American Century  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"American Century" is a term coined by Time publisher Henry Luce used to claim the historical role of the United States during the 20th century. Luce, the son of a missionary, in a 1941 Life magazine editorial urged the United States to forsake isolationism for a missionary's role, acting as the world's Good Samaritan and spreading democracy. According to David Harvey, Luce believed "the power conferred was global and universal rather than territorially specific, so Luce preferred to talk of an American century rather than an empire." He also called upon the U.S. to enter World War II to defend democratic values:

Throughout the 17th century and the 18th century and the 19th century, this continent teemed with manifold projects and magnificent purposes. Above them all and weaving them all together into the most exciting flag of all the world and of all history was the triumphal purpose of freedom.
It is in this spirit that all of us are called, each to his own measure of capacity, and each in the widest horizon of his vision, to create the first great American Century.

Today, it is usually used to illustrate United States dominance of much of the 20th century, beginning with the Spanish-American War and the important role played by the United States in World War II, continuing on through the Cold War status of the United States as one of the world's two superpowers, and ending with the role of the United States as sole superpower on from the 1990s. It refers not only to the political influence of the United States, but also its economic influence, as many states around the world would over the course of the 20th century adopt the economic policies of the Washington Consensus, and its cultural influence.

Critics of the term regard it as overemphasizing the role played by the United States on the world stage.

The name of the thinktank Project for the New American Century implicitly suggests that the 20th century was an American Century and that a goal of the thinktank is to make the 21st century also an American Century.

Earlier dreams of a US global hegemony-an "American Century"- were frustrated by the constraints imposed by a competing superpower. But today, policymakers in Washington and in academic think tanks all over the country are declaring that the United States has a historically unprecedented opportunity to establish through the use of its unanswerable military and economic power a position of world dominance. Third World economic nationalism will no longer be tolerated in the New World Order. US "leadership" can now remove all barriers to the reorganization of the global economy on the basis of market principles, as interpreted and dominated by the giant transnational corporations.

With the advent of the new millennium, critics have been proposing the death of the American Century, most famously the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson who titled his autobiography Kingdom Of Fear: Loathsome Secrets of A Star Crossed Child in the Last Days of the American Century.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "American Century" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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