America: The Janus Nation

Peter Murphy: La Trobe University and James Cook University

Published Date: Mar 22, 2023 | Accepted Date: Mar 22, 2023 | Submitted Date: Mar 22, 2023


America is a paradoxical society. That is one of its strengths. One of its weaknesses is its periodic inability to understand its own paradoxical nature. It is a Janus nation, one in which (in principle) incompatible things exist in a simultaneous state. When this paradoxical fusion works, it has great benefits. When it fails to work, American society loses its inner equilibrium. Pugnacious antagonisms arise in its place. The tension within the United States between the drive toward a union of opposites (most famously embodied in its Constitution) and the periodic centrifugal spinning out of American society into a state of mutual loathing is discussed—most recently the case of the 2010s and the rise of ultra-partisan hyperbole.


Equilibrium, union of opposites, public personas, personality disorders, rhetoric, hyperbole, political participation, exceptionalism, political pendulum, political polarization

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