After reading this wonderful editorial by Bill Maher I began considering the modern American zeitgeist and how paramount both the "Abrahamic religions" and capitalism seem to our current climate. For me, this begs a question - are capitalism and religion two entities which thrive independently of one another or are they two entities which have both gained promenence in this country by means of a kind of social co-evolution?
Personally, I feel the latter theory is not only correct but glaringly obvious.
Let me pre-face this by saying that I am not strictly anti-capitalism. Rather I should say, I'm anti-capitalism in the scope it's seen in America today, but I am also aware that no other system besides a somewhat capitalist one has ever proven to be successful and so I have concluded that it's not a bad system, it's just easily manipulated into becoming the monster we see in America today.
Many claim that the largely privitized system we have is a result of the American dream and therefore anyone who opposes it opposes the very spirit which made this counrty what it is today.
I disagree, first that the people who succeed in regard to large wealth are the people who made this country what it is. I think they're part of it, but of no more importance than the workers in that person's business who generate the products or services for far less than a six figure salary. Most of us are those people, and we're of no less importance to this country than the people who own the businesses that we work for.
I also disagree on the current attitude toward the American dream. I know I'm fond of this idea and I'm sure most people are either fond of it or reject it completely. I believe those who reject it completely are the more rational of the two. The American dream has always been just that - a dream. One that was attainable to many when the dream itself was not as decadent and self indulgent as it is today. When the American dream was for an immigrant to be able to come to America and start a new and better life, that was attainable for enough people to keep that dream going. Then the dream became having the house with the while picket fence, 2.5 kinds and all that. A notably different dream because the America of that time was different, but still simple and attainable. People wanted to have enough to live a comfortable but still modest lifestyle.
What is the American dream now? It seems to be a dead concept for most people because when it is envoked, the current incarnation of it is something so unattainable for everyday people that it's not even a dream anymore, it's a delusion. We are not all going to live the P. Diddy (or whatever his name is now) lifestyle, we can't all be ballers, we can't all live large. One of the reasons we can't is because that's not how capitalism works. As the rich get richer, the poor become more destitute. Therefore, this current American dream is an indication of the times and the popular acceptance that making money - lots of money - is the indication of success and should be a common goal. Though thankfully not for everyone, for many the current American dream is either a reminder of insigifigance and a beacon of hopelessness or it is an invitation to reach for that bank account - no holds barred.
For the no holds barred crowd which often turns to action which are hurtful in some way in the persuit of money, there is a wonderful privitized system to keep them busy - lawyers and jails and the like.
It is the hopless and even worse - the hopeful and unconcerned with the American dream that need to be kept busy in order to keep the current state of our caplitalist country going and that means diverting public interest as much as possible so that the people aren't allowed to realize the power they have as a unified force. This is where religion comes into play.
The marriage of government and religion has been happening since the beginning of time when the religious were known more as the wisemen of the society and therefore their wisdom was important to a governing body as a source of insight and information. With the progression of science, religion has lost it's power in regard to being the most accurate source of factual information, and so for fear of losing their position of influence and power, religion is trying to turn spirituality into a daily vitamin of sorts for Americans. That is to say, selling religion as something everyone needs in order to be a complete and healthy American.
Abrahamic religions specifically teach people to be subservient to a god figure and to follow his word unquestioningly. The word of god is delivered by the very people who are trying to keep their positions of power, so it is logical to conclude that these figures may have some vested interest in guiding people to accept capitalism as it is capitalism that allows religion to retain it's place.
My conjecturing is completely unscientific, but I follow this line of thinking to the conclusion that both capitalism and religion somewhat match one another in regard to extremity. This seems to explain the contradiction that, in a country so mired in greed and evidently unconcerned with the human toll that uncontrolled capitalism takes, extreme religious views which dictate, among lots of other things, that the sin of greed will send you to hell is so unquestioningly embraced.
More and more I feel that the religious pay very little attention to their holy books as a means of introspection and personal reflection. The proof is mounting that in actuality, these books are really only meant to be used as righeous weapons against anyone who proposes to question the powerful place of religion. Otherwise, most of what they say is of little importance.