by Dr. Denise R. Ames
One of the most destructive things that’s happening in modern society is that we are losing our sense of the bonds that bind people together – which can lead to nightmares of social collapse. … Alexander McCall Smith
Why can’t we just get along? This is a question that I have been working on in my new book, Divided: Colliding Ways We See the World. In the next several posts in this blog series I am looking at the Modern Worldview. I would like to share with you some ideas that I have been exploring.
In the next several blogs, we are exploring the ideological, philosophical, scientific, religious, political, environmental and economic characteristics of the modern worldview.
The Modern Economy, Part 1
European exploration or exploitation (depending upon your point of view) contributed to the formation of a modern worldview. The Renaissance era of excitement and possibilities translated into more explorations by famed early explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespuci, Ferdinand Magellan, Francis Drake, Hernán Cortés, and many others. The reasons for this explosion of outward exploration are significant in shaping the modern worldview.
One of the reasons was the relative poverty of Western Europe at the time compared to other regions of the world, especially Asia and the Middle East. Their material poverty stimulated expansion by their only option: the sea. Europeans imported more goods from Asia than they exported to them; therefore, they had a trade imbalance that needed to be remedied.
Asians were quite self-sufficient and did not want or need any of the poor quality goods
made by Europeans. But Europeans coveted China’s luxury imports and spices from Southeast Asia. Exploration also signaled prestige, glory, and strength, attributes that Western Europeans craved. Hence, they invented or adapted from others technologically sophisticated weaponry which propelled them to become “gunpowder empires.” Their new technological inventions gave the West an edge in killing and intimidation around the world.
Accompanying Western exploration was the expansion of a capitalist economic system, another important reason in shaping of the modern worldview. Wealth poured into Western European banks in London and Amsterdam from the production of cash crops, such as sugar, tobacco, and cotton, as well as the fur trade, the mining of silver and gold, and the slave trade. African slaves, indigenous peoples, and indentured servants provided cheap and coerced labor necessary for conversion of these raw materials into valuable commodities traded on the world market.
An emerging middle class or bourgeoisie of bankers, merchants, financiers, and entrepreneurs secured this new-found wealth for themselves. They acquired a taste for sugar, furs and many other luxury products that spurred a consumer frenzy. With the modern worldview, two main economic forms developed: capitalism (managed and free trade) and socialism/communism.
About the Author
Dr. Denise R. Ames is a long-time educator, grade 7-university, author of seven books, and president of an educational non-profit, Center for Global Awareness, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. CGA provides books, resources, and services with a holistic, global- focused, and perspective-taking approach for their three programs: Global Awareness for Educators, books and resources for educators and students grade 9-university; Gather, Global Awareness Through Engaged Reflection, a self-organizing study and conversation program for adults focusing on seeing different perspectives of pressing global issues; and their most recent program Turn, Transformative Understanding and Reflection Network, which encourages lifelong and transformative learning to help us arrive at a place of personal and global well-being using a seven “path” approach.
For more about worldviews see Dr. Ames’ book Five Worldviews: How We See the World. $9.95