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IPFS News Link • Political Theory

The Royal "We"

• The American Prospect

"There is no such thing as society," Margaret Thatcher memorably said; instead, "there are individual men and women and there are families." We could cut through a lot of pabulum with our own version: There is no such thing as "the American people."

But don't tell politicians that. If there's one thing elected officials from both parties agree on, it's that "the American people" want certain things and don't want other things. It just so happens that they want whatever the person speaking wants, and they are horrified by the things he doesn't want. If you watched C-SPAN for a day, you'd hear dozens of invocations of "the American people," with nary a whiff of ambiguity.

The truth, though, is that "the American people" don't have opinions or beliefs or judgments. Each one of us does, and subsets of us share some things in common, but the idea of a collective national will is a fantasy.


1 Comments in Response to

Comment by David McElroy
Entered on:

 Amen!  The collective "we" is a ruse to keep our focus on the abstract fabrication of the "group" they want to manipulate. No individuals allowed!