No claim on ambition

October 31, 2003

Bill Durodié unwittingly illustrates one of the sources of the anti-American feeling that he hopes to understand ("The fear and self-loathing in Las Vegas", THES, October 24).

When he claims that "ambition, success and experimentation" are "American values", he invokes a familiar myth in which the rest of us are content to live according to our traditions, fearful of change and jealous of the successes of restlessly experimental American enterprise.

But ambitious experiment abounds outside the US. China, for example, is busily re-inventing its economic system. The Chinese show no lack of ambition or willingness to try something new.

Much of American culture is rather nostalgic, conservative and fearful.

This is hardly surprising. Those who fear change most are those with most to lose, and, in economic terms, that is the US.

One source of anti-American feeling is the sound of Americans claiming common human virtues for themselves alone.

Brendan Larvor
University of Hertfordshire

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (27 July 2017)

It is not Luddism to be cautious about destroying an academic publishing industry that has served us well, says Marilyn Deegan

Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and librarian at the University of Colorado Denver

Creator of controversial predatory journals blacklist says some peers are failing to warn of dangers of disreputable publishers

Hand squeezing stress ball
Working 55 hours per week, the loss of research periods, slashed pensions, increased bureaucracy, tiny budgets and declining standards have finally forced Michael Edwards out
Kayaker and jet skiiers

Nazima Kadir’s social circle reveals a range of alternative careers for would-be scholars, and often with better rewards than academia

hole in ground

‘Drastic action’ required to fix multibillion-pound shortfall in Universities Superannuation Scheme, expert warns