When I was in a small, northern Wisconsin city I observed that the economically depressed nature of the community was primarily because the place was so remote that the only industry that could actually be attracted to the area involved extraction of minerals....and the high-profit-get-rich-quick nature of that endeavor.
Here is a remarkable piece that puts our consumer-based, extraction for profit mentality in context...Here's the link:
But what’s really frightening isn’t our Ahabs, the hawks who
periodically want to bomb some poor country, be it Vietnam or
Afghanistan, back to the Stone Age. The respectable types are the true
“terror of our age,” as Noam Chomsky called them collectively nearly 50 years ago. The really scary characters are our soberest politicians, scholars, journalists, professionals and managers, men and women (though mostly men) who imagine themselves as morally serious,
and then enable the wars, devastate the planet and rationalize the
atrocities. They are a type that has been with us for a long time. More
than a century and a half ago, Melville, who had a captain for every
face of empire, found their perfect expression — for his moment and
The article is by Greg Gandin and here are some of the rather profound observations he offers us.
In comparing Melville's Ahab with Amasa, Gandin writes
Insurgents like Ahab, however dangerous to the people around them, are
not the primary drivers of destruction. They are not the ones who will
hunt animals to near extinction — or who are today forcing the world to
the brink. Those would be the men who never dissent, who either at the
frontlines of extraction or in the corporate backrooms administer the
destruction of the planet, day in, day out, inexorably, unsensationally
without notice, their actions controlled by
an ever greater series of financial abstractions and calculations made
in the stock exchanges of New York, London and Shanghai.
And he concludes:
With Ahab, Melville looked to the past, basing his obsessed captain
on Lucifer, the fallen angel in revolt against the heavens and
associating him with America’s “manifest destiny,” with the nation’s
restless drive beyond its borders. With Amasa, Melville glimpsed the
future. Drawing on the memoirs of a real captain, he created a new
literary archetype, a moral man sure of his righteousness yet unable to
link cause to effect, oblivious to the consequences of his actions even
as he careens toward catastrophe.
They are still with us, our
Amasas. They have knowledge of their duty and are disposed faithfully to
follow its dictates, even unto the ends of the Earth.
You should treat yourself to reading the whole article...you'll find that it repulses you with the same intensity that it draws you into it. You will see the face of our current form of capitalism as you have never seen it.