I would like to briefly cover the notion of ‘American Exceptionalism’. This topic has become progressively more and more contentious and now hovers like a spectre of death over public discourse within America like the malevolent khefts of Egyptian folklore. Public opinion has clearly, unquestionably turned. In place of the heroic nationalism of old the public now prostrates itself upon the alter of diverse corporatist internationalism. This paradigm shift has led most, normally level-headed and parsimonious US citizens to believe that to hold the United States of America as exceptional is to call for a return to the dark ages or some kind of jingoistic fascism. This is manifestly untrue.
Indeed, it is not even the crux of the argument. To argue against American Exceptionalism one must assess whether or not the idea holds water. We must endeavor to see if this notion is empirically true. It should here be noted that exceptional does not necessarily mean better or worse, in either a moral, spiritual or material dimension, just wildly, notably divergent. Thus, let us tackle the topic along four main lines, that of military might, economic success, scientific advancement and cultural development. These four attributes are widely held as those most important and crucial to accurately discerning the totality of a nation, state, empire, ect.
First up, then, is the united states military which is currently the largest and most powerful in the world with a massive budget of 601 million dollars, which is larger than the next nine nations listed on the Credit Suisse’s index, combined together. In terms of troops the US boasts an active military personnel roster totaling 1,400,000, as well as a formidable array of technologically advanced armaments including 8,848 tanks, 13,892 aircrafts, 72 submarines as well as 10 air craft carriers and the most airpower of any other nation in the world. Not to mention the enormous stockpile of nuclear weapons, which is, again, bigger than any other single countries nuclear arsenal. But not only is America’s military prowess dominant, currently, it has also boasted world wide military dominance since the end of World War 2.
Next let us look to economics. Currently, the United States of America has the world’s largest economy in terms of GDP with a aggregate value of 17.9 trillion dollars total. This accounts for 24.5 percent of the world’s total gross product, a staggering sum which is widely disproportionate to the actual size of the country and it’s relatively small population density. It should here be noted that though China does indeed produce a slightly higher gross national product, in general, sitting at 19.4 trillion dollars, the united states still has a far higher rate of GDP per capita, with 55,805 dollars per capita in the US as opposed to China which offers only around 14,107 dollars per capita. Thus the United States, which accounts for approximately five percent of the worlds total population creates nearly 25 percent of the world’s total wealth.
So what about science? Well, according the Scimago Journal & Country Rank, a popular aggregating website dedicated to the analysis of the dissemination of scientific journals by country and density, as of 2015 the United States of America has published 567,007 scientific peer reviewed papers, far more than China, the second highest ranked via the website, which has released around 416,409 during that same year. But, of course, scientific research papers are not everything, what about actual technological advancement? Well, here the US is still quite manifestly exceptional both currently and historically. For instance, US researchers, innovators and scientists are responsible for the creation of such technological marvels as: high yield disease resistant crops, nearly all of the life saving pharmaceuticals currently being used all around the world, the invention of refrigeration, the electric telegraph, anesthesia, the airplane, the bull dozer, deep space astronomy, the liquid fueled rocket, the integrated circuit, EEG based brain topography techniques, nylon, trans uranium elements, the transistor, nuclear weapons, the laser, as well as the personal computer. The US is also to thank for completely mapping out the human genome. The list of empirically useful and often life saving scientific advancements just goes on and on. And again, this was done by only five percent of the world’s population.
So lastly, let us look to the most difficult of the four attributes to quantify: culture. Art is a potent signifier of culture so let us begin there. The top fifty highest grossing films of all time were all made by American studios, the top six best selling albums of all time are also all american. The United States is also still heavily relied upon as a basis for the still developing “international culture” which arose out of post enlightenment values. Also, contrary to the popular opinion held by people such as Bill Maher, who state that the world quote “hates america” the global opinion of america is still highly favorable as numerous polls, such as those done by the PEW research center have shown.
We could go on for days but all I really want to convince you of, my fellow Americans, is that the exceptional nature of the united states, whether you love it or hate it, is largely, objectively traceable. So I would encourage you, my fellow countrymen, when next someone says that they are quote, so damned tired of american exceptionalism, end quote, to tell them that, in essence, what they are really saying is that they are tired of manifest and empirically demonstrable reality.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published earlier this year, exact figures and budgets may have altered slightly since the writing of this piece.
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