Mac posted an interesting article written by Doug Casey (Conversations with Casey) on slavery/economics of the war between the states, and the impact that the industrial revolution had on slavery. A small excerpt from that article:
Doug: “Right. Slavery is an institution of pre-industrial societies. It existed all over the world, across countries, cultures, and races, for thousands of years. It only really started disappearing with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, in the mid-1700s. It’s completely inconsistent with a free-market, capitalist society, partly because capitalism rests on strict property rights. And the primary and most basic form of property is your own body. One person can’t own another.”
What I find difficult to reconcile is the dichotomy in claiming to free a group of people, but then enslaving them all over again by invisible shackles. You are no longer a slave, but don’t expect to live in our neighbourhoods, compete for our jobs, worship in our churches, or in any way mingle within our society. Was freedom only a half measure, and only for “some” of the people, some of the time? It seems that religion, class, and colour have always been the main ingredients to cast suspicion on others since time began, thus making the ‘people who are different’ easy prey for the more powerful.
When blacks tried to volunteer in the North when President Lincoln called up 75,000 volunteers, they were told that it was ‘a white man’s fight.’ Eventually this so enraged Frederick Douglass and I had to go back and find this quote as I only remembered part of it, but here it is in its entirety:
“Colored men were good enough to fight under Washington. They are not good enough to fight under McLellan. They were good enough to fight under Andrew Jackson. They are not good enough to fight under Gen. Halleck. They were good enough to help win American independence but they are not good enough to help preserve that independence against treason or rebellion.”
I am captured by these words of Frederick Douglass and his continued frustration in dealing with a government that only paid lip service to the meaning of ‘freedom.’ A double edged sword that was wielded at the most inopportune times.
Many black volunteers in the Union army lamented the fact that they did not receive the same pay and rations as the white soldiers, even though the black soldiers ‘covered the same space of ground and the same length of ground in a graveyard that others do.’ To that end, blacks received a reduced pay of $10 out of which $3.00 was for clothing.
Prejudice has existed in this world since mankind was first able to distinquish one tribe from another and decide that the group was inferior. Human civilization has always faced the issues of intolerance and prejudice and deciding that a group of people are different or weaker allows justification to enforce the manacles of oppression. Once a group has been defined, it opens the door to fear, ignorance, and arrogance, when another group does not look, act, or think the same. I suspect that this flawed characteristic in human beings, to dislike and fear the unknown, is the down-side of the freedom to think and speak your mind.
A few musings on this beautiful Easter weekend.