American Exceptionalism and Occupy Together

Book Review: The Dangerous Delusion of American Exceptionalism, by Michael Barrick. C. 2011.

United States Constitution Day, September 17, 2011. On this day, to the surprise of many, a new movement was born: Occupy Wall Street. In a few short weeks, Occupy Wall Street grew to an international organization called “Occupy Together.”  At this writing, Occupy Together groups are meeting in over 920 cities in numerous countries around the world. The Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Together movement has grown out of the frustration experienced by ordinary people over the economic injustice that has resulted in a wealthy minority controlling an historically large share of the world’s resources while the number of people living in poverty grows larger and larger.

In this context, Michael Barrick’s new book, The Dangerous Delusion of American Exceptionalism, is a relevant and poignant expose of the collapse of the United States empire. Barrick begins the book recounting his experience defending the United States as the preeminent country in the world and in human history to a fellow co-worker. Reflecting on this experience, he realized that his sense of pride in the United States was rooted in the myth of American exceptionalism: the belief that the United States is qualitatively different from all other countries because God chose the U.S. as a distinctive nation built on principles of liberty and justice. In The Dangerous Delusion of American Exceptionalism, Barrick considers the ways in which the cultural myth of exceptionalism has led to the decline of the American empire.

Michael Barrick may seem to be an unlikely author to critique American culture. As a writer who has reflected a conservative Christian perspective, Barrick has written and edited articles and blogs for a number of evangelical Christian publications. However, his devout conviction led him to consider the inherent conflict in believing, on the one hand, that all people are children of God and, on the other hand, that the United States and its citizens were superior to others.

The Dangerous Delusion of American Exceptionalism offers a passionate, unfiltered critique of the symptoms of the decline of the United States. This decline can be seen in the increase in infant mortality, childhood obesity, rates of unemployment, and levels of poverty. Barrick goes further to critique policy decisions that have systematically led to the decline of vitality and growth in the United States. While corporations have played a significant role in shaping such policies, Barrick also offers an analysis of the role of conservative evangelical Christianity in accelerating the decline of the country.

The Dangerous Delusion of American Exceptionalism is bold and unapologetic in its analysis. The book raises issues that most citizens of the United States would rather avoid. Written in a frank, stark tone, the book has the potential to break through levels of denial to enable the reader to look past the delusion that prevents an honest assessment of the nation.

The Dangerous Delusion of American Exceptionalism is available as an e-book or in hard copy at:

© 2011, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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