america is the land of opportunity the american dream ideology
Another significant aspect of the American Dream ideology lies in the notion of choice and the belief that if people choose to work hard, they can be successful. However, the success or failure of the individual’s accomplishments in this scenario is connected to the concept that the nation-state creates relatively equal opportunities for all its citizens. The American Dream ideology is dependent on the imagining of the nation as egalitarian, a space where all dreams are achievable for everyone. The success stories paraded to keep us invested in this ideology are also the stories used to differentiate the United States from the rest of the world. After all, isn’t this dream the reason that immigrants choose America? While the rhetoric of the United States as the land of opportunity remains ever present, the reality of the widening gap between the rich and the poor, the increase in poverty, the continual problem of unemployment, and the rise of hate groups tells a different story. If this dream is achieved by so few, why does it continue to enjoy such popularity? Why does the idea of the American Dream continue to permeate so many aspects of our culture?
On the other hand, Andy Kaufman employed “over-conformism.” He was an over-orthodox artist. Think where Stephen Colbert apes ultra-conservates like Bill O’Reilly. Keller argues that over-conformism is a perfected form of subversion, unlike transgressing, because the artist slyly reveals imperfections in the ideology that is being aped (all under the guise of buying into it). Think as the super jew-hating Kazakhstanian. His hyper-conformism reveals the ridiculousness of his anti-semitism.
Keller attempts to make the case that Kaufman’s act was primarily an over-identification with the American Dream and is therefore a critique of American Dream ideology at its core.
America is the land of opportunity; the American Dream ideology informs us; the place where if you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead. The American dream ideology has hampered solidarity among the poor. The dream proclaims that anything is possible as long as a person works hard and long enough he/she can make it. I might argue that masks the inherent social, political and economic differences in America, by projecting an illusion that we live in a meritocracy with hopes for a better tomorrow, if that tomorrow comes. So we are taught that in order to achieve the American dream we must work hard, get an education, and find a good job, I guess this explains why some us are in school in order to participate in the American Dream. May be God willing we can achieve that elusive dream. As a result people do not question their place in the society if they believe that one day they will achieve upward class mobility. For capitalism to work effectively, companies and the government need individuals to socialize with the American Dream ideology. This market conformity is exemplified by Nobel (1997) when he attributes the lack of mobilization to social class between the business class and labor, government institutions (federalism), and race (individualistic political culture which is embedded in the American dream ideology) For example, government programs enacted to combat inequality do nothing more than maintain the status quo because these programs must be market conforming in which labor is weak. This partly explains the lack of a strong labor movement in America which has left the working class unorganized resulting into law class consciousness, hence high divisions amongst the class hierarchies, suggesting that American identity is more rooted in race rather than social class. In fact I might add that race is not the problem but racism is. Thus, the lack of a strong social class movement in America may help explain why today people are not demanding more from government. The graph below shows wealth distrubtion in America.