You can watch the whole movie on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B13F881195866370
The film uses quantum physics to explore the our perception of the world, very revealing.
I believe everybody will benefit from the film and start to make changes. But how long will it last? We are too full of ourselves, and the physical senses are so powerful that it blinds us most of the time. Being sober is hard. We need strong self control to really find our real self.
Some young people are living for their image in the mirror or other people's view. They leave no time for their spirit and mind, and don't identify what is good and what is bad. For example, saying dirty words seem to be a cool thing for many students.
We should not live in a "Stimulus-Reaction" sort of life. The world is how we look at it. We are creating our world in our mind. Start constructing your own beautiful world.
This idea has been accepted as ethical, apparent and inexorable, a mission for the chosen American people. It has always been the force (and excuse) behind US expansion and fueling nationalism and global conquest.
The first generation of settlers survived because of the generous help of Native Americans. People would suppose that the Thanks Giving is not only dedicated to God. A little bit of the gratitude should go to the native Indians.
Hundred years later, after the War of 1812, US economy flourished, population soared (US population grew by ten million in 25 year between 1820 and 1845) and the acquisition of land double the size of the country. The westward movement started. People of all back grounds and status marched across the Appalachian, poured into Ohio and Mississippi River valley. By 1850, more than two thirds of American population lived west of the Appalachian.
The federal government reflected the nationalist outlook by giving western land to private hands and non-Indian people. Some of the public land was even granted as a reward for military service. For example, veterans of the War of 1812 received 160 acres. Private credit system rose every where, providing people with abundant credit to make purchase.
Even though Native Americans has been living on the those lands for thousands of years, the land "belonged" to the Christian white man due to a "divine mandate" and "superior civilization." US Constitution says that the government should deal with Native Americans following international protocols. But in fact American government use treaty making as a way to acquire Indian land. In “A People and a Nation”, the book briefly mentioned that “Whether through arms or economic pressure, the federal government forced Native Americans to sign and relinquish treaties.” Who could ever tell how many misery and tears were behind these “arms and economic pressure”.
Indians tried to integrate into the market economy and adapt, but their total removal is destined to come. Americans started with assimilation, enrolling Indian students into schools, teach them English alongside the Christian Gospel. But then Americans found this kind of simulation take too long time. Indian removal was soon turned into an “honorable” federal policy.
Resistance was no use. Indians were forced to go on to the “Trail of Tears”. How many people have died, we will never know, and no one seem to be interested. The winner writes the history. But the echoes of pain will remain on this piece of land.
War with Mexico
The War with Mexico is another great illustration of how the manifest destiny served the political interests and the need of expansion. The U.S. population grew from more than five million in 1800 to more than 23 million by 1850. Thus, there was a need to expand into new territories to accommodate this rapid growth. President Polk lusted for California and huge amount of territory. And by building West Coast ports, maritime merchants can expand and promote new commerce and increased trade with countries in the Pacific. After a series of carefully planed activities, US army crossed the contested boarder and raised the conflict. Polk then drafted a biased message to the Congress and hid many crucial facts. People don’t know what’s going on, but pushed by the holy idea of manifest destiny and aroused by nationalism and sensationalist media, the whole country went into war. Some Eastern Democrats even argued that bringing Mexico into the Union was the best way to ensure future peace in the region.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brought huge amount of precious land under American territory. Those Mexican citizens living on those lands were then victim of institutionalized racism.
Manifest destiny played a remarkably role to fuel the expansionist spirit, a fulfillment of Anglo-Saxon-Christian destiny to expand and possess the continent and spread the civilization. Racism was also obvious in public opinion, as one Illinois newspaper claimed that Mexicans were “reptiles in the path of progressive democracy”.
In comparison to Nazi
I go through the materials of “Manifest Destiny” with confusion and indignation. I can’t help comparing this idea to Nazi theory, and I find more similarity than difference. For example, in his book, Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler detailed his belief that the German people needed Lebensraum (living space) for a Großdeutschland, land, and raw materials – and that it should be taken in the East. It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, Germanize or enslave the Polish, Russian and other Slavic populations, and to repopulate the land with racially pure Germanic peoples. How surprisingly similar this is to the US policies towards native Indians!
Both Nazi theory and Manifest Destiny boost racism and cultural superiority (Japan once also believed that its people have the finest blood in the world). Both of them have created all kind of ideas to justify their crimes and arouse people’s nationalist emotion. Normal people blindly and happily joined the crusade of murder. Both ideologies direct the nations to gain the global hegemony, create super empires, make wars, gain resources and land and kill people. They both believe that they are doing the right, good and sacred things, but they are actually creating huge misery for man kind.
Of course, the main difference is that Germany lost the war, and America thrived. Winners write history. I’m quite sure if Germany wins the war, the history will be written in a very different way, and America’s Manifest Destiny will be the evil story and be pictured as a bloody hypocrisy, which is also true, to some extend.
Manifest Destiny is not always bad. At the beginning of American history, it has helped American people fight for freedom and build their own country. President Abraham Lincoln's described the United States as "the last, best hope of Earth". President Wilson also said in 1920 after the World War I: “This is the time of all others when Democracy should prove its purity and its spiritual power to prevail. It is surely the manifest destiny of the United States to lead in the attempt to make this spirit prevail.” It was true for a while, but certainly not always.
As the country grows, the negative side of this idea begins to show. This idea has helped to create wars and miseries in both America and the rest of the world, mainly in the rest of the world. God’s authorization to America is due.
American Foreign Policies
US foreign policy has been greatly influenced by the theory of Manifest Destiny, though it means different things to different people. US leaders talked about global “leadership and partnership”, viewing the US as the absolute, God-chosen superpower and leader of world affairs. US push double standards and unilateralism, take the role of international police and interfere frequently with other countries’ domestic affairs.
Bush said to American people in his 2005 inaugural address: “The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.”
In fact, the Manifest Destiny has sometimes become a weapon, a weapon of Mass Destruction instead of Manifest Destiny. This weapon has been proven to be very effective, especially during the Bush administration. Public emotion can always be easily aroused and people’s approval gained when the government starts to talk about saving the world, fighting the evil forces, liberating the people under authoritarian control and so on. US-Iraq War is the best illustration.
Similarly, the US government love to talk about human right when they themselves are among the most notorious violator of human rights. They use human rights as a powerful diplomatic tool to make influence on other countries. For example, America blames Chinese activities in Sudan while America itself is supporting a medieval monarch in Saudi Arabia. This behavior is having an extremely bad effect, hurting its international image, destroying the government’s credit and making Americans’ presence in the world less and less favorable.
US has the tradition of putting itself on a higher moral ground than other countries and teach other what to do as if God himself has authorized US to be his representative on earth. US believe that America’s system is the best system ever in human history, therefore should be planted in all other countries. This may have something to do with the aggressiveness of Christianity. In comparison, Buddhism, Confucius and other eastern philosophy have never had such self-importance and aggressiveness/expansionism.
What exactly it is
In the reading “Race, Manifest Destiny, and the US War with Mexico”, the author said that “In the 1840s, the US pursuit of western territory was inspired by the idea of manifest destiny…” But actually, US is driven by the greed to acquire land and then coined and promoted such ideas like Manifest Destiny. Worse more, they are taking advantage of God. They claimed that these words come out of the mouth of God, and therefore their expansion/invasion is holy and can be justified. Normal people tend to believe what the media and government says, and they love to be inspired.
It is not that people heard the call of god and then started the expansion. The truth is, people feel the need of expansion, and then create all kinds of ideas to justify and glorify their greed. The Manifest Destiny is created to serve people’s interests and need.
The Bible was created thousand years before the birth of USA. All the theories of the divine destiny of America are created by certain people on certain purposes, driven by greed and self-interests. All the ideas are illusion and lies. They choose to believe in something even though they know it is not true, and it is extremely easy to get lost in lies when millions of people lie together to themselves.
I’m definitely not the first one to raise such argument. In fact, as soon as Manifest Destiny was coined, Representative Robert Winthrop ridiculed the concept in Congress, saying "I suppose the right of a manifest destiny to spread will not be admitted to exist in any nation except the universal Yankee nation." A lot of other people criticize the advocate of Manifest Destiny that they were citing "Divine Providence" for justification of actions that were motivated by chauvinism and self-interest. Despite this criticism, expansionists embraced the phrase and “inspired” the whole country.
O'Sullivan used this term when he argued that the United States had the right to claim "the whole of Oregon". This phrase has since then accompanied American history, influenced American thoughts and generated all kinds of policies. All these policies are not always compatible because nobody can say what exactly the manifest destiny is. This vagueness has created great convenience for policy makers. Politicians can take full advantage of this exciting slogan and make people believe they are doing what God want from them. I wonder whether God, looking down from heaven upon us, is crying or laughing.
American people love to believe in the Manifest Destiny because it gives them a sense of self-righteousness and provide them with national pride and confidence, as well as arrogance and superiority. The idea was prevailing because of the unmatched US power. But we also need to identify between normal American people and the government’s policy. In many situations, normal American citizens are also victims of the government’s desire for expansion and new world order.
Today’s world is different. US no longer enjoy the absolute superpower. People are tired of US Washington’s bossy manner and no one believes America is spreading peace and democracy around the globe. The ideas of superiority and exceptionalism are no more acceptable. The ideology of racial and cultural superiority is against the will of global citizens. The Manifest Destiny no longer belongs to America. Its trademark belongs to the whole world.
The only reason that I apply is that I want to build up my credit record. Living in US, a good credit record will make things much easier. Especially in the future when I start my own business or deal more frequently with banks and financial institutions.
I've learned something interesting. There are three agencies evaluating my spending habit and so on to decide my credit. All banks will report my information to these three agencies, and according to a highly confidential formula, the agencies will give me a score. If I have a score above 700, then I will be fine everywhere.
This credit information is linked to my Social Security. It is very convenient, but also a bit scary. I have to be very careful, otherwise the bad record is going to accompany me for the rest of my life. Feels like the big brother is watching me.
Another thing is that I can get a better credit record if I have two credit card from two different banks, and keep paying my bills on time.
It is funny that the only way for me to prove that I am responsible and credible is to borrow money from banks. This system is encouraging living on debts, which is definitely not my favorite culture.
As a customer, I have to say Bank of America is a good bank. People working there are kind and professional. But as an individual, it is too hard to deal with banks. They are too good at calculation. I can't understand most of the words on the contract. I have to be extremely vigilant and ask them several times to find out if a service is really free, or it's just free for a week.
Well, let's create some alternatives =)
If you ask a Chinese to use one work to describe the current Chinese policies, domestic and international, I think most people will give you the answer: harmony.
Harmony is the most frequently used word in state media. Cooperation, multilateralism, noninterference, trust and equality and so on. This is at least what we hear from our government everyday. So Zakaria is right when he says that
One reason for this attitude is that
At the same time, inside
Using economic means to penetrate the American web is much safer and more profitable. This is a win-win situation. Other countries get real benefits, and
So my point is: Chins has no need, no ability and no intention to compete with US militarily.
Coming back to the soft power. I keep thinking what kinds of soft power
Another problem about Chinese economic growth is the distribution of wealth. Most people in
So I think the economic strength of
When I go further on the list of soft power, I think US is still far ahead in most areas. Take education for example.
Coming back from the future, looking at the present situation, I can’t help get a bit depressed again because of another soft power: freedom and rights.
The more serious thing is that Chinese government is “killing” the Chinese culture. Free
With all these problems, Chinese government still seems to be able to rule the country. Thanks to the hostility and unfairness of many foreign media, Chinese people choose to stand on the side of government and the government is using this nationalism to strengthen its rule.
I am quite sure, that the potential of Chinese people is only 20% released. Chinese hard work is recognized and rewarded. Creativity, integrity and imagination are being oppressed. I am expecting so eagerly that one day all Chinese minds are freed and there is no danger of expressing our real ideas. I hope that one day that the government will invite everyone to discuss how we can improve the present government. When the pressure is gone and freedom arrives, I’m very sure that
There is a problem of culture. Throughout
When you ask me what contribution
Africa is centrally located at many of the world maps. But Africa has always been regarded as isolated and backward. It seems to be the cut off from Eurasia and the rest of the world, and unable to benefit from the outside civilization, exchange and competition. African has always been seen as a borrower of technology and agriculture from Eurasia, which is proved not true by modern archeology. Actually, indigenous people have created important culture and civilization. However, historic changes happened when European came with guns and slavery.
Slavery has been practiced in Africa throughout the entire history. For centuries, the most valuable African resource for Europeans is the slave, which can be obtained at coastal port, no need to go into the continent. Then in 16th century, Europeans started unprecedented large scale of slave trade because market for slaves was almost limitless. The motivation was purely economic, and the method was extremely brutal, creating one of the biggest miseries in human history. Slave trade continued for over four centuries and was a huge demographic disaster, worsening the under-population of Africa. West Africa traded with the Atlantic world for more than 300 year but without any significant economic development. Many political systems exist at the same time, parasitizing on the flow of slaves over Atlantic Ocean. Europeans can easily carry out slave trade because they use Africans against Africans. Europeans asserted that Africans often sold one another for “mere baubles or the weapons of war”.
The profit for the Europeans and people from the new world was so great that any control or abolition is opposed and impossible. William Wilberforce said: “Interest can draw a film over the eyes so thick that blindness itself could do no more.” And slavery is a deliberately chosen blindness on human conscience.
It is again the interests changed people view and government’s policy. After the industrialization, the West needs no more human labor. They need market and raw materials. The abolitionist in England argued that slave trade is not efficient and profitable in comparison to a legitimate trade in Africa because advanced technology called for oversee market other than cheap supply of human power. In 1788, the African Association was found, followed by tides of systematic exploration and colonialism of Africa.
Most Africa wants to preserve as much independence and power as possible. Against the colonial invasion, some were forced to fight; some thought that there is no use to fight. Some people fight on the side of colonizer because colonizer looked like potential protector. At early stage, two obstacle confined European power to African coastline: disease and absence of military superiority. But later with new medicine and advanced machinery, Europe carved up Africa easily, partly because they can, again, use Africans against Africans. African polities are much divided, thus gave the colonizers the opportunity to take advantage of this divergence of interest. The fact that all Africans are black sometimes prevent people from seeing huge different between Africans. Actually, their cultures and interests are as different as those between the French and the English. The difference stopped Africans from organizing effective revolts. It became even harder after the establishment of colony because rebellion against a colonial government has to be underground thus smaller in scale.
Railway and motor transport vitalized the colonial economy and primarily benefited big European firms. They also enabled further colonization of land for cash crops in response to the high international prices and demand. Education contributed greatly to social change, giving the Africans access to the greater world. The spread of knowledge prepared people for further revolution and independence. Newspapers played a big role. Christianity improved the literacy and won over young people. The wave of western civilization and education transform the politics of Africa, gave rise the nationalism. At the same time, population grew rapidly. All factors worked together and fermented, which lead to the ultimate independence.
This series of stories gave me a better image of the development of capitalism and the accumulation of wealth. Cargos after cargoes of human are taken away from their family and sold into unknown land. Slaves are treated as assets or animals. Behind all these unimaginable crimes, it is only the drive of money and profit. Sometimes I find it really hard to understand this motivation. How ruthless, cunning and hypocritical! And these are no reason that these qualities will change. They will turn in another form, usually more polite and civilized form. The current financial crisis is offering us the best example. Those banker and fund managers are not “deserving.” Their financial derivatives create no value for society and benefit only themselves by getting other people into the trap or lending as much money as possible. It has been the same greed that is driving people, encouraging and rewarding their craziness.
I am criticizing these behaviors because I am not one of them and I don’t benefit from any of their deeds. But sometimes I also wonder what I will do when I am in their system and enjoying the benefit of exploitation? How far will my conscience go?
History is spiraling and going forward. It always repeats itself because the human nature never changes. The struggle between the dark and bright side of us never ends, a mixture of greed, fear, and hope.
If we look at a particular time in the history, it will seem so unimaginable and unequal. But from a broader perspective, the world always balances itself. All debts will be paid. At 16th century, Africa is indeed uncivilized and backward. Just like Chairman Mao pointed out at the beginning of Chinese revolution, that “lag behind and you will definitely get beaten up.” Europeans have beaten Africa up, but at the same time brought modernity. The justification like “White Man’s Burden” is somehow true. Westerners use their superiority to extract value, labor and resources from their colonies, but at the same time, the backward people begin to civilize themselves, unconsciously at first. Together with the economic growth and educational progress, Africans self-awareness was evoked. They redefined themselves and regained confidence of their power, culture and history, using the western ways.
Africa has gone through too much misery and war. God, whichever god it is, will not be so unfair to this piece of land. There must be a bright future lies ahead of Africa. At the same time, the west has stayed at the peak of world power for too long and has created too much pain for the rest of the world. Future generations will repay the debts as the history once again reach a new balance. I believe in this because of the history of China.
Civilizations are turning in a circle. Chinese has developed high level of culinary skills long before the Europeans get command of fire. Ancient record tells us that hundreds of year ago, Chinese describe the foreigners as “monstrous, hairy and smelly." Chinese emperor called the foreigners "barbarian" and disregard their culture, refuse to pay attention or learn from them. Hundreds of years later, the "barbarian" came back. They came back with perfume, guns filled with black powder and ships equipped with newest compass. (China invented the black powder and compass, but uses the black powder only for fireworks in New Year.) Then it was China’s turn to play the role of "barbarians" and less civilized people. China has paid for her arrogance and blindness.
The same thing which stopped China is happening in the West: laziness and complacency and the arrogance coming naturally with the power. Some of these dangers are not yet so obvious. This shift is good because it creates more room for the new comers.
On the other hand, I really don’t wish to see this cycle goes on, but people are too full of themselves and refuse to think about the unpleasant. I wish that when China comes back to where she should be, she won’t make the same mistakes or hurt the rest of the world. This will make the balance sheet of history much easier to carry on.
This film gives me a new perspective of understanding the history from 1940s till now. A lot of confusing US foreign policies become clear. I think Professor Klare really catches one of the most important issue of today's world: resources and the global competition for resources. In the end, resource is survival.
China is hungry. US is concerned. I hope China won't use violence and other evil means to acquire resources. Africa is a good place to start try something new.
Maybe China could build more hospitals and schools (or even Confucius Institutes) when they build pipelines and railways in Africa. We should offer the world an alternative.
Obviously, that is not what's going on in China now. But this is the reason why I come to an American College. I will learn, I will understand, and I will do it.
Capitalism: a love story. I think this is a successful film. Moore is making a good point. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. This film is focused on America. The situation in the rest of the world might be even worse.
I went to Bank of America the day after the film and talked to the people working in the bank. They love their job as well as the Bank of America, saying that they are very satisfied with this great company.
It is a mater of perspective.