The documentary series “is the last of a four part series that deeply explores the cultural, economic scientific and political aspects of Protestantism. The sixty-minute documentary produced by historian Tristan Hunt unravels the influence of Calvinism, Puritanism, and the Industrial Revolution on the current global order that is dominated by capitalism.
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Looked from a different perspective, the documentary aims at revealing the machinations of Protestantism produced capitalism and the global movements that seeks to establish a new world order. Similarly, the documentary reveals the existence of anti global forces that surprisingly are supported by some sections of the protestant brethren.
The main aim is to bring to the fore the battles between these antagonistic forces that have a great say on the direction this world take. Subtly the documentary implies that the protestant ethic is seeking a new world order thorough the military, industrial complex and the business class.
After the great migration from Europe to the new lands especially America, the immigrants felt liberated and freed from the conservative trends perpetuated by the monarchs of Europe. Religion was one of the areas that saw a drastic change on the traditions that governed. Though protestant ideas like Calvinism and Puritanism had their roots inn Europe, the new land provided the perfect opportunity and frontier to grow to full-fledged movements that would later dictate how the world is governed.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
“Net e quasiverris extra” which translates to “man is his own star; and the soul that can render an honest and perfect man command all light, all influence, all fate; Nothing to him falls early or too late . Our acts our angels, or good or ill. Our fatal shadows that walk by us still. (1982)” (Lauter 689)
Emerson is an American philosophical writer of the 19th century whose intellectual and literary skills greatly influenced American literature (Lauter 694).
His influence was more on the contemporaries and those that followed them immediately after. He belonged to group of Transcend lists who believed that the means to truth was intuition. They also believed that through intuition, God is revealed to everybody. They supported democracy and self-reliance to which effect they supported the notion of individualism (Lauter 702).
The idea of individualism that Emerson and his group supported and deeply rooted in the American society today and characterizes everyday life that Americans live. The same principle as said early is the main idea behind capitalism. However, he did not believe that people should just be self-centered for the sake of it.
The above quote means every man should seek the intuitive connection with the Oversoul rather than engaging in simple self-centeredness or immature narcissism. Concisely, he urged people to be non-conformists and to promote independent beliefs. The beliefs such as the above that was advocated by Ralph served to encourage Puritans and Calvinists.
Protestantism to which Calvinism belongs was one of the roots of capitalism. According to Calvinism, men’s righteousness was measured by the amount of success he accumulated on earth. Calvinists believed success here on earth was a true indication that one was in favor with God hence he is the chosen one.
The protestant ideas therefore promoted individualism where every man sought to accumulate wealth for himself so that he can appear to be in favor with God. This idea underlies capitalism where individualism is regarded highly and people do not care about others interests. Owners of capital are out to exploit the labor of workers to produce extra which they call profit.
Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)
Another author and member of the transcendentalist group had a slightly different opinion on the way of life and control of government. Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862) suggested that people should engage in simple life (Lauter 79). He was an abolitionist who attacked slave trade policies and openly called for civil disobedience.
Capitalistic ideals advocated for the use of slave labor to which Henry opposed. His writings and ideas would later influence movements for equality that led by figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. It can be concluded that Henry advocated for the responsible use of capital and resources for the betterment of the quality of life.
American literature today is full of ideas with capitalistic and individualistic tendencies. The contribution that writers like Ralph and Henry David Thoreau made, is still present in the American society as well as literature today.
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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)
“Political life in our country has plowed in muddy channels, and needs the infusion of clearer and cleaner waters. I am not sure that women are naturally so much better than men that they will clear the stream by the virtue of their womanhood; it is not through sex but through character that the best influence of women upon the life of the nation must be exerted (1976).” (Lauter 931)
Frances Ellen Watkins was one of the most renowned black poets in America’s history. Her works were devoted on to the elimination of slavery and gender equity.
Frances travelled wide giving speeches on women rights anti-lynching campaigns, racism, Christianity and black history (Lauter 931). She also did commit time for biblical themes as well as other historical topics. She is thought to be second to Phyllis Wheatley in terms of poetry.
She debuted short story publishing for black people in America. Her other works include Minnie’s Sacrifice (1869), Sowing and Reaping (1876-1877, Trial and Triumph (1888-1889) and the novel Iola Leroy; or Shadows Uplifted. Her accomplishments have served as an inspiration to literature growth for both black and white writers in America.
The above quote is one of the many that she said about emancipation of women. She was of the opinion that the same class differences and struggles that exist in a capitalistic setting are the same ones that exists between the genders.
Lauter, Paul. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Concise Edition Cengage/Wadsworth Publishing. Print.