Alexander Dolitsky: What is greed? Listen in on an intergenerational conversation

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

I recently had a conversation with an American in her late 20s about current events in our country—let’s give her the pseudonym “Rebecca,” in order to protect her anonymity.

In the course of our communication, it did not take long for me to recognize Rebeca’s leftist ideology: Christopher Columbus exploited native people during his four voyages to the Caribbean Islands in the late 15th century; the American Constitution was written solely to benefit privileged white people; women in America have been discriminated and suppressed throughout its entire history to the present; America is the mother of  capitalism, exploiting underprivileged people in the entire world; and, finally, the history of America must be rewritten in accordance with a far–left “truth.”  

I patiently listened to her progressive rhetoric and then attempted to explain the subjective and objective causes of historic events in America in their actual contexts, but with little success. Her radical progressive beliefs (brain washing) were already deeply rooted in a woke culture and far-left ideology.

Finally, she asked me, “What is greed and why are wealthy people are so greedy—for example, Jeff Bezos of Amazon?”

“Okay, first, let’s define this concept—greed,” I  proposed to Rebecca. We searched online for a definition and discovered that “…greed is an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.” 

“You see, all rich people are greedy—they are selfish, powerful, and unwilling to share their wealth with those who are in need,” Rebecca stated emotionally, with confidence.

“Certainly, this is a very general definition of greed,” I said. “Greed comes in many shapes and colors,” I suggested. “And who said that being rich is a crime. There have been many wealthy American entrepreneurs who shared almost their entire wealth with others: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, John Davison Rockefeller, John Pierpont Morgan—just to name a few. In fact, they were engines of American prosperity,” I continued. 

“Yes, I am familiar with these names, but never learned about them in school, not in great detail,” Rebecca admitted sheepishly.

“Let me share with you my personal experience related to greed in America,” I offered; she was attentive and looked at me with interest.

“Soon after my arrival to the United States in 1978, Jewish Family Service of Philadelphia found employment for me at the Philadelphia Embroidery Inc.—a small embroidery and silk-screening business then located at the 12th and Race Street, in the vicinity of downtown Philadelphia. Fred Tischler and his wife owned this business of about 10 to 12 employees—Fred, his wife and two young designers, Robin and John, worked in the front office, four to six embroiderers and two silk-screeners, including myself and Dave, worked in the back. In short, it was a small mom-and-pop business, resembling America’s utilitarian businesses of the 1930s through 1950s.

“My starting salary was $3.50 per hour. I had no health benefits, no sick leave, and no paid vacation. In 1978, the minimum wage in America was $2.65 per hour. During the 11 months of my employment in the Philadelphia Embroidery, I asked for a raise three times. Each time Mr. Tischler honored my request with a raise of 25 cents per hour.

“I commuted about one hour each way to and from my work place via bus, subway, and a short 10-minute walk. One winter morning I was 15 minutes late for work due to heavy snowfall that caused severe traffic congestion in the city. Fred Tischler and his wife were on vacation in the Bahamas and their daughter, a student of the medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, was substituting for them. On payday, a week later, she issued me a check, deducting $1 for being 15 minutes late on the day of the heavy snowfall.

“Well, how would you describe this treatment of the employee—work discipline or petty greed?” I questioned Rebecca. She only smiled in silent response.

Indeed, Rebecca and like-minded Americans are a product of the neo–Marxist education system and intense indoctrination by far-left activists found in many of our educational institutions today. Unfortunately, so many young people in America are so confused and disoriented that any parent is truly lucky if their child manages to come through the system as an old–fashioned “normal,” preserving strong Judeo–Christian moral values. 

I use the term “old–fashioned” because today’s “normal” is certainly not a desirable outcome.

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1976; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enroled in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted about 30 field studies in various areas of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, andClipper Odyssey vessels in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. He was the Project Manager for the WWII Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography. His more recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Old Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During WWII; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in WWII; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers; Ancient Tales of Chukotka, and Ancient Tales of Kamchatka.

A few of Dolitsky’s past MRAK columns:

Read: Neo-Marxism and utopian Socialism in America

Read: Old believers preserving faith in the New World

Read: Duke Ellington and the effects of Cold War in Soviet Union on intellectual curiosity

Read: United we stand, divided we fall with race, ethnicity in America

Read: For American schools to succeed, they need this ingredient

Read: Nationalism in America, Alaska, around the world

Read: The case of the ‘delicious salad’

Read: White privilege is a troubling perspective

Read: Beware of activists who manipulate history for their own agenda

Read: Alaska Day remembrance of Russian transfer

Read: American leftism is true picture of true hypocrisy

Read: History does not repeat itself

Read: The only Ford Mustang in Kiev

6 COMMENTS

  1. If I understand the timeline, you were earning $4.25/per hour at the time of your tardiness. The daughter was in fact “generous” in her discipline. The part of the other question for Rebecca is: or was she simply keeping our mutually accepted agreement?

    Merry Christmas all! 🎄

  2. “Neo-Marxism” is a good description of the foundation of Left thinking. Partly the result of indoctrination and partly the result of the ever-growing popularity of “virtue signalling”. In their eyes, if we oppose the ideals of Socialism, we must not have any virtue. Now, we are even propagandized by giant corporations who exist to make a profit. Keeps them off the woke radar.
    You see it now at the demise of Build Back Broke: Republicans “must want to throw children into poverty, destroy the planet, not pay people not to work, and not provide everything in this world for free including education.”
    How they fail to see that these things are destructive to society is beyond me. A deep deep brainwashing it seems. We used to be taught that Capitalism was good and Socialism was bad in school. Not anymore it seems.
    Socialism is really about “anti-libertarianism”. And Capitalism is a subset of that.

  3. Who is more greedy:
    A.) The person who wants to keep the fruits of their labor so they can have the benefit of a better life?
    or
    B.) The person who petitions the government to take the fruits of other’s labor from them under threat of the law so they can have a better life?

    • CBM, I am amazed. I was going to write the exact same comment you wrote; you have made it unnecessary for me to do so.

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