wondered why the US is so extraordinary and I came to the following conclusion: There are at least 5 core values or key principles the American spirit bases on which are not present or only partially present in other, ordinary societies. If you would remove just one of these five the USA would no longer be the same. I identified the following:

Core Values

  1. Capitalism, Liberty, Freedom, Self-Responsibility, Achievement

  2. Independence, Individualism

  3. Judeo-Christian Dominant Culture and Mentality

  4. Diversity

  5. Materialism, Consumerism, Wealth, The American Way/Dream

Ad 1) Capitalism, Liberty, Freedom, Self-Responsibility, Achievement
The first and probably most important principle of the United States is the capitalistic economic system. But it’s not only about the economic system, moreover it’s about the mindset and mentality of American people. The genuine US-American mind values a life of freedom, liberty and self-responsibility and appreciates the opportunity of individual achievement and success.

Ad 2) Independence, Individualism
I’m not sure if this second point “Independence, Individualism” is just a subset of the fist “Capitalism”. Anyway the striving for freedom isn’t restricted to the occupational or business-life but also expands the private life dimensions.

Ad 3) Judeo-Christian Dominant Culture and Mentality
By my understanding a third key principles of the United States is the Judeo-Christian Dominant Culture. Some reject this idea because there are many religions in the US but I think the country would no longer be the same if for example Muslims would make up the majority. Not only did the founding fathers come from Jewish-Christian societies, there is also something within Christianity and Jewishness itself that facilitates the development of a nation like the USA.
I think Jewish-Christian traditions and mentalities are a necessary fundament of modern western society. And there is even scientific evidence that the Protestant mindset led to a capitalist economic system.

Ad 4) Diversity
Although I believe that the genuine spirit of the USA couldn’t exist without a Judeo-Christian majority the United States would also loose their character if they had no cultural diversity. But even if diversity is part of the US I believe the benefit of diversity can only unfold if the number of minorities is not too high - a too large number of immigrants would dilute the nation’s character.
I don’t know which ratio of cultures would be the best, but I know the mixture I would prefer is somewhat like it existed in the 1990s: A black and white Christian majority beside a few larger minorities (Jews, Asian, Hispanic).

Ad 5) Materialism, Consumerism, Wealth, The American Way/Dream
I think one very essential part of the American spirit is the appreciation of and aspiration for material things. Americans want to buy things! Private property is a value by itself.
Some might disagree but I see the aspiration for commodities (under certain preconditions) as character strength. If a person is able to value a product, he or she is able to appreciate man-made beauty. Consumer society probably has reached its highest level in the USA.

I ‘m curious if you – from an inside perspective – would come to the same conclusion.
Do you think there are further points I’ve missed? Or is this it?
I’m especially interested in attributes that America(ns) have but other societies don’t.

I don’t disagree with much of this, but I question the idea that “diversity” (however you define it) is a “strength” for this country. In any business, no one has ever adequately explained how having a “diverse” workforce contributes materially to the business’ bottom line or efficiency. The same question applies to the national culture. The left APPEARS to be trying to do away with diversity of THOUGHT and OPINION, so THEY don’t believe in “diversity” themselves. Diversity wasn’t ever an issue until that idiot SCOTUS justice, Sandra Day O’Conner, ruled that it was a “worthy goal”.

1 Like

I agree with much of your premise, but I disagree about the virtue of materialism. When you want things so much, you tend to become a slave to them. That makes you open to manipulation, although many other things do, too.

As to PD and the diversity issue, I’d say that diversity is like cholesterol; there’s the good kind, and the bad kind. To use a culinary analogy, diversity can provide a good seasoning for a meal if applied well; that’s an example of the good kind. But when diversity is applied to overpower the food’s own flavor, that’s an example of the bad kind.

The United States shares a general culture with many European societies. What really makes it different is its geography. A huge continent to exploit, once the original inhabitants were exterminated or pushed in Bantustans, two huge oceans to guard east and west, and no threatening neighbors to the north or south.

Here, liberal democracy could flourish, and did. After the Second World War, the US emerged as the possessor of the majority of productive forces on the planet. It had no economic competitors. With the possession of nuclear weapons, it was able to prevent the Soviets expanding beyond what they had gained fighting the Nazis. Although it could not generally impose its will on those ex-colonial countries where the Communists had come to the head of the national movements, its defeat in these situations was not really a serious one.

When Russian socialism collapsed under its own weight of inefficiency, and Chinese socialism morphed into state capitalism, the prospect of an American-dominated New World Order seemed open.

Islamism, like Communism, has emerged as a minor threat, but not an existential one. The growth and evential pre-eminence of China, both economically and militarily, is inevitable, but several decades away. At the moment, the US is like England in 1900.

Unfortunately, the very prosperity and security of the United States has meant the rotting of the moral fibre of its intelligentsia, who have embraced personal or vicarious victimhood as their world outlook. The ‘socialism’ of young Americans is simply their desire to live in an all-embracing welfare state, like Sweden – it has nothing in common with the desire to lead the workingclass in a revolution. In fact, these young college kids despise their own working class, whom they see as social inferiors.

In reality, ‘America’ has vanished. What is left is the shell, called the United States. No one can predict what is going to happen as the new generation assumes leadership – people who, in the words of Thomas Sowell, want to replace what worked with what sounds good.

In general I agree.

When I elaborated the 5 principles I asked myself for each one of them respectively: How would America look like if you would remove just this principle? In the case of point one “Capitalism” the answer is that you would get something like the Soviet Union. In case of point 4 “Diversity” you would get something like Australia.

As you, I also believe that cultural homogeny is a value by itself. And I think the unlimited mixture of ethnic groups will ultimately destroy the planet’s variety of different cultures. But it is easier to use this argument from a European perspective. European nations have always been relatively homogenous compared to USA.

Well said!

Yes, this could be the case for some people. But I insist that materialism is a virtue if practice by a person with a high level of character development. Like with cholesterol and diversity; there’s the good kind, and the bad kind:
If you want products just for showboating, displaying status or greed: it’s bad.
If you want material things because you appreciate the quality and the value of the product: it’s good.

I know you are very eager and restrictive in your faith. But I don’t accept the position that rich people are worse than other just because of their money. For me this is socialistic thinking of the worst kind and it can serve as the substrate of every left-wing ideology.

In a world of liberty and freedom everyone should have the right to be as successful and earn as much money as he can – without any moral reproaches.

I’m not saying that being rich is bad in and of itself. But possesions (and wealth, for that matter) are a temptation and possible strong addiction. And I think our society shows that a lot of people don’t handle it well. This is not, however, a suggestion that socialism is a good alternative. It would be a case of going from bad to (much) worse. (To some degree, we already have, and I suspect much of the monetary corruption in our society is a result of it.) If great wealth in the hands of tens or hundreds of thousands of people are bad, imagine how bad it would be when all or most all of the wealth is under the control of a few thousand in government; “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

1 Like