Anti-Americanism is in its psychology more like a religion than an ideology. By this I mean that it has more to do with emotional needs than with objective reasoning. Those needs it satisfies, in particular in Lutheran cultures with a surviving doctrine of hell in its cultural baggage, are for a superior evil principle; an all-round explanation of everything, from the highest to the lowest. There are scarcely any boundaries any longer to what believers are prepared to put down to the USA’s account: from large and small events in global politics to global climate, the drugs trade and African civil wars, world trade, terrorism, the prices of raw materials, interest rates and the inherent contradictions of the Middle East.
There is at last the historical fact that unlike most countries the United States has been founded on ideals and aspirations which are difficult to realise. Thus both abroad and at home it is judged not only by its actual policies and characteristics, failures and accomplishments, but against the background of the high expectations it has generated. In the light of these expectations its missteps and flaws are magnified and evoke far greater hostility and anger than those of other social systems of more modest aspirations. Given the widespread ambivalence about modernity, the universality of the scapegoating impulse as well as the actual mistakes of US foreign policy and the widely publicised flaws of American society, anti-Americanism will be with us in the foreseeable future.