Repercussions of extreme materialism through the lens of American history

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The aggression of acute materialists corrupted by worldly pursuits made them explore the world where they established themselves as superior human beings flaunting their ruthlessness. On American soil, they declared the discovery of a new land despite it already being populated by native people. These people--mostly meek and innocuous, having community values, ecological reverence, and spirituality--appeared non-human and savages for gun-toting materialists. Ironically, they generously gave asylum to would-be encroachers not knowing that they would be inhumanely displaced from their own land in return for their goodwill.

Columbus mistakenly made a landfall in American soil on Oct 12, 1492 on his financed voyage to India by Spanish monarch. He, therefore, called the islanders of San Salvador the “Indians”. His template to the newcomer's view of aboriginals: “they ought to make good and skilled servants; I think they can very easily be made Christians--I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I please”, quoted from the book “American History: A very Short Introduction” by Paul S. Boyer, indicates the sinister motives of invaders.

The invaders as well as newcomers, who emigrated to America for better economic opportunity and to escape religious persecution, dictatorship nature of their rulers and series of wars and hardship, faced lots of challenges which they never imagined in their wildest dreams as the resources such as gold and silver were not readily available in the new land. Their survival was at risk before they were kindly received by natives who taught them how to grow maize and other native plants. They started embracing community values that helped them evolve from plunderers to freedom fighters. The alliance of the tribes “Iroquois Federate” became the basis for the government system of US that helped resist tyrannical British power for independence. The matriarchal Mother clan system of Iroquois that let women live liberated lives in mostly male-dominated societies of that time also inspired women right activists such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage with their gender equality and harmony.

The tobacco first cultivated in Virginia in 1611 became the profitable export with its high demand in England that drastically changed the landscape of America. Their relationship with natives became violent and exploitative when they started encroaching on Indian lands for tobacco plantation. The inherent materialist greed started impairing their acquired human values. During the industrial revolution from 1803, cotton became the leading American export that employed more slaves from Africa. So, new lands were extended for cotton cultivation and the economic factors made slavery more profitable for owners. So, even after international slave trade was abolished in 1807 in UK and 1808 in US, the labor need for the South in the plantation continued it until it was abolished by the 13th amendment ratified on December 06, 1865. However, segregation laws like Jim Crows in the South still precluded the blacks from their rights as citizens. The most unfortunate Indian Removal Act in 1830, after the discovery of gold in their land, killed many of them due to disease and starvation along the trail called “trail of tears”.

The capitalist economy based on social Darwinism “survival of the fittest” also suited well with the society motivated by financial prosperity which is one of the major players behind the current colossal inequalities in living standard of people. The capitalist greed at its zenith is overriding human and ecological values for the sake of virtual man-made monetary values even calling Global Warming a hoax, the killer of job creation despite the consensus among scientists that climate change made Harvey and Irma worse. The democratic process is being corrupted in capitalist country by bribing particular voter groups or special interest groups to gain power which has put the capitalist democracy on the ropes. Therefore, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and other developed countries conscientiously started socialist economy to encourage social and ecological welfare and are getting attention of the capitalist nations with their success reflected by US’s 2016 democratic presidential primary and recent 2017 General Election in UK.

The first US settlers survived by the grace of native Indians in the harsh environment and they learned about farming, federated system, gender equality, and even human values from them. The budding greed during tobacco export floreted after Industrial revolution through cotton and steel industries, and blossomed after oil monopoly and powerful weaponry. The greed induced materialist culture in people which further strengthened its economy and attracted skilled diverse group of people from Europe and all around the world establishing itself as a “land of opportunity”. However, the direct brunt was felt by native Indians, African Americans, oil rich resourceful nations, and more. The indirect effect is being felt by everyone around the world with its detrimental effect on the environment, health and wellbeing of people.

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