Tuesday, November 13, 2012

America's Fragile Exceptionalism

“The best is yet to come.” Those were Barack Obama’s words on being re-elected US President last week. I don’t think he really believed them, and I don’t think anybody else did either. I think he said them because the opposite is true, and everyone knows it. Yes, America will probably become more wealthy in absolute terms in the coming years. But it will no longer be Number One in the world. For now, it remains Number One, and will be so for some years yet.

But its days are numbered, and a deep crisis of identity is therefore rumbling. It’s not fully out in the open yet, but it has been felt for some years in the American collective unconscious. That is why Obama said the opposite, almost as if to confirm it. And I think that is why the Republican Party and its followers have been becoming more extreme: this is what happens to the political right wing when a country feels under threat. Look at the increasingly popular Golden Dawn in Greece, which denies that Nazi Germany had gas chambers.

America’s identity is tied up with a fragile exceptionalism. Exceptionalism is the way a race or country feels itself to be special and superior. Like Israel being fuelled by the myth of the Chosen People. The Chinese are the Middle Kingdom, the most ancient civilisation in the world. The Achuar, an Amazonian tribe, consider themselves the only real humans – yes, even super-spiritual indigenous people have feet of clay, just like us! And America is the superior country because of its brand of Democracy and Protestant work virtues. The fact that it is the richest and most powerful country proves that those national attributes are the best.

China can be as poor as it likes, but it remains the world’s oldest civilisation. And the Jews remain the Chosen People, because God told them they were. But America has to keep proving its own exceptionalism – if it is not the richest and most powerful country, then of what value is its ‘freedom’, its democracy, its Protestant work ethic? Democracy and wealth are intertwined in the western mind, and China is in the process of proving that you can be just as rich without Democracy or Christianity.
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The MC and 10th House describe one’s standing in the world. America is emerging from a hard aspect from Uranus-Pluto to its MC at 1 Libra and to its ruler Venus at 3 Cancer. Militarily, this could be said to describe its inconclusive efforts in Iraq, and its losing war in Afghanistan. Pluto as disempowerment. Economically, China has risen faster than anyone thought, and this transit has made clear that America’s days are numbered.

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The US also has Saturn in the 10th, at 15 degrees Libra in square to the Sun at 13 Cancer. This is the big one coming up, as Uranus and Pluto hard aspect these two in the coming few years. Followed by a Neptune square to the US Asc.

Already the US Progressed Asc is describing the new USA. In the last year it has moved from grandstanding Leo to humble Virgo.

Saturn in the 10th shows how important the USA’s reputation, its dominance in the world, is for its own self-esteem. Just as important as wealth which, with Pluto in the 2nd House, shows a survival attitude that goes back to its founding, and that is outdated: the US Pluto Return at the end of the decade may bring a change in this attitude.

There is a lot that could be said about the US natal Sun square Saturn. It is not an easy aspect to have. People with Sun square Saturn find it hard to be at ease with themselves. They are continually driven to ‘achieve’, and never feel that what they have done is good enough. They tend to be identified with their deeds and reputation at the expense of an inner awareness. Saturn can be the crucible for inner awareness; but he can also be a demon who scoops out the soul and tells you that all that matters is outer: work and wealth and prestige. Sun square Saturn people can also be genuinely impressive, they really can achieve things, just like America. But there is always that other voice, the inner voice, that tends not to be listened to.

And it’s fragile, because outer achievement, wealth and reputation, can always be taken away from you. And that is a huge threat to a Sun square Saturn, because what else is there if not that? And this is what is starting to happen to the USA. Pluto will come within 2 degrees of opposing the US Sun next Spring, and Uranus will be within 1 degree of squaring it next Summer.

The US is in a similar position to the UK 100 years ago, when it was starting to lose its place as the world’s biggest and wealthiest Empire, and it had the same transit, Pluto opposite the Sun, but Cancer-Capricorn instead of Capricorn-Cancer. 100 years on, and we still don’t know our place in the world: we still long to be up there again, as shown in our cosying up to the USA; we are half in and half out of Europe; and we love to knock ourselves, to put ourselves down.

America is already in the early stages of its Uranus-Pluto to Sun-Saturn transit. And it seems to be turning the country in on itself. A President without the hunger to rule (as the first TV debate showed.) A long economic recession and big debt problems. And perhaps most importantly, a gridlocked Congress, unable to rule the country effectively, to make the changes that are needed. Putting political disagreement before the national interest, a sign of decadence, of a country that doesn’t mean business anymore, that doesn’t believe in itself like it used to.

Don’t take this wrong. I’m not slagging off America, though some readers are bound to think I am. I think it may be a good thing. It’s a long, drawn-out grinding process which is in its early stages, but America is I think having to ask itself who it is, what it wants.

For now, I think we are likely to see continuing and even increasing deadlock in Congress, brought about primarily by an increasingly threatened and reactionary Republican Party. Pluto will be exactly opposite the US Sun in 2014, half way through Obama’s second term. It may be that the next few years will be characterised by a growing sense of political crisis, due to deadlock. By the time Uranus-Pluto has well and truly finished with the US Sun-Saturn in 5 or 6 years’ time, China will probably be almost on a par with the US economically, and asserting the power that comes with that.

America will have to adjust to being Number Two in the world. This still isn’t bad for a Sun square Saturn, it’s do-able. But it will necessitate a philosophical change, a change in the US’s belief system that insists that it has to be number One. With natal Sun conjunct to Jupiter, and Sagittarius Rising (which Neptune will start to square in a year or two), the US’s beliefs about itself are unusually strong and religiously toned, but are being gradually re-defined. It may involve a move away from valuing itself because it is ‘better’ than everyone else, towards the homely Cancerian virtues (Sun, Jupiter and Venus in Cancer) – taking care of its own people, valuing the homeland for what it is. 'Failure' is often where we learn most, rather than success.

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Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

as usual, so perceptive! I'm in agreement, and wonder, as an American, whether the Cap/Cancer axis will allow us to revisit our founding virtues (self-reliance, ingenuity and care for our people) and relinquish the materialistic, wealth worshiping and superficial "image" chasing values of our current society. here's hoping.


Vanessa said...

Well said! Definitely food for thought. I've been living in the US for many years now, and I can feel the difference as it's identity crisis gets deeper. It does feel very much like a divided country and it's often times hard to witness it from inside.

Philip Levine said...

Additionally, the natal charts for both the US and Soviet Union contain Sun-Saturn squares. These would in my view indicate deep inferiority complexes having to do with "father" issues. The fact that the US came into being by rejecting the authority of a divinely inspired ruler (the King) infused the US with serious doubts about its authority, legitimacy, and right to exist. And the Soviet Union shows a remarkable parallel with regard to the Czar. These two self-doubters tried to mask their insecurity with bombast, inflated rhetoric, and huge military buildups. Perfect partners for the cold war as they each tried to mask their insecurities by claiming superiority and projecting their flaws and weaknesses on each other. The US has mostly suffered from losing its cold war partner. Still unwilling to own any kind of realistic self-image, we flounder now trying to find someone to blame. Anyone but ourselves. I agree. The time is upon us. I believe the US Sun-Saturn square has a lt to do with its slavery/racism issues as well. These may also pay a major role in the next few years.

Demetrius said...

Great thoughts and post - thank you! The comments are quite useful as we continue to consider Pluto approaching its opposition to the USA's Sun, and conjuncting NYC's Sun before that.