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The New American Exceptionalism

The New American Exceptionalism

Donald E. Pease
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    The New American Exceptionalism
    Book Description:

    Pioneering scholar Donald E. Pease traces the evolution of state fantasies of exceptionalism and shows how they have shaped U.S. national identity since the end of the cold war, uncovering the ideological and cultural work required to convince Americans to surrender their civil liberties in exchange for the illusion of security.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7070-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction: The United States of Fantasy
    (pp. 1-39)

    This book is primarily concerned with the irreconcilable rifts within U.S. political culture that opened up during the lengthy period of transition from the termination of the cold war to the inauguration of the Global War on Terror, and with the disparate state fantasies that emerged to organize U.S. citizens’ relations to these antagonisms. While they differ in the relations they adduce between the state and U.S. citizens, all of these fantasies emerged at the site of the breakdown of the encompassing state of fantasy called American exceptionalism that had regulated U.S. citizens’ relationship to the political order for the...

  5. 1 Staging the New World Order: Hiroshima, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Persian Gulf War
    (pp. 40-67)

    During the cold war, television supplied U.S. viewers with a frame that “contained” national and international events within the cold war’s picture of the world. This television frame empowered these viewers to visualize the world through the eyes of the National Security State’s values by transmitting the representational effects of its viewpoint into their homes as the evening news.¹

    In his effort to fill the space of transition from the cold war to the New World Order, President George Herbert Walker Bush staged a war in the Persian Gulf that was designed to supply U.S. citizens with televisual representations of...

  6. 2 America of the Two Covenants: The Waco Siege and the Oklahoma City Bombing
    (pp. 68-97)

    The cold war did not end with a nuclear apocalypse but with the nation’s insertion into a New World Order. President George Herbert Walker Bush had introduced the phrase New World Order to bring a new consensus into existence. But as we have seen, the restricted war in the Persian Gulf with which he inaugurated the New World Order proved ineffective for the symbolic order that had depended upon the permanence of an imaginary war to sustain the allegiance of its members.

    Moreover what Bush called the New World Order did not reflect existing public opinion. The New World Order...

  7. 3 A National Rite of Passage: The Return of Alexis de Tocqueville
    (pp. 98-128)

    President Clinton was well aware of the problems that the Two Covenants had posed for the national political culture. And throughout his administration he forged a politics of recognition that might enable Christian evangelicals and liberal multiculturalists to acknowledge each other as heirs of a shared political tradition. Along with many other politicians and journalists he found Alexis de Tocqueville’s analysis inDemocracy in Americaof what rendered America exceptional especially suitable to this purpose. Clinton also believed that Tocqueville’s condemnation of revolutionary terrorism would prove valuable in explaining and justifying the legislation he introduced in Congress condemning terrorism in...

  8. 4 Patriot Acts: The Southernification of America
    (pp. 129-152)

    Despite the Tocqueville revival, the antagonistic relationship between the two Americas intensified during the last two years of the Clinton presidency. The Monica Lewinsky scandal that broke out during his second term in office resulted in making Clinton answerable to a special prosecutor who represented the values spelled out in Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America. Whereas Clinton had founded his New Covenant at the site where he foreclosed official recognition of the “murderous violence” he found evidenced in the “hate speech” broadcast there, talk radio harnessed its subscribers’ accumulated resentment and invested those speech acts in impeachment proceedings that almost...

  9. 5 From Virgin Land to Ground Zero: Mythological Foundations of the Homeland Security State
    (pp. 153-179)

    The catastrophic events that took place at the Branch Davidian compound on April 19, 1993, and in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, emerged in the place of the absent conclusion to the cold war. Both events were embedded in the apocalyptic dimension of the state fantasy of American exceptionalism, but the disparate governmental responses to these events resulted in incommensurate national compacts (Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America and Bill Clinton’s New Covenant) that represented separate and utterly incompatible national peoples. Both of these events were embedded in the apocalyptic dimension of state fantasy of American exceptionalism, but after the...

  10. 6 Antigone’s Kin: From Abu Ghraib to Barack Obama
    (pp. 180-214)

    Given the preceding account of the relationship between the state’s exceptions and American exceptionalism, how was it possible that the Bush administration instituted an imperial state formation that did not require the structure of disavowal at work in the discourse of American exceptionalism? Bush’s State of Exception did not require this structure of disavowal because it was its construction of itself as The Exception to the discursive norms of American exceptionalism that constituted the grounding authority of its power to rule. After the attacks on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Bush inaugurated a State of Exception that did...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 215-240)
  12. Index
    (pp. 241-246)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-247)