The Land of the Dream

in Restless Nation

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2000 | ISBN: 9780226394787
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226394732 | DOI:
The Land of the Dream

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The constant motion in search of better lives is not exclusively American; it is perhaps the defining trait of the modern world. Vast populations have severed their ties to the land, ties that stretched back into the depths of prehistory. They moved to the cities, enlisted in the new armies of the nation-state, became workers in industrial factories. There is an ability, willingness, and desire to define oneself as an individual, and through one's own choices. This is a new image of human identity—and potential. America's ability to represent this new impulse to people around the world—and to sustain it when they travel there—makes it the most “modern” of nations. The United States is held together as a nation, not by (real or imagined) primordial ties of blood or ancient ties to the land, but by the dream that brought its voluntary immigrants here, ideals that persist today. As Richard Hofstadter said, “It has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies, but to be one.” The ideal construction of the country has effects in many areas of life.

Keywords: nation-state; individual; human identity; United States; ideologies; populations

Chapter.  10213 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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