Publication Details

Ashbolt, A, 'Falling everywhere: postmodern politics and American cultural mythologies', ARENA Journal, 3, 1994, 42-48.


History repeats itself, endlessly and sometimes tiresomely. Numerous writers and scholars have worried about the divisions - social, political and cultural - which began permeating American society in the 1960s. The unravelling of America, the coming apart of America, became familiar refrains. During the 'sixties itself, Daniel Boorstin's new left barbarians were at the gate threatening the very genius of American politics which Boorstin had postulated in the previous decade. This genius, itself a cousin of American exceptionalism, revolved around the erosion of ideological division, and the lack of vigorous difference within the American polity. Rather than this producing a bland one dimensionality, it guaranteed the preservation of liberty, of individual freedom. Individuality and commonality, far from being somewhat contradictory forces, fed off each other, securing a happy consensus. This was pure mythology, of course, which is not to suggest there were no elements of truth in it, but rather that Boorstin's analysis was ideologically self-serving and more than a little immodest.