The Almtghty Dollar
Political and technological developments are rapidly obliterating all cultural differences and it is possible that, in a not remote future, it will be impossible to distinguish human beings living on one area of the earth’s surface from those living on any other, but our different pasts have not yet been completely erased and .cultural differences are still perceptible. The most striking difference between an American and a European is the difference in their attitudes towards money. Every European knows, as a matter of historical fact, that, in Europe, wealth could only be acquired at the expense of other human beings,either by conquering them or by exploiting their labor in factories. Further, even after the Industrial Revolution began, the number of persons who could rise from poverty to wealth was small: the vast majority took it for granted that they should not.be much richer nor poorer than their fathers. In consequence,no European associates wealth with personal merit or poverty with personal failure.
In the United States, wealth was also acquired by stealing, but the real exploited victim was not a human being but poor Mother Earth and her creatures who were ruthlessly plundered. It is true that the Indians were expropriated, but this was not, as it had always been in Europe, a matter of the conqueror seizing the wealth of the conquered, for the Indian had never realized the potential riches of his country. It is also true that, in the Southern states, men lived on the labor of slaves, but slave labor did not make them fortunes; what made slavery in the South all the more inexcusable was that,in addition to being morally wicked, it didn’t even pay off handsomely.
Thanks to the natural resources of the country, every American, until quite recently, could reasonably look forward to making more money than his father, so that, if he made less,the fault must be his; he was either lazy or inefficient. What an American values, therefore, is not the possession of money as such, but his power to make it as a proof of his manhood;once he has proved himself by making it, it has served its function and can be lost or given away. In no society in history have rich men given away so large a part of their fortunes. A poor American feels guilty at being poor, but less guilty than an American rentier who has inherited wealth but is doing nothing to increase it; what can the latter do but take to drink and psychoanalysis?
政治与科技的发展正迅速消除一切文化差异，在不久的将来，人们有可能没办法把地球上一个地区的人与居住在另一个地区的人区分开来，但我们不同的过去还没有完全被抹灭，文化的差异依然清晰可见。 美国人与欧洲人之间最明显的不同在于他们对待金钱的态度不同。每个欧洲人都知道(其实这也是历史事实)：在欧洲要获得财富只能牺牲别人，不论是通过征服他们，还是通过在工厂里剥削他们的劳动。此外，即使工业革命开始后，能由穷变富的人仍是少数：绝大多数人认为他们不会比自己上一代富太多或穷太多是理所当然的事。 因此，没有欧洲人会把财富与个人成就，或者把贫穷与个人失败联系在一起。在美国，财富也是偷盗而来，但那个真正受剥削的牺牲品不是人，而是被残酷掠夺的的可怜的大地母亲和她的生物。印第安人确实被剥夺了土地，但这并不像在欧洲那样征服者掠夺被征服者的财富，因为印第安人从来没有意识到他们国土上潜在的财富。在南方各州，也的确有人靠奴隶的劳动生活，但奴隶劳力并没有使他们发大财；南方奴隶制尤其不可原谅之处，除了它道德上极恶劣外，还在于它甚至不能慷慨地让南方人赚一大笔钱。