Monday, January 21, 2013

Americanization

Something came up today. Capitalism gone too far, while it effects America profoundly, and has a heavy toll on the rest of the world, doesn't really take into account the effect on those places kind of part of America, but with very different cultures. Places like Hawai'i and America Samoa. (I'm going to avoid the Native American subject for the time being because I'd rather focus on the Pacific Islands under American rule),

By now, those who've read a lot of this blog (I've got to note that there's been a predominantly American audience to this blog of late), know what I mean by rampant capitalism. Namely that money (or representations of money - i.e. is the value expressed in dollars in the stock market real?) has more value than ... well... everything. That while people may think of themselves as being moral because they "look after their own" - whether "their own" is family, a particular race, religion etc. makes little difference - by my own reckoning, doesn't necessarily make them moral. And while it's okay to "look after your own", it's the dehumanizing of other people that has lead to the word "genocide" and it's use throughout history. So arguments such as "publicly funded healthcare will cost more than current solutions" is dismissive to people and makes a purely capitalistic argument.

So what happens when you take a culture, focused primarily on people, and apply rampant capitalism? I'm told that there is a certain sadness to the Hawaiian people. And America Samoa is on a different extreme. I haven't really had time to fully explore this phenomenon, but I suspect this has to do with points of comparison. While the Hawaiian people, who are considered Maori, have New Zealand Maori as an example - Kura Kaupapa (Maori language immersion schools - The Hawaiian's are making attempts in this area), the Treaty of Waitangi and the claims and resolution system (the Waitangi Tribunal) etc. - the American Samoan's have Samoa as an example.

Samoa has an interesting system in that only matai (chieftains?) are allowed to stand for election. Prior to 1990, only matai were given the right to vote. So while there's a framework of democracy (voting), assuming that the title of matai is passed down a family line, it's a monarchy. And while it can be argued that this is a terrible thing, I would put forward the argument that it is the people that give the matai so much power - in much the same way that value bestowed upon bits of paper is much the same thing (money). What we know of most monarchy's is that they fail because those in rule are, more often than not, detached (out of touch) from those being "ruled" by virtue of their privileged position.

What effect does this really have on American Samoans? I'm told they speak with quite different accents from (Western) Samoan's - a need to assimilate into American culture? (Otherwise labelled "accent neutralization" in India where Raj isn't Raj on the phone - he's Rob). Are they losing something of themselves by being part of America?

Meanwhile, I can only (at this time) assume that the Hawaiians are resentful of the culture imposed upon them. A culture of money over people.. And to think - it's no longer a country, but rather, a State of the United States... (for 50 years now). So if you ever get the privilege of visiting Hawai'i, I'd suggest seeking out the locals and seeing how the indigenous people are treated. I'm willing to bet that it's worlds apart from the luxurious resorts.

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