Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sam Huntington

wrote, with the characteristic good sense of a man who "looked the world in the eye", that we Americans

"must learn to distinguish among our true friends who will be with us and we with them through thick and thin; opportunistic allies with whom we have some but not all interests in common; strategic partner-competitors with whom we have a mixed relationship; antagonists who are rivals but with whom negotiation is possible; and unrelenting enemies who will try to destroy us unless we destroy them first."

In a paragraph combining sophisticated differentiation and cold calculation, he was speaking of the American position in international relations. But this is equally applicable to domestic politics, is it not?

You could make a case that the original Thirteen States were far more like opportunistic allies and strategic partner-competitors than true friends. Over time, the North and South increasingly became antagonists and eventually unrelenting enemies. The contemporary split between the Red and Blue states-of-mind is clearly at Levels 4 and 5. 

One way in which American Exceptionalism clearly, from our own history, does not stand, is immunity from such a level of internal hostility that civil war breaks out. The received narrative always gives the impression that this was --to use some of my old Biblical lingo-- a hapax legoumenon, a once-for-all occurrence, never to be repeated.

But nothing in human history prevents it from re-occuring.

Who, in this country, are your 1. true friends, 2. opportunistic allies, 3. strategic partner-competitors, 4. antagonists or 5. unrelenting enemies?


PS. Professor Huntington was clear that "the distinct Anglo-Protestant culture of the founding settlers" was the matrix of the "American Creed." He was not so clear that it required their continued existence as a people to maintain it. ExC believes, selfishly, that this culture was passed on more or less intact to others, but that the farther away you go from the founding group, the less likely it is that their "Creed" will survive.

No one expects Arabs to maintain Confucian culture. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Anybody who says that a politician is a type 1 for them is a fool. At the absolute best, a politician is type 2. Depending on who you are, most politicians are 3s, 4s, or 5s.


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