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West's Effect on the World

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The West’s Affect on the World

Every nation is always in contention with one another. For every civilization that triumphs, others must suffer. For a majority of human history the strongest nations were comprised into a group known as the West. The west is home to the ideologies of democracy, capitalism, and consumerism. The idea of democracy has been forced upon many nations in the world by the Western states. Democracy however has been shown to be a very easily manipulated system. Capitalism has shown the need for expansion and exploitation over Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The west has always been in contention with other nations, along with contending with each other. Competition between western nations has led to a technological race and an arms race, which is now more apparent than ever in the United States. With military might came the need to take over other nations and thus the ideas of imperialism, and nation aristocracy. Africa, Latin America, and Asia has suffered and continues to suffer a great deal because of the triumph of the west through exploitation, expansion, and wealth, all major goals of capitalism and imperialism. The West has retarded the development in all facets for many countries in Africa, Latin America, and Asia and thus led to the suffering of the world.

One of the oldest ideologies from the west to the world is democracy. Democracy comes from the Greek words “demo” meaning people and “kratia” meaning rule, therefore rule of the people. Democracy is an egalitarian system of governance where all citizens together decide public policy, laws, the actions of the state, and public representatives. It makes sure that all citizens of a state have a say in the politics of a country. Although deemed a fair and just method of governance, it, like any other form of government has its flaws.

Although democracy is a very old and widely used system of government, it has been known to be rigged and taken advantage of. Electoral fraud is the illegal interference with the electoral process and is very common in almost every democratic society. Many democratic elections have been accused of fraud such as the Afghan election after US occupation, even the Iraqi elections. These two elections were accused of being rigged to allow American puppet leaders to come to power, as the same happened in Vietnam and followed with civil war, the same followed suit in Iraq. Puppet politicians are often put in place to feed the economic thirst of nations or corporations. The relationship between capitalism and democracy is therefore almost symbiotic. Capitalism requires democracy, or rather a flawed version of democracy.

To understand the relationship between capitalism and democracy one must first understand what capitalism is. Capitalism is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit. It allows for normal men without noble names to build their own riches and become what during the industrial age are known as the “Nouveau Riche.” These men are given the right to enhance their capital through private enterprise without any major interference from government. It gives men the chance to make a successful living for themselves through hard work and dedication rather than through a family name and enjoy their livings without paying major tributes to nobles.

Although good for the men that are considered the “Nouveau Riche”, capitalism requires substantial inequality for it to be successful. One of the reasons the industrial age succeeded in England was because the factory owners who would become the corporation-men had a large array of people to pick workers from. These workers were the absolute lowest economical classed people who were paid horrible wages and thus higher profits for the owners. These rich men would also avoid government regulations and overall had more power than any head of state. Although the bourgeoisie had major power within the state, when businesses grew from national to international, capitalism on an international stage also had the same effect.

The division of nations is of winners and losers, of nations tha t. Latin American nations, African nations, and some Asian countries were all losers at one point or still are to the Western powers. Ever since the Europeans ventured into these lands in the name of competition, expansion and wealth, these countries have continued to be the losers. Capitalism requires substantial inequality an international aristocracy and it can be seen in Latin America.

Latin America continues to exist at the service of others’ needs, as a source and reserve of oil, iron, copper, meat, fruits, coffee, and other raw materials that are meant for rich countries. These western countries profit more from consuming it more than Latin America does producing them. The taxes collected by the buyers are much higher than the prices received by the sellers. Alliance for Progress coordinator Covey T. Oliver in July 1968 stated that “to speak of fair prices is a “medieval” concept, for we are in the era of free trade.”Around the middle of the 20th century the world’s richest countries, which turned out to be European, and North American enjoyed a 50 percent higher living standard than the poor countries. President Nixon in April 1969 went on to state to the Organization of American States that “by the end of the twentieth century the United States; per capita income would be fifteen times higher than Latin America’s.” Latin America has been purged by the European states and America. They are only one continent among three that have been wholly damaged in the name of colonization, imperialism, and capitalism. Africa has been purged just as terribly.

When Europeans first made contact with Africans in the sixteenth-century they were exploited right away. The African tribes were not nearly as advanced as the Europeans in terms of technology and thus the Europeans already had an advantage. The African tribes offered to trade slaves for technology and food. The Europeans destroyed cultures, committed economic rape, and didn’t even leave the nation wholly until the last century. Many African nations were only born a few decades ago and this distorted and retarded the pace and tempo of nation-growth. Africa again continues to develop slowly compared to the rest of the world.

These European powers and other western powers would not expand as much as they did if not for the expansion that capitalism calls for. The capitalist system cannot be driven without satisfying its three main goals, expansion, exploitation, and wealth. Capitalism only met these developments through strength in colonialism, later imperialism, and now globalization, industrialization, and nationalism.

The bourgeoisie and later corporate businessmen could not exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production. Throughout history, capitalist profitability has required, and capitalist rule has brought, constant exploitation of geographic and social spaces. The relationship making this possible is the ownership and control of productive property. This means a small group that owns and controls a greater majority that does not own or control. It results in the powerlessness which requires the majority to work for wages to survive. This relationship between these two classes is the basis most important for capitalist development. The best place for capitalist development is poorer states where the people were easily manipulated. Thus the practice of colonization or the theory of colonialism was born. Karl Marx puts it best in this passage from the Communist Manifesto:

“He shares with the miser the passion for wealth as wealth. But that which in the miser is a mere idiosyncrasy, is, in the capitalist, the effect of the social mechanism of which he is but one of the wheels. Moreover, the development of capitalist production makes it constantly necessary to keep increasing the amount of capital … in a given industrial undertaking, and competition makes the immanent laws of capitalist production to be felt by each individual capitalist, as external coercive laws. It compels him to keep constantly extending his capital, in order to preserve it, but extend it he cannot, except by means of progressive accumulation.”

Capital accumulation is the basis for economic growth or expansion. Economic expansion and geographic expansion have both been tightly interwoven. If looking at a graph as economic expansion goes up vertically, so too will the national capitalism expanding its power outward over weaker societies will expand horizontally. These two forms of expansion can be seen as the heartbeat of the capitalist process. Both methods of expansion depend on the capital’s ability to exploit labour and the individual state’s approval in expanding capitalism’s muscle. The third aspect of this capitalist process is the indirect and direct rule by capital.

Colonialism is the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. The great mercantilist powers of the world have always fought one another for markets, trade routes, or sheer bitterness of commercial contests. These economic rivalries that have led to the bloodiest of wars and even the destruction of major civilizations are through the need to expand capital in the name of competition and the birth of colonialism.

When colonialism began, it started with small colonies that regulated economical policies in a certain region. These colonies were small and merely traded with locals. Soon the states of Europe had grown in population beyond the capacity of their own soil to feed them. To adhere to the increase in population the options were emigration, which comes the loss of said nation’s citizens, or encroachment into the colonies they had set trading posts in. Clearly this encroachment meant war, however what can evidently be seen is that the regions that originally had trading posts became part of European empires. The people of these African or American states became under the rule of there once old trading partners. Consequently from colonialism came the guiding principle of empire-building known as imperialism. Imperialism is a state’s goal to force its influence unto another state through diplomacy or the most widely used method, military force. The reasons for imperialism are the same as colonialism and the effects of both are still around today.

European expansion started around the end of the 15th century and only recently did it decline. At its peak in the beginning of the 20th century, vast parts of Africa and Asia were colonies of European powers. These nations were also very poor. As of 2012 the twenty poorest countries overall are all former colonies of the European powers. Through colonial activity, Africa was turned into a producer of raw material like Latin America, and like Latin America the exchange was unfair. This unfair exchange has left Africa in extreme poverty, where it is still today. Africa has been struggling for so long economically that the country is considered to be suffering from cultural imperialism.

Cultural imperialism is the when one nation in some way asserts its own culture into another culture. Cultural imperialism originally started due to the vast amounts of land all over the world that the western powers seized. This is known as Westernization. Traditional beliefs and customs are being replaced by Western or American customs. Many believe this could be attributed to the competition amongst the west for the best technology. In this competition came the invention of the television in Germany, and the radio by an assortment of American and other western inventors. Radios used to be found in almost every home, whereas televisions are now common. Both the radio and television usually broadcast a wide-array of western television shows and through this the younger generations of different countries namely India, Bangladesh, among many more are being exposed to Western culture. These children find western culture more appealing and thus they drop their own culture. Spurred on by desires for expansion and wealth, the Western powers have spread their influence to the farthest places in the globe. This influence has come culturally. However, it began through military force: the first aspect of imperialism and colonialism.

As states needed to expand their capital and find space for their burgeoning populations, imperialism became the answer. However, imperialism required encroachment into another state’s territory and this clearly means war. These wars were usually fought with native populations in a certain region. As there was always constant attacks by natives as well as the home front by other western powers countries began putting large sums of money into their military. This created a culture of militarism which can now be seen more than ever in the United States, with its 776 billion dollars per year military budget.

Due the competition that develops the military industrial complex in nations which is the attitude to constantly be developing innovative weaponry for usage in battles, the western powers have slowly but surely developed substantial supremacy in-comparison to the military’s of other nations. These western states also go onto trade their unique weaponry with each other within NATO-pacts and NAFTA-agreements. This creates a further inequality between the west and the rest. The most horrid example of this inequality is its usage in battle, usage that often comes in opposition to Human Rights Codes, the Geneva Convention, as well as other International laws.

When the Spaniards came to Latin America and met the Aztecs, they came to the new world with weaponry unimagined by the indigenous people of the continent. The Spaniards had guns, cannons, horses: all things never seen or utilized by the Aztecs. Their time in Latin America was highlighted by the bloodshed they caused throughout the continent in the name of colonization and commercial expansion. The use of advanced technology pushed the Aztec people to extinction in one of the earliest cases of mass genocide. Furthermore, when the United States of America finally became a recognized nation the revolutionaries dreamt of expanding coast to coast for the vast amount of resources in the land. They dreamt of manifest destiny and idea that led to genocidal wars against Native Americans.

“I firmly believe that when any territory outside the present terrirotiral limits of the US become necessary for our defense or essential for our commercial development, we out to lose no time in acquiring it.” – Senator Orville Platt of Connecticut, 1894

These early usages of advanced weaponry to commit mass-genocide all over the continent by these western-philosophy-inhibited states led to the total obliteration of most of the Native population of the Americas. On a more modern note, the United States in the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971 sued a defoliant called Agent Orange to wipe out agricultural land in Vietnam. This defoliant eventually turned out to be contaminated with an extremely toxic compound. As such, not only was agricultural land destroyed but a further 400,000 people were killed, and another 500,000 children were born with birth defects. Although the United States lost the Vietnam War the effects in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia are still seen today in its current generation.

Through centuries of exploitation, the West has become and still is the dominant civilization. They have perfected their stratagem on dominating other regions for labour, land, and other resources through colonialism, and the need for capitalism’s capital gain. The West continues to this day to exploit different parts of the world in order to inflate the astonishing level of power it has. The Western powers currently face no serious rivalries as India and China are still beginning to grow. It is in almost total control of the United Nations through veto-power, which allows them to benefit through their influence in every global affair. The military power of America, NATO, and NAFTA is unrivalled, and due to the relations between Western nations being so close internal conflict is almost impossible thus allowing technology trades. The West faces no economic challenges, besides Asian economic powers like China and Singapore; as well as India. The West has managed to continue this level of political and economical superiority for a few centuries and as time passed they have further refined their stability. Through their suppression of the cultures of other states they have successfully replaced the values and ideologies of other states with their own. The west has clearly degraded the development of the civilized world and has thus left the rest of the non-western world to suffer.

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