American society, European Union, Alexis de Tocqueville, societal comparisons


While Americans have long tended to see our society and civilization as exceptional, in fact the civilization is primarily based on European precedent. We see ourselves, in the words of one of our most significant poets, Emma Lazarus, as the new colossus, “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp cries she... I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” We claim to be an exception; that means that we are unique, different, what many, alluding to the New Testament as viewed by the Pilgrim founding fathers, have called “a shining city upon a hill.”2 And as “a beacon of hope.”