Ah, Columbus Day—the birthday, nay, the Christmas of colonialism in the Americas. And like Christmas, almost nothing about it is factual, i.e., Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, there is no Santa Claus—in the same way, Columbus didn’t discover anything, he wasn’t some genius that defied the flat-earth myth of his day, etc. The facts are that Columbus and his ilk were genocidal, rapacious plunderers who deserve a national holiday about as much as Adolf Hitler or Genghis Khan. Which is to say, they don’t deserve one at all.
But Columbus is traditionally credited with discovering “The New World.” Of course it wasn’t any such thing—it had been there all along, as had its inhabitants. But it was new—to the Europeans–in the sense that the natives were untouched by the “civilized” concepts of private property, finance, money, profit above all else, gold being used as money, and so on. Indeed, we can turn to Columbus’ journal to show this:
“…[the natives] are so naive and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone….“
And de las Casas further illuminates the non-capitalist attitude of the New World’s inhabitants:
“…[the natives] put no value on gold and other precious things. They lack all manner of commerce, neither buying nor selling, and rely exclusively on their natural environment for maintenance. They are extremely generous with their possessions and by the same token covet the possessions of their friends and expect the same degree of liberality.”
What this means for us today
Unfortunately, there is no longer any “New World” to run off to, to make a new start in, to steal from. That’s bad news for everybody—those of us who just want to live our lives and watch our children grow up, as well as those of us who still harbor Columbian lust for money and power beyond the dreams of avarice. In the last century or so, that latter group has made their fortunes off of the Columbian model using debt slavery and financial genocide as opposed to the old-fashioned versions of those terrible things. Indeed, since there’s no new property to travel to, “discover,” and kick people out of, they just do it with the same property over and over—hence the fraudclosure model. Hedge funds, derivatives, and bailouts are the modern-day Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria.
But what if we reclaimed the New World values that Columbus and de las Casas told us about? What if we were “free with our possessions” and “put no value on gold and other precious things” (the fact that the natives put no value on gold pretty much puts the lie to the modern claim that “gold is money”—no, gold is gold)? What if we changed our society and began to “lack all manner of commerce, neither buying nor selling, and rely exclusively on [our] natural environment for maintenance?” Would we not be better off? Hasn’t this Columbian, Old World, mercantilist, colonial model proven itself to be a disaster for everyone but the Columbuses of the world?
Of course it has. It’s past time to return to pre-Columbian economic ideas, which as it turns out, were not at all “naïve” as Columbus described them. They were—and are—sustainable and the easiest way out of our current economic meltdown. Indeed, everything old—i.e., the “New World”—should be new again.