Core Paradoxes in the National Character and Schisms in the Far Right’s Political Ideology


All nations, and this seems especially true of great nations, have paradoxes at the core of their national characters that define them. The tensions within these paradoxes are alternately, or in times of crisis simultaneously, a dynamic source of national strength and also an anarchic source of national turmoil.

In the United States, these paradoxes are every bit as clear today as they were a hundred or two hundred years ago.

They include the following:

1. We have enshrined the concept of representative government, but we have allowed elites to exercise powers associated more with oligarchies than with truly democratic republics, and as a result, although we honor public service, we have less trust in our elected representatives than in almost any other category of people; likewise, we talk much more about the value of democratic process more than we actually vote.

2. We emphasize individualism and self-reliance, but we…

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About martinkich

I am a Professor of English at Wright State University's Lake Campus, where I have been a faculty member for more than 25 years. I have now served multiple terms as the President of the WSU chapter of AAUP, which now includes all full-time instructional faculty, and as the Vice-President of the Ohio Conference of AAUP. I have also served several terms as an at-large member of the Executive Committee of AAUP's Collective Bargaining Congress. In addition to serving as co-editor of the Academe blog, I am also a member of the editorial board of Academe and have been a guest editor for an issue of the magazine on collective bargaining strategies. As co-chair of the Ohio Conference's Communication Committee, I began to do much more overtly political writing during the campaign to repeal Ohio's Senate Bill 5, which would have eliminated the right of faculty to be unionized. I have sustained that activism, and at the risk of stating the obvious, I have very much enjoyed contributing to the Academe Blog and to our chapter blog. I also maintain several other blogs to which I have re-posted, by topic, my posts to the Academe blog, as well as some other items.

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