Can the American Dream Survive in a Culture of Critics?

Strategic positions are either advanced or they erode over time. The strength and creativity to advance a strategic position comes entirely from your belief in its underlying philosophy. While philosophies hold organizations together, the organization is physically supported by its ground, that is, its economic base. Societies are destroyed when components within a society are financially rewarded by staking out ground that attacks the society’s unifying philosophy. There are two large “complexes” in America that that are financially rewarded by attacking our underlying philosophy. Today, we will define just one of these, the “academic-entertainment complex.” A “complex,” like a trust, consists of two or more groups that should hold each other in check, that realize that they will be financially rewarded by working together. Eisenhower identified the “military industrial complex” in which military buyers and corporate sellers uniting together against the taxpayer. As costly as they are to taxpayers, such complexes do not make their money undermining the foundation of a free society. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same for the academic-entertainment complexe. The rigorous standards of academia once held the ephemera of the entertainment industry in check and the popularity of entertainment held the elitism of academia in check. Academics looked down on popular entertainment and culture, championing the superior man and his values. And popular entertainers made fun of the elitists of academia, championing the common man and his interests. Both groups held each other in check and both view enriched us. Unfortunately, in the sixties, both groups discovered that they are better rewarded by working together in a new field: as critics of American values. This trend started in the sixties, when academia abandoned classical education, which was firmly rooted in traditional values, in favor of teaching popular culture. At the same time, the entertainment industry abandoned is role of championing the values and interest of the common man. Academia embraced novelty of popular culture and entertainment embraced the elitism of the “anti-hero.” Together, they created a new cultural identify: a culture of critics. This new culture of criticism exploited the new, fertile ground of deriding American values. Fueled by a youth culture that didn’t understand its stake in the system, all the things that had made America historically great—its free enterprise system, its freedom of religious expression, and its focus on individuals working together—became profitable targets. Either group would have been afraid of attacking the philosophy of freedom underlying these institutions alone. However, by working together, they gave each other their blessing. Terrorism wouldn’t exist as we know it today if the academic-entertainment complex hadn’t laid the ground work by confusing and dividing American values.