The American Dream 250

Here am I spreaking at the Oxford Union, in entertaining mode.

You can see the other speeches in the debate. The Motion “This house still dreams the American Dream” was defeated.

The following week the motion “This house believes that Israel is a force for good in the Middle East” was also defeated. I hear Peter Tatchell was excellent.

I don not think the format of such debates is antiquated and irrelevant. It helps get students thinking, and you get a range of opinion denied an airing elsewhere. I can never get to say those things on the mainstream media.

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250 thoughts on “The American Dream

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  • crab

    Hi Ben, “Disliking Americans is a hobby” – It was a confrontational joke, with some truth in it. I can empathise with how you are prickly about this. You can dredge arguable history in response to criticism of your people to show at least we are all as bad as each other, and then we are arguing over history. To be offended by the confrontational joke with some truth in it, *is* moreso American now too. Great pride and self belief while, at least lately, unsettling and raiding the world and at the highest rate consuming it, all while broadcasting charms and graces. You know how we joked about the Germans – though we were as bad as each other in many senses, but Americans are the Germans lately. Accepting humour or sharing vanity is all that could bridge the situation.

  • Fred

    ‘“Disliking Americans is a hobby”. I don’t find the tongue-in-cheek self-deprecatory rhetoric takes the sting out of Craigs rant. How is it America has the lead on the avarice? Has the United Kingdom somehow been duped into a lack of self-awareness? I hesitate to speculate how long Craig has harbored such resentment, but he does have his nose in the air quite a bit, lately.’

    It was a debate. A debate is sort of like a game, a competition, the aim is to win.

    You don’t get to choose what you want to talk about, you are given a subject, the good debaters can take either side and win.

  • Clark

    Ben Franklin, Craig didn’t say that disliking all Americans was his hobby. He gets on fine with a fair few.

  • craig Post author


    Real sense of humour failure. If I actually disliked Americans, I would not stand up in the Oxford Union and say so! It was a joke.


    yes the counter on the Oxford Union site is strange. My Statcounter shows over 2,600 people have watched the video from this site alone. It only records the last 5,000 people, incidentally, and has 2,400 are recorded looking at other stuff the number may be larger with others having slipped off the stats. But the yourube counter is still stuck around 280.

  • Villager

    Craig… to ‘Maty’–this freudian slip thing really works, doesn’t it? One Habitual Babbler here though really seems to have the knife out for her–really beginning to think that he’s a demented schoolmaster turned stalker.

    Before you go, i really want to bring this article to your attention:

    Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

    Its really very encouraging. It means just 1 out of 10 of us needs to actually start living sanely and it could possibly change the whole content of human consciousness. So let us not despair.

    Thank you for a very interesting entry here, followed by an equally vibrant soul-searching bunch of comments. Keep up your good work.

  • Rose

    Re Craig’s anti-American dig – do look at the work that Chris Hedges does too – wonderful, inspiring journalism.

  • Mary

    Daniel Day-Lewis, a great actor and latterly Lincoln, is half Jewish. I was very pleased to receive this account of his visit to Gaza in 2005 from a friend today. Earlier I had read a very tender account by his sister Tamasin on the end of their mother’s life and the wonderful care she received from the staff in a NHS community hospital some years back.

    Brother and sister obviously inherited a great measure of humanity. Their father was Cecil Day-Lewis and their mother was Jill Balcon.

    Both links here.

    “Inside Scarred Minds”
    Daniel Day Lewis March 20, 2005 The Sunday Times
    (,,176-1520278,00.html paywall)

    TAMASIN DAY-LEWIS: Daniel and I are sure Mama believed she was spending her final days in a five-star hotel, not a hospital
    By Tamasin Day-lewis
    UPDATED:02:33, 26 October 2009

  • Villager

    Clark, Mark and Jay, please do read that article i posted at 8.39pm–your remarks inspired me to post it here and i think it has seriously important ramifications. Btw, Mark i found it through the WW3 video you linked here very recently–don’t know if it caught your eye.

    Expat thank you also for the introduction to Adam Curtis. Very interesting style of documentary and very watchable. Great music too, including one of my desert island discs, Lou reed’s song sung by the beautiful Nico

  • crab

    This video is very watchable and should get many views, 100,000 or more ?

    The youtube counts are supposedly delayed by upto around 2 weeks, in order to catch spammers and terms of service. Im not convinced but i expect they would have been systematically detected by now if fiddling peoples SEO/counts.

    Mary, DDLs article on Gaza strip is stark and truthful.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    @ Dougie :

    We haven’t heard your apology to Guano yet.

    Re. Arabic/Koran/doubting he’s Muslim, if you remember!

  • Villager

    Banksie, thanks for that link–good one and knocking on to 4 million hits! The word is definitely getting out there. Something good will come out of all the listening to their hearts that people are doing these days. I think the river is running deeper now than in those flower children days propelled by drugs as they were.

    Anon thank you also for your earlier guidance on Adobe–thats what happened…i rejected updates that started arriving within 2 frickin days of installing the ‘latest’ version. Stay well!

  • Villager

    Babbler, fuck off to the underbelly where you belong and don’t disrupt this thread you socially-challenged jerk.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    Apologies to all on behalf of Villager, who is disrupting this thread because he’s peeved with me from a previous one.

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    And also on behalf of Crab, who could not resist rushing to the support of Villager, who in turn felt obligated to excuse Dougie (it’s very incestuous, isn’t it)

  • Mary

    I read today that the HSBC Chief executive was getting a £2m bonus for 2012 to be taken when he retires.

    ‘The chief executive of HSBC will reportedly receive a bonus package of around £2 million, despite the bank being forced to set aside £950 million last year following exposure for money laundering and mis-selling.’

    ‘The bonus is for 2012 – a year in which the bank’s head of compliance resigned in front of a US Senate sub-committee.

    The bank exposed the US to billions of dollars worth of money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing.’


    DOJ Urges Federal Court to Approve Sweetheart Deal with Drug-Tainted HSBC

    by Tom Burghardt / March 2nd, 2013

  • Exexpat

    @villager welcome mate

    Try to watch his documentaries – all on youtube – perhaps start with The Trap.

    @mark golding

    The article you posted re WW3 was the best I have read in recent years Thank you

    @Habbabkuk – you are a barnacle on the ship of humanity

  • Frazer

    Craig does not hate Americans, he merely likes to observe them with great amusement from a distance, apart when he is invited over there to recieve awards, and then has to waste a large amount of his time educating them on the difference between Single Malt and Burbon…I fear that Craig will have to recieve countless awards in the future over in the good old USA before he will even begin to scratch the surface on that one !

  • Herbie

    In the 1960s/70s/80s anti-Americanism used to be much much more common in Europe and the English speaking counties than it is today, and in our mainstream media and governments too.

    It wasn’t ever about all Americans, as such. It was about US govt foreign policy and American culture, and that was shared too by many young Americans.

    The main change has been that Western govts and media have become so much more pro-America, and indeed Israel.

    That’s the big change over the past 30 years.

  • Abe Rene

    A good and witty speech, drunk or not!
    I wondered how one would counter it. The people who said that the American dream consisted in each generation having a higher standard of living than the previous one did set themselves up.
    If I had to support the motion I would define the American dream by something that could be sustainable, but I would want to study American history and the aspirations of the historic emigrants there first as a background. So the dream would include an escape from poverty (not the same thing as greater pots of gold for all succeeding generations), religious amd other freedoms.
    Defined in this way, I suggest that the American dream is not only worth dreaming but that the rest of the world would be a poorer place without it. The destruction of native Americans and destructive imperialism overseas is therefore a distortion of the authentic American dream.
    So there’s a acse for the defense. But then again, I am not the kind of VIP that would take part in Oxford Union debates. 🙂

  • crab

    The best American articulation of a dream got the beholder shot for it – Typical.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @Ben Franklin,
    “I wonder if he reads the History of British global dominance with a sense of nostalgia and sees the American Colonies with the same pair of eyes as he sees Mohandas, India and Pakistan…”
    It can’t be that the Brits were not mariginally less brutal than the American Empire – could it be that the US just has not had as many years to steal as much land, occupy, rape, enslave, pillage? Huh – ‘ol Ben Franklin?
    There is in the US – a book entitled, “A People’s History of the United States” and it is a 1980 book by Howard Zinn which honestly states the other side of America’s less than pleasant and loving history.
    As a young man, I watched the film, “Soldier Blue” – it was not a pleasant and loving history. I have a cousin who was a foot soldier in Vietnam – and the horrors do haunt – him – not me – but I understand.
    Man – get real – rape – slaughter – drones – war profiteering – on and on and on – over a million Iraqis dead because the US President, good ‘ol Colin and Blair got another good war going. Have you seen pictures of the monster babies born because of the debilitating effects of depleted uranium on the Iraqi mothers?
    The US has far exceeded any death, torture and/or destruction that Saddam ever inflicted. In fact, consider the US manipulated 8 years war with Iran – Iran’s fault of course.
    As the African- American lady was saying, quite eloquently – Americans – wake up from your delusions and slumber and look at the horrible deeds and history as it really and truly, honestly is!
    Frankly ( pun intended) Murray was somewhat tame and dipolmatic in his justified and verifiable criticisms.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Ben Franklin,

    Actually it was two cousins from the same Aunt.

    The one most impacted after Vietnam, became a recluse and withdrew into North Carolina. He died a couple years ago – a broken, recluse derilict of the Vietnam war.

    So – today the US trades freely with commuinist China and the same Vietnam where between them, Laos and Cambodia – well let’s count – for starters – Asian lives lost – 500,000 plus, plus, plus dead and on and on and on.

    At the same time, the small Caribbean island of Cuba, is embraced by the entire Caribbean and Soouth America, while the US still maintains an economic embargo for some 50 years.

    If you open your eyes Ben Franklin, you will understand that what people of conscience are motivated by is not hate – but genuine concerns about double standards and concerns about a US totally misguided sense of “exceptionalism” embraced and believed in by some persons born in the United States of America.

    Maybe ol’ Ben Franklin is included – who knows?

  • Villager

    “As a young man, I watched the film, “Soldier Blue” – it was not a pleasant and loving history.”

    Yes, i remember falling in love with Candy ‘Iceberger’ in that film–what a woman!

    Anyway i’ve had an o/d of this american dream stuff today, so lets not forget we’re in a Global Village however much bullying the US does outside its shores, We Are The World (and we shall overcome):

  • Courtenay Barnett

    @ Villager,

    “..lets not forget we’re in a Global Village however much bullying the US does”

    So we are and the process shall intensify. Yet there are different versions of the construction and nature of the “village”. One motivated by war -war – war – and more war. Or – maybe just an alterntive civilised, reasoned, reasonable, and sensible way forward.

    Obviously, the warriors are motivated by raw profit and greed and want war. War is actually good for business and fuck humanity. Then label anyone who dares to question the illogicality of the extant global architecture as – a “terrorist”. Orwell must be laughing in his grave as he reads my post.


  • OldMark

    Much enjoyed Craig’s rant, and Ray McGovern’s idiosyncratic speech in favour of the motion.Ray is a true patriot, defending the ideals of his country in a foreign forum, despite quite recently getting the Walter Wolfgang treatment at the behest of the then Secretary of State-

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