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America Beyond Nation State Essay

1428 words - 6 pages

   In his book: “Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity”, Samuel P. Huntington showed his strong worries with the American identity.
   According to this book, Huntington thought because of lack of common enemies and opposites, the cohesion power and common identity of American people diminished in the past twenty years. He also blamed the Latino immigrants, especially the Mexican immigrants for threatening the American political foundation with the impact on American culture and language they brought. Under this circumstance, he called on a more concrete American identity, which not only includes the “American creed”, but also embodies a core culture. Different with ...view middle of the document...

As follows, I have six arguments to support this conclusion.
   First, American peoples are ones of the most patriotic peoples in the world, while United States is never a real nation-state no matter ethnically or culturally. Huntington’s statement that America has a historical mainstream of Anglo-Protestantism is untenable. There is never one ethnic group or culture dominating America since independence. Even in the colonial period there were American Indians and African Americans living on this land. American people do not have a common blood, a common art system, or even a common history. Without shared cultural symbol and common memory, the “American” ethnicity cannot be established. In this case, why are American people still so patriotic? Different from most of the other countries, most American people are not “born” American, instead, they, or their parents and grandparents, “choose” to be American. In present world, with people generally awakened and personal choice outweighing inborn attribute, this way of becoming citizens with American characteristics actually create firmer nationality.
   Second, what makes American people superior from the initial Mayflower is mainly not their British ethnicity or their Protestant religion belief, but their “settler” identity. It is this identity that distinguishes colonial people from their suzerain in personality and class. Most of the great characteristics of American people, such as courage, ambition, independence, openness, and justice, are inherited from this settler tradition. And these virtues, not some inflexible bloodlines, are what American people should get from their ancestry.
   Third, even if America is not an absolute “immigration” country, America is not an absolute “settler” country either. It is deeply shaped by immigration throughout all its history. The settlers might dominate the American culture at the beginning, but for centuries there are always new immigrants becoming American. Although it is immigrants inspired by the existing American people and culture at the beginning, existing American people also learn from these “new” American people as well. Continuous immigrants continuously inject fresh blood into and offer new options and contrast to America. In this way, American culture and identity keep developing and progressing, in accord with contemporary American people, and in pace with the world.
   Fourth, the most important good of nation-state is to achieve common recognition towards state and its regime through equating nation to state and a natural national identity, but this function is useless to United States. United States derives its political legitimacy from the active participation of its citizenry. All the American people have had a social contract with the state since they choose to be American. And the fundament of the regime also lies in the “American creed”. Since this mechanism is more direct and stable, why should they shift to nation-state?
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