Three Ways the “American Dream” Changed the World
I’m trying to decide on what I should put into the book.
As I started to write it, it became clear that the American Dream has been much more than a nice idea. It’s much more than that and it’s not only American. It’s now nearly universal.
So, let me test out three way I believe the Dream has changed the world. It’s a list that I haven’t seen articulated before (which is a surprise).
- It provided the motivation, at an individual level, for an active and entrepreneurial participation in the economy. It was why we worked, strove, and innovated. It shaped our choices. It’s also the only thing that almost everyone in the world can agree on — 3 billion people are chasing it right now.
- It made possible rapid and sustained technological improvement. The Dream led to broad demand for technological improvements to every day life (as opposed to novelties for elites). It also vastly expanded the pool of technological innovators required to push the boundaries of what was possible.
- It provided us a collective path to improving this world. The Dream has had a moral component: it is universally applicable (everyone should have the opportunity to pursue it — something that has happened) and the path taken should be honest/good (cultural definitions of this can vary, but without it, it is a race to the bottom exercise in greed).
Too mushy? To me, the only way we get from where we were 300 years ago to today is through a simple, powerful idea like this. So many systems of thought assume this stuff occurs auto-magically (i.e. rational optimizers?? huh?).
BTW: if the three ideas aren’t clear, say so and I’ll improve them