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Monday, October 18, 2021

America and The Myth of John Locke

Margaret Thatcher has said: “America was created by philosophy.” She meant the “lofty” philosophy of John Locke and other great ancient philosophers. But there is another non-philosophical view of the creation of the USA. The founders of the USA—Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, and others—were convinced that it was the “manifest destiny” of the Europeans (Americans) to rule over the entirety of North America. The Declaration of Independence, adopted on 4 July, 1776, did not apply to the African slaves, who were about twenty percent of the population, or to the native tribes.

Since its founding, America was an expansionist, aggressive, and militarized nation. The aim of its government was to expand westwards. Even in the eighteenth century, the American government possessed a powerful army to defend its territory from its European rivals and to wage war on the native tribes. Most settlers in the country were heavily armed. In the frontier areas, there were private groups which used to conduct raids on the natives to evict them or kill them. The Americans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were not the followers of John Locke. In their raids against the native tribes, they often behaved like the Spanish conquistadors. 

In 1789, the time of the ratification of the United States constitution, the country had thirteen colonies (864,746 square miles). As the population grew, due to the arrival of new immigrants from Europe, the pioneers continued to expand westwards at an aggressive pace. The expansion happened through both land purchases and conquests. Today the country is 3,531,905 square miles. In 1830, the American government passed the “Indian Removal Act.” By the twentieth century, many of the native tribes had disappeared.  

Consider what happened in California which was conquered by the settlers between the 1840s and 1870s. The number of native hunter-gatherers in California was about 300,000. They were divided into a large number of small tribes, which were mostly unarmed, and consisted of 50 to 500 people. A military style campaign was not required to wipe them out. When the California gold rush began in the late 1840s, most of these native hunter-gatherers were evicted from their land or were killed. Thousands were enslaved and deliberately starved or worked to death.

The American settlers played a critical role in destroying California’s native population. As one example, look at what they did to the Yahi tribe which consisted of just 2000 unarmed hunter-gatherers. This tribe was wiped out in four raids by the settlers. Seventeen settlers armed with guns took part in the first raid in 1865. An unknown number of Yahi were killed. The second raid took place in 1866, when the Yahi were surprised in a ravine. In 1867, some Yahi were discovered hiding in a cave. They were massacred. The final massacre happened in 1868 when four cowboys found some Yahi survivors hiding in another cave.

Thatcher’s statement that America was founded on the philosophy of John Locke and other philosophers is an utter falsehood—America is a nation of warlike settlers from Europe who trod over tens of thousands of corpses to win land for their country.

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