The meaning of love in the age of capitalism

It was once heralded that “all you need is love.” Perhaps one of the greatest immeasurably intangible resources which one could possess and yet one of the most critical components if we are to achieve an economy solidly founded on the new rage of happiness. Love is all around us and therefore it is perceived to be an abundantly endless resource. How limitless is all the love in the world?

In the first world, it should be something which we are drowning in. After all unlike the lagging developing states of the Global South even we have found a way to make Cupid redundant. Indeed, from the lovelorn to Romeo and Juliet to Adam and Steve we Westerners realise that even romance can be a richly rewarding capitalistic cash cow.

Love, in both its verbal and abstract noun sense, is something which we have now mastered to sell in a number of ‘physical forms’. Depending on our positioning on the love radar it can be something that comforts us or consoles us, consumes us or contents us, changes us or confirms us. There is no room for sitting on the picket line, you’re either in head over your heels or love is well over your head. Requited love can seem like a gift from above while the unrequited variety can feel like a rather unwelcoming physical amputation.

Undoubtedly, love is an entity which has the power to make me fear not only for my own self-fulfilling needs but also for the needs of the others whom I’m investing my own “love” and devotion into. Love, while it can be a petite fleur of exceptionally exquisite beauty can alternatively be something which terrorises us all. We are in awe of the ones we love and driven to horrific concern by the idea of rejection, revulsion and even revolt from horror characters we’ve come to love. It is surely the pitch behind many of the more renowned Hollywood thrillers and indeed horrors that always sucks us in for more. How does the dejected lover deal with the failing to woo their love interest?

Then there are all those cheese drenched romcom gooey stories which assure us that even the biggest clown can depart the set as the romantic victor even after great bungling. Similarly, season after season of our most cherished telenovelas is founded on the interest of who loves who and who is going to date who next. Why is it that such great chunks of filming coin is devoted to a topic which has surely been so tiredly probed and tested?

The ratings would infer that love is obviously something we relish observing. Clearly, like chocolate, wine and roses, it is a fix which we just simply can’t do without. However, if we are completely honest with ourselves we would genuinely see that tv is giving us a product which they know we are likely to repetitively indulge in night after night after night season after season after season. Grown men still watching reruns of Sex and the City to find out what Mel Gibson and philosophers long past have incessantly asked “what do women want?”. Entertaining perhaps but as futile as using Big Bang Theory shows to pass your next science quiz.

Nevertheless, effective savvy marketing makes us all susceptible to buy something if it means we will feel loved or can express love more. Why wouldn’t we when love is something that is conceptually universally sought after. And for those forlorn desperados we get duped in to purchasing a substitute love in a dependably sweet chocolate bar or a dvd series showing our underdog version of ourselves triumphing over the Alpha male and scoring that Hot Babe.

These conniving and cunning advertisers and media rope us in with love layered lettering such as soul, heart, forever and other pulse teasers. With their Matrix like knowledge of us, they have access towards all of our innermost longings. Forget about what Big Brother knowing what you do he also has an idea of how you are or have feeling from the moment you had a social media account and through your Pay Pal history.

Yet, love made public can seem incredibly cheap when we attribute it to a series of acquired products. Have we become that romantically shallow now in this present day and age? Apparently, it would appear so. Love can make us easy to influence playing on our insecurities and hidden paranoias. Just one glance at the female beauty industry is evidence enough to suggest that without the “perfect” bod, you may as well kiss any opportunities of landing a lover goodbye. I’m sure there are some that will argue that many women take up crazy diets and bewildering botox shots to please themselves but aren’t even our own actions a reflection of what society demands from us. And these conventions and pressures in the game of love have always been harder on women than they have been for men.

Love may be the secret ingredient which makes us more altruistic and humane but in recent times the reinvention of love has contributed to the idea of an absence of love. In certain cases, the new idea of love sees the process as less of a lifelong courtship and more akin to a transaction. We are reduced to possessions and objectified for personal consumption much like many of the other items we have access to in the Global Village. In an ironic twist, it can often make us disinterested in the welfare of others.

A close friend of mine loved his love with a blood diamond ring that was made by someone who suffered from a severe deficiency of love in the Congo. Others have renovated their houses for their loves on fabrics which came from South Asian sweatshops. What kind of love are we practising in this age of purchasing passion?

Love is theoretically something that we can’t place a value on. And yet in the Wild West we are doing this dirty deed on the daily. How would we feel if someone didn’t say that they loved us more than gold, diamond or rubies? In spite of this the price of love in the West comes at a precariously high price for the non-Western minions servicing our consumer driven romance culture. Love is surely not worth the Price when human rights, dignity, livelihoods and indeed lives themselves are the overwhelming price for even a cheap one night hotel fling.

Thoughts of the king Midas touch narrative swiftly leap to mind of how one’s love can suffer at the price we place when we transform the abstract notion into a physically materialistic one. For what becomes of love when a gold ring and the diamond embedded in it are extracted at cost of human suffering?

And yet we are capable of loving without need for material remuneration or want. For would we not find it insulting if we demanded from the guests whom we had invited around for a meal financial reimbursement people for our time and ingredients? And in times of hardship or sorrow are we not prepared to give our time willing to our friends without them expecting them to be billed for our advice and concessions. Nor would we leave a tip for our loved ones after a particularly lovely romantic evening. This clearly shows that we can still be virtuous when it comes to the crunch.

Lamentably however, the social powers and forces that be are reconfiguring the classical foundations surrounding our traditional understandings of love forcing us to copiously consume to a capitalistic conception of amor at an alarming rate. Selling of the old and newly defined “amorous seasons and other frivolous galas and extravaganzas” from the predictable Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, New Year’s Day to birthdays and anniversaries.

Love is big business for whomever wishes to dabble in its rewarding waters. Whole industries depend upon us showing through the power of purchasing just how much we love one another. There is even to new ridiculous fad of turning the ordinary day into the extraordinary opportunity to celebrate everybody’s favourite four letter world. From Secretary Day to Flower Day to Give some Stranger a Hug Day to heaven’s knows what.

But in this flood of overflowing love could it just be that we are perhaps overly killing ourselves with excessive kindness. In our ever increasing equation of giving and buying with loving we are now starting to see the manifestation of some disturbing concerns.

In the matter of eating we here in the West are chowing down at a frightfully concerning rate. Killing our kids with kindness as we permit them to indulge on whatever is at their hearts desire. And as we have seen while we may have a circle of closed loved ones we barely extend our loving ethical concerns to the unjustly shackled labour force fabricating our infectious infatuations with “displaying” love.

But how could we also overlook the justifiably “un-” eco friendly” nature of our lavish loving lifestyles. One need only observe and take note of the eco destructive enterprise of the romance business which sees forests toppled at a disturbing rate and overall pilfering of other ecosystems from waterways to animal habitats and other precious natural resources and settings. Or the ever steadying fuel burned and energy we waste during “the silly seasons as we literally” shop till we drop”. In many cases, that is exactly what love is making us do as we struggle to deal with the onslaught of the year round nonstop love tsunami which seems to be pounding us from every angle imaginably conceivable.

The psychological anxiety we face in capitalistically trying to prove our big wide loving hearts is quite possibly leading to many broken hearts. In these modern times whopping mortgages, second jobs, the need to additionally take up overtime, and lack of sleep is leading to ever more broken lovers and their loved ones. Fractured families, divorces, the loss of quality family time, obesity, alcoholism, the surge in stress and depress suggest that credit card love is bringing us only short term loving joy and long term long lasting consumptive hangovers and nightmares.

While capitalism suggests that we will be happy making money and buying it is clear that this is not the forward going way to satisfy the love void or to seal the love pact. Buying a child a gift can never substitute the loving rewarding ecstasy of sharing genuine companionship with that developing being. Gifts given without the intent to engage with a/ the loved one is just a capitalistic cop out. While capitalism may empower the idea of individuality the downside is that it often comes at the price of our bond with the collective group. In essence, what we are putting first and foremost is not love as such, but the Culture of Goods and the social pressures which it entails.

From being an emotion which delivers us a host of delights, love has now morphed into something which can quite certainly cause one a concrete degree of angst and disharmony. As social beings, community and belonging are part of the integral linchpins of structural framework which bring us our greatest contentment in life, NOT THINGS.

Love is forcing us into a Matrix where advertisers, the media and even technology is instructing and telling us what love course fits us best. Algorithms in our computers, Smart Phones and tablets doing the matchmaking for us assuring us that it has made all the right and logical calculations and assuredly knows us better than anyone of our friends, family or colleagues.

And we have the nerve to mockingly lampoon arranged Eastern marriages? What is it that makes us so insecure about finding the absolute perfect match without the need to face the fear of contact yet alone the horrendous idea of love’s rejection? Why have we lost such faith in ourselves self-electing to avoid the art of conversation and dialogue? Can one really expect that a machine knows what’s best for us?

And like that great bluff of the chess playing “Turk” automaton, we continue to search and seek out the perfect simplest solution in order that we do not have to overly engage in stressful and tiresome cognitive mental processing. And what of all those other potentially perfect partnerships out there. Will we close up our Tinder or Cupid accounts after Mr or Mrs Right supposedly comes along.

Like that old psychological jam jar choice, give a person a restricted but open choice and they will leave the shop relatively content with their pottle of marmalade. However, over extend on this diversity of choice and watch them leave wondering whether strawberry jam was really what they wanted in the first place. Yes, we humans can be a miserable lot even when we are afforded the most generous choices possible.

Fearing like our confiture electum that in dating Arnah what will we be missing for having turned away Cassandra. While others complete derail in their “unfaithful” objections to try and have it all. Even then, I can’t see the clandestine life of secrecy and seduction leading to an “everlasting” joie de vivre beyond the carnal sense of the understanding of life long felicity. Still, there are those whom want to believe.

Ask the average person to share their New Year’s resolutions with you and chances are that happiness in the covert form of love was probably high on their wish list. In fact, the American constitution serves to protect the individual’s efforts to find contentment in life. The bill enforces the constitutional belief that first and foremost we have the right to life. That feels legit given that happiness needs lives to make the concept operational. Followed by life, we are entitled to the liberty to appreciate our being/existence and life. Last, but by all means certainly not least we have as free living sentient beings the right and freedom to “pursue happiness”. But this raises the inevitable dilemma that if I’m ‘momentarily’ happy am I not ultimately waiting to be sad again.

The thought of the fleeting nature of my happiness in the form of love leaves me tense, makes me feel threatened, leaves me exhausted and now a tad miserable. We live in tense times where we see unhappiness in all its shadowy downcast apparition. Misery creating further misery as we battle against its forceful ability to sink us ever deeper in a cesspool of saddening submission. While the advertising industry comes to be both our hero and villain sometimes casting out a life saver other times letting us plunge to our miserably murky fates. Oh to such deplorable deviance. At every instance guaranteeing us that things make will make us happy. Obligingly we engage even when we know that such pitched are as fancifully plausible as Greek Myths. The romanticism seduces us into succumbing to all sensibilities.

Perhaps to our defence it comes down to the awareness that the hard luck of “others” less privileged could quite easily become or be our own. Ergo, we self-train ourselves to assume that “the freedom right and ability” to material chose to consume is reason suffice to rejoice unto itself. To a degree, this view has it’s visible worth. We invest in materialism as a form of talisman or a good luck mechanism against the onset of unhappiness believing that if we buy, misery will keep its ugly head at bay. But when consumption consumes love and happiness itself, then we should be very concerned indeed.

Growing up as a child, seeing people sleeping outside shops waiting for “a once in a life time sale” came across as a rare occasionally eccentric act. Now, it is ever more becoming the standard yearlong norm. More fascinatingly than the frequency of the sales themselves is the shocking furore which often goes hand in hand with them. Worryingly, the present day sale creates a sense of violence and an orgy of buyer madness unseen previously in capitalist history. People are hunting for a bargain and by God if you happen to be the poor soul standing between them and their desires then may all the angels and the saints help you. Far from causing happiness these sales banquets contribute to social combat falling short of all-out war.

What these perturbed ritualistic deeds convey to me that this spending onslaught and carnage has less to do with happiness but more or less the “need” to fend off fears of “unhappiness”. Happiness and love is clearly a temporal enterprise and “stocking up” may be one way in which we try to fight off the “eventual” offset of the blues which never seem to be that far away.

Having been raised in the less affluent sector of our society, I am well aware that to “not” have enough money can make for an uncomfortable state which does little to serve the case of founding “happiness”. But upon closer inspection, having any more than what one sufficiently “needs” as opposed to what one additionally “Wants” doesn’t make one any more the happier. We all can adequately survive without an unfulfilled “want” but getting by without a “necessary NEED” is a totally different case in point.

Furthermore, let’s not be conned by that new age lie of the “luxury brand” with its farfetched notion that if it costs more it’s worth more. This false concept of the higher priced folly make us assume that we can’t be happy unless we have bought the best i.e. the priciest model. Yet, exuberantly overcharged goods need not equate to the secure faith that one has acquired something of the highest conceivable quality. Regardless of our finer judgements and that nagging niggling gut feeling we nonetheless briefly feel satisfied and dare I say it “happy” that we have been tricked out of a small King’s ransom of our disposal fortune. Sellers sure know how to make monkeys out of us sometimes.

Despite this, many of our primate cousins it has been found often undertake favours without keeping track of whom did what for whom. Altruism in the animal world clearly shows that even our closest cousins derive some good vibe buzz from making others feel good. The creation of positive interactions while immaterially rewarding, still accomplish an inner objective to seek love and happiness from others within the communal fold. Comparatively, studies have revealed that children who display greater levels of kindness, empathy and “love” tend to have the greater fun, more enriching friendships and satisfactorily better psychophysical health.

Just a glimpse at the gross national happiness index around the world will show you that it’s not always the Wealthy West who happily feel the best. Happiness is impermanent but the path towards it need not be lonely and hollow. The journey of love and bliss is clearly best done when we tackle it’s often rocky path with others.

During our march through love and happiness, we can view the world and its people in many ways. We could see others as threats, enemies, rivals, resource sappers and in a whole host of other negative manners. But, chances are that I’ll be undoubtedly happier if I see you as a friend, colleague, asset, partner and kindred spirit. At this instance, we should all breathe in and delight in awe at the moment that we blessedly occupy and be happy that we are able to have this “privileged” right, liberty and freedom to do so.

And as for all you lucky lovers heed my pearls of wise and worldly insight. When we have someone in life that gives meaning and purpose to our existence we should never take such relationships for granted. The passion to keep the love, lovers and loved ones in our life will duly reward us and make us feel happy. Love satisfies us more than possessions because love requires maintenance and handwork. It is an act which can leave us feeling cleansed, redeemed and inevitably fulfilled as the act of loving purifies us from a selfish narcissistic and individualistic way of regarding others.

Once in our grasp love is not just something that we aim to toss away. To keep the flames a flickering requires energy, enterprise and commitment placing the worth of others before our own immediate and distant volitions. In a metaphorical sense, love is like a light which while fragile allows us to see the real beauty of life. Love in every way is the best measure in every case of what we must do to ensure that we are not only living pleasurable lives but morally just and virtuous ones.

Love undeniably scares us but it’s something we all openly want to receive demonstrate before we reach life’s end. Even in our final moments we often use our precious last breathe to speak of our loves to the ones whom we have loved. Striving to love better before I perish makes me I believe a more humane entity freeing me not only from my flesh but its physical “material” longings. Loving ultimately reminds me of what matters most in life. If not for ourselves then for ALL whom we love. The only thing that could make me feel any happier is to hope you are also feeling happiness as we part ways leaving one another to continue in the pursuit of love and happiness in our lives.

1 Comment

  1. Thomas King

    America, take a leaf from out of the Maori lesson book then carefully read my lips, drop that gun! If our recovering indigenous group can tell you anything, even though even they themselves likewise are too proud to concede to this historical gaffe which almost facilitated in their complete and utter annihilation, its that riffle-phoria pistolphilia or whatever you call it when one suffers from a severe case of being gun gaga have a not so haha funny way on backfiring upon the people who place their entire faith, trust and security upon them. Yet in spite of this, artillery and ammo remain some of the most coveted Western items which we supposedly civilised nations trade to the nations whom we frequently belittle for being backward and ironically tyrannical. Yes i could go on to give a good verbal lashing to the US and other developed agents part in this practice but for now i feel quite content bashing those first great arms bandits the British and the poor fellows they fooled with their diabolically deadly desire to satisfy the bloodlust of the native’s desire for a deathwish. I mean what a fantastic way to clear out a territory without having to send an army. Just rark up one tribe by using that old Chinese whisper trick of “you know we heard a rumour that this Chief had sent warriors out your way so ahhh well you know we’re just saying we hope you’re insured”. The idea of insurance meant fearing for the worst something rival Maori tribes did exceedingly well long before we pale skinned creatures marooned upon their coastlines.And yet what inevitably shifted as far as the Maori death machine was concerned was the surprisingly swift and speedy new ways which enabled them to kill and to obliterate at an alarmingly more efficient rate. Whereas once one had to physically grapple with the physical and deeply philosophical act of facing another individual before they one snuffed the others life the act of killing was conveniently reduced to a far more impersonal act. Just aim and boom, no need to know the nitty gritty details of the man’s head whom you’ve just blasted off. Along with the reduction of what was once an incredibly mucky hands on affair, the reserved need not to overly beat oneself up over the gunning of “Honi” (Maori for John) Doe meant that any possibilities for remorse could quickly be replaced by that great vacuum of all; the unquenchable thirst for power. As victories for those blessed (or should that be cursed) with the possession of guns seemed a foregone conclusion, the hunger for conquest through the approach of right by might only made the gun chocked tribes to increase the bets they placed upon dukeing it out. This overly ambitious blitzkreig desire to take a punt on knocking over their neighbours seemed understandably natural enough. If you knew you could win via a superior preemptive strike why wouldst one back their warriors to knock their neighbour’s proverbial block off. But, taking this confident fully fledged gung ho approach would need to entail assuming that your nemesis had not secretly been in the same trading bed as one’s own tribe had been with the Europeans. Once white man had landed, the idea of a traditionally fair Maori to Maori tete a tete scrap up went completed out the window. Sadly, every Maori tribe knew this and the settler’s suspected it also. As in present day scenarios which one might expect to see on CNN, equipping one tribe to clear out the pesky presence of another became one way in which used guns and Maori against the less than reciprocal other tribe opposed or uninterested to barterWith the Western surveyors. To choose to disregard the pressing advances of the white explorers was comparable to signing one’s own death sentence and the executioners lining up to commit the act were certainly not in short supply. In spite of the collective Maori alarm at the overwhelming European hordes spilling onto their shores, Maori could not help but be consumed with trying to be the Top Dog in an old hierarchical system pre European contact. While suspicions towards European intentions were universally shared, the Maoris still preoccupied themselves with seeing each other as the historical threat rather than the new invader. Furthermore, Maori craved guns as a quick fire way to assume social ascendancy and Maori were forced into conceding that they just couldn’t survive without the Europeans and there wondrous weaponry. Undoubtedly, this gave our Anglo Saxon ancestors a hearty welcoming invitation to to stick and linger around. And stay they did. As tribes began to buy up large stock piling weapons at a disturbing rate these chiefs must have shared the general consensus that “with these babies, I doubt anyone would even dare think about f*cking with us”. The ploy would have many assume that these forward thinking tribes would receive the full premium payoff from their insurance. Even the Europeans could never have imagined how this Maori policy would spectacularly come back to explode in each and every one of their faces.The premise that ALL Maoris would be safer under the act of acquiring muskets by way of making Maori hesitant towards attacking others was an idea that never seeded in the Maori psyche. It seemed that while European were aware that while arms races could nurture a deterring MAD (mutually assured destruction) the Maori still could not fathom the sheer danger of the destructive instruments it was willing to deploy against one another. Like a teen taken away from the gutless family sedan and placed into a turbocharged racer, the Maori were thrown into a devastatingly dangerous new context which they seriously underestimated and failed to fully comprehend. Whereas tribes in hand to hand combat may once have had time to reflect more or to call for a truce guns gave Maori the aura of invincibility even though each and every one of them was still potentially vincible indeed. Far from decreasing the average Maori mortality rate and securing the tribe, Western guns increased the risks of an ever more briefer existence. Guns do not civilise wars they only make them more brutal and numerically bloodier. Thus in their haste to promptly and bloodlessly put down tradition tribal hang ups, what really resulted was a “fully armed” Maori on Mairi military squirmish which was nothing short of violent pandemonium. Defence went to assault and far from restoring tribal “manu” (pride) lead to a native equivalent of an arms race based on the perpetual nasty notion of incessantly achieving “utu” (revenge).The problem with the Maori notion of revenge is that it was a goal which could never be fully satisfied as there always seemed to be a need to get “utu” for even the most minor of incidences. In many respects, while the comparison has been barely aligned, the armament of Maori resulted in an inquisition akin to a genocidal witch hunt where Maoris sought to purify their society from other less desirable tribal characters. What the ownership of guns fostered was the idea that neighbour could no longer buy their trust through trade and treaties but had to take on the ethos of “each and every man for himself”. The entry of guns into Aotearoa greatly waned the confidence Maori placed in other Maori and the low depths they had to stoop to in order to be friends Europeans in order to acquire the fund which they hoped would ensure their cough cough “self preservation”.As New Zealand became a Crown acquisitions in 1840, the colonial efforts to enforce Her Majesty’s authority over the savage scattered Dominion had largely been founded upon the Maoris own gun loco undoing. For between the pre imperial years of 1820 and 1840 European muskets and an ever willing Maori volition to fire them scuttled Maori numbers around the country making it ever easier for our later Queen’s Representatives the Governor General to come in and cry out “terra nulus is now terra ours”. The pre colonial Maori Musket Wars were undeniably the bloodiest and most deadliest in Native history dangerously taking the Maori like many if our now fated birds to the brink of extinction. Even to this day statisticians clash over the percentage of Maori lives that perished as a consequence of the proliferation of guns. What is certain, is that in the more populous and temperate North Island where the greater number of war mongering occurred, it has been estimated that gun fatalities totalled between 15% and up to 40% of the population. Without including disease or the later NZ Wars against the might of Britannia herself, these figures are frightfully staggering.Maori flirting with the Empire may have made her masses more mobile and macho but the downsides of this fatal cultural intermingling is that effectively contributed to the previously more level headed Maori behaving less rationally acting first and not thinking until much later. The trade off for the European concubine meant that the Maori lost a considerable degree of respect for their fellow brothers and sisters choosing instead to see them as rival bedfellows for the lucrative European relationship. Maoris competed tenaciously for these Western affections and each sought to get the pakeha to see them as the “go to Good guys” of Aotearoa. This charisma for enterprise is a distinguishing feature of the Maori however the competition concealed a hidden agenda to use the assets of these mysterious visitors in a malicious manner against it’s own people.The infectious obsession with authority and domination became part of the Maori mindset and it became so pertinent that the tribe caught up within its powerful web was prepared to sacrifice all forms of private, public and material dignity to acquire just a taste of it. As societies sacrificed and resources were surrendered, the Maoris bound up in their appetite for guns, ammo and the promise of “glory” were laying down all of their fortunes for the glorious illusions of magnificently bogus mirage. What translated was a Dog eat dog mentality of Maoris massacred by other Maoris. The tribes of the more docile South Island can vouch for just how deadly the more well gun stocked Northerners with a longer and larger affiliation with the Europeans used these connections to unleash plundering imperial raid after raid of conquest upon the South. It’s no surprise that the entry of guns into the realm of warfare revolutionised the ways less gun endowed Maori approached ensuing battles. From the redesigning of “pa” (fortress) fortifications, to the use of bunkers and to the creation of that great feet in Maori military engineering the use of trench warfare. Yes, killing now theoretically became a hell of a lot more prompter an affair but that didn’t mean that Maoris were willing and wishing to line up and perish like flies. However, it’s clear that without “divine British imperial intervention” what misfortune that may have fallen on the South is the stuff of nightmares. For historical literature suggests that some North Island Maori were driven by a “manifest destiny” to extend their own imperial reach.Such an instance which points to this daring effort of one Maori tribes venture to be Masters of a New Pacific World Order was the invasion of the peaceful Moriori Chatham Islands by Taranaki Maori. It had long been romanticised that Moriori were the original tribe whom settled in NZ prior to being barbarically dispossessed by the ferocious Maori. It’s now clear that this was an anthropological misassessment of the reality that both shared Polynesian ancestry but were culturally two very different types of society. The devastation which fell upon the Moriori was as horrific as any form of genocide which has befallen any collection of human beings across the span of history. Driven to almost entirely to annihilation, the remaining Moriori fought dearly to save their themselves and their traditions from an aggressive Maori invader whom held them in contempt. But why would a Maori tribe all the way from the West Coast of the North Island even preoccupy itself with a chain of islands several hundred kilometres off the East Coast of Nzs South Island? While gut wrenching the only plausible answer seems to be ‘because they could’.Using Europeans to get not only guns but boats, Maori now had a sophisticated array of transportational methods to further belt each other to pieces. As in the case of the American Indians, horses too had their moving merits but in the Pacific ‘waka’ (the boat) was always going to be King. In the early 1800s and all through the Maori Musket Wars, Maori often voluntarily signed up with White whalers and sealers to stake out new land and to see how the other half lived in places they previously may not have explored. These eager Europhiles quickly familiarised themselves not only with the Western way in which the West plundered both native and nature but also the Western mentality towards looking down on “the ignoble savage”. It soon became apparent that these “cultured Westernised” Maori not only acquired a delight for blasting things to smithereens but also for justifying their moral position for it. “I can do this. After all it’s just a dumb seal. It’s only the big ocean. It’s only”(ANOTHER) inferior subordinate Maori tribe and/or being.” A perspective which should have repulsed any sane being quickly became accepted as the norm. As in the psychological test of the prisoners and the guards, the Maoris facilitated with the means to exert and extend their authority quickly lost all sense of compassion towards the victims they inflicted their violence against. Likewise, as in that other great social scientific test of being ordered to shock when asked to shock, when a Maori warrior in a position of prominence having been converted to the ways of the wild wild Westerner ordered you to take up arms and hate a new foe (for apparently no good reason) well sadly most Maori, rational or otherwise, were forced fairly or unfairly, willingly or unwillingly to shut up and just go with the flow. As if in some mad sense of Group Think that moment when you think “gosh that’s wrong but no one else seems to think so” and as such one sheepily tags along for fear of being the socially sore thumb which sticks out. No one wants toBe the fat pulgar in the room that ruins the party for everybody else. While lessons could have been learned from the carnage delivered by the entry of Western weaponry into the Maori realm, Maori continued to seriously over value their merits over their obvious pitfalls in the long run. The distribution of this arsenal of artefacts into the Maori world however never tipped the balance of authority in the favour of any of the Maori tribes living within New Zealand. On the contrary it turned the tides against the Maori paving the way for a smoother European swindling of all Maori assets and “taonga” (treasures and resources). The instinctive question to ask ourselves then is what would have happened if European settlers had not remained but their diabolical devices had? In Maori, hands a potential Maoriland empire in the Pacific might certainly have been a reality. The Maori inclination to broaden and extend their influence certainly transcended beyond our coastal frontiers. Indeed, Maori interest to go as far as the Cook Islands was a desire which at least one North Island tribe aspired to realise. In spite of these ambitious Maori realisations and the grandeur desires to conquer the Pacific, by the time they had caught on to the Europeans own ambitions to stay the Maoris had seriously forgotten to consider the bearers of these wonderful warring gifts as a menace to Maoridom itself. In spite of the late efforts to create a centralised “Kingitanga” (the Maoris answer to the Queen =’the people’s King’) the damage inflicted upon Maori relations had already been both physically and psychologically inflicted. Why didnt more Maori rise up in a unified effort against the White Man? The short answer is that because guns and trade had turned Maori against Maori and some were more prepared to place their faith in the white man than on another Maori tribesman.The ultimate nail in the Maori coffin was the final two Anglo Maori or NZ imperial Wars which made it a guaranteed fact that the Maoris had been sorely tricked by this European Trojan Horse. Adding insult to injury was the volunteering of some Maori to fight for the Invader against its own brothers and sisters. One can justifiably argue that guns and firepower made the Maori bold, bellicose and unrealistically audacious. It is my verdict that it definitively contributed to their social unravelling and almost complete cultural defeat to the real threat that was the British Empire. How surrealy inconceivable. Guns unquestionably turned Maori against Maori and made the settler conquest of nz a whole lot easier than what it might have been had the Maori not been surmounted by the allure of self capitulation. Let us not forget that even with the Maori self decapitation of themselves that the conquest of Aotearoa was no facile picnic. It still required enormous garrisons of the finest soldiers which the Empire could muster up. In fact, other Europeans had afforded the Maori greater military respect than what the British had. In several losses, other European powers delighted in the ingenuity and pluckiness of the Maori and their humiliation of and Empire built upon war and held together by violence. Nevertheless, the indigent insatiability for metal goods, particularly guns, was akin to the Chinese desire for opium which lead to the Maoris’ societal undoing. What the Maori invested in was a gamble which in the end spectacularly blew up in their face. They largely universally bet upon something that would give them power and security yet in conclusion left them weaker than they had formerly been as they came to be highly reliant upon an incessant European stock supply. Guns concretely compromised their dignity often leaving many tribes starved and famished as crops and territory were relinquished for weapons and the belief in “tribal mana” (tribal glory). If this was not savage enough the hunger for weapons facilitated prostitution, slavery and the embracing of Anglo Saxon ideas over Maori ones. As James Belich one notable Nz historian has noted, only three things were more atrocious than guns and they were sex, disease and cultural subjugation by way of language, education and the church.Michael King, another reputable authority on the near demise of the Maori at the hands of guns does not blame guns as much as the “trading system” Maori were drawn into themselves. He points out that the Maori, like developing economies such as Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and some South American states were duped into capitalistic negotiations with hegemonic forces who set up impossibly unrealistic terms of trade for the goods they offered. Yes, many Maori probably were captivated with the idea of development and modernisation but Maoris had to make unbelievable sacrifices to acquire the “illusion of advancement”. As in many modern cases, the assets which Maori could no longer keep up with payment wise were inevitably destined to be consumed by the Crown. In effect, Maori were contractually oblivious to just how complex the business deals which they entered into with the Europeans would be. If the Maori misperceived the perils of gun ownership then perhaps what was even a greater error was the danger of entering into a capitalistic concourse where “the endless arms race” lead many Maori to spend beyond their means. In the end, the British always were able to do a way to reclaim their debts and they did so at the serious injustice of the Maori people’s health and wellbeing. What the British succeeded in cultivating was a competitive consumer society whom lost complete disregard for one another and whom close to see other rivals as consumerist threats and indeed enemies.Several decades of peace prior to European contact was cut short as diplomacy between Maori was replaced with the preference for consorting with the British devil whom skilfully manipulated the Maori mentality in their favour. Maori intertribal bi and multi lateral relations in every shape and form literally crumbled as Maoris shifted their historic trading practices for a foreign methodology which they were largely unprepared for and which was heavily stacked against them. If the Maori had regarded the Europeans as trading equals then they had failed to see the true motives behind the alien wolf concealed in sheeps clothes.Gun bartering with the Maori was merely the means to an end for the Crown who perceived the Maori unravelling as an opportunity to move into what might eventually be claimable Crown real estate. In the case of the Maori, if the guns didn’t kill you first, the dodgy deal would eventually wack you off the face of the Earth. However, perhaps the greatest ill that came from the gun wave that swept through Maoriland was the way in which it harmfully and aggressively tainted Maori thinking not only towards themselves but towards other marginalised parties. In one instance, a Northern tribe held the conviction that they should send out a war party to conquer the Australian Aborigines “believing them to be the lowest form of life imaginable in the Southern Seas if not all of mankind.” Please, i do not ever wish to bash our Maori people but one can see how these people came to be traumatised by way of European contact.So what can we learn from the Maoris and their fateful encounter with the firearm? Above all else, we must accept that Gun circulation has not brought harmony to divided communities in Africa, Eastern Europe or more evidently to the Middle East. Rather than seeing bloodshed and being repulsed by death bloodshed and carnage, artillery proliferation has only tended to nurture a hunger for ever more tyranny and chaos. We need to fear the aggressive nature of nations with weapons and a militaristic nature like Trump’s USA and the hostility it directs especially towards Latin community which tends to be erroneously depicted in a generalised pejorative picture. If Trump had any common sense he would realise that the Old White Anglo America is being overtaken by the booming fresh Latin population set to shake up the now surely dated Cowboy Americana Culture of God’s Own country. Will more Latinos start to win Oscars? Indeed, times, places and faces are always changing and it’s easy to forget that Latinos keen to serve the needs of America have just as much of a place in New Mexico, Texas and Cali as the Anglo gringo does.But, perhaps even more than the desperate Mexican, it is the equally desperate Native Indian whom after being dispossessed by a plethora of European forces whom have truly learned to appreciate what it means to be homeless in a place one once happily called home. Coming back to Nz the Maori Renaissance after their brush with guns needs to be recognised as a harsh moral lesson. The Maori learnt the hard way about the dangers of seeking resolutions with guns and wall they constantly collided with in their failure to achieve brutally unrealistic expectations. Now, we need to address a white society which like America is prepared to unquestionably shoot or mistreat a coloured person purely on the richer pigmentation of their skin. Injustice towards our indigenous people still prevails and it is up to us all to answer the call to rectify this perversion and violation of our legal system which still places the worth of a white citizen above that of a “darky”.Some tribalistic animosity still lingers extant by way of the gang cults which operate around predominantly around the North Island. Yet, for the most part, Maori are working more collaboratively to rectify the historical breakdown of tribal communications. Positively, these proud “gunless” warriors realise the greater pride that comes from working together rather than tearing each other apart. We white settlers should be ecstatic over the Maori Revival and not criticise them for their independent aloofness. It seems that the idea of a United Maori still sends shivers up many European shoulders. All ignorant fears aside, if our own white tribe can get over the suspicions we hold towards Maori we too can be part of a distinctive “” United Tribes of NZ”” which can show the world how its possible for both an indigenous and settler society to come together and run a nation enterprisingly and harmoniously. We could be a lesson to the world of living in an age post the need for violence promoting the initial philosophy that was the vision behind the original constitution. A place where all tribes, white, brown, golden and purple collaborated equally and where one land was neither dominated by one tribe nor by one race.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos necesarios están marcados *