Saturday, December 22, 2012

America: What Must Change? (Second of Three Parts)

By Mila D. Aguilar

Bits of History, Bits of Violence
(Part II of III)

The most extreme irony of Obama’s speech assuaging Newtown’s parents and children, aired on football TV, was provided by the many tweets that objected to what they called a “nigger” cutting in on their Sunday entertainment.

The irony arises not so much from the racism of the comments, but the utter violence with which they were blurted out.

The Wrap, which later cut down on the long list of samples they got from Twitter and zeroed in on one, boiled down the issue to “the dumbest racists.” 

But that analysis in itself is part of the American culture of violence. Name-calling is emotional and intellectual violence, often meted on those who would not submit to control.

How can a society with such deeply-embedded magmas of violence in its land ever manage to cool down to streams of peace and calm?

I must honestly state from the outset that I am a born again Christian and analyze phenomena from a Biblical perspective.

At the same time, I must say frankly that I have a rather deep grounding in Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tsetung Thought, and therefore also make sure that my analyses do not fly off to heaven without warrant of material evidences and processes.

The Spirit is principal only in those who choose it over themselves. Without that declared choice, consciousness -- whether personal or social -- cannot become a material force.

Therefore, though I know, like the billion Christians all over the world know, that 2 Chronicles 7:14 trenchantly applies to the United States of America today, I will not simply quote it like my billion brethren would.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Every Christian worth his/her salt knows that if s/he repents of his sins and calls on Jesus Christ, Son of God and God the Son, to heal him/her, He will forgive those sins and perform the miracle of transformation.

Repentance comes before forgiveness. The person, the nation, has to know his, its, sins and repent of them before s/he/it can be forgiven, and be transformed, healed.

In no instance in the Bible does Jesus heal without someone wanting His healing. The person, the nation, has to make the first step of wanting to be healed, which means s/he/it has some idea however vague of what has to be changed within him/her/it.

That is what America has to know, now, before it is too late. What are America’s sins? As long as these sins are not admitted and surrendered to Jesus Christ, they will remain deeply embedded in the nation’s soul, and that soul will never rise to be transformed.

It is not enough to say that the culture of violence is behind America’s present troubles. Where is this culture of violence rooted, and when did it start?

I came upon American history when I was teaching early American literature, and I must say I was shocked by what I discovered. Let me cite a few details that America has always denied of itself.

The Puritans

The group called the Puritans were the poor, deprived, and oppressed of England; their religious views also happened to be different from those of the mainstream of their time. They left England for Holland not only for religious but really, mainly, for class reasons; they were terribly treated in the land of their birth.

When they got to Holland, their first stop, they were again badly treated there. So they petitioned their king to grant them leave to get to America, which had been discovered almost a century before, but which England did not get interested in settling until their population problems became more obvious.

So after twelve years in Holland, these Puritan families set out for America. 

There were actually two expeditions that set out for America. The first, apparently unprepared for the prospect that America was already inhabited by other peoples, ended up in an island off the East Coast and were found decimated by the second.

The second learned from the first. They were sturdier, more numerous, and most important, more ready to kill.

Paolo Freire, the Latin American educator of the seventies, once said in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed that the oppressed are apt to carry over the habits, practices and tendencies of their oppressors unless they are made conscious of these and are able to overcome them.

The Puritans carried over the violence done upon them by their oppressors on the natives of the land they occupied. They killed them to get their piece of land, poisoned them, and spread disease upon them whenever and wherever they could.

Violence fed on violence because their protagonists were equally violent, having had to survive through the centuries in harsh wintry land full of such big wild animals as bears and bisons, and having had to subdue these for their food, clothing and shelter.

This violence did not spare their own kind.

Anne Hutchinson

In 1634, a woman by the name of Anne Hutchinson, whose brood eventually grew to 15 children, left England with her husband William to settle at the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston.

There, she began to gather in her home the women of the town, teaching them, contrary to what was being taught by the Puritans, that salvation came through grace and not by works, and that strict Puritan rules and regulations were nothing beside the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As the years wore on, her house meetings grew larger and larger and began to be attended by men. Her teachings soon became a threat to both legalistic church and state, which felt she was not upholding their authority nor their rigid moral and legal codes.

The next governor, John Winthrop, put her on trial for heresy. Rumors were spread that she believed in free love. Eventually, she was excommunicated and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, from which she had to leave with her husband and 13 children together with 60 followers.

Years later, when the Colony heard that Anne Hutchinson and her family were slaughtered by Indians in New Amsterdam (now New York), they rejoiced and celebrated.

Today, the Hutchinson River and the Hutchinson Road Parkway in New York are named after her, but Americans don’t remember that anymore, nor the violence done to her by their beloved Puritans.

The Deists

Another myth of America that must be dispelled is that its founders were believers in God. That is only half true. The whole truth is that many, if not most of its founders, were Deists. That is, they believed in a Creator God, but that Creator God at some point left Man alone to himself, to rule and to reign over the earth by himself, without intervention.

One of the prime Deists of his time was Benjamin Franklin. Yes, that Benjamin Franklin. You can read this thesis of his in “A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain.”

Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod, the bifocals, the Franklin stove, meant to be a replacement for the fireplace, and the glass armonica. He did the kite experiment which uncovered the nature of lightning and electricity. He founded the University of Pennsylvania, the 111 Infantry Regiment, the Union Fire Company (a fire brigade), the Library Company of Pennsylvania, and the American Philosophical Society (with John Bartram). He named the Gulf Stream, enabling British ships to cut their travel time to the U.S. by two weeks.

Franklin’s life was a demonstration of the Deists’ belief in themselves.

If we see America today trying to rule and reign over the world as if it were God, we can trace that tendency to its Deist founders.


Americans, of course, recall more fiercely the slavery to which the South subjected Negros illegally hauled against their will from Africa. 

The North freed those Negros, but in reality mainly because, despite their rhetoric of freedom and democracy, the former needed the labor to man their huge new factories in the East Coast.

It was the freeing of the Negroes to become workers in the factories of the East Coast that enabled the development of American capitalism to imperialism.


American history could not be fully appreciated without a knowledge of the term “imperialism,” which was explained by Lenin. Hold your biased horses, now, while I explain the phenomenon in Lenin’s highly scientific, objective language.

Imperialism, Lenin explained, is the highest stage of capitalism. In capitalism, goods are produced by workers in factories; the value workers add to those goods become profit that accrue to the personal benefit of the owners of the factory.

But in highly mechanized production, goods are produced quickly, such that soon, the whole population of the nation that produces them has already bought them.

The Singer Sewing Machine, one of the first products of American capitalism, first went into commercial production in the 1850s. After a few decades, almost every household in America most likely had them. Where to sell, since production could not be stopped?

Abroad, of course. Europe was most likely the first foreign target, since it was a developed market, but soon that too was glutted.

Where to sell next?

In the 1890s, the United States decided to take Latin America from doddering Spain, and got the Philippines as part of the bargain.

The first feature of imperialism, Lenin explained, is the formation of monopolies through the concentration of production and capital, so much so that these monopolies begin to play a decisive role in the economy.

For a long time, Singer was a monopoly in the manufacture of sewing machines. So was Kodak in terms of film.

The second feature of imperialism is the merger of bank capital with industrial capital and the consequent formation of financial capital ruled by a financial oligarchy.

The formation of Central Banks all over the world (in the U.S., the Federal Bank) is a manifestation of this phenomenon.

The third feature of imperialism is the precedence of the export of capital over the mere export of commodities.

This export of capital is enabled by the vast accumulation of capital by factory owners through profits accrued on the goods manufactured in their factories. 

After decades of selling Singer Sewing Machines and accumulating capital by it, its owner could afford to establish factories outside of the United States, bringing down his cost of production and further jacking up his profits.

The fourth feature of imperialism is the formation of international monopoly capitalist combines, or cartels, which share the world among themselves.

We see this phenomenon at work in the oil cartel, which fixes the price of world oil for its benefit.

The fifth feature of imperialism is the territorial division of the world among the biggest capitalist powers.

World War I and World War II are manifestations of this phenomenon.

As we can see from history, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the biggest powers after World War II. But compared with the United States, the Soviet Union was given only the crumbs of Eastern Europe by the Allies.

The first U.S. adventure of expansion after World War II took place in Korea, leading to Korea’s division. 

It tried its hand in Vietnam, but that adventure began its balance of payments problem, which today is seeing its culmination in the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

With the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. became the only superpower in the world.

Not learning from its experience in Vietnam, in 2003 it attacked Iraq on the pretext of 9/11.

Today it is inextricably bound up in Afghanistan and is poised to undertake another adventure in Iran.

Having tired of sending men to war, it now sends drones, calling the violence it wreaks on the men and women of the world, collateral damage.

Throughout its history, America has manifested its need to control, its predilection for violence, its preference to rule and reign over all, whether with God or without Him.

There are many details lacking in this short recount, but if you want to delve further, you may want to read A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. 

In that book are all the sins of which America must repent and ask forgiveness for, so that the Lord may hear and heal, and eventually transform it.

If it but behooves America to do so.

If American Christians would but deign to do so.

No comments: