Friday, March 30, 2007

Some Definitions

The second of three curious extracts from Andrei S. Markovits’ Uncouth Nation:

Lest there he any misunderstandings or conceptual uncertainties as to what exactly I mean by anti—Americanism, here is the definition offered by Paul Hollander:

Anti—Americanism is a predisposition to hostility toward the United States and American society, a relentless critical impulse toward American social, economic, and political institutions, traditions, and values; it entails an aversion to American culture in particular and its influence abroad, often also contempt for the American national character (or what is presumed to he such a character) and dislike of American people, manners, behavior; dress, and so on; rejection of American foreign policy and a firm belief in the malignity of American influence and presence anywhere in the world.

Alvin Rubinstein and Donald Smith second Hollander’s definition of anti-Americanism with their own in which they see anti—Americanism“ as any hostile action or expression that becomes part and parcel of an undifferentiated attack on the foreign policy, society; culture and values of the United States.” And ‘Todd Gitlin offered the following trenchant view on this topic: “Anti-Americanism is an emotion masquerading as an analysis, a morality, an ideal, even an idea about what to do. When hatred of foreign policies ignites into hatred of an entire people and their civilization, then thinking is dead and demonology lives. When complexity of thought devolves into caricature, intellect is close to reconciling itself to mass murder.”15 Agreeing with all three of these definitions, I see anti-Americanism as a generalized and comprehensive normative dislike of America and things American that often lacks distinct reasons or concrete causes. Ant-Americanism has all the tropes of a classic prejudice. Beyond that, anti-Americanism also constitutes a well-identified and well— established “ism”—thus bespeaking its entrenched institutionalization and common usage as a modern ideology Indeed, with many of the major “isms” of the twentieth century; such as “communism,” “socialism,” “Leninism,” “fascism,” and “Nazism,” either moribund or certainly past their prime as ideas and, above all, as movements with international appeal, a definite global charisma, and the panache of antinomy and a direct challenge to the existing order; “anti-Americanism” might indeed have assumed at least partly such a function in the world, By being “anti-American,” one ipso facto seems to stick it to “the Man,” even if West Europeans, in notable contrast to people of the developing world, objectively constitute the very same “man.”

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