The answer is blowing in a southern wind.

Do illegal aliens in America help or damage the economy?

This question has as many answers as people you ask. Not surprisingly the politicians haven´t found “the answer” to the topic. But how should they, if even statistics covering the exact same theme are singing different songs.

You may ask yourself: Why is it so hard to get some data about the pros and cons of illegal aliens for the economy?

First, obviously because they are illegal immigrants they have no papers and are not registered in any institution. All the numbers about how many illegal aliens are in the U.S. are based on assumptions.

Secondly the situation is very complex: Some statistics may take the taxes the illegal aliens don´t pay and say: “see we lose money”. But they forget about the workforce brought into America by illegal aliens. If there weren’t illegal immigrants, some companies may go bankrupt or make little to no profit. They do with illegal aliens . And they pay taxes on those profits of which America profits.

You might also think on that: illegal aliens take lower wages for their work than Americans would. If all street cleaners were “real” Americans, the state would have to pay a lot more for street cleaning.

Next the illegal immigrants have a very good work ethic because getting into the U.S. is hard and only possible if you invest a lot of time personal effort and money into it. Those people that do so are willing to work very hard for their better future.

Another aspect: If the companies mainly employing illegal aliens make huge profits ,other companies will soon do the same so it might grew harder for an American to get a job in the lower wages section, cause he can´t compete with the illegal aliens.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that, if illegal immigrants can live a simple and nice life in the U.S., even though they broke the law. By entering the country illegally, they mock all those who want to legally immigrate into America.

Punishing them harshly however might not be the best idea, because some sectors of economy, like farming (e.g Potatoes), are built upon the concept of cheap labor by immigrants. If laws get harder and the illegal aliens stop working there, because they get punished, the whole sector of economy breaks down.

As you can see this topic is extremely complex and so, every law concerning illegal aliens has its side effects which might be greater than the wanted effect. That’s why I can’t blame the politicians for not finding the right solution.

Occupy Wall Street and Puritanism


Puritanism developed in England at the end of the 16th century and is a religious movement. The faith to be God’s chosen people and the assignment to improve the world strictly according to the bible are the basic principles of the Puritans and they are conserved until today. The Puritans believed that you can achieve everything you want like success, money and happiness if you work hard and are industrious, if you are punctual and have perseverance. Asceticism and frugality are important. Alcohol, gambling, betting and speculating at the stock exchange are considered as vice. The motivation to have success and money is not to better their life but the wish to be agreeable to God. In the 17th century Puritans were persecuted in England and in consequence many of them emigrated to New England. Because Puritanism was the only religious orientation in the New World it became very important and the Puritans didn’t tolerate other religions.

Occupy Wall Street

At the 17th September 2011 a group of about 1000 people in New York began, after a longer lead time, to protest against the power of the banks, against them speculating with money and against social inequality. They built a camp in the Zuccotti Park (Manhattan) and reached a great interest of the media. The movement spread quickly all over the world. During the months of protests there were several problems with the police.

Some demands of the supporters are:

  • No discrimination due to skin colour, sex and sexual orientation!
  • Education for everyone!
  • No control of the press!
  • No corruption!
  • More state control of the banks!
  • Better handling with taxpayers’ money!

Occupy Wall Street – A modernized and worldly form of Puritanism?

There are some similarities of this movement and Puritanism but there also are a lot of differences.

For both groups moralities like tolerance, honesty and integrity are important. They censure corruption and speculation with money at the stock exchange.

But there are many differences:

  • The Puritans try to design their life for God. Everybody for himself. Everybody is responsible for his success, happiness and rights. The followers of the Occupy-Movement try to create a better society with less social inequality and try to show that the concentration of power and money at the banks causes this inequality.
  • They have a totally different idea of the duty of the state. The Puritans want the state to keep out of economy. “Every man is the architect of his own fortune”.
    Occupy Wall Street wants to see the banks under the control of the state. They want the state to intervene and limit the power of the banks. They demand a responsible and controlled handling with the money of the taxpayers, for example no bonuses for directors.
  • For Puritans men are sinners. Only through hard work and asceticism they can make their way to God.
  • People in the camp in Zuccetti Park don’t think about such things, they just want social equality and a good life for all people with or without God.

To my mind the comparison of Puritanism and the movement of Occupy Wall Street is far-fetched. Even when we don’t speak about God the differences predominate the similarities. The followers of OWS are modern people who want to live in a modern world, who have humanistic goals and fight for more equality in the world. Sure, many of them have a television at home and a car in the garage, maybe they want to play in the lottery and go betting at a horse-race at the weekend.This has nothing in common with the ascetic and strict Puritanism.

Success, Puritanism and Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street is a protest movement that first appeared in 2011. Inspired by the Egyptian protest on the Tahrir Square the streets around the finance center of New York were occupied. By now the Occupy movement has turned into a global movement with lots of other, similar protest all around the world, especially in America and Europe. The aim of the protesters is to stop economic inequality and the dependence on the financial market as well as its power.

The Puritans were a small, very religious group that came from Great Britain to America around 1620 fleeing from prosecution. Wanting a simple and pure Church they didn’t agree with the Anglican Church and therefore they weren’t exactly liked by the king – the leader of the Anglican Church. When they arrived in America they founded a colony and tried to build a society according to their wishes, with democratically elected leaders and an economic system based on values like perseverance, honesty and integrity. Stock exchange and conflicts between the workers and the owners of the industry wasn’t in their interest and contradicted their ideals.

In this essay I want to discuss whether Occupy Wall Street is a modernized and worldly form of Puritanism.

On the one hand there are obviously arguments that show a similarity between Puritanism and the Occupy movement.

Both groups were fighting for change and tried to make the world a better place according to their world views. In both cases the government didn’t like them very much: The British King prosecuted the Puritans – the reason for this is clear: he didn’t want to lose his power. In the present was an attempt to clear Zuccotti Park – the center of the occupation – with the help of riot police. The government thinks the Occupy protesters are troublemakers and the protesters think that the government is controlled by the economic system and therefore see it as an enemy. This rejection of and at the same time by the powerful people is a parallel between both, because both were trying to fight them.

The Puritans and the Occupy movement have a similar structure: The protests of the Occupy Movement are not organized by a worldwide institution, but there are lots of local assemblies – the biggest one is the New York City General Assembly, but they only define the protest in New York. Every Occupy protest group is free to make own decisions and isn’t controlled by any higher organization. The Puritans weren’t such a closed, defined community as it sounds when one uses the word Puritans either: There were lots of small groups which belonged together because of a common belief, not because of a common leader (in contrast to the Catholic Church for example: there were lots of communes too, but they were kept together by the leadership of the Vatican and therefore same rules everywhere). Still there is a difference between the two groups: while the Occupy movement made the choice to have this structure the Puritans probably didn’t do that consciously, it just happened, because in the times of colonialism it was by far harder to communicate over long distances than it is today with the help of technical progress such as the Internet. But this independence of the single collectives within the groups – on purpose or not – is something that they have in common.

Furthermore economy is an important topic for both groups. Because of their strict moral perception the economic system of the Puritans underlay strict rules and big expectations. Honest work definitely played a central role in their lives: it was a kind of service to god. There were no such things as exploitation of labor or gambling with the future of the own people. But there was a functional economy which fed the people and kept everybody happy. It didn’t matter whether you were born as the owner of a factory or not, because following the ladder of success everybody could be a successful businessman. So if somebody was rich it was because of honesty and not because of betraying as many others as possible. This is the kind of economic system the Occupy protesters are dreaming of. As the poor “99 percent” they feel robbed and cheated by the “1 percent” of successful businessman. They think that today one can only become rich by making other people poor and therefore feel treated unequally by the government. So what Occupy Wall Street wants is in fact a modernized and worldly form of the market and industry the way it would be according to Puritan ideals.

But this doesn’t have to mean that Occupy Wall Street is a modern form of Puritanism. In fact I think that this is even the point that makes them different form the Puritans. Because if you take a look at a document from the Puritans, e. g. the Mayflower Compact and compare it with the “Declaration of the Occupation” by the New York City General Assembly one major difference catches one’s eye. While the Puritans defined themselves, the Occupy movement only blames the others. The Puritans didn’t just say “the king is bad” and camped in front of his palace but went and created a new society by themselves, including themselves being fair to themselves. They didn’t just say “the big industry and stock exchange is bad” but built an economy themselves. The Occupy movement doesn’t take this step – for fairness one has to admit that building a new society might be a little bit harder today than during colonialism, but still this somehow passive attitude of the Occupy protests (“go and change it, (bad) government!”) is a major difference that should not be underestimated.

Furthermore I think that the most separating thing is that while the Occupy movement restricts itself to criticize the finance market, Puritanism was far more. Not only didn’t it limit its requirements to the finance market but to the whole economy and all industries, but one also shouldn’t forget that the economy was only a domain of life that was dominated by the Puritan ideology, but not the origin of it. Economy and business obviously played a big role in the Puritan society but the origin of their world view was their religion on which all of their ideals were based. In fact it was even the origin of the Puritans itself and therefore their main aspect. Understandably Occupy Wall Street isn’t about religion at all and it isn’t a whole world view or a belief. Puritanism was a way of life and not just a list of critical points or wishes.

Breaking the whole world view down only to its economic part would be wrong. I therefore disagree with the thesis: Occupy Wall Street is not a modernized and worldly form of Puritanism. While they have some things in common, it is by far not enough to be called a form of Puritanism – otherwise any decentralized, anti-government group with a focus on economy would be a form of Puritanism – which is clearly not the case.

Macbeth – a Tragedy?

Our culture was, without any doubt, heavily influenced by the ancient Greek that where the basis of most things that seem to be European today. One part of their great legacy is their theater, which is the ground not only the Romans but also the rest of our ancestors built their tradition of drama upon. Another important role in the history of drama played the Greek wise men, who where the first to categorize and analyze it. Great philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, among a lot of other important men, wrote about drama, its structure and purpose.

Since this time plays are distinguished into tragedies and comedies. Both have a lot in common but there are also heavy differences between them, which makes a differentiation necessary. The general structure remained very similar since then, and that is why it is possible to use the ancient theories on modern or medieval dramas.

The question that is going to be answered in the following lines is whether Shakespeare’s drama Macbeth is a tragedy or not. It will be analyzed, with the criteria that where given by Aristotle to answer this question.

One of the most basic characteristics of a tragedy is the fact that it somehow imitates an action that could have happened [mimesis]. And that is exactly what Shakespeare does here. He imitates a (sad) story that could have happened, according to a medieval understanding of the world. He creates something that seems more or less real to the audience, and that creates an effect of immersion, that leads to the catharsis.

Aristotle makes clear that the plot is the very heart of a tragedy. He even says that “[…] a tragedy is impossible without action, but there may be one without Character1. That simply means that the main action, in this case the murder of king Duncan, is the thing that matters, and not that the character Macbeth is somehow involved. The deed could be done by any other person, the sin would be the same. In this case, though, the appearance of Macbeth, who was a real person, makes the immersion more intense. The use of historical characters in drama makes it easier to understand their connection and the plot in general. This strategy was used long before, but the Greek dramatists rather used mythological figures than historical persons. Aristotle describes this behavior of the poets like this: “In Tragedy, however, they still adhere to the historic names; and for this reason: what convinces is the possible […]”.2 As long as the plot seems somehow plausible to the audience, it works.

Aristotle describes in his “Poetics” the form an ancient tragedy: “Prologue, Episode, Exode, and a choral portion […]”.3 This division doesn’t really fit the form that a Shakespearean play has, because there are no choral parts. In a tragedy, like Aristotle describes it, such a chorus is necessary to divide the drama into several parts of action. This is clearly a difference between the ancient and the medieval style of drama.

The action that takes place in a tragedy should somehow change the nature or the fortune of a person. Aristotle describes the perfect main character as “ […] the intermediate kind of personage, a man not pre-eminently virtuous and just, whose misfortune, however, is brought upon him not by vice and depravity but by some error of judgement4. In case of Shakespeare’s drama Macbeth is the one who turns his own fortune into misfortune by making the wrong decision to kill Duncan. It could be sad that the witches and his wife had a strong influence on him, and that he was steered by evil, but he always hesitated until he finally made his decision. It seems like he always had the choice to let Duncan live.

The main purpose of a tragedy is the catharsis, which means an emotional cleansing of the audience. To achieve this, a drama must contain incidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions5, as Aristotle described it in his work “Poetics”. The question is, whether Shakespeare managed to fulfill this criteria or not.

Since ancient times murder was an outlawed action, but murdering the king in order to reach the top of the medieval hierarchy was one of the worst sins a person could commit in Shakespearean time. Not only does Macbeth kill the leader of the Scottish society but he also breaks the great chain of being. A violation like this will not only cause one dead king, but will also bring chaos to the world. In their medieval understanding, this action, will lead the world to great evil. Macbeth does not only kill the king, but he also murders a lot more people and becomes a tyrant. There are many incidents that arouse pity and fear. This enables, if Aristotle is right, a catharsis that will have a positive effect on the audience. By feeling what happened to the characters on stage, the audience is able to free themselves from bad emotions.


According to Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy, Macbeth has to be one. The drama may lack the ancient structure, but the themes and the purpose are still the same. Shakespeare tells a story that could have happened like this, and it is all about the self-caused misfortune of a man who once had a golden future. All this has an emotionally cleansing effect on the audience and in the end everybody should have learned something: From the fact that killing kings is an evil deed, to the most likely fate of a ruler who becomes a tyrant, there always should be some kind of knowledge that can be used in the future.


1; section 6, line 16

2; section 9, line 6

3; section 12, line 2

4; section 13, line 10-11

5; section 6, line 3

The American Order’s Breakdown?

In 2001 French political scientist Emmanuel Todd released a book called “After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order” in which he states, that the USA is about to lose their state as a great power. Because his prediction from 1976 that the Soviet Union will collapse actually became true this has led to a discussion whether he is right again and the USA have already lost their world political influence. I therefore want to try to weigh some arguments up against each other to explain my own position.

To my mind the United States of America are still a world power and by far one of the most important ones. This belief is based on the following arguments:

An argument against the USA still being a great power is that they have got a weak military. This statement is based on the fact that the United States haven’t threatened to fight or fought a war against another big nation since the end of the cold war. All nations that they attacked were small countries with bad militaries like Cuba or the Iran. I strongly disagree with that argument because of these two facts: Firstly I don’t think you can say America has got a small Army, and additionally their soldiers are trained well (And they’ve got lots of nukes!). Secondly there are actual statistics that state that the willingness to fight a war is the lowest within the population of all the countries that are currently referred to as global powers¹. And they all have one other thing in common: very little amount of the population is currently in army service². I don’t think that the willingness to fight a war (against each other) can be part of the definition of a great power. The ability to fight one might be part of it, but as previously stated I don’t doubt the ability of the United State’s army.

Critics may be right claiming that the USA have lost their independence over the course of the last decades, that they are not completely self-sustaining anymore and are therefore reliant on other countries, even if they don’t agree with their politics. The most common example of this is of course the People’s Republic of China. The question that many people ask is how can a state that needs his opponents to survive be called a great, if not super power? But on the other hand, despite the fact that it’s questionable that the USA was ever autarkic, I don’t think this is an argument that works nowadays. In the times of globalization it is impossible for any big country not to rely on other countries, especially rising industry nations like China. Nearly all western countries need their products these days and so does the USA – but that’s nothing special and therefore this is not a powerful argument. Contrariwise this argument would mean that there are no great powers at all in the world, since all the other countries rely on the USA, not only economically, but also culturally: movies, music, design, food. The American Culture has influenced the whole world – and it still does. Especially China is influenced by American Culture (if it wasn’t so, why are there even fake Apple Stores on the street of most big Chinese cities?) – so it’s a two-sided relationship.

The logical conclusion from all of this is that the United States of America still are a great power. Even if they might not be the super power of the world anymore it’s doubtless to me that they are still one of the most important nations on earth, not only political seen but also culturally. I therefore disagree with Emmanuel Todd: In don’t think the American Order has broken down yet and I highly doubt that it will soon.




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