Chasing Shadows: The Illusion of the American Dream

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Originally Published on October 24th, 2023 at 11:43 am
The reality of the American Dream has lead me to see the shining edifice in the harsh light of truth. Photo of Graffiti "No Gods, No Masters" and anarchy symbol at central bus station ZOB in Munich, Germany.
Photo by Pittigrilli on Wikimedia Commons

The realization that the country I was raised to love was a lie didn’t happen because of one particular event. It wasn’t even a single string of events. Equality and freedom for all never had and never could exist because of corrupt foundations. The American Dream has remained just that, an ethereal mist blown over a sleeping populace.

It was all hopeful words on pages, made hollow with centuries of inequality, injustice, theft, and corruption.

I recited a pledge of allegiance daily in school. I faced the stars and stripes with my right hand over my heart and swore an oath to a country that was “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

American Dream Deferred: History of Corruption

Starting as early as the creation of the country, the in-fighting of the “founding fathers” threatened to tear the country apart.

Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, not only created the economy using taxes, tariffs, debts, and a centralized national bank; an unpopular move among his peers. He also proposed that the President be elected for life, removable only by impeachment, and be addressed as “His Majesty1“.

But even before then, our history was a mirage.

Columbus Didn’t Discover Anything

Meme. Caption says "Christopher Columbus discovers the sidewalk, circa 202, colorized." Photo depicts people standing next to a toppled statue of Columbus with his face on the sidewalk.
Fuck Colonialism

The closest Columbus ever got to the current United States was the northern shore of Cuba2. He ordered six indigenous people to be captured as servants on the first day he landed on shore in the Bahamas. Because he thought he was in Asia he called them Indians3.

He was a deluded, narcissistic piece of trash.

There was an indigenous population here in North America in 1492, and for at least 10,000 years before that4. Estimates of population range from 8 million to over 100 million indigenous people spread across both the North and South American continent.

Of course, so many were murdered that we will never know the actual number.

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Corrupt Bargains

Back to the founding of the United States and the creation of the American Dream mythos.

Our history is filled with “corrupt bargains.”

Three primary ones are general recognized:

  • The Election of 1824 where no one had a clear majority of electoral votes5
  • The Compromise of 1877, with the election of Rutherford B. Hayes being contested in three southern states6
  • Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon7

But this overlooks so many compromises that allowed the wrong side too much power. For instance:

  • The three-fifths compromise during the 1787 Constitutional Convention8
    • The slave-holding states demanded to count their enslaved as part of their population for the purposes of boosting their representation, and therefore, power in Congress
  • Warren G. Harding as the Republican nominee in the 1920 election9
    • Harding was a dark horse candidate that won the Republican National Convention on the tenth ballot. It was after six hours in a hotel suite that the backroom dealings of the RNC leaders finally landed on him.
  • The Tammany Hall political machine10
    • A smokey backroom organization of political manipulation that was founded in 1786 and operated well into the 1960’s. Nearly two centuries of corruption in the largest city in the United States.

American Dream? American Reality is Rooted in Oppression

Race is a social construct. It is not genetically possible to distinguish two “races” from each other11.

From its inception, America used race and other factors to decide who received rights in this country. From the proliferation of the slave trade12, to the three-fifths compromise, to bans on homosexuality13, to “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell14,” the US has never really gotten it right.

Race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation have nothing to do with humanity. Only inhumanity.

The moment you use some imaginary qualifier to decide how someone else should live, you become an oppressor.

Listing of the 10 primary types of Anarchism along with their logos. In order from left to right, top to bottom: Anarcho Communism, Anarcho Collectivism, Anarcho Syndicalism, Proudhonian Mutualism, Individualist Anarchism, Anarcho Pacifism, Green Anarchism, Anarcho Primitivism, Anarcha Feminism, LGBT Anarchism.

Losing the Thread

It seems like this post has gone off the rails, but the nationalism I was indoctrinated into has caused a deep cognitive divide.

The promise I was sold is a far cry from the reality I was delivered.

The times where the average man has triumphed have been too few and far between. More often than not, these triumph stories are someone wealthy spinning lies about their hardscrabble beginnings15.

But nationalism is a tough habit to kick.

The only thing necessary for evil to triumph in the world is that good men do nothing.

Edmund Burke
Image of Sterling Archer, from Archer, in the "Do you want ants? Because that is how you get ants!" meme, but with the word Anarchism replacing ants.

But what can we do?

I won’t tell you how to live your life, but I will tell you what I’m going to do. I’ll keep living, keep trying to do all the good actions.

I’ll keep pushing forward and learning about ways to sustain myself and my family until I can afford to help build sustainable communities.

Not just in the ecological/environmentalist sense. But, communities that can function together as a whole without damaging themselves, others, or the environment.

I’ll keep learning and re-learning how to live in this post-peak capitalist hellscape and doing what I do:

  • Writing about injustice, inequality, and the ways I feel are best for society to progress forward.
  • And living by example

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
For Commercial use, please contact Mike York.

  1. Why America’s Founders Tried to Recruit a Foreign Prince to Be Their King – Time ↩︎
  2. Christopher Columbus – First voyage (1492-1493) – Wikipedia ↩︎
  3. Native American History Timeline – History ↩︎
  4. History of Native Americans in the United States – Wikipedia ↩︎
  5. U.S. presidential election of 1824 – Wikipedia ↩︎
  6. Compromise of 1877 – Wikipedia ↩︎
  7. Pardon of Richard Nixon – Wikipedia ↩︎
  8. The Founders and Slaver: Little Ventured, Little Gained – Yale ↩︎
  9. Deadline Every Minute – ↩︎
  10. Tammany Hall – Wikipedia ↩︎
  11. Race and genetics versus ‘race’ in genetics – National Library of Medicine ↩︎
  12. The 1619 Project – The New York Times ↩︎
  13. Sodomy Laws – Gay & Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest ↩︎
  14. Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell – NPR ↩︎
  15. Elon Musk’s Dad Says His Whole Life Was Funded by That Emerald Mine – The Sun ↩︎

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