Naturally, in this neighborhood, one can see every miserable and abject thing conceivable. More than dealing precisely with the use of the means of transportation involving different segments of society, and more than addressing the existence of a division by classes in the railway system, the debate was, actually, about democracy itself. The dominant representations were the ones showing that the system would bring different groups together, enabling an inspiring alternative for the aristocratic republics of Latin America. But, as we have noted, not everyone was happy with such possibility.
The restrictions, although being a minority, were expressed in different forms, from unfriendly grumblings to more intense criticism. The representation of the United States also included the comparison between two of the main religions of each American space. North Americans, historically composed of groups connected to different sectors of Protestantism, would show a character which was inherited from such religious beliefs.
That would include sobriety, dedication to work and self-restraint. On the other side, the Spanish-Americans, influenced by the Catholicism, were a festive, joyful, extroverted, not reserved at all, extravagant people. Such practice is the North American tradition, especially among protestants, to keep Sunday, avoiding every excess, in contrast to the tradition among Spanish-Americans, mainly the Catholics, who use this day to celebrate.
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In this regard, travelers with the most diverse political and ideological views expressed their criticism, openly stating that they preferred the merriment of the Latin American people. In their accounts, the criticism revealed the dissatisfaction with the boredom of the cities and their inhabitants during their sabbatical day. At the end of the Century, the same perspective was reaffirmed, as we can see in the accounts of the Mexican Justo Sierra.
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Where are its inhabitants? Asked himself, with an elegiac mood.
Were they swallowed by the earth? No, my colleague said: a quarter of the population is in the fields, the second quarter is in the church, the third, in their homes, and the remainder is in the saloons which are closed. Today is Sunday.
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In relation to safeguarding the Sundays, it is important to highlight an account that calls attention, because it provides evidences about the foundations of the idea. In this regard, he was not different from the other travelers mentioned before. However, he adds to his explanation that the Latin Americans devoted their existence to joy, and that they turned to the Christian faith only when they realized their life was coming to an end. But, apart from this clear objective, there is an interesting aspect about his statement, in relation to the doctrinal foundations of the religious movements at stake.
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The fact that he says that his fellow Catholic countrymen, unlike the Protestants, would become introspective only in the end of their lives, makes us think about the belief in salvation for such different approaches of the Christianism. For the Catholicism, situations as this are possible because one can appeal to resources such as repentance and penance, in addition to the salvation-by-works.
They should only be faithful and live in an ascetical manner, renouncing idleness, luxury, pleasure and celebrations. The discussion about this way of life underpins the Latin Americans travel accounts and their criticism to tedious Sundays.
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Such matters underlie the supposedly trivial remarks about the boring North American Sundays and the joyful Sundays of the Spanish-Americans on the accounts considered. We do not intend to legitimize such differences. Our aim is to denaturalize and historicize them. Hence, the fact that the accounts express in unison a criticism to this Ascetical behavior is revealing.
Our aim was to show how the remarks about the Sunday sorrow were linked to the Puritan Asceticism. Among the attitudes that would make up this morality, there was also the concentration of energy of the individuals in their works - another means to remove the doubt about the divine calling. This fact would put them in opposition to the Spanish-Americans, depicted as being more negligent in relation to the actions that could lead to the desire of financial accumulation. Somewhat amazed and sarcastic, he tells that a Protestant church in New Haven used to charge for the seats, therefore making significant profits.
At the beginning of the s, Lorenzo de Zavala made fun of the opposed nature of both people, establishing a clear picture of the differences. The North Americans are represented as devoted to work, capable of saving money, lenient and defenders of freedom; Mexicans are viewed as lazy, generous and superstitious:. They are tolerant, avaricious, free, prideful and persistent.
Mexicans are gentle, idle, intolerant, generous and almost opulent, vain, brave, superstitious, ignorant and they oppose to dominance. North Americans work whilst Mexicans have fun; North Americans spend the least they can, Mexicans spend even what they do not have; North Americans put into effect even the most difficult undertakings, while Mexicans give up in the first steps: One of them lives in a house, decorates it, furnishes it, protects it from misfortunes; and the other spends time on the streets, away from home, and, with a soil which does not vary among seasons, they give little attention to the site and the care with it.
In the North States, everyone owns a land and tends to expand their fortunes; in Mexico, those few who own a land, neglect them and some of them waste then. This author develops his arguments defining the North Americans as strict and tolerant at the same time. It is in stark contrast with the nature of the Spanish-Americans, descendants of the Latin people, who presented concurrently the flexibility of the Catholic religion and the imposition of exclusivity in terms of faith. According to him, order and freedom were indispensable principles for any Republic, and in Latin America only the former was valued.
Zavala compares this city of workers with the Spanish-American societies, trying to show two opposed developments. In his own words, on the one hand, people who were disciplined in relation to work, that do not benefit from hobbies and distractions, who were pacific, well-dressed and decent; on the other hand, people indulging themselves, worshiping saints and begging for money. He went to California and took part in the Gold Rush, which was recently discovered in the region. The Yankees did not consider what could not work, on the contrary, they focused in their achievements no matter what was happening by their sides, running over whatever got in their way to achieve their goals:.
Clearly, the most important quality of the entrepreneurial spirit of the Yankees is their ability to work without limits The Yankees never look at their feet when they walk. They stare at their objective, the imagination of the object of their wishes, and they go in its direction in a straight line, and they go over whoever stands up against them. If they fall, the fall does not intimidate his pursuit, rather, they make the most out of the difficulties they had been through and take advantage of it to make their way to a successful career.
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Conversely, the Spanish-American were inoperative and passive; they did not intervene in order to promote prosperity in any situation; they were carried away by fate and would only break this inertia when a situation was inevitable. That resulted in negative consequences for the material development of the countries. The anti-intellectualism, highlighted as an important feature of the North American culture, also divided the opinions of the travelers.
This aspect can be linked to materialism, as the devotion to work of the North Americans would lead to their need to focus on action, on what is useful, disregarding the intellectual refinement, because that would demand a great deal of time, and the material reward would not necessarily return to the same extent. The anti-intellectualism issue was reviewed by eminent North American researchers.
The travelers studied herein have different positions. Some of them tend to minimize the issue, protecting the North Americans from the criticisms, and some of them overvalue this aspect to attach the North American people.
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The Mexican Manuel Payno believed that the North Americans were ambitious, focused on work and did not value knowledge. The Latin America people, descending from Spanish, had inherited the spirit of Knowledge. This would lead to immoral actions, such as the practice of newspaper publishers, who altered their dates to extend the sales.
The unscrupulousness was widespread and the most important thing was to profit. I do not judge them, I only mention the facts I have seen; everything is about money here, about business, self-interest, love for what is mine and greed or disregard for what is not mine, according only to the value for money of the things! Material greed and anti-intellectual behavior were together in those representations. The first one, the Crystal Palace, launched in , when the traveler was in the United States. In the surroundings of the Palace, a number of shows, described by the author as grotesque.
Among the oddities, there were optical illusion items - such as a scenery of South America, where a native on horseback was swallowed by a snake, and afterwards, all of them turned into stones. Also, there was the attempt to persuade the reader that the North American nature was connected to the lack of intellectual interest, when saying that the number of relevant authors in the country was limited, and this was related to the commercial and industrial propensity of the North American people.
It is interesting to note, in this context, the critical remarks of a woman.