A NEW FATAL PLAGUE ON MANKIND!The Rise of Money Morality
The fact that Judaism, Christianity and Islam failed in their self-declared mandates to control human behavior allowed the rise of a new morality that is even more destructive—a new morality that was fueled by the Industrial Revolution that began in England in the early 1800s and was to have more far-reaching effects on human history than any other element since the development of agriculture and the creation of god-based religions.
One of the most important of these effects was that the new economy that developed over the next century was centered on profit-making as the new imperative of all businesses and government organizations, and earning money was the new imperative of the people who worked for them.
During the early 19th century money-and-profit-making became the economic, social and political foundations of the industrialized countries of the West. By the beginning of the 20th century all of the domestic and international affairs of the newly industrialized countries were based on the new money morality.
The perceived and real need for economic expansion, both to meet growing populations and the hunger for more economic and political power, resulted in wars becoming an even more vital aspect of public policy in a number of countries.
Among the first of these economic wars was the invasion and colonization of most of Southeast Asia and big chunks of China by European countries. In the early 1900s Japan joined the fray by invading and colonizing Korea. Then came World War I and World War II, both started by Germany to expand its economic and political clout, with Japan soon following the German example by invading China, Southeast Asia and islands in the Pacific.
At present, most of the conflicts among industrialized nations are economic rather than military. But killing and other savage actions continue on a grand scale in some countries—despite efforts by the United Nations and individual nations to stop them.
No matter how many reasons one can come up with to explain this violence the ultimate cause lies in the lack of the right kind of practical and moral education—education that programs people in the commonsense attributes that are the foundation of peace, goodwill, tolerance and cooperation in improving the welfare of all—all things god-based religions have failed to do.
There is virtually no area of human endeavor, including the survival and activities of religious institutions, that is not based on or does not depend on money.
The Excess-Consumption Time Bomb!
The profit motive has not only replaced religious-based moralities it has created an excess-consumption syndrome that is socially and spiritually insane and is like a cancer eating away at humanity and inflicting irreparable harm to the Earth.
The areas of human consumption in industrialized societies that are the most abused by the compulsion to make a profit—and are the most damaging to both humanity and the Earth—include fossil-based energy, military armaments, fashion-based wearing apparel, drugs, processed foodstuffs, alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and sugar-laden drinks.
The damage done not only to the human psyche and societies in general but also to the Earth by promoting excess consumption of these and other products is incalculable in both spiritual and material terms.
This mindless drive to make a profit based on excess consumption results in most of the imagination and creative talent of mankind being used to promote the sales of products in volumes that are not related in any way to the actual needs of people.
More and more people are recognizing the stupidity and immorality of this kind of culture, but only a few have the intestinal fortitude in the first place to not fall prey to the blandishments of advertising and a social image that publicly proclaims their success in making more money than what they need to live modestly. Fewer still willingly give it up after they are caught up in the conspicuous consumption syndrome.
Americans created this lifestyle and mentality, and like a disease it has spread to other countries, particularly the newly developed and still developing countries, with China being an outstanding example.
What is incredible about the rise of China and the problems of the United States is that the Chinese approach to education, the economy and international trade as expounded by Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010 was more rational and intelligent—if self-serving—than the American approach…a phenomenon recorded by Fareed Zakaria, an editor of Time magazine, following an interview of Wen.
Zakaria noted that the policies the Chinese leadership has followed since the 1980s have included building new colleges and universities, dramatically increasing the number of graduates in math and science and building an infrastructure that includes state-of-the-art airports, highways and a high-speed train network—all key parts of modernizing and internationalizing China’s economy. He added that the education network the Chinese created in less than a decade is the largest in the world—an expansion Yale University President Richard Levin described as with-out precedent.
Just as American business and government leaders ignored the fantastic economic progress Japan made between 1950 and 1970—during which it became the world’s second largest economy—they at first ignored the fact that China began taking exactly the same steps in the late 1970s.
What an incredible example of the myopia and willful stupidity of American leaders in all fields! The once despised Chinese Communist leaders giving Americans a lesson in capitalism! And by the end of the first decade of the 21st century China was already in the midst of its second giant leap forward: the creation of a mass market that could eventually encompass over one billion people—a phenomenon that will have far more impact on the world than the rise of Japan.
But in creating their own economic juggernaut the Chinese leaders seem to have forgotten some of the other sage wisdom of Lao Tzu, who almost three thousand years ago wrote: “When man interferes with nature the sky becomes filthy, the Earth becomes depleted, harmony with nature disappears, and creatures become extinct.”
Japan was the first Asian nation in modern times to develop a mass market-based economy—between 1950 and 1965—a remarkable event chronicled in 1967 in the book, The Japanese as Consumers—Asia’s First Mass Market, written by this author [of this book] and Fred Thomas Perry.
Japan was also the first Asian nation to fall prey to the excess consumption syndrome; a cultural switch of extraordinary importance because up to 1960 the Japanese had maintained an austere but physically, emotionally and spiritually balanced life-style for over two thousand years.
This early unique Japanese lifestyle evolved from precepts contained in Shintō, their native religion, which taught respect and reverence for nature; for beauty simplified and refined down to its essence; the avoidance of conspicuous excess display, and the presence of harmony in design and style as well as in behavior.
The traditional lifestyle of the Japanese has been maintained in many areas, including shops dealing in traditional arts and crafts, restaurants featuring traditional foods, and traditional ryokan [rio-kahn] or inns, which still abound in the country. But for the majority of the Japanese it has been replaced by the American or Western style of living.
However, before the turn of the 21st century a growing number of Japanese began to suffer from a cultural malaise brought on by the mass consumption lifestyle, resulting in them going at least part of the way back to the simple way of living that had sustained them for millennia. For some, this included moving out of crowded urban areas into the countryside.
The whole industrialized world is challenged to follow this example to some extent—overcoming the excess-consumption syndrome and returning to a more balanced and satisfying lifestyle. This movement, although tiny, is growing in the United States, albeit slowly. Much of the future of the world depends on what China will do.
It should not be surprising to Westerns caught up in mass consumption that the foundation of Japan’s traditional lifestyle was emotional and spiritual harmony; the antithesis of mass consumption.
While it is inconceivable that large numbers of affluent Americans and other Westerners would give up their wasteful and discordant lifestyles readily and easily, it nevertheless is one way that would return commonsense and harmony to their lives.
If you are interested in learning more about the foundation of Japan’s traditional culture, see ELEMENTS OF JAP-ANESE DESIGN – Understanding and Using Japan’s Classic Wabi-Sabi-Shibui Concepts.
***This blog was excerpted from my book: THE PLAGUE OF MALE DOMINANCE – The Cause and Cure!, available in ebook and printed formats from Amazon.com.
Boyé Lafayette De Mente has been involved with Asia since the late 1940s as a member of a U.S. intelligence agency, journalist and editor. He is a graduate of Jōchi University in Tokyo, Japan and Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, USA. In addition to books on the business practices, social behavior and languages of China, Japan, Korea and Mexico he has written extensively about the moral collapse of the U.S. along with books on his home state of Arizona. To see a full list of his books go to: www.authorsonlinebookshop.com. Recent books include: CHINA Understanding & Dealing with the Chinese Way of Doing Business; JAPAN Understanding & Dealing with the NEW Japanese Way of Doing Business; AMERICA’S FAMOUS HOPI INDIANS; ARIZONA’S LORDS OF THE LAND [the Navajos] and SPEAK JAPANESE TODAY – A Little Language Goes a Long Way!