The Agenda

A Non-Policy Interruption: Fastbacks’ ‘In America’

Many decades ago, a young Seattle band called Fastbacks released a song called “In America.” The lyrics sound a little petulant and characteristically punkish, the premise being that America is a hard country to live in and that one ought to consider leaving. But there’s a bit more to it than that: “Lately been thinking about what/what it means to be in a country that’s not/all that it could be.” It reminded me of Richard Rorty’s notion of “achieving our country.” It goes without saying that no country is “all that it could be,” yet there’s something about America that attracts and cultivates a quality of restless dissatisfaction that is arguably the source of both our best and our worst qualities. For whatever reason I find this song very affecting, and I recommend it, for draft resisters or tax exiles or other wanderlusty utopians. 

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