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American Optimism Propaganda

Updated on June 12, 2012

From a young age Americans are told various things in school, by the media, and oftentimes by their parents that unfortunately sets them up for major disappointment years later. One is that "You can be whatever you want to be." This is obviously not true. There are certain things that someone cannot be no matter how much society tries to convince you that you can be. Positive thinking is a good thing, but lets be honest, realistic thinking and attitude is what will get the most results. Telling children in school that any one of them can become President of the United States is another well established lie. What about the many kids who were born overseas who hear this? They obviously have no chance of becoming President, unless they can pull an Obama that is.

The myth that by positive and optimist thinking anything can be accomplished only works in a strong economy to some extent. However, in the economic situation that has developed over the past couple of years the emptiness and hollowness of the positive and optimist propaganda has become clear. Maybe now people will realize how empty the words of American aid and Mormon missionary workers in Africa seem when they come and tell people that all all they need is some irrigation ditches and positive thinking to become "whatever they want to become." US college students get into tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars into debt and then end up not finding jobs for years. If supposedly educated young people cannot become whatever they want to become, there is not much hope for others. Yet all we hear in the news is that there are "signs of hope" when they show some obscure story of someone succeeding in these difficult times despite the odds and realizing the American Dream. The American dream is another lie that is still being forced down American throats despite the rapid disappearance of the middle class. The American dream of the 1950s has totally disappeared. Young college graduates are moving back home to live with parents because they cannot find jobs and at the same time college tuition and health care costs are skyrocketing. Yet we still get bombarded with the need to "think positively and have optimism for the future." Funny how it is usually the well off who tell the desperate that things will get better soon.

Forced optimism was a favored policy of both totalitarian Communism and Nazism: see the Nazi Strength Through Joy program. However, in Europe people are by nature more sceptical, pessimistic and critical than Americans, which means that most Europeans did not actually buy into the official propaganda. Americans on the other hand, still fall for this happy go lucky propaganda of America being the best of all possible places in the world and that we should just be happy we are living in the US despite everything going downhill. USA Number 1 is still a popular phrase, although in reality the USA is globally no longer number one in many areas such as economy, education, production, health care, security etc.

As the economic situation deteriorates further more and more Americans are also starting to see that realism is far more valuable than blind optimism. Making informed decisions based on realistic expectations is much more valuable for the population as a whole than blindly and optimistically shooting for the top, which will work for a very small minority of people, but not for most. Realistic expectations and decisions and actions will get us all further along than a mindless belief in being able to do absolutely whatever we want which has been indoctrinated into Americans by schools, movies, books and the media as a whole.

Sure, reality bites, but not nearly as hard when you can see it for what it is. Failed and unrealistic optimism bites much harder.


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    • frantisek78 profile image

      frantisek78 5 years ago

      @ Old Poolman and Josak: Thanks for reading, voting and commenting. @ Old Poolman: you are right, US media, society and the "system" as a whole does try to play the part of an all knowing nanny comforting stupid and gullible children by patting them on the head and saying "there there little Captain America, just think positive and everything will be alright in the end, be proud and grateful that you are American if all else fails, that should be enough."

      @ Josak: Exactly, Americans should be brought up and told that they have all the odds stacked against them, and unless you have rich family or influential friends you will get nowhere besides just scraping by and thinking that you are a success because you can watch mindless sitcoms on a wide screen plasma TV and work 60 hour weeks. That sadly seems to be enough for many people, but if people actually faced the truth and saw how this false optimism is being forced on Americans in order to make us complacent, then maybe people would try to change things. Compared to the protests and everything that are happening in Europe, Americans just seem to be complacent and mumble about high gas prices at most, and whenever there are bigger protests the media seems to paint them in the light of being dirty hippies and no-good hooligans who just aren't being positive enough to make ends meet and are being anti-American despite there being no more American Dream. It is a lot easier to buy into the whole American Dream propaganda when the economy is booming and jobs are easy to find, but its a whole different story when things are going downhill. It's just like when mainstream media is focusing on how the EU's economic problems are effecting the US, as if the Wall Street collapse didn't start Europe on a downhill slope in the first place!

    • Josak profile image

      Josak 5 years ago from variable

      Great hub, it's true we no longer live in a US where everyone can succeed, of course we never actually did, I think a lot of it is actually because of the cold war, the USSR had it's propaganda so we had to have ours to convince everyone we were the better country, unfortunately we still have to deal with the consequences. I think the other problem is if we told kids that unless you are born into a rich family or get very very lucky you will almost certainly never achieve very much, that at best you will have a decent job and watch people with less talent but better connections and family wealth surpass you on that basis alone, if we told them that, they might realize how unfair the whole thing is an want to change it.

      Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 5 years ago

      This is a truly outstanding hub. I had to check every box except funny on this one. What you said is very true, we fill our children's heads with dreams that can't come true. This is something like a parent telling a child that everything is going to be OK while they are in the middle of a hurricane. The parent really doesn't know that everything will be OK, but they attempt to make the child feel better. I guess telling them they might become President is better than telling them they might find themselves without a job, on welfare and food stamps, and there is not much hope for their future.

      Well written and though provoking hub. Thanks for sharing with us.