American Civilization

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  • Přidal/a: anonymous
  • Datum přidání: 07. dubna 2007
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American Civilization

When we want to talk about American studies we must first say what does this term mean. American studies is a subject which is dealing with America, of course. But what consists it from? There are several parts, and we must know something about each of them when we want to describe this studies. So let´s name them. These parts are: history, philosophy, business, science, technology, way of life, system of values, geography, national characteristics, system of government. So we begin with history, especially with American history. This history begins in the year 1492 when Christopher Columbus discovered the new continent. He was seeking for the new rout to Asia and he didn´t know that he had discovered New World. Because he thought that he landed in India, he named the inhabitants Indians. In the next two centuries this continent was settled. It was settled by many nations and that is why the today America is a mixture of nations, characters and cultures. The first settlers were Dutch, German, English, Slavonic, Spanish, French and many other people. There were established 13 English colonies which were provided by English government and king. These colonies have to pay taxes, but as the time goes by these colonies have to pay higher taxes than the people which were living in England. The colonists wanted to have the same taxes and members in the Parliament (taxation without representation). But the king did not agree. For him the colonies were only means for getting money which he could spend on his army or parties. But there were some rebels in these colonies who started to talk to people. They say to them, that they must not pay these higher taxes. And soon the revolution started. It has begun with the Boston Tea Party and continued with the declaration of independence on the 4th July 1776. Weak and unskilled American army fought against the well-armed English soldiers. But with the help from French and with the great tactic skills of George Washington, finally the Americans won their first real war. The England had to admit the independence of the new state – The United States of America. The first president become George Washington and the country begun to grow. The wave of immigrants was great and soon people started to expand westwards. The area of the US was larger and larger, they bought Louisiana from France and annex Texas and California. Soon were the States a large country with strong economics and plenty of natural resources.

But the happy times couldn´t last for a very long time. After the period of growth soon begun the troubles. There were big differences between industrial North and agricultural South. The slavery was another big problem. The men from North wanted to se the blacks free. The southern states economy was based on slavery so they were against it. And the war begun. This war is known as Civil war, or the war the North against the South. This war begun in the year 1861 and lasted till 1865. But during the war (1863) the President Abraham Lincoln set the blacks free and they fought on the side of North. So the North won but a short time after, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. In the beginning of the 20th century was a great depression all over the world and many people were seeking for job. That is why in these times there were big waves of immigrants in the States. Especially Slavonic people were coming as a cheap labor force. But in the year 1929 the great depression came in the US too. The immigrant wave was stopped because there was not enough work for American citizens. After this the life in America begun to be normal. Till the date of 7th December 1941. On this day the Americans were attacked in Pearl Harbor by the Japanese army. And it means the Americans started to fought in the World War II. With the help of British, French and Russian soldiers they won the war and their leader post in the world was established. This position was characterized by the iron curtain between the United States and Russia. After the World War II. several interested things happened which must be mentioned. 1950 – 1953 lasted the Korean war and 1961 – 1973. 22nd of November 1963 was assassinated John F. Kennedy and in the year 1969 Neil Armstrong as a first man stepped on the Moon. As we can see the history of the United States of America is short, maybe 500 years. But he other thing is, that in these years US started to exist, become independent, fought in several wars and become a world superpower. This republic was based on democracy and the same chances for everybody. The next thing I want to speak about is the civilization. We distinguish 3 types (waves) of civilization: A) agricultural civilization. In this civilization are important basic social values like cattle, forest or land. The land is the main factor. The importance of man is given by the land he owns. We can still see this civilization wave in some countries, US too.

These are the states which produce the most products and in the US these states produce for the whole nation. B) the second type is industrial civilization and this is the most widespread all over the world. This civilization exists from the year 1650. The typical sign for this wave is the mass production – massification. The importance of man is given by his position in the world. By the massification we mean that everybody is doing the same, everybody is wearing, eating, speaking the same. The industry in this wave is the main factor and typical are great factories with hundreds of workers. Every worker can be replaced because he is doing the same like hundred others. C) the last wave is the knowledge civilization. It begun in the year 1955 with the computers. The importance of a man is given by the information he has. The new expression is knowledge worker. In 1975 Bill Gates founded his company called Microsoft and here we can see the knowledge society. But, however there are some problems. The first is that only a small group of countries can say that the are now in knowledge society, even in the United States still the three waves exist side by side. So we can not say that certain state is completely in knowledge society, because this state would not survive. There are still all three waves needed. The second problem of knowledge society is, that you never know what you should pay for the information. Because information are the main factor in this type of wave. It is hard to say how much you have to earn if you have a lot of information. So this problem must be solved and than can this knowledge civilization grow. But I want to say that probably many countries are not ready for this civilization. But we will see what the future brings. The progress is unstoppable and we must learn a lot of things when we want to do something.
Another thing which is important to mention is the geography. With the population and the total area, the United States of America are the fourth largest country all over the world. The US is composed of 50 states, the block of 48 states form the compact whole. Alaska, which became the 49th state in 1959, extends the States in the direction to the Arctic while Hawaii which became the 50th state in the same year, to the Pacific. The population of the US varies greatly world-wide. The majority was already born in the States. During 200 years large-scale of the immigrants formed the American nation. New York City is the entrance gate into the USA. 70 per cent of all immigrants came to the States through its port.

Five parts of the city are situated on islands and peninsulas. This city is not only one of the largest cities all over the world but at the same it is also the large Chinese, Polish, Irish, Jewish or Italian city – the native country of many nations. Washington D.C., the capital of the USA, is the most important city of the country and the most favorite place for foreign visitors. Many of them want to see with their own eyes where the history of the present its taking its place, the places which they watch on television day by day. Washington D.C., the masterpiece of the European architect, is the symbol of the USA. It was created on the green meadow. It is the first capital of the nation built as the capital. It was projected so broad-mindedly to grow with the people and its wealth. This city built with the historical foresight of an architect is drowning in the reflectors of the attention of the world. Power is its purport of work. Washington at the same time the well-known cultural metropolis. The names of the Atlantic seaside area of the US form a number of names with new as the first word – New York, New England, New Jersey, New Hampshire. Nowadays, this part of the country together with the area of the Great Canadian Lakes hardly only remind the virgin nature three centuries ago. The tens of millions of the immigrants passed this part of America, the melting pot formed there which made them the Americans. This part is connected with the history of America as well as with history of the immigration. Not only the largest urban agglomerations as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore or Boston are typical for this new land but also the picturesque nooks form the true tourist paradise, typical American little houses made of wood. There is also the densest network of highways, there is also the largest store of oil in the US as well as the biggest railway junction in the world. In the area of the Great Canadian Lakes every seventh American lives there nowadays, The lakes with many splendid beaches on the coastline long 9000 miles are nowadays the symbol of the fight for nature-saving. This is the region well-known thanks to the miracle of nature called the Niagara Falls as well as thanks to the industrial centers. The South and the South-East of the US, the country known by its cotton and later oil and racism, where Martin Luther King, the leader of black people, murdered in 1969, became one of the most dynamically developing part of the country.

Rich and imposing cities as for example Atlanta, Houston, Dallas developed just with the miraculous rapidity. Houston is the outstanding world wide space and oil center, Florida became the paradise of tourists; water skiing, windsurfing and surfing have their right of domicile here. Fertile farmlands of the US Middle West are symbolized by the boots and the wide-brimmed hat. The Central Plains and thr area of the Great Plains, all this is stretching from the Canadian border to northern Texas. There are such states of exciting names as Kansas, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota. In 1880 the first harvester went out to the fields here which meant the true revolution in the country of80 per cent of all agricultural soil. There are the huge farms controlled by the peak technical equipment where the extensively used corns is growing as the force of the US agriculture.
The City of Chicago is the pride of the Central Plains. With its population of about 7 million, it is the third largest city in the US. After the fire in the end of the last century it became the rapidly growing city which fully opened the possibilities to the architects especially since the invention of the elevator enabled them to erect the city into the heights. Chicago School for Architects was based on that fact. The Great Plains are mostly the unknown notion for the foreigner although they are the most extensive region of the US. There are few large cities there. Spare settlement, severe weather which is able do destroy the whole year´s work of the farmer in one day. But there are also regions like the praires of the state Minnesota which belong to the most fertile areas of the US. Minnesota borders on South and North Dakota – where the Central Plains already end and the other world begins there.
The majestic Rocky Mountains reminding the Alps are stretching from the Arctic even to Mexico. For a long time the only inhabitants were the Indians. The struggle against white people ended with the definite defeat in 1891 only and in 1924 only the US Congress established the rights as the US citizens for the Indians. There are also the loveliest national parks. In the state of Montana, bordering with Canada, there is Glacier National Park, the reminder of the ice-age.

But the very well-known and ravishing US National Park is situated in the state of Wyoming – it is the Yellowstone National Park which together with the Grand Teton Park attracts millions of tourists a year And the Grand Canyon of the Colorado river in the national park in Arizona is used to be one of the most magnificent temples of nature, the geological textbook of the ground.
The Pacific Coast in California is well-known too. Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco, the famous cities, the renowned universities, the large canning factories, the fertile soil – all this is attractive so much up to the present, all this formed from California the most populous and the most prosperous US state.
Alaska which does not form one whole with the other states with the US, is rich in natural resources , in oil including. It is the largest and the least settled state of the US. Approximately half a million inhabitants are spread over one and half million square kilometers.

The another thing with which is civilisation dealing is
System of government: Organisation of the federal government – the president is chosen in national election and he is elected for four years. He may be elected only one time once more. To qualify to election you must be born american citizen, you have to be at least 35 years old. A president earns 200 000 dollars a year but he must pay an income tax. But on the other hand he becomes 100 000 for travel and another 20 000 for official entertainment. After he ie elected he move with his family to the Whit House to Washington. There he will be living for the time hi is president. The president in US is the head of government. He must name his ministers – called secretars, who form the cabinet. Every secretar has his own department for which he is responsible. The cabinet must create their programme which must be introduced to Senate. While the president is an executive branch, the Congress is a legislative branch The Senate is the one of two parts of the Congress because the Congress consists of two houses. The second is the House of Representatives and has 435 members -– according to the number of inhabitants of the state. Senate has 100 members, every state has its 2 senators. The president can veto a proposal, but his veto can be over roll by 2/3 of Congress. In the US there are two major political parties : the democratic and the republican. The first is left and the second is national. That means the democrats want to do social changes, better life for people, more money for school system, health care etc., the republicans want to have strong government, strong and powerful state. These two parties compete in elections. The last thing which I want to mention, that are some key concepts which you must know and know what they mean, when you want to talk about American studies.

These are: melting pot, American dream, American character, American individualism, equality. So let´s talk about them. Melting pot. It is the term from the history. As I mentioned in the beginning of this essay, when the new continent was discovered, many immigrants were coming to the States, this process last till 20th century. The immigrants were coming from many countries with different cultures and different habits. All these people have to live together, to form one nation and to speak one language – English. But these people are so different that somebody may ask what does it mean to be an American. Probably the main people of this country were born there, so why not? But what about their parents and grandparents? Everybody is a son of an immigrant. So once more: What does it mean to be an American? And the answer is: You can not define an American citizen on the base of the color of his skin, you can not define him through feelings, patriotism or length of his nose. To be an American that is a state of mind, it must be in your head that you are a part of this nation. The American dream is a concept which is probably well known to us. We thing that it means that everybody who is living in the States has a chance that one day he becomes rich. And that was the main idea of the most of immigrants which were coming there. But I thing nowadays American dream means something else for us. It is to live like Americans do. To have money, not to be a millionaire, but to have enough money to live a good life. It means to have a government which cares about us. It means that you are free and live in democratic society. These values are sure for the Americans but not for citizens of many other countries all over the world. Equality. When we want to talk about equality we must have in mind that the definition of this concept is theoretical. It is very hard to say that somewhere is equality. It means the same chances for everybody, the same opportunities. The US are said to be democratic country but I think even they can not say that equality is one of the principles which are held in their country. It is very hard because there is a lot of bullshit in the world like racism. In this world where only the featest survive are the human rights often forgotten and that is one of the reasons why equality lives only there, where lives peace and good.

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