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  Rapacious Desire





Christopher Columbus discovered America. Hernando Cortez conquered the Aztecs. Francisco Pizzaro conquered the Incas. Two advanced civilizations practically fell into Spainís lap. Within a few short decades, the Spanish crown was awash with riches beyond its wildest dreams. They took over operating gold and silver mines. They decapitated and replaced the leadership of vertically organized political and social hierarchies. They inherited massive, ready-made, labor forces. Then they looted and squandered that wealth like no empire before or after. In contrast, for the British in the Americas, wealth didnít come nearly as easily. Their colonies had to be built from the ground up, taking more time, more capital, and more ingenuity. As it turned out, though, the ultimate value of Britainís hard efforts was far greater than the instant value of Spainís grandiose riches. Britain vanquished Spainís armada. Britain leaped ahead of Spain with its industrial revolution. And Britain left Spain in the dust as a world power. America "inherited" the British Empire and built it into the new world order.