Cornell Professor: The American Dream Is Now a ‘Hallucination’

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An American Studies professor at Cornell University argued that the American Dream is a now a “hallucination.”

Cornell University American studies and humane letters professor Eric Cheyfitz argued that the American dream is now nothing but a “hallucination” during a lecture this week in promotion of his recent book, The Disinformation Age: The Collapse of Liberal Democracy in the United States.

“If I were to sum up the book in one sentence,” Cheyfitz said during the lecture, “I would say it is a historical explanation about how and why the United States is still trying to live a narrative, American exceptionalism, that fails to rationalize the state any longer.”

Cheyfitz argued that most Americans incorrectly believe that capitalism and democracy combine to create prosperous and free society. To Cheyfitz, capitalism and democracy are incompatible.

“This story has always confused capitalism with democracy when in fact the two systems are fundamentally at odds,” he argued.

How does Cheyfitz believe America should adjust to fix current pressing issues? He says look no farther than the structure and culture of Native American societies.

“Here in the juncture of history we are in desperate need of another story, one that answers the question: what is a just society?” he posed. He suggested American transform into a society based on the type of “extended kinship that has been told in Native American societies for thousands of years.”

Unlike most educators, Cheyfitz directly acknowledged that he is an activist. He explained that he used the book to explain his perspective on political and social issues because he is concerned for his students’ futures.

“I am an activist in my work, so I’m concerned with these issues as practical and political and social issues,” he said. “And of course I work with students here and am concerned about [their] futures.”

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