‘Go south, young man’

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A former Uruguayan guerrilla leader, President Jose Mujica . (Photo: Creative Commons / AFP/Getty - Pable Porciuncula)

By: Jamal Ghosn

Published Monday, October 13, 2014

There is “another West” in South America that is producing a new culture and political modalities with a different view on the world than the one we have been accustomed to in Europe and North America. Al-Akhbar will be publishing a series of articles depicting observations and impressions about South America, and its transformations.

The United States won the war against Mexico in 1847 and seized California. Soon, the colonizers of North America started expanding westward during the era known as the California Gold Rush.

Gold mines were being discovered in the western deserts and mining became a source of wealth that tempted European newcomers.

The saying “go West, young man” soon became a part of North America’s folklore. The phrase reflected the “American dream” which was represented by gold at the time.

However, the saying “gold does not lose its luster’ was obviously a lie. With time, gold did indeed lose its luster and turned black as greedy [colonizers] headed to the Arab deserts on a quest to find it.

The renowned pairs of jeans, now one of the most popular garments worn around the world, were in fact first created in the [American Old West] to accommodate for the work conditions of miners and factory workers.

This growing popularity of workers’ garments was matched by a prevailing concept that considered gold mining an economic pillar. Once a gold mine was exhausted, people quickly moved on to search for a new one.

The “go West, young man” system emerged as a prevailing international economic pattern with world governments – backed by parallel organizations – devising schemes on how to exploit natural resources. Soon, politics and wars revolved around controlling and consuming natural resources. Under this economic system, humanity’s role was reduced to serving these resources that have been buried in the bottom of the earth since ancient geological eras.

After the gold rush, coal and oil became the new obsession of the world economy, turning modern humans into mere servants of the fossils of dinosaurs and ancient creatures that roamed the earth some thousands of years ago before ending up as oil beneath its surface.

It is the same economy that is now driving the planet in the East and in the West. East Asia has exploited the consumption-based Western pattern to create jobs, but these jobs still serve this insatiable system. The Iphone-philia that recurs every autumn is a clear example of this consumption model that can only be described as pathological.

The World Bank and its partner organizations are the ultimate guards of this economic model. Since the end of the Cold War, no one has ever voluntarily infringed on the system, and the few who have dared to break out were punished like a troublemaking student forced to stand in the corner by his teacher.

Today, we are living through a horror movie brought to life by none other than Hollywood, which was itself built on the remains of the West’s gold.

However, the dead have resurrected from the bottom of the earth, but they are not zombies but coal and fossil fuel. And the invention that surpassed the human brain which invented it, is not a rebellious robot like sci-fi pioneer Isaac Asimov imagined, but the invisible hand of Adam Smith. Thus, once again, the narrative of divine religions is proven correct; we are all now the sons of Adam, praise the lord!

But do not fall into despair, like in all Hollywood movies the American hero is coming to the rescue. He will save humans in the face of zombies and robots, and he will be armed by an economy that puts “people first.” This mighty hero will replace the slogan “I want more gold” with “I want more life.”

This American still believes that enough is “enough” and that it is possible to feel full without seeking satiety. But do not waste your time searching for this hero in the northern part of the continent.

If you wish to find the humanity we lost… go south, young man!

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar English's editorial policy. If you would like to submit a thoughtful response to one of our opinion pieces, send your contribution to our submissions editor.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


Perhaps there is a bit of a turnaround in Central and South America while the USA is infesting other lands with war but I hope that these areas south of the Rio Grande will not suffer a resurrection of of American focused CIA and crushing Americanism that has kept and still keeps these countries indentured to the US machine of Manifest Destiny - World Ownership as has been the past horrors that Central and South America have been put through.

Perhaps you could say more about why going south is a good thing? It's also a eupheumism for things that are broken or finished or usless, 'it went south'.

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