Democracies of Unfreedom: The United States and India

By Brij Mohan | Go to book overview

3
Beyond the New Tribalism

In modern America too many forces--ethnic and cultural diversity, gaps between rich and poor, distrust between old and young--pull Americans in different directions; too few impel them to pull together. . . . The greatest challenge America faces in the era beyond peace is to learn the art of national unity in the absence of war or some other explicit external threat. If we fail to meet that challenge, our diversity, long a source of strength, will become a destructive force. Our individuality, long our most distinctive characteristic, will be the seed of our collapse. Our freedom, long our most cherished possession, will exist only in the history books.

Richard Nixon ( 1994:39; emphasis added)

America's mission "beyond peace" ( Nixon, 1994) is mired in the labyrinths of the American psyche--a cultural hip born of and nurtured by the chimeras of individualized creed and euphemisms of politics. Whatever Americans do, they do with an Americanized awareness, which at times tends to become un-American. From Vietnam to Somalia, Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton, Michael Fay to O. J. Simpson, and Woody Allen to Oliver Stone, one finds the fingerprints of a failed pedigree. The American human reality, viewed from the "bottom of the barrel"--to use film maker Oliver Stone's phraseology--( Schiff, 1994:42) is rather grim. The view from the streets, which millions of Americans throng, dread, and escape, is doubly troubling.

"Tales of race, sex and hair" ( Jones, 1994) compound the complexity of contemporary American diversity. The classic barbarity transcends "the race line" ( Du Bois [ 1903] 1969:54) and dwells on the new horizons of endarkenment beyond personal sagas of courage and epiphanies of convictions. A new social reality endarkens the American condition that

-35-

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Democracies of Unfreedom: The United States and India
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Part I - THE CHIMERA OF THE AMERICAN DREAM 1
  • 1 - The Politics of Being 19
  • 2 - Race, Gender, and Class: An Encounter with Reality 21
  • 3 - Beyond the New Tribalism 35
  • 4 - The End of a Great Society 53
  • Part II - THE MANTRAS OF DENIAL 71
  • 5 - The Remains of Democracy 73
  • 6 - A New Caste War: The End of a Tradition 89
  • 7 - Toward the United States of India 101
  • 8 - Rediscovery of India 119
  • Epilogue - A Tale of Two Titans 135
  • Notes 143
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 159
  • About the Author 169
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