Three social idealisms that cause Americans to work against their own interests are:
Supremacy is the political foundation of the settling of the American Continent by European Imperialists (Royal white males).
From the very beginning the native peoples of this continent were viewed by occupying settlers as worthless savages, not entitled to such rich lands. Not only was genocide waged against native tribes, but Africans were traded as slave chattel to work the lands and produce wealth for settlers of prominence. The institution of democracy by the founding fathers also excluded women, who were of a lesser station because of gender, and therefore unqualified to be voting citizens.
Religious institutions structure positions of power over the powerless in a hierarchical framework, consistent with the socio-economic and political foundations. Even though the founding fathers were critical and diverse enough to reject a state religion, nevertheless, religious idealism that reinforced supremacy could not be overcome. Religious ideals, such as manifest destiny, became the clarion call of supremacists building a new nation. Racism poisoned the social fabric of America. Discrimination because of skin color, non-Christian religious beliefs, poverty, gender, sexual orientation, etc. was used effectively by the ruling plutocracy to divide and conquer the common working people.
Capitalism is the economic system that establishes and maintains the worth and power of dynasties based on exploitation of nature and human labor in unrestrained competition for wealth. Free enterprise means freedom for the capitalist class, domination of the working class, depletion of natural resources, and destruction of the Earth.
Private ownership of land, property, means of production, and commerce, determined the leaders of this new nation, since non-propertied laborers were also not classified as voting citizens. Early settlers obtained land through grants from European kings. Like modern Corporate CEOs, they were granted lordship over entire territories, which were employed in the service of the king. After the American Revolution, as a new nation, native lands were expropriated and granted by the government to select settlers for the purpose of employing it in the service of nation-building through taxation. Thus, private ownership through imperialistic ideals became systemic within the new democracy.
Progress and timeline have been added to the Constitution as Bill of Rights and laws enacted by congress. I encourage every reader to study these documents and the history of the various movements that accomplished these victories for human rights, privacy, womens suffrage, labor union battles to organize and achieve rights for workers, heroic civil rights struggles of Black African-Americans, American Indian Movement, Peace and Justice movements against wars of aggression, environmental protection, etc. The struggle continues.
After over 200 years of united struggle, very little social change has penetrated the social idealisms of supremacy, religion, and capitalism. The most progressive period in the struggle against the greed of capitalism resulted in the government of Franklin Roosevelt with the New Deal, Social Security, expanded public domain, minimum wage laws, and workers rights. The McCarthy period was a reaction to these accomplishments, in light of international social movements to communism. Although most Americans did not know the meaning of communism, the McCarthy hysteria demonized any person suspected of exploring such an ideology. Many Americans still fear to learn about the principles of socialism and communism.
Today, Capitalist Fundamentalists are trying to rescind all historic progress, privatize our hard won public domain that supports the common wealth, and spread an imperialist corporate military-industrial version of manifest destiny throughout all global nations. Dynamics for social change are reaching a new threshold. The struggle is international and must reach critical mass soon to bring about a paradigm shift to egalitarian and just ideologies, grounded in realism, openness, and empathy.
This article is in response to Revolutionary Movements and Leadership, Charles Sullivans challenge for readers to respond with ideas on remaking civilization in the image of the common people, rather than the money changers. As a long-time activist for democracy and socialism, I humbly submit this additional treatise based on years of united struggle, as follow-up to Mr. Sullivans well-written, comprehensive, and honest distillation of humankind's active struggles in search of a world society that is egalitarian and just. A profound optimism for the enlightenment of the masses encourages me to speak out on this complex proposition and trust that others will also contribute to this dialogue.
Barbara Tutor is a retired information systems consultant, writer, and full-time activist for social justice and world peace. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org