Feel like some opinions about what's wrong with America? Here, treat yourself. Let Raj Patel be your guide. Boy, is there stuff wrong with America! The way Raj tells it, it's a right shitheap, and always has been: 'founded on the brutal extermination of indigenous people'; 'racial intolerance... on the rise'; 'George W. Bush's two stolen presidencies'; 'the freedom to vote... merely a licence to select from a limited range of venal and base people'; 'nearly half of all elected officials in Congress... millionaires'; 'not a democracy so much as a complainocracy'. And there's more if you want it. 'The rot', says Raj, 'has been there since the beginning'.
In a way these opinions are unexceptional in a certain - far left - ideological quarter. Only two things make them noteworthy in the present instance. One is their very concentrated character: from extermination through racism and venality to non-democracy in just 800 words and at a lick. The other is the very small but revealing shaft of light at the end of the tunnel. For what's good about America, according to Raj, is the promise of America - its promise of freedom and the struggles this has generated from time to time, 'waves of feminism, environmentalism, civil rights consciousness and social justice'. Yet this does not give the writer pause; pause to consider whether the picture - of a shitheap - he's just sketched may not be (how shall I put it?) well, a travesty; pause to give what's right with America its due, and especially in a comparative light, since something the hell is right with that great country once you stop to think about those waves, and about a number of its other traditions, including, oh, the rule of law, the cultural vibrancy, the unbroken continuity of a democratic tradition, its contribution to the defeat of fascism, to say nothing of the fact that so many people want to go there.