I am still determined to figure out what went wrong.
Whatever it was, it was bad – and in fact, pretty much eliminated the human species – that lost interest in the world about them. They have developed other interests – and it would be interesting to speculate about what those interests were.
The biggest thing that happened to us recently was the Industrial Revolution – and looking at its effect on us would be a good place to start.
This was clearly a case of our developing other interests – intense interests that were connected with getting rich and powerful. This was accomplished by the use of machines and industrial organizations – a potent combination. This revolution began in England – but was soon imported into the British Colonies – that eventually became the United States. Time-wise, we are looking at 1800.
We can consider the American economy, as it was late in the 18th Century. It consisted of two parts: the North and the South (does this sound familiar?) The North, personified by John Adams – was far different from the South and its planter economy, personified by George Washington.
The South, based in Virginia – was much richer and more powerful than the North – and was based on Slavery. It produced agricultural products for export to England – mainly tobacco. And imported luxury items from there also. It was firmly locked into the Industrial economy – and a speculation in Land.
Then the Americans had a lucky break – they had their Constitutional Convention and became the United States. The French Revolution, that happened at the same time – was a complete failure. Americans ended up with a huge territory – how big it was they didn’t even know – but they set about exploiting it – and eliminating its native inhabitants.
In its Civil War, the Industrial North defeated the Agrarian South. And America became an Industrial country – with its canals and railroads.
Now I can return to my original question – what did Americans become interested in? Which I can outline:
- Getting rich and powerful
- Industrial organizations
The last item actually started much earlier, with the beginning of the Modern World that invented factories, world trade, and banks. The Reformation divided Europe into the Protestant North and the Catholic South. But the Industrial Revolution (that happened mainly in the North) intensified these developments.
The Railroads were involved in all of them – getting rich, machinery, and vast industrial organizations. Abraham Lincoln, let me remind you – was a successful railroad lawyer.
At the same time, Americans became less interested in people. This was a subtle shift at first – but it intensified. And, most importantly – it was not noticed at all.
I repeat – it was not noticed at all!