American culture is divided—and it always has been.
American individualism: It is the reason for American success, but it also tears the nation apart.
Why do Americans have so much trouble seeing eye to eye today? Is this new? Was there ever an American consensus? The Cult of Individualism: A History of an Enduring American Myth explores the rarely discussed cultural differences leading to today's seemingly intractable political divides. After an examination of the various meanings of individualism in America, author Aaron Barlow describes the progression and evolution of the concept from the 18th century on, illuminating the wide division in Caucasian American culture that developed between the culture based on the ideals of the English Enlightenment and that of the Scots-Irish "Borderers." The "Borderer" legacy, generally explored only by students of Appalachian culture, remains as pervasive and significant in contemporary American culture and politics as it is, unfortunately, overlooked. It is from the "Borderers" that the Tea Party sprang, along with many of the attitudes of the contemporary American right, making it imperative that this culture be thoroughly explored.
• Documents how the concept and execution of "American individualism" is as diverse as America itself
• Explains how the American notion of individualism has roots that extend back to cultural myths that predate the founding of the nation
• Spotlights the role of the "Borderer" culture spearheaded by the Scots-Irish, whose legacy fuels much of America's contemporary cultural and political divides
• Provides eye-opening information for any reader who wishes to know why so many of our 21st-century political debates in America seem hopelessly irreconcilable
Individualism in America
Movies and Small Towns
Red States vs. Blue States
Scots-Irish in America
Self-Made Myth, The