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Some New America                                               Feb. 1 1999

By Pavel Kollar

If some people understood this as a trial then this could be for reason that the issue was so presented. There remained many questions unanswered.

Playing dramas by members of influential elites or leading personalities was used also in the past as method of governing or influencing broad public with intention to change the public opinion about some problem. But this time the public shouted "enough" already before the end of the drama and the producers, in the same time the party interested in the outcome of the play, already learned that the production was not a public success. They failed possibly because the play was not realistic, there has not been a real problem behind it, a problem from the standpoint of public. The producers were not persuasive with their arguments and from time to time run into contradictions.

For outside observers the statements about the fundamentals of American culture made by one of the historians could create misunderstanding. At first, if this is the American culture then what kind of description will remain for European, Asian or some other cultures. Europe was ever considered by Americans as 'conservative', that means America reserved the term 'liberal' for itself. And America has never in its history had such outspoken 'stern(not to say 'angry') fathers' as Europe had(and has even today). The second source of misunderstanding could arise when the statement is compared with the writings of some American sociologists from several decades ago when the 'father-mother' symbolic was used to stress the differences between the two (seemingly)opposite ideological systems of that time, the fascism and the communism. The first ideology was described as a 'stern father' ideology, the second one as a 'nourishing mother' ideology. And finally, if the problem is considered from broader historical perspective, we cannot say that in this world exist some other civilization but this 'father' model which lasts already some five thousand years(or so), as different from 'mother' civilization of foregoing times(this according my knowledge of history, but I am not a historian).

The argument that the dispute is a moral war could suggest question about the not participation of moral institutions in it. It was run completely by politicians, if the statements of the head of the Catholic church in New Year message of 1998 year would not be taken in account(although that statement was probably given from something different standpoint).

And then, the 'Baby boomers' as social(lower) class that is pushing out the traditional elites from their roles. At this point the reader could get in geographical troubles, knowing not exactly where this all happens, in Europe or in America. Only several years ago in the controversy about income gap, the American authors, stressing the chances of becoming rich in America used the argument that in America it pays only the individual's capability as guaranty for success, not the class ancestry as in Europe. And now suddenly the class combat in America between some 'unpolite proletariat' and 'traditional bourgeoisie' with its noble manners. And in some moments the dispute got really the signs of 'class combat', for ex. when some newspapers in the peak of the campaign(April or so, last year) started to publish articles about the social milieu of American president, information compiled probably from police registers. Those who remember communism of its early days could be astonished with this. That time the opponents were also exposed to their class heredity with only difference that the role of culprit was reserved for members of 'bourgeoisie'.

Also the statement that the hero of the drama presented some outspoken liberalism is not very persuasive, although I agree that there are more interpretations of this term and that there are also relativisations. My argument is for ex. that liberalism today does not exist, that we are living in an authoritarian civilization with some nuances from one society to another. In this sense the performance was classic: the hero came something nearer to the edge of what was described by rules and interpreted strictly, but the behavior in meantime became almost common in the practice and considered as less important by the broad public. The opponents, tried to dramatize the 'wrongdoing' at first, but when they experienced that this will not bring success, they put the point on the side effects, trying some big generalization, but with this they lost the ground. The hero allowed that his behavior might irritate somebody and he asked forgiveness from those who were touched too much, but from his own standpoint he was much more surprised that somebody showed some interest for the theme. But he remained loyal to the morality rules which he interpreted something on his own way and he never argued that these rules or institutions which represent them are wrong, and never proposed anything new instead. He became the victim(if this is the right word) of the ideology in which he believed(similar as many before him). He was criticized and performed self-critics. He is far from revolutionary of type Castro or some others.

Had the conservatives been really worried about the morality of the presidency then they could propose organizational changes much more before, already in 60-is. To have a moral authority and governing executive in one office or in one person is questionable practice from the standpoint of democracy. The explanations were ever that the presidency in America was shared by Senate and the President. Now they want to charge the president(as office) with a full burden of moral authority. In communism the governing power and the moral authority were really concentrated in one person and one office, but the underlaying organizational form of the system was not democracy but dictatorship.

So, for an outside world it will remain the questions: what is this, for whom, why, etc. and there could be more answers. But one is certain: last year brought some new version of America, so that those who lived in belief that they knew what was America, in future will be less certain. To be concrete: the world learned that in America also exist 'far right', and this with surprise.

In relation to future and to an outside world the respond on questions stated above will be important because of America's great influence. Equally which model will gain overhand, the 'stern father' or the 'nourishing mother', these models will repeat only that what they already offered in the past. Those who lived in communism experienced that the 'plenties' of services of communist state were not free and that the 'mother' state knew to be angry also and to punish the disobedient children. So, the problems will remain. And the main problem in both of them is that they polarize the society in two groups: 'parents' and 'children'. But this is not the relation between adult people.

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                                     ©Copyright 1999 Pavel Kollar