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American ExceptionalismA New History of an Old Idea$
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Ian Tyrrell

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226812090

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2022

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226812120.001.0001

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Two Isms: Americanism and Socialism

Two Isms: Americanism and Socialism

Chapter:
(p.141) 9 Two Isms: Americanism and Socialism
Source:
American Exceptionalism
Author(s):

Ian Tyrrell

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226812120.003.0010

This chapter examines “Americanism” as an ethnonationalist exceptionalism spurred by growing Catholic religious strength and polyglot immigration. Noting the irony of Catholic confusion over the concept, the chapter shows how the predominant usage after the Civil War became a racial and ethnic rather than a religious one. While Americanism came to express an exceptionalist identity founded on the white race, Americanism remained a contested term with civic nationalism as a more liberal alternative later swamped by the xenophobia of World War I and post-war agitation against socialism and foreign immigrants. Wartime anxiety produced the American Creed as a patriotic point of national identification. As a result of the 1917 Russian Revolution’s global impact, Americanism became identified with the (political) nation-state and with capitalism in competition with communism. Next, the chapter considers how the term exceptionalism was employed to describe US failures to conform with Marxist calls for international socialist revolution. The chapter concludes by examining how this Marxist materialist formulation underpinned modern social science exceptionalism. Here, the career of Seymour Martin Lipset was prominent.

Keywords:   Americanism, ethnonationalism, civic nationalism, American Creed, socialism, Marxism

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