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The American Dream - then and now

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Max Geis

on 8 April 2014

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Transcript of The American Dream - then and now

The American Dream - then and now
Declaration of Independence
legal foundation of the American Dream
Moving Westwards
after the Revolutionary War
Americans settle the North American continent in its whole area
Concept: American Dream
Early settlers hoped for a better life
Reasons for leaving Europe: religious persecution, political oppression and poverty
Dream of...
personal dream
economic dream
social dream
classless society
rising from poverty to
fame and fortune
religious dream
religious freedom
"promised land"
political dream:
Historical landmarks of the American Dream
Constitution enstablishes the principles of a democratic government
Bill of rights: Reduces the power of the government -> enforces equality and freedom of citizens
under Abraham Lincoln, slavery gets legally abolished
voting rights for males, from all races, in some states also for women
Idea of the American Dream until nowadays
"life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement, regardless of social class or circumstances of birth."
-James Truslow Adams (American writer and historian)
every human, regardless his race, is able to achieve a good life in prosperity and recognition
"all men are created equal" are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
1920s: Great depression
extreme poverty
Franklin D. Roosevelt
work creation programs
system of social security
Civil Rights movement
no racial segregation anymore
discrimination of black people gets illegal
The American Dream today
reflected in basic
beliefs and values
mobility, optimism, flexibility
hard work
American society as the freest and best in the world
America as a "welcoming haven" for unfree and restricted people
role of the government: protection of main rights of each ("equal") person

idea of a self-sufficient, independent individual
no government regulation
individual's responsibility to succeed in a competitive society
"tradition of mobility" (Settling of the west of early settlers
Americans are prepared to move long distances for better life conditions
accept a high degree of social mobility on the "ladder of success"
flexibility when looking for new opportunities
individuals duty to work hard
material success reachable through hard work ("from rags to riches")
progress is very important to Americans
progress = prosperity, economic strenght, political power
Americans regard themselves as a "nation with a mission" ("Gods chosen people") --> spreading democracy, Western way of life across the world (with progress)
numerious patriotic symbols
American flags everywhere, stickers saying "I am proud to be American"
Thanksgiving example for national pride
political and economic marketing strategy
producing egoistic individualism & materialism
makes community forget their social responsibility
big gap between rich and poor
dream of a classless society has never been reality
always people refusing the competition of the success orientated society
ethnic groups that never fully identified with the white lifestyle
dream of a "melting pot of nations" has never became true (immigrants give up national identity, traditions)
1960s - fight against discrimination - self confidence - refusing to be culturally absorbed
still racism
"salad bowl" - America as a diverse, multicultural and pluralistic society

Do you think this Idea (a classless society with each human, regardless his race, being able to achieve prosperity) is truth in America (or other countries) nowadays?
self sufficient = selbstständig
competitive = wettbewerbsfähig
prosperity = Wohlstand
inalienable = unverzichtbar
"tradition of mobility"
abolish = abschaffen
Thank you for your attention
Full transcript