What Slaughter wants to say but cannot quite say is that, whether or not Western civilization and its deeply embedded egalitarian ideal might have survived a Mongol victory at Vienna in 1241, or perhaps have arisen in quasi-reptilian form among evolved dinosaurs in the absence of the Yucatán asteroid, the 4th of July can be thought to commemorate a true inflection point in human history as a meaningful history. The American Founding as symbolized by whichever of its most important days may or may not qualify as history’s single most course-altering event, but it still invites comparison, without any hint of vulgar “exceptionalism,” to a small handful of other singular moments – as in the Hegelian world-historical concept, but with point of origin transferred to the New World from the Old: perhaps not as the biggest day in the natural history of one damn thing after another from Big Bang to Heat Death, but as a or the day after which history itself, as human history, must be thought of as truly changed.
To say that Edwards, Cogburn, and Wales are all in this sense Western figures more than they are Civil War figures is not to deny their connection to the South. It is a reminder of competing and complex themes or ideas of justice: Put simply, if we are in a retroactively judgmental mood, or, perhaps like the makers of The Outlaw Josey Wales and their audience, in a 1976 post-Vietnam state of despair about all official narratives and the full history of “the Union,” we can define all Union soldiers, and even the sainted Abraham, as “fighting for genocidal imperialism.”
The victory as victory is thought to prove – for an American it is after the victory obligatory to accept as proven – that the realization of this authentic integrative essence was always in prospect from the beginning of the nation, that its realization must have been inevitable.
Democracy Is Obsolete — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen In short: We condemned East Germany for a lot less than what we are doing to ourselves, right this moment. Whoever you vote for in November, that fact will not change.…
We may need to consider that what Daniel Larison calls “hegemonism” is on some level embedded within the American project itself, its revolutionary liberalism, its Enlightenment universalism, its Jeffersonian “federative” imperialism. A divorce from such pretensions, or even a declaration of their fulfillment and therefore their obsolescence, does not merely require but likely entails, is likely already entailing, a political and economic crisis corresponding to the deeper conceptual or ideological crisis. Even a re-conception of liberal-universalism, a notion of some truer realization of its essence, leaves the fate of American nationalism, and of the American nation, meaning the real lives of its people, or the real meaning of the lives of its people, in question. The transformation to a self-understanding of “one country just like the others” might still be experienced as a greatest loss, spiritual as well as material, by many or in some sense all Americans, even the ones promoting it and perhaps able to look at the world it creates and call it good and necessary.
All successful politicians must by definition adapt to the system which in its pure form – something to be feared – is the system of empty opportunism (we hold empty opportunism to be self-evident). The figure of Mitt represents its nothingness exquisitely, but the meaningfulness of its meaninglessness would have at least as much to do with us and where we are with poor rich Mitt.