The Living Myths of the West (II)
Written by Alfonso Elizondo
Created on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 11:55
Now I will try to briefly summarize the main myths that have enabled the hegemony of the West. The vast majority of them are still alive, even though it is clear that many of them are in their final stages.
Myth No. 1: There must be a vertical education from a child’s early years, where there is no interaction or tolerance on the part of teachers.
However, the present reality is that children in today’s societies are educated mainly by television. This device does not allow direct interchange or social interaction and has been producing generations of apathetic and complaint people. At the same time traditional educational institutions continue with the same type of education where there is no balanced interaction, nothing is shared, there is no openness, no reciprocity, but only submission and obedience.
Myth No.2: The misconception about wealth.
Throughout history, the word wealth has had many meanings: political power, social importance, possession of treasures, intrinsic value or as a function of the satisfaction it provides. It has focused on the idea that wealth corresponds to the set of goods and services produced by companies and public administrations at the national level in the form of an abundance of monetary income and personal possessions. It was the idea of social wealth as a result of what is produced and of wealth as a utility leading to the establishment of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a main indicator of wealth in the 20th century. However, this model, now gone global, degrades, impoverishes, destroys and exploits the cultural, social and human heritage of the entire planet.
Myth No.3: Industrial agriculture will eliminate hunger in the world.
That is false. Neither poverty nor hunger has been eliminated on the Planet. On the contrary, the industrial development of ‘First World’ agriculture has completely impoverished agricultural production in the so-called ‘developing countries’. In addition, old age is getting harder in Europe and the United States, than it is in the ‘Third World’, because the high GDP level in Europe and the US has been achieved through a lifestyle that is detrimental to the health of their populations.
Myth No.4: The use of pesticides and genetic engineering is harmless to health.
This is false. The use of pesticides depletes the soil, makes it infertile and creates lasting damage. Some pesticide gets into the mouths of those who consume the products of the soil, even if they wash the products before eating them. Humans are the first victims of this great myth about pesticides and genetic engineering, and this includes those who continue to get rich with GDP growth and the commercialization of genetic engineering.
Myth No.5: The belief that there are still ‘Third World’ peoples living in the Stone Age.
According to new anthropological and archaeological studies, the peoples whom the West called primitives also had their own prehistories. The ‘Stone Age’ is not a universal period as stated by the myths of the West. In the popular imagination there is the belief that before the great civilizations with a written history there was a period for which there is no evidence of evolution within human societies, so it has been arbitrarily concluded that some tribal human groups of our time still live in the Stone Age. But all these peoples, who are removed from the lifestyle imposed by the West, are part of our age, with their own way of living, their own technology and their own culture.
Myth No.6: There is no evolution or progress without industrial agriculture.-
In the Amazon, the Neolithic era appeared 5000 years before the Christian era. Its people began farming with medicinal plants and condiments. They never sought to grow food crops, nor did they seek to increase production. So even though they had the necessary knowledge to go into mass production, these societies chose their own historical evolution that was very different from that of the West. Through social consensus they developed a way of life that was considered part of the ecosystem and not superior to nature.
Myth No.7: Economic success leads to a better quality of life.
Although many people would like to be part of the ‘First World’, they never think that in developed countries all their high technology and their production and communication infrastructure have failed to make their people happy. Levels of depression are very high, people are violent and aggressive, many go crazy and others commit suicide. So, economic success is no guarantee of anything.
Myth No.8: High technology improves human relations.
On the contrary, modern technology isolates people more, and loads them up with devices that distract from their eyes, their ears and their thoughts. But all those devices are getting better and are still selling. Loneliness is becoming deeper and deeper, children are growing up surrounded by devices, without human warmth or contact with family and other living beings.
Myth No.9: The industrial model made the peasants in the West rich.
The truth is that in rich countries there have always been poor people, because the phenomenon of migration began with the peasant exodus. Peasants in the West used to live connected to ‘Mother Earth’, but the existing model of the industrial economy forced them to believe that their way of life was disastrous for the development of countries. Industrial agriculture reduced the number of farmers and with the excessive growth in the number of large cities, the few had to produce for the many. Consequently, the old landless peasants had to settle in the urban peripheries to work in the factories that were built there. And the State in the rich countries created public institutions for education and health so that the factories would not stop working because of the diseases or workplace accidents among the poor employed there.
Myth No.10: Competition is necessary.
The basic problem in the world lies in a misconception about wealth. In the West it is believed that gimmicks are a form of wealth that can bring happiness. But no human being can be happy being alone. The idea of success is linked to the idea of happiness, but what makes people really happy is contact with other human beings with whom they can communicate. What is really required is a global justice system so that every human being can spend time doing what he or she likes.
Addendum: There are certainly other living myths of the West, but the idea of writing short essays has forced me to end here.