After the economic and political debates that went to the wire last week in America, the broadcast news reported that President Barack Obama “did not get his way” in the final agreement. Implied in this reporting is the idea that Obama had been somewhat ideologically pig-headed and lost. That would be a very superficial interpretation. Obama must however be a worried man who can see that a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots is unsustainable.
The Tea Party people have no such vision. They seem not to understand that what brings a society undone is polarisation. As this year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, every American should be more aware than usual of the danger of polarisation. What will be the social situation after another 10 years of a widening wealth gap? How fragile is the world’s superpower? Remember how in awe we were of the other superpower - and then suddenly, it fell apart.
Why all the flags?
All societies are patriotic to various degrees, but the Americans seem to be in a class of their own. I would not be surprised if there are more flags flown in the U.S. then there are in the rest of the nations of the world put together. And, calling on God to bless their country is what American politicians routinely do at the end their speeches. If an Australian politician, either already elected or on the campaign trail, was to finish every speech with; “God bless Australia”, the audience would cringe. That says a lot about our relative self-images.
However, behind all this oozing of patriotism might be an uncomfortable feeling in knowing that more Americans have died fighting each other on their own soil than fighting other people in foreign lands. There may be a subconscious fear that the whole grand show will unravel without the masses feeding on a continual diet of patriotism. For all to see is that country’s awesome military hardware and the worldwide influence of America-centric music and cinema. America is simply the best.
But, how patriotic would you be if you cannot afford to see a doctor due to the Republicans’ persistent opposition to universal health care, or if you were a non-white person knowing that 66 per cent of the 2.3 million inmates of US prisons are non-white, or if you were one of the many millions of poor men who have a prison record and who live in fear of even appearing to step off the narrow path, or if you are forced to sell the family farm due to a flood of imported food?
Radical filmmaker Michael Moore has been attempting to inform struggling Americans that they have been hoodwinked by the patriotic message being promoted by those riding the gravy train. America is not simply the best - and to improve your lot you must stop believing that it is.
What was the primary cause of the war of 1861-1865?
The primary cause of the war was money. If the South did not feel a need to protect its income, there would have been no war.
There had been a dramatic increase in the wealth of the South since the invention of the cotton jenny, which led to a mass demand for cotton fabric. The plantation owners believed that the highly labour intensive cotton growing industry would collapse if the workers had to be paid. Their wealth had to be maintained no matter what the moral cost.
To comfortably maintain the status quo, the whites in the almost completely rural southern states had to pretend that there was little moral cost. They convinced themselves that if the blacks are encouraged to be religious, then they will be compensated in an afterlife for their lack of freedom in this one - and whites would not be able to own blacks if it was not God’s will.
This caused a polarisation of the nation, as the North had no need to believe what the South believed. The northerners were intellectually free to see a bigger picture. They had no problem identifying both their causes of emancipation and preserving the union as being noble. This left the southern states to imbue enslavement with a noble quality. Once this was done, each side then called upon God to join their ranks. Typical of most wars, from the firing of the first shot, momentum took charge (a bit like a poker game that one cannot leave).
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