Friday 7 November 2008

Our N.A. Continent is in shock

What a surprise to wake up and hear the challenge not to bear arms, but to stand up for one another.

Ronald Wright says in What is America? A short history of the new world order:
"Few nations have clung so much to their own mythology and historical patterns."
His text follows the development of the USA on the North American Continent. From a tradition of Puritans escaping British rule, and a history of colonization, to ...well, sail over the pond and colonize America. You live what you know. It makes me think of my toddlers running out of the room, plunking themselves down in the yard yelling, "You're not the boss of me!" to their playmates who were there first. I guess I've been reading too much Rick Mercer!) As the Americans trade Presidents, they trade their values and fundamental beliefs fairness and liberty. The pendulum has swung again.

The Puritans, fundamentalists, and evangelical white Christians left the UK in the 1600s in the same sort of protest. Once they arrived, having contributed small pox and measles to the Native population, seeking land grants and rich furs, were assisted by their future victims in surviving and adapting to the extreme winters of North America. The Aboriginal Peoples; the Six Nations in Canada, Creeks and Cherokees further south, with a strong government and agricultural system, and a literacy rate higher than the whites that invaded their territory, proceeded to be decimated by disease, or herded off the land like the now long-gone buffalo that sustained their central brothers and sisters. Their decimated towns and cities were taken over by the invaders. They moved into their homes, ate their winter corn, and planted crops in Native-cleared fields.

The great white hunters needed slaves and workers, in that time-honoured British Class system in which you hired those below you for any job too lowly for you to perform. That the early Americans had to import slaves set them up as the colonizers they long-sought to escape. One of the most powerful books I have read is, The Hanging of Angelique. It follows the early years of the slavery movement in Europe to the hanging of a woman in Montreal. A class system, now applied to those with different colour of skin, were voluntold (Mercer's non-volunteerism word!) that they were inferior and set to work. The great Canadian myth of the Underground Railroad is grossly exaggerated by Canadians who want to believe themselves better than their siblings to the south.

These Libertarians brought with them the sense of personal freedom that allowed them to rape the land as much as the people they found inhabiting this continent. This is the difference between Libertarians and liberals. The Americans who fought so hard in 1812 to escape British rule, created a ruling system that emulated that from which they fled. The American Empire, having ruled their own, have ceased to move into the new millennium as has the rest of the world. European countries have granted independence and divested themselves of their colonies resulting in cooperation, human rights, but the US has yet to buy into this world view. American presidents having exploited the voters, have failed to protect them from the vagaries of the environmental, economic and human issues which we now face.

Small l liberals who are concerned about health care, education, poverty, jobs, foreign debt, increasing numbers of immigrants and migrant workers, who help shape a country, fight with those in central south America who want the right to bear arms. The intellectuals (Jefferson and Franklin) who wrote the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, in the more sophisticated cities, liberals fight with the Libertarians who want more. The rich fight to keep their personal freedoms and their wealth, while the poor get sucked into this vortex of haves and have nots. Wright cites "serial relapses" as various presidents suck voters into supporting their aggressive, isolating, arrogant attacks on human and financial resources designed to replicate the wealth and freedom built on the slaughtering of public finances to undermine public programs and give the middle class a tax break.

The power of the almighty dollar and profits remain the bottom line with the previous Administration. I will do with a little less to help those with little reason to have faith in 'The Man.' It is my fervent hope that President-Elect Obama puts an end to the isolation, cruelty, miserly domination of the infrastructure that is based on the backs of the many working class who pay taxes, and demand that the very rich be accountable to their brother and sisters. In this new world order we must be held accountable for our neighbours, our our environmental footprint and the state of this world. Those businesses who take advantage of their power (see the Wal-Mart Effect) to kowtow to investors on Wall Street need to be stripped of their power and held accountable for outsourcing policies that result in cheap goods that poison our children and elders. Our current economic crisis is due to many factors. I blame the recent spike in oil prices, as well. As I worry over those who demand bail outs for the automotive industry, and their unions, who denied the changing nature of this world. We need fewer, smaller, better built dependable vehicles that need not be out of the reach of many. This was seen coming a long way off and it was ignored as greedy bankers gave loans to a failing sector of the economy.

I am haunted by those who are unmoved by the momentous occasion afforded the American people. I am comforted by the young, old, rich, poor, people of many colours and ethnic origins who identify with this fine man. They - no WE around the world - laud this man, no matter our faith, homeland or creed, as a harbinger of hope, who tells us, "Yes, we can."


The Hanging of Angelique. by Afua Cooper (2007)

What is America? A short history of the new world order by Ronald Wright

The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World's Most Powerful Company Really Works--And How It's Transforming the American Economy by Charles Fishman and Alan Sklar (2006)

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