Homo Americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age

by Tomislav Sunic BookSurge Publishing, 2007

Reviewed by Troy Southgate

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HAVING endured life under communist and liberal-capitalist regimes in both Croatia and the United States respectively, Tom Sunic is particularly well-qualified to address the serious problem of postmodern America and to examine the hard-line theocracy that lies at the very core of its current geopolitical impetus. The author is renowned both for his honesty and for his penetrating insight, and this – similar to his previous literary offerings - represents a perfect blend of empirical and intellectual wisdom. However, this is not simply the latest in a series of gratuitous Eurocentric attacks on the American people themselves; it is a scathing indictment of their system and the wider implications it has for the rest of the world. More importantly, Sunic argues that the nostalgic America of the past had, and still retains, the creativity and potential to become a positive driving force for those inhabitants of European extraction.

It is no great secret that Europe has also fallen victim to Americanism and “often appears unnerving to American visitors in Europe in search of an elusive ‘true’ Frenchman, German or a Dutchman.” (p.5) So this book is also written from the perspective of Homo Americanus himself, avoiding the usual stereotypes with which some of the more unthinking critics here in Europe tend to chip away at the American edifice. The book’s working postulate looks at Homo Americanus as “a distinct sociobiological specie and not only a derogatory label for an average American citizen” (p.8), regardless of his social or geographical status. This useful form of terminology allows Sunic to dissect, examine and formulate American development over the last 200 years.

The author, who is a former Croatian diplomat and Professor at the University of California, spends a great deal of time explaining why critics of America’s egalitarian values are likely to incur the wrath of the U.S. system. Opponents of these values are denounced as ‘fascists’ and ‘anti-Semites’, or portrayed as ‘anti-American’ heretics. Sunic has been a victim of this narrow-mindedness himself, although the fact that he is no longer resident in America or working for the Croatian government does, at least, mean that he is at slightly more liberty to criticise the intellectual hypocrisy of the international thought police. The rabid vilification of those who dare to stand outside of the liberal parameters, Sunic explains, is being perpetuated by intellectuals who not only cut their teeth in the leftist environs of the Frankfurt School, but who also represent a secularised version of early American Calvinism. In fact the theocratic roots of America are much to blame for the millenarian fervour that now drives the free-market economy and its army of docile consumers. In fact modern American racialists are criticised for failing to appreciate that “[w]hile they bewail the passing of the white race, they fail to critically examine the foundations of Americanism . . . Why should one worry about the passing of the great white race if that race has only been involved in endless economic transactions?” (p.23)

America’s role in the Cold War is also examined, although the relationship between Homo Americanus and Homo Sovieticus is shown to have been far less antagonistic than most people think. Sunic does contend that, without America, “the Soviet Union would likely have become a reality for most people on earth” (p.29) and that the masses much prefer American consumerism to life under the Soviets themselves. However, whilst anti-communist rhetoric is often solely obsessed with the ‘atheistic’ nature of communism, it remains a fact that both systems share the same egalitarian undercurrent and that no attempt is made to examine the dynamics of this relationship. Sunic goes on to speculate that communism – as a direct result of its egalitarianism - has to a large extent managed to achieve its ends through the American system. It is already a well-known fact that after the collapse of communism, many former party apparatniks in Eastern Europe eagerly pinned their colours to the new liberal mast, but the author capably demonstrates that a similar form of intellectual and ideological duplicity has taken place in the West: “A large number of American left-leaning intellectuals seriously began to think that ‘true’ communism could have a second chance with a humane face in America, and this by means of employing different forms of social engineering. Some European authors observed that communism died in the East because it has already been implemented in the West.” (p.34) It is not uncommon, of course, for rats to leave a sinking ship and to redirect their energies elsewhere. We see this opportunistic trend happening in the economic sphere, too, as Big Business conglomerates continue to transfer their business operations to China and the Third World. But lest you doubt the author’s theory concerning the gradual importation or transference of Communist principles to America, we need only remind ourselves that the egalitarian ideals of Thomas Jefferson and other formulative American leaders were – as writers like Noam Chomsky and Lawrence R. Brown openly contend – a radical and pronounced form of leftism. The seeds, therefore, had already been sown at the very beginning of American history.

One of the more successful weapons in the struggle for liberal ascendancy has been political correctness. The kind of terminological double-speak that we so often hear emanating from the mass media, particularly during the Anglo-American attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan, had previously been developed for the purposes of self-policing, censorship and social engineering. Sunic rightly attributes the early origins of political correctness to the Frankfurt School, which, as the name suggests, was a German-based think-tank headed mainly by Jewish intellectuals who had fled to America during the rise of Hitler. At the end of World War Two, however, these individuals returned to Germany and the Frankfurt School was then used by America to essentially brainwash the next generation of young Germans. Sunic explains: “Most of the American educators, however, were former disciples of Freud and Marx, who considered that the best approach in curing defeated Germany was by treating Germans as a nation of ‘clinical patients’ in need of a hefty dose of liberal and socialist therapy.” (p.66) The clandestine book-burning and shelf-cleari