What was James Truslow Adams' dream? When Adams invented the phrase, here is what he wrote: (the most widely quoted paragraph, seen everywhere around the internet)
If, as I have said, the things already listed were all we had had to contribute, America would have made no distinctive and unique gift to mankind. But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.
I blogged about this recently, but what I highlighted originally was Adams use of the phrase "social order", because of how obvious of a catch phrase that it is. That is important, as it gives an ideological clue about Adams' belief system. More importantly however, Adams is specific about this; specific about what the "American Dream" is and is not. This is a problem for anybody who currently thinks what they think about the "American Dream". According to Adams, the "American Dream" IS NOT:
(1)a new house.
(2)It is not a new car.
(3)It is not material things.
(4)It is not success.
(5)It is not a better job or career.
(6)It is not a greener lawn than your next door neighbor.
(7)It is not any other fortuitous circumstance.
James Truslow Adams specifically went out of his way to shoot this idea down, despite the fact that today the "American Dream" is used interchangeably for any or all of them, and hundreds of thousands of other things. This is how progressives work. They need shadows to hide in, and they need lies to thrive. Adams uses the word "merely", which makes it quite clear: to boil down the "American Dream" to any of these items(or any others) is to cheapen it, is to make the "American Dream" into nothing but an empty suit. That is very important. All of these things are nice, they are good dreams and Adams is not completely canceling these things out, but they are ultimately distractions from what the dream really is all about. They're sideshows, not the main event.
As the person who invented of the phrase, Adams has the right and the ability to decide who plays first fiddle. He has the right to decide what's what. Now having detailed what Adams stated that the "American Dream" was not, what did he say that it really was? This is what the "American Dream" is:
If the American dream is to come true and to abide with us, it will, at bottom, depend on the people themselves. If we are to achieve a richer and fuller life for all, they have got to know what such an achievement implies. In a modern industrial State, an economic base is essential for all. We point with pride to our "national income," but the nation is only an aggregate of individual men and women, and when we turn from the single figure of total income to the incomes of individuals, we find there was a very marked injustice in its distribution. There is no reason why wealth, which is a social product, should not be more equitably controlled and distributed in the interests of society.
People everywhere need to know what the "American Dream" actually implies, and Adams outright states it. Wealth needs to be "more equitably controlled and distributed in the interests of society", because citizens aren't smart enough to do it themselves. This is that elitism that we all are used to seeing from progressives. The "American Dream" SPECIFICALLY IS:
(1) Wealth redistribution
(2) A new social order
(3) Big government
I can't say this enough to enough people on this topic. Please read the original sources for yourself. You probably won't like what you read, but you need to know this.
Here is why this is important and I want to tie this together: For Adams and other progressives who constantly obsess about the "social order", that's the priority. That is why he does not totally wipe material things off of the table while he reduces them in importance with his use of the word "merely". Once progressives achieve their utopia where government distributes all wealth and makes - to borrow a phrase from Al Sharpton: "Everything Equal in Everybody's House", then and only then can you have your greener lawn. Your new house. Your faster car. Your career. Etc, etc, etc. The phrase "The American Dream" does have room to be tabula rasa in which you can put anything on it that you wish, if and only if the perfect utopian social order with optimum wealth redistribution has been achieved. Understanding progressivism is easy to do once they themselves explain it.
When radical communist Van Jones held his "Take Back the American Dream" conference, and announced the Rebuild the Dream website, did that offend you? I know it offended me. But after reading the original words of James Truslow Adams, it won't offend me anymore. Do I think James Truslow Adams was a communist? No. He could have been, but I haven't researched that. It honestly doesn't matter; he was a progressive. What does matter, is that both Jones and Adams are obsessed with the "social order", and both see the "American Dream" in the same way. Here is the mission statement of communist Van Jones's Rebuild the Dream:
Rebuild The Dream is fighting for an economy that works for everyone, and an America that delivers on its promise of opportunity for all.
James Truslow Adams himself could have written that phrase. You can see the clear indication that the "social order" is the problem, and that "opportunity for all" doesn't yet exist - wealth redistribution may be happening, but it isn't happening enough. Jones, unlike Adams, has no choice but to be overly nebulous. He's a communist. He can't come out as honestly in the effort as a salesman for wealth redistribution, as Adams was more able to do in 1931.
To close, the aggressive way that progressives employ the language to achieve their goals is something that must be credibly challenged. We can't mount an effective challenge if we are willing to them get away with it when we simply don't have to let them get away with it. If there is a specific meaning attached to one of their nebulous phrases, we have got to prevent them from using it as a hammer to destroy our society. As Jones has currently been doing. The phrase "American Dream" is, unfortunately, language pollution.
The better phrase is "American Exceptionalism", which can't be boiled down to petty material things and isn't a euphemism for a better "social order" or wealth redistribution. It accurately conveys the uniqueness and significance of our country.
It drives progressives out of their minds when someone uses the phrase "American Exceptionalism", doesn't it? That should let you know you're on the right track.