Relying on Slavery and Genocide, Claiming for the Leader of World Democracy

The US thinks of itself as a world leader in democracy. It confuses and conflates economic and military might to it. Would the US think this of itself if it were equal economically and militarily to India after British colonialism ended in 1947? India is the largest ‘democracy’ in the world, after all. The US economic power, and thus its military strength, was created on the backs of enslaved Africans, the genocide of its indigenous population, and its geographic luck to be surrounded by oceans, distancing itself from Asia and Europe. Even though slavery has technically ended, it still exists. The 14th Amendment allows for slavery if there is ‘due process’. Our prisons are perfect examples of slavery today.

Even the furniture in Congress today, on which laws are written outlining what freedoms we can expect, are manufactured by prison labor before it even goes up for bidding. Chain gangs in the south build roads. Undocumented immigrants are placed in for-profit prisons and used to run their operations. Prisons use their inmates for field work, manufacturing, and even call centers. Pay is sometimes a dollar a day.

America’s Indian wars and the ‘reservation’ system to concentrate different tribes was the basis of Hitler’s concentration camps. The US wasn’t alone in this as the British employed it liberally in South Africa during the Boer wars. The land was stolen from American Indians for western (white) expansion and when natural resources were discovered. Ironically, the 2 of the 4 US presidents on Mount Rushmore (built with funds from the Ku Klux Klan) were slave owners and that land was sacred to the Lakota Sioux, but stolen as soon as gold was found and the Sioux ethnically cleansed from the area by the US Cavalry.

The question remains, would the US think of itself as the leader of world democracy if it didn’t rely on slavery and genocide to become the economic and military powerhouse that it is today?

How the US interacts with the world is based on a belief in ‘US exceptionalism’. This may be a modern term but it is only an extension of Manifest Destiny, a belief that a god granted his blessings and power to expand its empire, first internally and now world-wide. President Obama was a major proponent of US exceptionalism, believing in the righteousness of America and that it can only do good in the world, yet so often its actions are more evil than good.

It is true that there is a sense of altruism in our spirit, even worldwide. Although many would say we don’t pay our fair share, we as a people open our hearts and wallets to people all over the world in distress, especially when its climatic disasters. We have economic policies to bring up the living standards of people all over the world, even though the motive behind it is often purely capitalistic. But when countries try to improve their own lot by themselves, and at the expense of US economic power like increasing minimum wage in US factories there, the US lays its heavy hand on them and crushes them mercilessly. We only have to see what the US has done to countries like Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti, to mention only a few of Wall Street’s targeted countries.

President Biden’s Summit for Democracy was a virtual world wide forum ‘to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.’ (State Department) Yet the list of countries invited was almost a who’s who in anti-democracy and authoritarianism: Bolsinaro’s Brazil, Modi’s India, Duterte’s Philippines, just to name a few. Was it a concerted effort to bring democracy to the world or simply to cement a capitalist bond and isolate its greatest challengers- Russia and China?


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