A recent arrival to our shores from one of the republics of the former Soviet Union once told me that Americans are all and only about money. I agreed with him. I said, Yes, Americans like you. I accepted the fact that he was American although he had not been born here, spoke English with a little less than obvious difficulty. Being an American was not something he had to wait for–although I did not tell him I thought he was probably more apparently a New Yorker–something I believed it was easier to become, if only because the transition to becoming one was more fluid. I formed an irony join my choice of words, calling him an American when in fact his criticism had separated him from that category To be xenophobic or not to be xenophobic is not the question. Fear of foreigners is not the issue; the resentment that some Americans have over a portion of recent arrivals to our shores being allowed limited or full access to our social welfare network aid is not at work here. Having been born and raise in New York City, having lived virtually all of my life here has provided me the opportunity to see non-native populations living, working, being, and socially interacting with each other and other natives. These interactions have been understood by me to be good, bad, confused and/or indifferent. I’m sure there are more categories for our ethical consideration–dare I say, judgement? Being all and only about money I have never understood to be a particularly American thing–greedy people, if we only examine history, have been around for a long, long time, and greedy people certainly have existed everywhere and thus can come to America from anywhere. Greedy people are as multicultural and diverse as any status quo member of an American University academic department could wish society were on the whole.Yes, avarice is universal. I do acknowledge that America has bred one generation after another of consumers consuming often for the sake of consumption–it’s almost as if we take it to be our patriotic duty to keep the economy going–the economy itself overly determined by an over-arching consumerism. Ours is a culture of consumption that seems to suffer from a metaphysical tapeworm–we just can’t get enough–a glutton with a a tapeworm is an ugly sight.
There is no way, with Americans living as they do, the way we want to keep living, the ways we have grown accustomed to live, that we are going to seek peace and not continue to fight wars over oil. And that’s all of us who drive, who get their food stuffs from all quarters of America by truck and not train, who fly as frequently as we do, and who continue to heat their homes with oil.
Greed breeds greed–and I’m not saying wanting to be warm or to drive in one’s own car though a rain storm is greedy. The demands of assimilation might be seen, thus, as catalysts in developing greed among our most recent arrivals; however, the emigrants creed is almost one or another variation on the accumulation of wealth we in America hold as a value often higher than that of justice or truth or freedom. Natives and emigrants alike just as often hold wealth as the highest truth and the firmest evidence of wisdom–yes, you could say that Mammon in America is God. Seen from the prospective of having virtually nothing in one’s former country, we rationalize the greed of the immigrant, applaud its voraciousness, and hold in esteem the success of this avarice as proof postive that Social Darwinism is thankfully alive and thriving in America. Moreover, the high percentage of bourgeoisie that immigrate to America makes me imagine them, more likely in my mind, to be the bearers of a greed that only contributes to a furthering of the general and all pervasive avarice that has consumed us as a nation.
I simply count how many SUVs I see on the roads, the highways clogged and congested all across America. The sloth-mobile is one of the principal contributors to American obesity, another side effect of our greed, avarice being for money, for sex, for food, for immediate gratification. We drive everywhere, around the corner to get a newspaper. Our sloth is just another form of greed; all the deadly sins are contingent and correlative. We are disgustingly fat; too fat for sure with childhood obesity reaching alarming rates. Who could have imagined a generation of children expected to live shorter than their parents, certainly fewer years than their grandparents. How can starving masses not hate us–why do we deny immigration to a greater percentage of these and offer it to bourgeoisie from around the world? Divide and conquer the bourgeoie, pitting native and non-native bourgeoisie in competition? Hopefully getting another person good-enough, but one that can be paid less? At the same time–a government bent on curtailing social welfare might want future generations to live shorter lives.
Darwinism for humans has always meant the will of the stronger. America has had recurring love affairs with Social Darwinism. Stronger for humans has always been redefined as richer. The rich can buy anything they need to continue one more day, if necessary, even your water. Bush had opened once protected land to strip miners; that’s a kind of nostalgia for the old west that could easily bring back land grabbing, treaty breaking, rustling, lynching, and why not slavery. As much as we pay workers at minimum wage, with as many workers in America and children of workers in America without adequate health care . . . and as fat and semi-literate as we are, how could hope not to be weaned out by wolves hounding us, hunting us, haunting our waking lives like nightmares in the day time.
We have been selling our water as well as our air for money, haven’t we, for how many decades, or has it always been, a perpetuation ad perpetuum? Certainly the rich can buy the loyalty of your sons and daughters who have been raised to think that the United States of America is the best of all possible countries, even if just for the Constitution, a document most of them couldn’t read beyond the superficial layer of the print on the page, especially with what passes for literacy training and education in the Public Schools and now in our universities, if only our community colleges, where we train readers to be superficial skimmers of pages who then divine meaning by closing their eyes and imagining what a text might be saying. How do you feel has for so long replaced what do you think, itself a form of cognition too dependent on the subjective appearances to a single muddled receiver of ideas, that we don’t know how to think at all. The reduction in the values of literacy have gone a long way in making the great mass of immigrants feel less self conscious about how poorly they use English. There is not one non-native speaker of English in any capacity of literacy development in any school or organization anywhere I have ever met who hasn’t helped perpetuate the good-enough mentality while chipping away at former values of literacy being too elitist for democracy to function appropriately. Mediocrity is the new superior. The irony has remained, though, that the truth is exactly the opposite of the position these non-native seekers of hegemony have maintained, mostly perpetuating their false rhetoric in an effort to secure their hegemony over their non-native compatriots.