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Political scientist Brendon O'Connor of the United States Studies Centre suggests that anti-Americanism cannot be isolated as a consistent phenomenon and that the term originated as a rough composite of stereotypes, prejudices and criticisms evolving to more politically based criticism.French scholar Marie-France Toinet says use of the term anti-Americanism "is only fully justified if it implies systematic opposition – a sort of allergic reaction – to America as a whole".

In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt. French academic Pierre Guerlain has argued that the term represents two very different tendencies: "One systematic or essentialist, which is a form of prejudice targeting all Americans.

The other refers to the way criticisms of the United States are labeled "anti-American" by supporters of U. policies in an ideological bid to discredit their opponents".

The widely used "anti-American sentiment", meanwhile, less explicitly implies an ideology or belief system.

Globally, increases in perceived anti-American attitudes appear to correlate with particular policies or actions, In the mid- to late-eighteenth century, a theory emerged among some European intellectuals that the New World landmasses were inherently inferior to Europe.

Ceaser argues that the Romantic strain of European thought and literature, hostile to the Enlightenment view of reason and obsessed with history and national character, disdained the rationalistic American project.

The German poet Nikolaus Lenau commented: "With the expression Bodenlosigkeit (absence of ground), I think I am able to indicate the general character of all American institutions; what we call Fatherland is here only a property insurance scheme".

Anti-Americanism has been described by Hungarian-born American sociologist Paul Hollander as "a relentless critical impulse toward American social, economic, and political institutions, traditions, and values". moral failure, as opposed to what may be unavoidable failures of a complicated foreign policy that comes with superpower status.

German newspaper publisher and political scientist Josef Joffe suggests five classic aspects of the phenomenon: reducing Americans to stereotypes, believing the United States to have an irremediably evil nature, ascribing to the U. establishment a vast conspiratorial power aimed at utterly dominating the globe, holding the United States responsible for all the evils in the world, and seeking to limit the influence of the United States by destroying it or by cutting oneself and one's society off from its polluting products and practices. Its status as an "-ism" is a greatly contended suspect, however.

English writer Captain Marryat's critical account in his Diary in America, with Remarks on Its Institutions (1839) also proved controversial, especially in Detroit where an effigy of the author, along with his books, was burned.

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