7 things at 11 o’clock (6.21)

1. Jamie Malanowski says the United States of America should not have US Army bases named after people who declared war against the United States of America and took the battlefield against the US Army.

Good point. A while ago someone told me that slavery was “only part” of why the Civil War was fought. Now I’m trying to imagine the job interview where you explain that kidnapping, rape and torture are “only part” of your résumé. When slavery is any part of the agenda, it really doesn’t much matter if it’s the only part, does it?

2. Andrew Hackman on collapsing the transcendent into the immanent. (Hackman doesn’t use that phrase, but Richard Beck does, and says, “I’m very happy with this move.” I am too. So was the author of 1 John, ad nauseum.)

3. Emergency contraception is finally available over the counter. So is soy sauce. The big difference here is that soy sauce carries actual health risks.

4. I am shocked — shocked! — that good Christian people would lie about Planned Parenthood.

5. This is how you request a song at a concert. And here’s a music video from long before anyone talked about music videos. If (far less than) One Million Moms had been around when this came out, they’d have called for a boycott of Scopitone.

6. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska just became the third Republican senator to go on record in support of marriage equality. That’s big news. Or, I suppose actually, it’s not big news — but the fact that this news wasn’t greeted as big news, but with a kind of collective nod and shrug is itself a kind of big news. Her statement, titled “The Pursuit of Happiness — Without Government Interference,” might convince other Red-state Republicans that they can join her without the sky falling on their heads.

7. I have long held that the New Hampshire House of Representatives is too damn big. Tiny New Hampshire has 400 representatives elected from 204 legislative districts, and it turns out you can’t fill that many seats without letting in a bunch of unqualified, embarrassing whackjobs and goofballs. But even by the standards of the Granite State, it seems Rep. Stella Tremblay, R-Auburn, is too far out there. After continually pushing her theory that the Boston Marathon bombing was a government-sponsored false-flag operation, Tremblay was rebuked by a vote of the full House and resigned from the legislature.

“I just connect the dots,” said the unrepentantly dotty Tremblay. “Apparently, it is very dangerous to seek truth, or ask questions.”

Kudos to N.H. Republican Chair Jennifer Horn for responding unambiguously: “Representative Tremblay was unfit for public office and not welcome in our party. We are glad to see her go.” I know that’s partly just damage-control, but if the national party were willing to be that direct with the Gohmerts and Burgesses and Duncans and Franks (Frankses?) now dragging it down, it might be in better shape.

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  • themunck

    Regarding link 4 (the one about lying about Planned Parenthood)…are there -any- organizations with the word “family” in their name that aren’t horrible fonts for the persecution of rape victims or the like? It’s starting to raise my warning flags every bit as much as “concerned citizens” (usually lobby groups) or nations with the word “democratic” in their name.
    EDIT: Spelling.

  • JustoneK

    orwellian quote goes here

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    nations with the word “democratic” in their name.

    There’s the old political saw about judging a country by the length of its descriptor – the longer it is, the worse the nation. A “Republic” is usually okay, a “People’s Republic” is probably someplace to avoid, and a “Democratic People’s Republic” is a place you only go if you want to witness an atrocity first-hand.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Sir Humphrey: East Yemen, isn’t that a democracy?
    Foreign Office Official: Its full name is the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of East Yemen.
    Sir Humphrey: Ah I see, so it’s a communist dictatorship.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    are there -any- organizations with the worth “family” in their name that
    aren’t horrible fonts for the persecution of rape victims or the like

    I sure can’t think of any. Maybe there are some in other countries?

  • Michael Pullmann

    “Freedom” is one to watch out for, too.

  • Isabel C.

    Friends and I were talking about this last night: how perfectly nice words have become code for absolutely horrible people, and how we know in advance to avoid Internet people and organizations with certain words in their names.

    We got “Family,” “Freedom,” “Heritage,” “Liberty,” and, sadly, “Tea.”

  • Daniel

    No… not… not “tea”… please not “tea”… I couldn’t live in a world where “tea” was a dirty word. I’d feel like I was in a Phillip K Dick novel if tea somehow became corrupted by association- like the whole thing was just a terrifying hallucination.
    Please, American lunatic right wingers, please just let us have “tea” back.

  • AnonaMiss

    If it gets really bad you can always get a little more specific. I’m really into Chinese tea, for example. If tea became a form of doublespeak, that would probably make heads spin.

  • Daniel

    But I quite like Yorkshire Tea, and that might sound like some weird factional group in this horrific Orwellian world we’re creating here. I could shift to Twinings, I suppose, but that feels a little too “proper”. The Queen drinks that. I couldn’t hold my head up in respectable middle-class anti-monarchist poseur society again.

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    If Chinese tea would make heads spin, how about certified Fair Trade tea?

  • Arresi

    Watch out for white supremacists while googling anything to do with vikings and viking mythology.

  • Daniel

    Watch out for fascists and nutters when looking up anything Saxon related. Or anything about English mythology- they did King Arthur and St. George.

  • MaryKaye

    I live close to the “University Family YMCA” where the acronym stands for “Young Men’s Christian Association.” This has to be one of the most unhelpful names ever, as they are not particularly student-oriented (though they are in the “University District” neighborhood), they are co-ed, all ages with an emphasis on kids, and not discernably Christian. Basically somewhere between a community center and a gym. They are good folks though and treated my child well.

    That’s the only counterexample I’m aware of. I guess they stuck in “family” to get across “all ages and genders” and are stuck with “young men” for historical reasons. (I have actually never known a YMCA which limited activities to young men.)

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    I think there are a lot of little businesses and such that have “family” in the name that are fine. Something advertising itself as a family restaurant, for instance. But I think that’s different.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I think it was Dennis Leary who had a whole comedy sketch about how when businesses advertise things as being “family-style” the one thing you can be assured of is that it’s “not fucking family”.

    He proposed that a restaurant could only be properly called “family style” if the food were burnt, Maitre’d was drunk and the chef was crying in the bathroom all evening.

  • themunck

    I think the difference is “we cater to families”, which tend to mean “we give your kids some crayons so you can get 10 min or so of peace to eat your dinner”, and “we represent families and/or their interests”, which tend to mean “fuck everyone who doesn’t buy into a Madonna/whore complex, among other horrible things”.

  • http://jesustheram.blogspot.com/ Mr. Heartland

    Well I’d be very put off and surprised to to learn that I’m supporting a right-wing front every time I buy paper plates or cat food, but who knows? http://www.familydollar.com/pages/home.aspx

  • themunck

    Hmm…ladies and gentlemen, we seem to have found the exception. Huzzah!

  • Daniel

    Charles Manson didn’t have a particularly right wing family.

  • themunck

    …Nevertheless, my raised warning flags remain prudent.

  • Daniel

    that’s sensible. Also, the Royal Family. I’d avoid that lot like the plague.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    It looks like perhaps the Family Service Association of San Antonio isn’t too bad. At least I cannot find any results for “Family Service Association” with homophobia or even “Family Service Association” and controversy.

  • Jamoche

    It’s got “Service” in the name – that’s an alien concept to the people who use “Family” as a dogwhistle.

  • aunursa

    But whoever may want to honor them, whatever they may want to honor them for, it does seem singularly preposterous to name US Army bases after men who led troops in battle against US Army soldiers.

    I’ll play Devils Advocate: It does seem singularly preposterous for the National Football League to continue to honor the man who founded a league that directly competed with the NFL. It seems preposterous for the NFL to adopt a logo that reminds us of the original logo of its former competitor.

  • Michael Pullmann

    That’s one of the dumbest arguments I’ve ever seen. Sports and war (particularly armed insurrection) are in no way equivalent.

  • aunursa

    I didn’t say they were equivalent. But there is a strong connection between football and military.

    And as George Carlin quipped in his “Baseball and Football” routine: “In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.”

  • Fusina

    That is a bit I heard years ago, but it was in the days before youtube so I didn’t know who did the routine. I loved this one. Thank you!

    Wandering off to go watch Carlin on baseball and football now…

  • Amtep

    Honoring your enemies is an ancient military tradition, and it’s an important one because it means you can learn from them.

    I don’t think, however, that these men are being honored as enemies.

  • rcriii

    So there are forts named after Rommel, Guderian, Vo Nguyen Giap, Peng Dehuai etc?

  • Evan

    Considering that Rommel was given the choice between kangaroo court and suicide (he chose the latter) after being implicated in a plot against Hitler, if I had to pick one Nazi general to name a fort after, I’d choose him.

    Still, there are many, many, many, many better choices.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If nothing else, I’d pick Giap for sheer staying power in an asymmetrical war.

  • the shepard

    number two has that kind of profundity that seems simple once someone says it.
    i think tha i, too, am happy with this move.

  • The_L1985

    “The Race Is On”…and I think I’m going to lose my lunch. And I thought sexual objectification of women was bad now

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    From the Gohmert link:

    On the other hand, Gohmert said, poor people were using food stamps to buy food that other Americans could not afford. He claimed his “broken-hearted” constituents had repeatedly told him they had seen people use food stamps to buy king crab legs.

    That’s the exact same story you can read in the comments section under any newspaper article on SNAP. The only difference is that Gohmert isn’t blowing his dog whistle (although his constituents probably were and it just went over his head).

    Incidentally, I love that people still refer to EBT as “food stamps” even though they haven’t been stamps in years. Presumably, that’s to avoid having to explain how one could spot the difference between an EBT card and, say, a debit card from ten feet away.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    And then there’s the idea that poor people should never ever have nice things. That someone would be “broken-hearted” over this sickens me.

  • JustoneK

    Being poor is a moral failing, remember. Because equal opportunities.

  • Deacon Blues

    This reminds me of a story my grandma always told me. She was on food stamps, and one if her kids had a birthday, so she bought a cake and ice cream with their food stamps. Well, the person behind her started lecturing her about buying frivolous things, because poor people don’t deserve any treats ever… So she verbally ripped him a new asshole. I wish I could remember exactly how she told him off, but the lesson was, if you see someone buying something you don’t agree with, just shut the fuck up, that person probably knows their own life better than you do.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    I recall reading elseweb a post from a woman who’d bought a day-old cake for her child’s birthday using food stamps, and the person behind her made some remark about their tax money being wasted buying cake… only to have the person behind them pipe up, “I can think of no better use for my tax money than to buy a poor child a birthday cake.”

  • Jenny Islander

    Somebody over at poor_skills, before it went dead, listed all the things that jerks on the Internet had told her that poor people shouldn’t have because only lazy stupid people are poor.

    Basically, if you’re poor, you have to sell everything except clothes, very basic cooking equipment, and generic hygiene supplies. You can sleep on a pile of your laundry–yes, even the kids, because this will motivate them–or buy a used camping mattress or something, because you don’t get to sleep comfortably if you’re “lazy.” When you’re done working assorted crap jobs that won’t keep your teeth in your head but disqualify you for welfare, go home and stare at the walls–no TV, radio, or computers for you!–until it’s time for you to eat brown lentils and bulk rice seasoned only by your tears of shame.

  • themunck

    The worst part (out of many, many, bad that I’ve heard) remains phones and computers. Do people just not realize that the best way to get a better paying job (or indeed, a job at all) is to be able to search the internet, and more importantly, leave a frecking phone number people can contact you on? This isn’t 1980. Phones and internet connections are not luxury items that cost a fortune, they’re a basic necessity for most people.

  • JustoneK

    I bleeve Fred mentioned the phone thing in particular some years back. Most employers won’t even hire you without a phone number, much less a street address.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Most of the people making these claims don’t use a computer or a cell phone or the internet or a microwave on a daily basis (They have staff for that), so in their minds, they forever remain luxury toys. (Heck, I am a software developer, and there are times when it seems to me that the organization I am contracted to at its upper levels — an organization which does approximately 1% of its work on things other than computers — doesn’t quite get that computers are necessary to doing our jobs, not some kind of perk. We all need to tighten our belts in this economy, so from now on, you’ll be doing your network defense out longhand instead of on a computer.)

  • themunck

    Aye, that sort of thing always surprises me. Same when people have their secretaries print out emails for them to read. (Still surprised just how many people do that. My mom’s former boss did before he retired, but he was too old to be used to working via computer. However, if her secretary is to be believed, the current prime minister has her emails printed out too, and she’s only 46)

  • Alix

    No, it’s still a legit sentiment – half the point of computers is to save on things like paper, which doesn’t work if people use the paper anyway. But it does mean computers need to solve some more problems that keep people from using them as intended.

    This is one reason I was really happy with the Kindle’s no-glare screen. It’s a step in the right direction.

  • Alix

    I do know some people – my best friend being one of them – who find it a lot easier to read stuff on paper. No glare.

    Edit: Gah. Meant this as a reply to themunck below, clicked wrong button. Go me.

  • banancat

    But but but, those people could just walk 3 miles and take a two-hour bus ride with 2 transfers to use the computers at the public library for free!

  • Alix

    For twenty minutes! Until they got kicked off! And they have to have a library card, and oh my god, why are they wasting their time in a library instead of looking for real jobs?

    :/

  • themunck

    Living somewhat closer to a library, I actually considered that argument and stumbled across another little roadblock I’d never considered. Assuming you’re an employer with two candidates for an open position. They’re both equally qualified, and will work for the same salery and time. Who do you hire? The one with the email-address “John@doe.com”? Or the one named “John080888@hotmail.com”?

  • banancat

    The other thing I really hate about this attitude is the myth that people could just sell off most of their stuff for profit. I’ve been unemployed but luckily I was well-prepared for it. However, it’s not like I could’ve just sold my furniture if I needed money. I mean, maybe I could sell my couch for a couple hundred bucks but nobody would pay money for the bookcase that I paid $40 for in the first place, and I’d have a hard time selling my high-quality but 10 year-old mattress. I think it’s actually illegal to sell used mattresses. I have a fair amount of Lego accumulated over the years, but none of it in sets or really worth more than a couple of bucks. I could maybe sell some of my clothes to a second-hand store, but only the relatively new stuff. I could maybe sell a few other items for 50 cents each if my apartment complex had a yard sale. But really, there just isn’t a market for used clothes. Or for slightly used consumer goods in general.

    I have a lot of stuff, but even if I sold as much as I could, it would still probably not cover even a single month of rent. It could maybe get me by in a pinch, but it’s really not a long-term solution to money needs.

    People like to focus on the one-time purchases but those are really negligible in the scheme of things. I remember a few years ago during the health care reform debate, some Republican politician claimed that people should just stop buying iPads and they could magically afford health care. Well, I did the math and if I only just bought 2 fewer iPads each month, I could cover the cost of health insurance. But if I don’t already buy 2 iPads a month, then suddenly this plan doesn’t work out so well.

  • banancat

    I’ll add further to my previous comment but I don’t want to make it a wall of text.

    I’m solidly middle class now, even upper middle class. I have complained about my job before and have legitimate complaints, but overall I’m doing pretty well for someone my age (28). Well enough in fact that I can get serious about saving money for a down payment on a house. However, I am currently making less than I should/could be making, and a career move would go a long way toward my goal of home ownership, especially because I have other things to save for, such as a car inevitably (when my current, paid-off one dies), and medical expenses for my aging cat.

    All my friends in one of my D&D groups make significantly less than I do, about half of what I make. I try not to bring it up but I mentioned a job interview and one guy persisted on the topic. I tried to just simply explain that while I make enough to cover my expenses, I would like to save for my goals since it’s feasible. And he got exasperated and said I shouldn’t have bought my Legos that are my hobby. The total price of Legos over the past 2-3 years is maybe $600. It’s significant, but only about 2.5% of what I need to save. If I were spending that amount frequently, it would impede my goal. But it’s the only major thing I have splurged on so it’s really not enough to decide one way or another if I meet my goal. At most, it might delay my goal by a month or two.

    Later we chipped in for pizza and I didn’t have any change like I usually do, so I just put $9 more in the fund than my share required. And again he commented that that’s why I can’t buy a house right now. Because of $9. Maybe it would make sense if he was implying this was a trend with me, but it’s really not. Saving in $9 increments won’t help me buy a house.

    I’ve budgeted my money and there are plenty of little ways I could cut back. But in the scheme of things, even making all of those little cuts would allow me to afford a house about 1.5 months sooner. When we’re dealing with tens of thousands of dollars, that occasional purchase of furniture or convenience foods just doesn’t factor in significantly. The heart of the problem is that many jobs simply don’t pay enough to cover living expenses, and there’s just no way to penny-pinch yourself out of that.

  • Alix

    Also, hobbies are actually kind of important to our sense of self/mental health/etc. I mean, I am currently unemployed, living off my savings, and I spend some of that money on painting. Why? Because I’ll go fucking nuts if I don’t.

    It’s like being human is a privilege to some people, one that only comes with great wealth.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Wait. You put $9 extra to cover food for the group, most of whom make significantly less than you do… and someone complained?

  • J_Enigma32

    In order to be broken-hearted”, you need a heart first. Since Gohmert and the other Republicans are absent a heart, a “broken-hearted” Republic is an oxymoron.

  • Kubricks_Rube

    I love that people still refer to EBT as “food stamps” even though they haven’t been stamps in years.

    Sen Tom Coburn doesn’t think enough people use the term. He wants to bring “food stamps” back officially, and presumably the stigma that goes with them: “Coburn Amendment 1001 – Rename Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) back to Food Stamp Program, and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act back to the Food Stamp Act.”

    Rather than misleading the public about the health benefits of the program, SNAP’s name should return to “food stamps.”

    Additionally, the name would be a constant reminder about the mission of the program: not to subsidize junk food purchases, but to provide essential items children and families need, like staple foods of bread, meat, beans, fruits and vegetables.

    http://www.coburn.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=a3dc13cb-6db0-408e-ab9f-05f153e40d72

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    Incidentally, I love that people still refer to EBT as “food stamps”
    even though they haven’t been stamps in years. Presumably, that’s to
    avoid having to explain how one could spot the difference between an EBT
    card and, say, a debit card from ten feet away.

    In some areas, the card was deliberately made a bright and unusual shade of orange just to make sure it was properly and shamefully visible from a distance.

  • EllieMurasaki

    My PNC debit card was orange a while back. I forget if the current one is, I keep not getting around to closing that account, so that debit card is in the little lockbox with the credit cards I’m trying to pay down and I haven’t seen it in a while.

  • Alix

    ING cards were too, until they were bought out by Capital One and switched to equally-fake looking red cards.

    I got so many “WTF?” looks from people when I handed them my ING card. It was hilarious.

  • EllieMurasaki

    DAMMIT ING. I liked ING. I don’t like CapitalOne 360.

  • Alix

    Basically my reaction, but they’ve been okay so far. :/ Haven’t changed much, at least not for existing accounts.

    ‘Course, it seems every time I find a bank I like, they either get bought out or go off the rails, so. :/ I am, apparently, death to banks.

  • Monala

    Not so fond of ING here. I opened an Orange Savings account when my daughter was born, adding about $25 a month to it, because they had really good interest rates. (I was attempting to start a college fund) Those rates decreased each year of her life, until they were the same nearly nonexistent rates of most other banks’ savings accounts.

    Moreover, whenever I needed to reach them, I had a devil of a time trying to get through to them by phone, mail or email. So one day, out of frustration, I left a message saying I wanted to close my account. I got a return call in less than five minutes, with an almost gleeful CSR telling me that the funds in the account would be sent to me within 24 hours.

    I have never closed an account of any kind without the service rep at least asking me why and what they could do to keep my business. So I can only conclude that my couple thousand or so in savings wasn’t worthwhile to them, and they were eager to get rid of me,

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    I actually got a lot of “That’s a really cool card!”s about mine. I suspect that the new card won’t generate nearly as much admiration.

  • Joykins

    “. Presumably, that’s to avoid having to explain how one could spot the difference between an EBT card and, say, a debit card from ten feet away.” The real way they are spotted is when the EBT card barfs on something and then the line gets held up while the cashier resolves it. Which probably doesn’t calm the busybodies any. “Not only was that food stamp recipient buying caviar, filet mignon, and lobster, I had to wait 5 minutes until the line moved again!”

  • http://hummingwolf.livejournal.com/ Hummingwolf

    By “barfs on something,” do you mean that the cards sometimes won’t recognize certain food items as real food? That happens sometimes, usually when a store’s computer has the item in the wrong category (no, this can of tomatoes really shouldn’t be filed under “housewares”). In those cases, I’ve never noticed the problem being any worse than all those times people insist that their credit card couldn’t possibly have been turned down just now and it’s all the cashier’s fault somehow, or the times when people insist that that item that was rung up at $6.99 is only supposed to be 45 cents.

    The most noticeable Poor Folks at the grocery stores are WIC recipients, and I’ve never seen any of them trying to buy crab legs.

    I totally need to spend a couple months eating nothing but green cabbage, rice & beans just so I can save up to use my EBT card to buy crab legs.

  • Joykins

    Yes. Or the WIC recipients, who, as you say, may have a tricky time finding the exact food they qualify for. I’ve helped some of them on request to find the exact right cheese or whatever and it isn’t easy to tell.

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    My immediate reaction to the king crab legs claim: receipts or it didn’t happen.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Well, there is this. This passes through FB quite frequently, NEVER accompanied by further information (like how the man was eventually charged with a crime).

  • http://shiftercat.livejournal.com/ ShifterCat

    Re-selling luxury foodstuffs? I had no idea that was even a thing. “Here, wanna buy a lobster? It, uh, fell off the back of an aquarium.”

  • FearlessSon

    About link number 4, has that guy ever actually been in a Planned Parenthood clinic? Because I actually have been to the big PP clinic in Seattle, and one of the first things that they ask you during any session is if you were coerced by someone else into coming there. Presumably that is used in investigations and to give someone in a bad situation a way out and into protection.

    They do all that they reasonably can do to protect any victim who comes to them.

  • P J Evans

    You could make a case for renaming Fort Lee to Fort Lee, since there was more than one General Lee. (‘Light-Horse Harry’ comes to mind.)

  • Evan

    Reminds me how King County, WA was renamed to King County, WA to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. (instead of former Vice-President William Rufus King, a slaveholder from Alabama).

  • P J Evans

    It’s even better than that: ‘Light-Horse Harry’ was the father of Robert E.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    They could rename it after the car from The Dukes of Hazzard.

  • Daniel

    or to “Fought Lee” to commemorate the Union troops.

    Puns are cool. I don’t care what anyone says.

  • Alix

    True story: I once wrote an essay on the causes of the Civil War, where I looked at everything from economics, politics, and cultural differences to westward expansion and religion, and came to the conclusion that yes, Virginia, it does all boil down to slavery.

    My teacher dinged me enough points to drop the essay an entire letter grade because “there were causes other than slavery.” Despite the fact that I’d just spent an entire damn essay laying out those common “other” arguments and showing how no, they really truly were about slavery after all.

    He gave no support for his “fact” – he basically just assumed it must have been true because, I guess, people keep saying so? But really, truly, the facts don’t bear that out. At all. (Not for the Confederate states as a whole, anyway, though I’m sure there were any number of people who joined the Confederate army who weren’t rabidly pro-slavery.)

    I hear this shit all the time, coupled with a lot of fond remembrances about how grand and glorious Our Southern Past was, before Those Northern Bastards ruined us. It makes me want to smack people, it really does.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Your teacher was, obviously, completely wrong. Luckily the revisionist myth that the Civil War was started over anything but slavery that Southern historians invented in the late 19th century is no longer accepted at the college level. It takes a long time for high schools to catch up, but that’s no excuse. Hopefully more history teachers in schools have woken up since Battle Cry of Freedom was published.

  • Alix

    This was at the college level, is the sad thing.

    I just find it rather amazing that people seriously keep arguing this.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    You’re kidding.

    When and where was this? In my Florida school, that attitude would not have been accepted.

  • http://music.satellitereboot.com/ Matt S

    For me, it was ten years ago at Mott Community College in Flint, MI, where the history professor most likely still teaches. The man was a fantastic storyteller, and I bought all kinds of BS from him that I later discovered on Snopes.

  • Arresi

    Hey, fellow MCC grad! *waves* My history prof there was okay (a woman since retired), though. Not the best teacher I ever had, but nothing like that.

    All of my profs said slavery caused the Civil War (with variations, like “they fought over whether the federal gov’t had the right to abolish slavery or whether that was a state’s right,” or “they fought over economic conflict between free and slave states”) but as I recall, the idea that it wasn’t about slavery at all just sort of lingered among the students. I had a classmate recently suggest that saying “slavery caused the Civil War” was a controversial statement.

  • http://music.satellitereboot.com/ Matt S

    MCC high-five!

    This guy read us a quote where Lincoln basically said he didn’t care about slavery itself, but wanted to end it because it was good for the Union, the preservation of which was his primary concern. I did some Googling and found the quote along with a bajillion others where he says he wants to end slavery, so I’m thinking there was some missing context.

    There was an element of, “Your high school teachers didn’t tell you the whole story; college is where you learn REAL history!”, and I think that contributes to people’s willingness to think the Civil War was about something other than slavery.

  • Evan

    Oh, yes, that quote. Isn’t it from this letter where Lincoln ends by saying, “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free”?

  • http://music.satellitereboot.com/ Matt S

    That’s the one! Amazing the difference one sentence can make to proper understanding.

  • Arresi

    There was an element of, “Your high school teachers didn’t tell you the whole story; college is where you learn REAL history!” . . .

    So, was he implying some sort of absurd conspiracy to keep students from hearing the truth or was he boasting about teaching remedial high school?

  • EllieMurasaki

    There was an element of, “Your high school teachers didn’t tell you the whole story; college is where you learn REAL history!” . . .

    So, was he implying some sort of absurd conspiracy to keep students from hearing the truth or was he boasting about teaching remedial high school?

    College doesn’t have the school board requiring it to not teach things that offend the parents. Things like ‘Latina history’ and ‘queer history’ and ‘women’s history’ often offend the parents. To say nothing of why what happened, rather than merely what happened.

  • Arresi

    I’m aware! I was mostly making a joke about the conspiracy movie style phrasing of that line.

    That said, there are a lot of people who do act like education (and pretty much everything else to do with government) is run by some sort of secret cabal. I hardly think it counts as a conspiracy when they announce their plans in public meetings.

  • Alix

    That’s the best kind of conspiracy, dontcha know. Hiding in plain sight! Announcing their plans to all and sundry, just like movie villains do!

  • Arresi

    Does that mean I should start taking movie villains seriously?

  • http://music.satellitereboot.com/ Matt S

    It was the latter. He said K-12 teachers taught oversimplified and sanitized history (because children!), but college professors could get into the complexities of what happened and paint a more accurate picture.

    He was a huge fan of conspiracy theories, though.

  • Arresi

    As opposed to the oversimplified and sanitized history you get in a history survey course (because time!), I suppose.

    It’s not that I disagree entirely, incidentally, the whitewashing of history, especially at the lower levels, is a real problem. That said, I don’t think veering from putting historical people on pedestals to taking them out back and shooting them is really an improvement. I mean, either way you’re ignoring the complexity of other people’s lives, rejecting the possibility of meaningful improvement, and functionally removing historical figures as people worthy of emulation.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Oh hai. I graduated from a different MCC in the area. You two had me going a moment. :p

  • Arresi

    Ah, based on comments, I’d happily trade you for a couple of my actual classmates, if you want to pretend.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    But then I’d have to pretend I grew up around Flint, instead of about 45 minutes away! It’d be like a whole different life, completely alien to my experiences!

  • Arresi

    *snickers* Well, if it’s that big of a deal. (Although, no joke, I knew people from Frankenmuth and Detroit who both swore Flint was really different culturally, so apparently 45 minutes is a big deal.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Detroit I could see having a culture all to its own, depending on the side of the city. I passed through the “bad side of the neighborhood” once and that was enough for me.

    I’ve spent most of my life in the small town regions though — biggest town nearby was Mount Pleasant, or maybe Alma. Despite moving around all the time, I don’t think I ever lived in a town that actually showed up on a roadmap. :p

  • Arresi

    Apparently Flint’s racial dynamics are/were very different. Less segregated, with more bi-racial or multi-racial relationships? There was some other stuff, but that was the thing I remember them both talking about.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    That makes sense. The areas I grew up in were always pretty mono-racial, which, sadly, didn’t stop my parents from turning into terrible racists. I flew back into Michigan to visit them a bit ago and was struck by how few people I saw of visibly diverse ethnicity, in contrast to where I live in WA, where I have Spanish, Chinese, Russian and British neighbors (just on my street!)

  • Alix

    Last year, at an accredited online university originally set up for military students but opened to the public. The university offices are in West VA, but the professors are as scattered as the students. I don’t honestly remember where this particular prof was based, and he’d never shown any sign of this attitude before.

    It took me rather aback.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    It’s shocking. At the stage Civil War studies are at, pretending slavery was not the cause of the Civil War is not considered as bad as Holocaust denial… yet. But it is no longer a respected argument in any way.

    Also, your professor was dinging you for the same argument James M. McPherson makes in Battle Cry of Freedom, which is the standard basic Civil War text now. So even if the professor disagreed (which is problematic at best), he should not have marked you down.

  • Alix

    Oh, I agree 100%.

    I should point out that this isn’t a university-wide problem. I’ve had, on the whole, more reasonable professors who don’t do this Southern revisionism. But even just that one professor pulling this is … a bit of a problem. Especially since his argument wasn’t an actual argument promoting critical analysis, but just “because the professor says so.”

  • Daniel

    Please note: no sarcasm is meant in the following questions-
    What is it that make you certain there were no other causes? I’m quite ignorant about the US civil war, and to me it always seemed plausible that if a country fights itself there is usually more than one reason because it’s a bloody awful thing to do. So is it that slavery was the most significant (by however big a margin) and there were other causes, or is it that slavery pure and simple was the reason? Again, pleading ignorance, I’ve always assumed this was a retrospective view to salve a nation’s conscience after such a destructive event. Is there a grain of truth in that reading, or was it really entirely motivated by the slave trade?

  • Alix

    It’s more like there were a whole host of specific tensions, but if you scratch the surface of, literally, any of them, you get slavery.

    States’ rights vs. federal rights, whether secession was legal, westward expansion, industrialized North vs. agricultural South, and even inflammatory religious movements were all a part of things. And all of it boils down to slavery. About the only strain that didn’t was the South’s obsession with their belief that they were martial badasses.

    We get so used to looking for complexity we forget it isn’t always present. And in this case, there is complexity – but more in how slavery sank its tentacles into so many aspects of American life, and triggered so many different frictions.

    Edit: There’s also the fact that the vast majority of people, in my experience, who look for other causes are doing so to deliberately downplay or (preferably) eliminate the slavery-was-the-cause argument. For exactly the nasty reasons you might expect.

  • Daniel

    Thank you. So if slavery was ingrained into everything, would that have included the industry of the north? Obviously not as blatant as the cotton fields in the south, but did the north not benefit at all from slavery?

    The attraction for me of looking for complexity is it helps avoid a “teach the myth” attitude that allows history to be used for political aims, or at the very least taught incorrectly. So in the case of the American Civil War, I appreciate the complexity comes from how pervasive slavery was in society, but is it true to say the Union was motivated to fight because it was trying to end slavery, or is it more accurate to say the south seceded in order to keep it and the north fought to regain the south?

    Incidentally on that martial badasses point you made, have you ever seen this:

    http://digital.library.schreiner.edu/sldl/hcc/kgc.html

    before? It’s a group that existed to bluster and bellow in costume about their mystic rights as southern gentlemen to hold others as slaves. They’d be funny if they weren’t, you know, slave owners.

  • Alix

    Southern agriculture certainly intertwined with Northern industrialism, so it’s not like the North has clean hands. There was an extremely sharp divide between the two economies/regional cultures, though.

    This is all compounded by the fact that you had some slave states that didn’t secede, and part of Virginia got split off into a new state (West Virginia).

    On motives: your latter guess is more correct. The South explicitly seceded to retain its slaves because it feared – somewhat, but not entirely, unreasonably – that the North would emancipate them. The Union fought mostly to preserve the Union – but that said, there was a very strong abolitionist streak in the North. That’s part of what led directly to the Civil War – you had a sort-of pre-war war in Kansas over whether or not it’d be admitted as a slave territory, and you had John Brown attempt to incite a slave revolt in (then) Virginia, among the more prominent events.

    I’ve heard of the group. :/ The same bluster, to a slightly lesser extent, still very much exists, at least here in Virginia.

  • Arresi

    So the thing is, slavery is a political-legal, economic and social institution, with vast cultural implications on science, education, and religion, among other things, and not just a moral issue?

    Now, technically, the immediate cause of the Civil War is the secession of the Confederate states and the legal issues that accompanied that. Roughly: was the Constitution a contract that the states could walk away from, or was signing it more like an immigrant being naturalized, and from that point on being subordinate to federal law? If it was a contract, what property were the states allowed to take with them? For instance, Fort Sumter is a federal fort in a state that seceded. Who does it belong to? The western portion of Virginia was opposed to secession. Can it secede from Virginia to remain a part of the United States? Etc. So, in that sense, the Civil War is about state versus federal power. And it’s not unimportant – it has effects on the actual prosecution of the war, among other things.

    But the South didn’t secede to make a legal point. They seceded over the institution of slavery. And they believed they needed to secede to preserve slavery because the North was increasingly militantly opposed to slavery (the most prominent for moral reasons, but there were plenty of people opposed to the institution, who weren’t particularly concerned about the moral issue).

    Okay, that was long. Sorry.

  • Daniel

    So the South basically have a convenient out should anyone call them on the slavery issue- namely that they were actually making a legal point and pursuing their own liberty? So what I’ve actually picked up in my sketchy understanding of all this before is that the complexities are an attempt to obfuscate the central driving issue, which was slavery (in simple terms).
    As a side note, how strong was Abolitionism in the north as opposed to keeping slavery without increasing the number of slave holding states?
    Also, a legal question, are there any actual legal grounds for a state to secede?

  • Alix

    how strong was Abolitionism in the north as opposed to keeping slavery without increasing the number of slave holding states?

    Really damn good question. It’s not entirely clear. There were a lot of attempts to solve the slavery issue, or come to a new compromise, and the compromises the North generally liked were ones that didn’t really expand slavery. But abolitionism was a huge and growing movement – among other things, you had new popular religious movements crop up centered on the issue. You also had more and more politicians getting elected to office who were personally anti-slavery, even if they were willing to compromise when in office. The general consensus is that it actually wasn’t likely that all slaves in the south would’ve been freed by the Lincoln administration if the South hadn’t forced things, but there was absolutely a growing anti-slavery trend that the South had cause to fear.

    And it had broken out into open fighting once before (Kansas), with a second attempt at an abolitionist-led slave revolt in Harper’s Ferry. So.

    are there any actual legal grounds for a state to secede?

    Sort of? At the time, anyway, there was something of an open question about whether or not a state could withdraw from the Union – the South said yes, that being part of the Union was a voluntary contract from which they could withdraw; everyone else (and even most of the framers of the constitution) disagreed. The issue’s since been settled by the Supreme Court since 1869 – secession by a whole state from the union is illegal in the United States, though the ruling does leave open the possibility of a state leaving the union by consent of the other states, somewhat akin to the entry process in reverse.

    That court ruling is really interesting, actually, because it explicitly confirms that in the eyes of the law, none of the southern states ever really left the Union.

  • Arresi

    Sorry, didn’t notice you’d replied. Regarding your first paragraph, yeah, that’s my best understanding.

    As for how strong abolitionism was – I don’t know if there are exact numbers, but between 50 and 65% of the Northern free states voted for the Republicans (the party that was most firmly opposed to the expansion of slavery) in 1860. That seems like it’s probably about the right number for supporters of keeping slavery without increasing the number of slave holding states. And Google is implying that between 100,000 and 200,000 people were members of abolitionist societies, which is likely the low end of the committed abolitionists. That said, there was an argument that slavery would collapse over time if it was contained, and it seems to have been one the slaveholders themselves subscribed to. And even people who weren’t committed abolitionists might resort to civil disobedience rather than help recover a fugitive slave themselves.

    As for the legal question – not a lawyer, but I think the legal consensus is that when a state votes for entry to the Union, they are giving up sovereignty and accepting the Constitution (and federal law) as having primacy over state law. But I don’t know.

  • FearlessSon

    What I was taught in high school was that, yes, slavery was a central factor that lots of the other causes kind of orbited around. But more generally, it was a kind of culture war which was fought politically across a variety of fronts and eventually broke out into actual war.

    Of course, the culture matter being fought over was whether owning another human as a labor asset was okay or not.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    That makes it sound like a force of nature, with the “eventually broke out” and such, rather than being a conscious decision on the part of Southern slaveowners. Also, calling something a “cultural” matter tends to be a way of diminishing the agency of the people involved, and often it is used to excuse horrible things, at least in Civil War studies.

    That Southern slaveowners wanted to keep owning slaves and profiting from this in ways economic, social, and sexual, is why they seceded. They were rah-rah states’ rights so long as the “right” in question was to own slaves. They were completely and totally anti-states’ rights if the right in question was to make slavery illegal. They were authoritarian when they were the authorities, but rebellious when asked to follow anyone else’s rules.

  • Eric Boersma

    Sounds like another political group I know.

  • FearlessSon

    I think that in some ways it was an inevitable clash. Heck, some of the founders were predicting that since the union was founded (which was why they changed “Life, liberty, and property” to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”)

    I am not defending any of the slave owners decisions, they participated in a bad system that should never have existed in the first place, but as usual things are More Complicated Than That. The problem being that, to quote one writer, slavery is not just the forced servitude of one human by another, but the insidious system of codependency that such an arrangement creates.

    Part of why reconstruction was so difficult, and so many legal specters of the slavery era in the South persisted so long (and to an extent continue to persist in watered-down forms) is because disassembling the system of slavery and reassembling it into a more equitable arrangement is not a simple or easy task. How does the land get redistributed? How do you educate and care for a large population which had no previous enfranchisement and no infrastructure to support them? How do you turn around generations of en-cultured justification for blatant racial exploitation which only keeps digging itself deeper?

    It is an ugly issue, with a lot of thorns, and pulling it out is in no way easy. That conflict was more likely than not.

  • Alix

    It was an inevitable clash. If the slavery issue had actually been dealt with at the beginning, one way or another the Civil War wouldn’t have happened. But the Founding Fathers decided to just kick the can down the road, I guess sort of hoping it’d never really blow up.

    Guess what? It did.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There are people even TODAY who are intractably convinced that if the north had just let the south be, in a few decades, the invisible hand of the free marketr would have caused slaveowners to realize that it was better fiscal policy to pay their laborers rather than gaining their labor without paying them by use of violence.

    And since this would have led to the end of slavery with markedly fewer white deaths, it would have been an unalloyed victory*

    So it’s not all that outlandish for the founding fathers to have hoped that if they just ignored the problem, it would go away.

    Also, much like today, there was the pragmatic consideration that “Plus slavery is over”, like “And the new immigration bill will also extend rights to same-sex partners” would have been a dealbreaker with the delegates from the south, so it was not a question of “do we end slavery or let it continue” but rather “do we let it continue in our new country, or let it continue as we go back to being colonies of the british empire”

    (* Of course, there’d be extra decades of black people dying, being tortured, raped and exploited. But as those people did not legally count as people, the sort of person who advances this argument only counts their suffering as 3/5 of a white person’s suffering)

  • Alix

    There are people even TODAY who are intractably convinced that if the north had just let the south be, in a few decades, the invisible hand of the free marketr would have caused slaveowners to realize that it was better fiscal policy to pay their laborers

    I always want to ask them just how many hundreds of years we’re supposed to give the free market to work.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I suspect until the Great Depression. Remember, the agricultural sector in all sections of the country was stagnating from c. 1890 to c. 1933. By the Great Depression, conditions would have gotten so bad for even the richest planters, that they would have to had let their slaves go free, as slaves would merely have contributed to losses in severe depressionary conditions.

  • Alix

    Wouldn’t having to actually pay your workers be worse in a depression? I mean, half the point of slavery is that it’s about the cheapest labor possible, especially if you’re not terribly concerned about their well-being.

    Edit: or are you saying the plantation economy in general would’ve been beyond saving?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Wouldn’t having to actually pay your workers be worse in a depression?

    As we didn’t have the scenario I described in the U.S. due to the War of Southern Secession, I cannot claim to know. Besides, in my scenario, both forms of labor (free and slave) would have been unprofitable in agriculture due to agriculture having become unprofitable due to low prices for farm goods.

  • Alix

    Ah, okay, gotcha. So if slavery were still around by the Depression, there would’ve been a sort of general collapse of the plantation system, resulting in the end of slavery.

    That’s an interesting counterfactual to consider. I wonder what would’ve happened post-Depression, or if the Depression might’ve gone on longer in the South due to unwillingness to free the slaves*.

    *Economic concerns aren’t the only ones, after all. Another thing the South had to fear was a slave revolt or a mass uprising.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Most likely, very, very restrictive Black Codes which would have continued well into the mid-to-late 20th century, whether or not slavery would have been made illegal.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I have read some legitimate scholars suggest that even by the time of the civil war, the plantation system did not make good economic sense, and that the south was hanging on to slavery not for economic reasons at all, but rather because they were just assholes who liked owning people.

  • Alix

    It’s possible. One of the studies I read for my paper crunched some of the economic figures and came to the conclusion that the system was relatively stable, but the vast majority of the actual wealth was tied up in the slaves, which explains the mass panic that led to secession. I’m not sure I entirely buy his argument for the stability – I’ve seen arguments for instability, too – but the figures for where the South’s wealth was seemed legit.

    “It’s our culture! Our Tradition!” seems to excuse a hell of a lot as far as some people are concerned. :/

  • Jamoche

    The Depression’s effect on the Southern economy was helped along by the boll weevil, which pretty much eradicated cotton. If slavery had still been around, it’s unlikely George Washington Carver would have had the opportunities to do the research into peanuts that made it a viable alternative crop, and there really aren’t that many things that are economical to grow in that area. The plantation system and the entire economy would collapse.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I think you might have had a civil war then, as the southern states turn fascist in a reactionary fear of the collapse of their ‘institution’. And if that happened, they’d likely get support from the Axis, and WWII would be that much worse. Or maybe the *entire country* would go fascist and side with the Axis.

    Assuming it even happened. Maintaining slavery to the 1930s obviously means the abolitionist movement never gained traction, which results in a much more right-wing USA in general. They might intervene in WWI, or they might not (likely to be somewhat isolationist, still, and not care as much about ‘democracy’, but may also see the opportunity to gain new slave colonies in Africa and elsewhere) in which case the results could go either way. They might see the Bolsheviks as even more of a threat (the robber barons saw them as dangerous radicals, slave-holders would be *terrified*), and intervene openly in the Russian Civil War, resulting in a Tsarist victory. If that didn’t happen (or they *still lost*), America is now rather fertile ground for a Communist uprising…
    I don’t want to say ‘America keeps slavery = world goes to shit’, but… it certainly wouldn’t help.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    There was a documentary-style movie a few years back set in a world where the south had not just won the civil war, but conquered the north as well. In their version of history, the victorious confederacy really really liked Hitler, but was so obsessively isolationist that they stayed out of the war in europe. Still had the pacific war, though (but brokered a peace with the nazis to avoid getting involved in europe), capturing Japan and enslaving their populace. The allied forces in europe manage to defeat Hitler anyway, but it takes years longer.

    The last scene of the movie (before they do this bit over the credits where they show the actual real-world ads which inspired the Over-The-Top fake ads they’d put in the film) was a presidential campaign ad, where the candidate waxes about how he just wishes that their old family friends the Hitlers were still alive.

  • Alix

    I agree with you, but the tricky thing about cultural conflicts is that they are bigger than just what individual people decide; there’s been some serious suggestion that even if most people weren’t in favor of war, too much friction had already built up and it was really inevitable.

    I’m not sure I entirely buy that, but there are certainly ways that cultures/societies behave in aggregate that can’t be completely chalked up to individuals. That in no way absolves individuals from blame, but there seems to be a feedback loop: individuals create culture which influences individuals.

  • tatortotcassie

    My understanding was that the key cause of the Civil War was in fact slavery, but the states said that they were seceding because of “states rights” (presumably “states rights” was the favorite dog whistle of the time. Rather like “urban voters” is today.)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “States rights” is still a favorite dog whistle, and not by coincidence, it’s often used by people who are perfectly fine with the thought of bringing back slavery.

  • Alix

    The follow-up question that’s always worth asking is “Which rights, exactly?”

    As the Confederates themselves said, the states’ rights to own slaves.

  • FearlessSon

    No, not a dog whistle. A dog whistle has to be subtle. This was explicit. When the states that formed the Confederacy declared their independence, it was literally their “right” to own slaves that they cited in their declaration as the deciding issue.

    Hard to be more overt than saying that the “natural state” of the black man is one of service to whites.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    They said they were seceding over slavery. Over and over and over again, they said it.

    Alexander Stephens, the vice president of the Confederacy, had this to say in what is known as the Cornerstone Speech:

    Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas [to the ideas of equality the founders of the U.S. had]; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The causes of Southern secession were at least 80% slavery-related. The causes of the Northern conquest of the South had nothing to do with trying to end slavery.

  • Jessica_R

    Except that it kinda did. And the Confederacy make it explicit in its constitution that this was about slavery. And made it illegal to abolish slavery in any Confederate state. Oh and made it illegal to secede too. Nice try.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Did you even read my comment? Or are you deliberately being a dumbass?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Fuck off, EH.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    No./Why?/Fuck off, Lliira.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Because you’re here to provoke people and get attention. Go away.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Nonsense. My first comment on this post contains nothing to provoke people or to get attention.

  • Alix

    *blink*

    You … really have no idea how you come off, do you?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Yes, he does. He does it on purpose.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    <sarc> By golly! Go claim your million dollars from Randi! </sarc>

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    In which comment(s)?

  • Alix

    Your initial one, and many others on other posts.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Then, no, I have no idea how I come off.

  • Alix

    You seem to choose inflammatory words or turns of phrase and are frequently quite nitpicky. Like with your use of “conquest,” the problems with which I described below, and in your insistence on splitting the causes of the Civil War into the causes for each side, when that’s really splitting hairs in a very odd way. One side was the instigator, and they’re who matter, not the reacting side.

  • themunck

    It’s also never completely clear if you’re* arguing your own position, or playing the devil’s advocate.

    * “you” being EH, not Alix, in case I’m unclear.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Defense of North’s policy on disobedient adults who live with their parents? Devil’s advocate. In this thread? Own position.

  • Alix

    Thinking more on this: I think you come off as too terse? Like, you throw out statements or “citation needed” with no elaboration, and it makes it really hard to actually get a handle on what you’re saying. :/ At least for me.

    …Heh. I think I’ve just explained my habit of wall-o-texting, right there.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I consider elaboration of points I make in my comments which I don’t do to be superfluous unless someone asks me to elaborate.

  • Alix

    I will try to keep that in mind. :)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Elaborating on EH’s reply, since I don’t think you were around for the occasion: That’s in reference to Gary North’s policy that we should return to stoning people to death with community executions ala Deuteronomy, a policy which includes disobedient children.

    EH defended that.

    Of course, after EH made a recent post asserting that it was all right with letting people die needless, preventable deaths if they were incapable of fulfilling their slave obligations to their corporate owners, none of us are particularly surprised when EH says something which implies it doesn’t care about people.

    This is why I advocate ignoring the troll.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    EH defended that.

    -No, I didn’t. I simply gave some reasons for it. The existence of reasons for a policy does not alone make a policy worth supporting.

    slave obligations

    -Nope. In capitalist societies, there are no slaves.
    Also, why do you continue to dehumanize me by referring to me as “it”?

  • Alix

    In capitalist societies, there are no slaves.

    *blink* Really? So the plantation economy wasn’t capitalist? I have to admit, I’m never 100% certain of the boundaries of different economic systems, but it doesn’t seem to me that capitalism precludes slavery.

    I simply gave some reasons for it.

    Honestly? If you gave reasons in the same terse style you usually use, I can see why people think you were supporting it. It is impossible to tell when you’re simply playing devil’s advocate – you give zero clues. If you don’t actually support what you’re arguing for, you might want to actually say that, in an effort to prevent misunderstandings.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    So the plantation economy wasn’t capitalist

    -I do not consider it capitalist. It depended on very little capital, but relied on forced labor, which is often associated with ancient (and modern) socialist or partly socialist states such as Inca Peru, Old Kingdom Egypt, and Communist China. While the plantation economy did have the characteristic of private ownership of slaves, thus making it partially compatible with the capitalistic economy of the North, slavery is not usually characteristic of capitalist economies.

  • Alix

    …Huh. I’m genuinely curious – can you point me towards any sources for that?

    It does seem to me, though, that extreme capitalism relies on forced labor. Witness the turn of the last century.

    I have, honest to god, never heard anyone describe the Incas or O.K. Egypt as socialist. I also wonder where feudalism fits into this – is that also somewhat socialist, in your view, or a different system?

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Alix, you haven’t been around for a lot of what EH has said. He doesn’t argue in good faith, at all. I suggest going over Fred’s posts from the past couple months that have lots and lots of comments, and looking for what EH says.

    This community has lots of new posters lately, and it seems every single one falls into the trap of defending EH. Considering how many times he’s said he wishes people
    like me (disabled and unable to work) would just die already, and how much energy he gets other people to waste on him generally, I think “fuck off” is quite kind.

  • Alix

    I’ve been here (= Slacktivist) since before the move to patheos, actually. I just never commented until recently. (I’m a chronic lurker.)

    I’m not defending him. I’m also not saying you were wrong to tell him to fuck off, necessarily. (Notice I didn’t ask you to knock it off, and I never told you your comment to him was inappropriate.) What crossed the line, for me, were the people saying he wasn’t even human, just some “it”.

    Like I said, I can understand disliking him, wanting him gone, being angry with him, whatever. But dehumanization crosses a major line, for me.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Acknowledged, regret that it bothers you, but no compliance forthcoming. When EH demonstrates something resembling human tendencies, I’ll reconsider my position. Until then, you’ve delved straight into the territory of “it’s better to be a complete monster than to call someone a complete monster.”

  • Alix

    Until then, you’ve delved straight into the territory of “it’s better to be a complete monster than to call someone a complete monster.”

    I’d disagree with that. What I was calling out wasn’t people just calling him not-human, but harassing him about it. It’s the harassment I have a problem with.

    I understand y’all don’t see it that way. Fine, that’s your right. But it left a bad taste in my mouth, and I felt I had to say something.

    Notice I never called anyone out for just insulting him.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Also, what was “that” in your first sentence?

  • Alix

    Sorry – by “that” I meant your assertions about capitalism being inherently anti-slavery, though really, I’ll take sources on anything. Economic history is not my strong point, once we get past the invention of agriculture.

    Mostly I’m just curious how you came to your view, because it’s not one I’ve heard before and seems to be using nonstandard definitions, from the little I know.

  • J_Enigma32

    Uh, first off, Socialism – learn what it means. Socialism is when the government steps in and controls some of the means of production. Second of all, communism – learn what it is. It’s a collection of different collectivist philosophies that range from Stalinism (Red Fascism) the Libertarian Socialism to Anarcho-Communism and Anarcho-Syndicalism. Which communist philosophy were you lumping this under?

    Second, the plantations were the perfect example of capitalism, you fool. They were a privately owned business (the plantation owner) who made a product that he then sold to another industry for a profit. The only thing he didn’t do was pay his workers, but hey, who needs to? Even today, being paid minimum wage basically says “I’d pay you even less than this, but I can’t get away with it.” Businesses are always looking for ways to scam their employees, and they are more than okay using slaves. As they prove all the damn time.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I know what socialism means. Did not the Sapa Inca own everything in his empire? Did not the Old Kingdom Egyptian government conduct mining and quarrying operations in the Sinai and Eastern Desert? Did it not have royal estates? Communism is the abolition of private property. I do not see how my use of the phrase “Communist China” is in any way incorrect.

    Slavery is basically a form of legalized extortion and robbery, and legalized extortion and robbery are (at least partially) antithetical to capitalism. The main bits of “capital” the plantation economy relied upon were the cotton gin, farm equipment, and steamboats. That is only a few small steps above the level of technology that existed for thousands of years in China, the Near East, and Egypt. So, whichever way you look at it, it is difficult to see the plantation economy as a capitalist one.

  • Alix

    Welllll…. it seems to me that if you’re a plantation owner, your slaves are a form of capital as well. They’re not really employees, more like your livestock.

    It’s reprehensible, but that’s the mindset.

  • J_Enigma32

    Clearly you don’t know what socialism means.

    Pharaoh was not a socialist. Sapa Inca was not a socialist. When one person owns everything, including the people, that’s not socialism. That’s despotism and totalitarianism.

    Furthermore, Egypt likely didn’t make use of slaves for their major building projects, as is commonly thought. I make this statement for two reasons:

    1: Pharaoh was god.
    2: The afterlife was more important than their actual life

    When Pharaoh is a god, Pharaoh can hook you up with a really good afterlife. Therefore, you’re going to do everything you can for Pharaoh, so you can land a sweet spot in the hereafter.

    Second, while some communist philosophies advocate the abolishment of both private and personal property, others – Libertarian Socialism and Mutualism – advocate only the abolishment of private property in concerns of production or the ownership of private property that does not assist in labor (i.e., credit, resources); personal property still remains. Again, learn what the hell you’re talking about first. Your “Communist China” is actually “Maoist China”, since it certainly wasn’t Trotskyist.

    Third, you have yet to explain to me why it’s not. I explained to you why it is. Slaves are a form of capital. They produce things, the means of production and the profit thereof are both owned by the plantation (i.e., business) owner, and he reaps all of the rewards. The ONLY difference between that and modern agribuisness models is that the workers were unpaid slaves. And even then, given the treatment of immigrants in this country, even that hasn’t gone away.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Yes, I do know what socialism is. You said so yourself -“Socialism is when the government steps in and controls some of the means of production.” You didn’t arbitrarily specify that the government not be ruled by a monarch.

    I didn’t say slaves were used on Old Kingdom Egyptian building projects. I said forced labor was used. I don’t have to be ridiculously specific to meet your ridiculous standards. I can say America is a republic without specifying whether or not its government is bicameral.

    You clearly haven’t read my second paragraph in my previous comment.

  • Alix

    So how are wage slaves not forced labor? I’m confused.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding
  • Alix

    1. Is it that effing hard to just repaste the comment?

    2. That fails to address my question. Slaves are forced labor. Slaves, too, have a choice between working and death. Either you are arguing that slaves are not slaves, or you are arguing that slaves are immortal. Your argument fails on very obvious logical grounds, and frankly I rather expected better. :/

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m given to understand that to a certain extent, the Pyramids were like the ancient egyptian equivalent of the Hoover Dam: massive public works projects to give the people jobs during a time when the economy was sluggish.

    (OTOH, I am given to understand that a big part of the reason that “Slaves built the pyramids” is falling out of favor as a theory among egyptologists is that the director of antiquities in egypt does not like that theory, and if he catches you saying it, he’ll forbid you from doing any archaeology in egypt. Which rather limits your career options.)

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding
  • Alix

    As far as I’m aware, the going theory is that the pyramids and other public works were built by a system where people were taxed in labor instead of (or in addition to, I’m not clear on this) money. And there is actually some evidence the workers were fairly well taken care of, but that doesn’t actually preclude slavery.

    Honestly, this seems like one area where everyone has an axe to grind, and so it’s hard for me to get a clear sense of what’s what.

  • J_Enigma32

    Not helping is that, as far as I know, we don’t have anything that resembles primary sources from the period. While the Egyptians meticulously documented just about everything, it was from a biased perspective (i.e., the perspective of the leadership; and you can only inbreed for so long before your leadership becomes… questionable).

  • J_Enigma32

    I’ve heard that, too, now that you remind of me about it, and I suspect it’s a combination of the two. Farmers farmed during some parts of the year and scored brownie points with Pharaoh during the other parts of the year when farming wasn’t an option or during famines and such.

    If you stop to think about it, why would you have someone who hated you building a monument to you that would house your corpse, as important as that is? They might purposefully screw something up, and ruin the whole thing.

    Now, that’s just baseless conjecture and egotism has certainly led people to do stupider things, but it makes a degree of sense. A small modicum of sense.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    “Slave, what did you do to my precious sphinx?!”
    “It sneezed.

  • Alix

    Totally randomly – have you seen some of the workers’ graffiti they’ve found in some of the monuments? Apparently, depicting your pharaoh in various compromising positions was a common form of stress relief in ancient Egypt.

    (I love ancient graffiti. It tells us so much about the people who made it, and yet is so often ignored.)

  • Daniel

    “Did it not have Royal Estates?”

    Then how is this Socialist? The very idea of a society built around a monarchy, or an aristocracy, is antithetical to Socialism. The goal of Socialism (as opposed to Communism) is that the state is run for the benefit of the people that make it up- the citizens. A God King who owns everything is not the same as a state owning things- one is personal the other is collective. One is run for the benefit of one man, the other for the benefit of the citizens. Even the terms for people are different- I am a subject because I am from a monarchy, my passport tells other people that I am not equal to the person who is my head of state, and that I never can be. That is the very antithesis of Socialism, and for all their faults at least the Windsors don’t declare themselves Gods on Earth. We killed a guy for that, once.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You are really claiming that slaveowning planataions were SOCIALIST?

    Do words have meanings AT ALL in your world?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You are really claiming that slaveowning planataions were SOCIALIST?

    -Not exactly. I’m saying that slavery is much more reminiscent of socialist economies than capitalist ones. And, yes, an individual slave plantation does have much more in common with a socialist state than with a capitalist one.

  • Alix

    Okay, I’ve said before I’m not up on my economic terminology, but aren’t there a hell of a lot more economic systems than just socialism or capitalism? It sounds like you’re trying to shoehorn everything into a really reductionist framework.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    The only ones I know of are market economies not dependent upon the ownership of capital (as distinguished from land and labor) unaffordable to most people (I consider most economies before the 18th century to be of this kind) and the feudal system, though I admit to being ignorant regarding any great variety of economic systems. My opinions are heavily influenced by Mises’s statement that

    With regard to the same factors of production there can only exist private control or public control.

    Human Action, pg. 712

  • Alix

    Okay. So, this may be a stupid question, but that’s just production. Aren’t there other aspects to an economic system? Also, aren’t there different kinds of private and public control? (Well, maybe not public. But private could be all in the hands of a privileged few, or owned by a lot of private individuals, or owned by a lot of small groups, etc.)

    FWIW, I’m generally a splitter, not a lumper. Dumping things into only a few broad categories tends to seem overly reductionist, to me.

    These are maybe really stupid questions, but to be honest, I have no freaking clue where to even start understanding economics*. Wikipedia’s pretty general. :/

    *Best explanation for various forms of economics I got was in an anthropology class, but it seems that a lot of that doesn’t perfectly transfer outside the field. And this whole conversation now has me wondering who controls the means of production in a forager society.

  • Alix

    Also, for what it’s worth, there are small-scale gift economies. (To the best of my knowledge, there’s never been a large-scale one, but again, economic history’s not my thing.) I’m not sure how that sort of thing fits in, if at all.

  • J_Enigma32

    Are you kidding? Ever heard of “wage slave?”

    And that’s before we get into sweat shops, modern day plantations, banana republics, and others. Slavery still exists, man, and modern hypercapitalism is the driving thing behind that.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Those who earn wages are almost never slaves. Sweatshops≠slavery. Banana republics usually have little capability to protect property rights.

  • Alix

    See, from my perspective, despite all the technicalities, there’s not really any practical difference between a wage slave, a serf, or a real slave under any of the various forms of slavery. The systems just rely on different forms of hard coercion to enforce bondage.

  • J_Enigma32

    When I’m working 12 hours a day in unsanitary conditions and if I lose a limb or get injured I’m automatically fired and forced to die on the street – yeah. I call that wage slavery.

    And just because Banana republics have the capability to protect rights doesn’t mean they do. Here, wake up and take this test:

    http://slaveryfootprint.org/

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    But no one enslaved you in the situation you described. You chose to do such dangerous work. I find that site’s definition of slavery to be far too loose. How do they define “being economically exploited”? How do they define “unable to walk away”?

  • J_Enigma32

    When it’s either that or death, you have no choice.

    And we’re right back to you bullying these people into these unsanitary and horrible conditions under threat of starvation and death again.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Who’s doing the bullying?

    When it’s either that or death, you have no choice.

    -Sure you do. You have a choice between that and death.

  • J_Enigma32

    Okay, I’m done here. I got what I wanted out of you – a reaffirmation that it’s okay to let people die.

  • Alix

    You have a choice between that and death.

    So do slaves. Explain to me how they’re different from wage slaves, again?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Hm. When you put it that way, the positions of the two are quite similar. However, with slavery, there is a slave owner responsible for the slave’s behavior that forces the slave to keep working. With a wage worker in dire circumstances, there is no such owner who is responsible for the worker’s behavior that one can point to.

  • Alix

    I honestly don’t see how that makes a difference.

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    It makes sense if you place large amounts of significance on the idea that there’s a difference between pushing someone into a lake to drown and just happening to stand there and watch them drown.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    You have convinced me there isn’t much of a difference between a free worker in dire circumstances and a slave in terms of the options of that worker/slave.

  • Alix

    This is why, to be honest, I do feel capitalism* needs checks to function well for all the people involved in the system – there are always, unfortunately, unscrupulous people who try to exploit others, and with no regulation, capitalism doesn’t just stop such abuses. There are always ways to game any system, after all.

    In a pure state with perfect people, the “hand of the free market” might actually work as proposed, but people aren’t perfect, aren’t always rational actors, and don’t always care what happens to others. Thus, capitalism is flawed. Which is not something unique to capitalism, but I know too many people who act like it’s somehow perfect, and, well. :/

    *I don’t actually know which economic system I prefer. I don’t feel I’m informed enough to formulate an opinion.

  • J_Enigma32

    Well, there’s a lot of different approaches you can take. I’ve cited Libertarian Marxism and Libertarian Socialism, as well as Mutualism, numerous times in the thread (for what it’s worth, I’m not either. I’m a socialist). A very brief overview of the different systems goes as follows:

    Left-Leaning Libertarianism
    – Libertarian Socialism (think socialism with minimal state influence)
    – Libertarian Marxism (think socialism without a state)
    – Anarcho-Communism (true communism as Marx presents)
    – Mutualism (you get what you give and nothing more; respects personal property but not private property)
    – Geoanarchism (you cannot own land or resources)
    – Market Socialism (means of production are publicly owned)

    Left-leaning Statism
    – Socialism (mixed economy; part public, part private)
    – Leninism (direct democracy, dictatorship of the proletariat)
    – Stalinism (Red Fascism)
    – Maoism (The urban proletariat are replaced with agrarian proletariat)

    Right-leaning Statism
    – Fascism (Yellow Socialism)
    – Select any random authoritarian government style

    Right-leaning Libertarianism
    – Deontological Libertarianism (Internet libertarians; fuck you, I’ve got mine)
    – Consequentialist Libertarians (libertarianism is only good if brings about good consequences)
    – Anarcho-Capitalism (there’s no state to reign this capitalist beast in)
    – Objectivism/Autarchism (I rule myself)

    That’s off the top of my head, though. It’s actually a lot more complicated than that, but in general: if you can think of it as a position, someone, somewhere, has already outlined it.

  • J_Enigma32

    Er… Mutualists reject private property, not personal property.

    That’s what I get for typing this at 2 in the morning…

  • AnonaMiss

    Thanks a lot for that J! A wonderful summary.

    Perhaps you could help clarify something for me since you seem to know these categories – what do you call it when you’re in favor of a democratic minarchist/classical libertarian structure – but with the addition of a ‘wards of the state’ system for children and those incapable of being economic agents, with the state being funded primarily by the abolition of inheritance=confiscation of assets left after death? Does that count as libertarian socialism?

  • J_Enigma32

    Toss in public control over the means of production with a strong respect for personal property and yes, that’s a form Libertarian Socialism. Libertarian Socialism posits that work groups, communes, unions, and syndicates control the means of production (basically, all corporations are worker sponsored and run, similar to an adhocracy I imagine, but I can see a sort of bureaucratic hierarchy developing in most cases). The government then exists as a direct democracy. For an example of this philosophy in action, look up the anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. The main phrase to remember with Libertarian Socialism is this:

    “From each according to their ability, to each according to to their need.”

    Where you fall on this scale is determined by how you feel about public property, private property, and personal property first.

    (+ means for, – means against)

    – Libertarian Socialism: +Personal +Public -Private
    – Mutualism: +Personal +Public -Private
    – Anarcho-Communism: -Personal +Public -Private
    – Geoanarchism: +Personal +Public -Private
    – Market Socialism: +Personal +Public -Private
    – Socialism: +Personal +Public +Private
    – Leninism: +Personal +Public -Private
    – Stalinism: +/-Personal +Public +/- Private
    – Maoism: +/-Personal +Public +/- Private
    – Fascism: +Personal +Public +Private
    – Deontological: +Personal -Public +Private
    – Consequentalist: +Personal -Public +Private
    – Objectivism: +Personal -Public +Private
    – Autarchism: +Personal -Public -Private

  • AnonaMiss

    Erf. No, I’m for private property too, and mostly against public property except as is necessary to keep the market from seizing up (minarchy). In fact, as I suspect most libertarians do, I consider personal property a subtype of private property. I just think it’s both unjust and unproductive that a child, who cannot yet act in hir own interests, should have to bear the consequences of being unable to act; and that a child should reap the rewards of hir parents’ success (whether by fortune or merit).

    So basically a system where the state is as much as possible outside the economy – a shelter for non-actors, but as small as possible an actor itself. And you’re either in the shelter, or out of the shelter. Minimal participation in the economy if you’re a ward of the state, and if you want to participate in the economy as an independent actor you give up the shelter of the state (but you can go back if you have to).

    Other than that the state provides and maintains the infrastructure for private actors to use; steps in to remove the assets of the dead; and enforces basic principles of no violence, no theft, no fraud, no breaking contracts.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Minimal participation in the economy if you’re a ward of the state, and if you want to participate in the economy as an independent actor you give up the shelter of the state

    How would that work? What regulations would be in place to ensure that participating in the economy is more desirable than being a ward of the state? Someone who’s a ward of the state in this model is obviously not working at a job of any kind, because that would be participation in the economy. (Minimum wage being at least a living wage seems the first and most obvious regulation to set in place. But libertarians generally have a conniption when they hear that.) Does someone who’s a ward of the state who wants to be an artist get kicked out of the shelter when they sell a piece of artwork? Since that’s participation in the economy and giving the art away for free isn’t, and never mind that a single sale is wildly unlikely to be for enough money to keep the artist in even minimal comfort for any length of time.

  • AnonaMiss

    Good questions. My thoughts on a ward of the state system have historically centered around people who are unable to work due to youth or infirmity, so my thoughts on the use of such a system as a social safety net for the unemployed and working poor are still shaky. I tend to be privilege-blinded so I’m grateful for any challenges you have :).

    Ward of the state types would be allowed to work if they wished but their wages would be paid to the state, whence they would receive food, board, health/emergency care, a scrip allowance for clothing and transportation, and a small cash allowance for entertainment. In high-enough population areas, the food and board would be in a barracks/dormitory style: communal living. Exceptions for people with special needs depending on those needs. No contracting out of these services allowed, period.

    At this point the incentives to stop being a ward of the state should be obvious. Wards of the state would lack privacy and choice in most of their lives. If you want non-cafeteria food, or a higher standard of living, you’ve got to declare.

    Moving from ward of the state to independent economic actor would be initiated by the ward of the state. The state would give you a lump starting-out sum – which you might have to earn a certain number of credits through wages/income paid to the state before you could qualify to declare, to prevent people from going out, blowing the starting sum on blackjack and hookers (forget the park!), and then coming back after a week. The lump sum would be equal to ~3 months of living wage, to cover starting expenses, plus possibly the use of a government vehicle.

    Moving from independent actor to ward of the state would be basically equivalent to bankruptcy proceedings, where your assets are sold off to cover your debts.

    If I had my druthers all people would become wards of the state on entering high school, to help equalize children’s opportunities and to reduce the stigma a person would face entering the workforce as a WoS. Wouldn’t remove it completely of course, especially for someone much older, but I don’t know that it would be worse than the stigma of reentering the workforce after long-term unemployment today.

  • EllieMurasaki

    That’ll take some thinking over. First thought: Why don’t people with disabilities deserve privacy and choice?

  • AnonaMiss

    It’s not a question of deserving.

    I originally thought about this as a system for the young and infirm – though I guess I didn’t specify that I was thinking primarily of people with mental difficulties – dementia, brain damage etc.. Children and the childlike, for whom reduced privacy is a form of protection. Reduced privacy for the mentally capable would be an unfortunate side effect of a dormitory-style system, not a goal. The state would have to provide room, board, transportation and services for them anyway, and dormitory-style seemed like the most cost effective way to do that in areas with sufficient population density – especially since the dormitories would already be present for the aforementioned children & mentally infirm people.

    I suppose housing vouchers would also be an option, but housing is an inherently oligopolistic market because space is limited, sooo I suspect giving housing vouchers in high-density areas would cause prices to skyrocket and disrupt the market. Which would rather defeat the purpose of trying to separate the welfare state as much as possible from the market.

    As for reduced choice, that’s already a fact of life for everyone who isn’t obscenely rich. In the parallel-spheres setup I’ve sketched, the WoSs would receive only a living wage, so of course their consumer choices would be restricted to the most cost-effective options available.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    This… Kind of sounds like the setup for a Sci Fi Dystopia.

  • Alix

    Thank you, that’s a really helpful list.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    See, if you don’t work and then you die because you starved to death, that’s good and capitalist and fair. If you don’t work and the you die because the overseer shot you, that’s immoral. Because you’re way less dead in the former case than in the latter.

  • Alix

    Honestly, I was more referencing the idea that slaves, too, are capable of actively choosing to die instead of live a hellish life. :/

    It … really disturbs me that some people see a meaningful distinction between the two scenarios you present.

  • Daniel

    There’s also the troubling issue that the alternative to death is “work purely to survive”. No one seems to think the “work to survive” bit is unreasonable- quality of life has no bearing on anything. So really it’s “you haven’t died from it yet- why the hell are you whingeing?”

    Surely in the ideal capitalist system you have something like what happened after the Black Death- basically you can sell your labour to the highest bidder and if they try to jib you up sticks and go somewhere else. The choice for the wage slave/actual slave is not between “work here or get a better job elsewhere” it’s “work or die.” You do not have the freedom to use your labour to improve your life, and apparently that you still make a tiny bit of money from it should be sufficient to shut you up.

  • Alix

    I really like the way you put this.

    (My economic ignorance rears its head again:) Wouldn’t it thus be logical to have a guaranteed floor below which no one can fall in a capitalist system, to provide the kind of robust and healthily motivated labor force you describe? “Work or die” suffers from the same exact flaw as slavery – it produces a workforce that doesn’t much care about the work, just about doing the bare minimum to survive.

    On top of it being really freaking immoral.

  • Daniel

    THERE FOLLOWS AN ANGRY WALL OF TEXT. I’d like to say I wrote it with a clenched fist, but then it would have been even more incoherent. Also I’d have got cramp.

    Most definitely. The state should be run for the benefit of the people that make it up, and this means that -as you say- there should be a lower limit standard of living and if you reach it people say “we’re not going to let you fall any further.” If someone living in a G8 country can die from starvation (and many do) if in that country it’s possible to have to choose (as it is in the UK) between buying food and being able to cook that food, or being able to eat or being able to heat your house, then the rest of the country should be ashamed that they have allowed that to happen.

    The UK is now a society where the enforced avarice of the poor is hailed as a virtue by landed gentry and the scions of millionaires. Our work and pensions secretary, Ian Duncan Smith- quite possibly a reanimated corpse- employs cleaners in his London offices who are paid less than a living wage. IDS is a millionaire because through his good sense and hard work he married a millionairess. He stands staunchly behind the unfettered market as the means to make a better world, but his own staff are apparently not worth paying enough for them to live. Ergo they do not have enough to save, so they can move to somewhere where they could get a better job. They have to work flat out twelve+ hour days to make enough to live- so they have no time to study for better jobs or to apply for them.

    Opportunities, it is made very clear, are not for the plebs. This ethos destroys ambition rather than fostering it, and, as you say, produces a workforce that is primarily concerned with earning enough to live rather than doing something well.

    Screed over.

  • J_Enigma32

    Danny: I planned to go to law school after I graduated, but it looks like my
    folks won’t have enough money to put me through college.

    Judge Smails: Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.

    Lacy Underall [to Danny]: Nice Try.

  • AnonaMiss

    Ross was being snarky.

  • Alix

    I know.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    But no one enslaved you in the situation you described. You chose to do such dangerous work.

    I don’t even have enough desk for this headdesk. So I’m facepalming. Repeatedly.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Why?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    Also, I think the motives of the reacting side do matter. They were to restore control of the entirety of the South, not just recapture Ft. Sumter. They did not include freeing slaves until 1863.

  • Alix

    All true, but in a discussion of the causes for the war, I still feel like that’s a bit of a non sequitur. The North would never have gone to war if the South hadn’t forced the issue.

    If the question I had been answering were dealing more with the different strategic goals of the two combatants, that would have been different.

  • Evan

    You’re right in saying that the North won because of a lot of factors (such as Northern industrial output) that were only indirectly related to slavery, and very, very vaguely to their trying to abolishing slavery in the South. However, two factors that were related did play a significant role: first, the moral zeal engendered in Northern troops; second, the widespread recruitment of Black soldiers by the North which greatly augmented their numbers.

  • Alix

    “Conquest?”

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Yes. It’s just a troll. Long established as one, and yet continually a surprise to people, including those who should know better. Pay it no mind.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “It” again. I do not like being dehumanized. Also, I have only been “established” here for less than three quarters of a year half a year. I’ve checked my comment history.

  • Lee B.

    I do not like being dehumanized.

    Then try behaving like a human.

    Fake it ’till you make it.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    What do you mean by “behaving like a human”?

  • Lee B.

    Ha, now it’s switched to ELIZA. I haven’t seen that one in years.

    Try Buttbot, it at least has some comedy value.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m serious. Also, I don’t like dehumanization.

  • Lee B.

    That’s exactly what I would expect a barely–Turing-capable bot to write.

    Enopoletus, this is Worker speaking. Question. Evaluate. Why does the porridge bird lay his egg in the air?

  • Alix

    Erm, look, I can understand disliking EH and even wanting him to go away, but can we cut out the insinuations that he’s* not a real person?

    Sorry, but this is starting to cross the line into bullying, and it’s making me deeply uncomfortable.

    *If I used the wrong pronoun, EH, let me know.

  • Lee B.

    OK, I’ll stop. I’m of the opinion that counter-bullying internet trolls is good fun, but I know not everyone agrees. I don’t want any innocent bystanders to get hurt.

  • Alix

    Thank you.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    He doesn’t, Worker/Lee B.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    You don’t like dehumanization when it’s applied to you, but you’re perfectly happy to say that people should die if they don’t have enough money.

    I repeat: fuck off.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira
  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    That’s utterly unhelpful.

  • MarkTemporis

    Not defending slavery, an institution that by definition dehumanizes others, would be nice start.

    IOW, they were slavers, screw them, it’s a good thing all their stuff was burned to ashes.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I have never defended slavery. I do not support your second sentence in some cases as I do not support ex post facto laws.

  • Alix

    I do not support your second sentence in some cases as I do not support ex post facto laws.

    …huh?

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    A law making it legal to burn the property of antebellum slavers would be an ex post facto law.

  • Alix

    If the law was written after the burning to retroactively justify it, yes. But where in his comment did MarkTemporis mention laws? There are more forms of “right” than whether or not something’s legal.

    Also, “in some cases” was confusing me, too.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    “Conquest?”

    -What term would you use?

    The immediate cause of the Civil War was the South seceding. Which it was not allowed to do – one doesn’t just get to up and walk off with half the nation because you don’t like who got elected.

    -Why not? Especially when the candidate elected got only less than 40% of the popular vote. Besides, the Southern states did have a legal justification for their secession-

    The States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, have enacted laws which either nullify the Acts of Congress or render useless any attempt to execute them. In many of these States the fugitive is discharged from service or labor claimed, and in none of them has the State Government complied with the stipulation made in the Constitution (“No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up, on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.”).

    (Do you try to phrase things in the most inflammatory way possible, or is that just a happy accident?)

    -Happy accident. Besides, there are much more pejorative ways to phrase “the Northern conquest of the South“.

  • Alix

    Trying this again, because Disqus apparently ate my last attempt.

    I’m not sure “conquest” really fits for “not letting traitors run off with half the country.” It also places the burden of the war on the North, when the South was the aggressor.

    Southern states did have a legal justification for their secession

    They thought they did. That turned out to very much be an open question, didn’t it? Ultimately, the Union disagreed.

    That also ignores the fact that, again, the South fired first*. They didn’t just take their toys and go home, but initiated a war.

    It almost seems like you’re arguing that no state can ever actually be in rebellion against the federal government, which is a decidedly weird argument.

    *If I had a car and were a braver person, I’d put that on a bumper sticker. It amazes me how few people remember that.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    It also places the burden of the war on the North, when the South was the aggressor.

    -I don’t think so. While the South did fire first, I don’t see how the use of the term “conquest” implies the South didn’t fire first. The sum of the Union attacks on the Confederacy throughout the war was certainly disproportionate to the Confederacy’s attack on Ft. Sumter.

  • Alix

    Well, except it’s not like Sumter was the only battle the Confederates initiated, either.

    I suspect we’ll have to just disagree about “conquest,” since to me it definitely has connotations of being the aggressor, and usually connotations of being an unprovoked aggressor at that. I can’t think of a better term off the top of my head, but conquest just doesn’t quite fit for me.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    How about “reconquista”?

    It seems like your position comes down to “I really want ‘conquest’ to be a bad thing, so I don’t like calling what the north did a conquest because then it would be a bad thing.””

    The South deserved conquering.

  • Alix

    It’s not “I really want conquest to be a bad thing,” it’s that I’ve usually heard “conquest” only used in the context of aggression into another land. It also generally, at least how I’ve seen it used, has a connotation of invading and taking over a land not one’s own, which is decidedly not how the federal government saw the South.

    I never said conquest was objectively a bad thing, or that the North would be bad if it were conquest. (I’m honestly confused as to where you got that from what I wrote.) I said I didn’t think the word fit. Apparently, everyone else disagrees.

    Shorter me: I don’t have a moral objection to the word “conquest,” here; I just don’t feel like it fits the progression of events.

  • J_Enigma32

    It’s true cuz the meanies in the North, like General Sherman, burned down my great-great-great granddaddy’s barn (note: I live in Michigan. My family is from Tennessee and Virgina. Also, I am not making this up. I’ve heard southerners talk about how General Sherman burned down their family’s home or destroyed their land, when they’re living in LaGrange, Harris County, or some other county in Georgia on the other side of the state from Sherman’s March). Alternatively, cuz State’s Rights.

    Your teacher was full of it. Slavery was written in the Constitution for the Confederation, and it was a State’s right explicitly outlined and not to be infringed upon by other states.

    http://civilwartalk.com/threads/what-the-confederate-states-constitution-says-about-slavery.72233/

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_Confederate_States_of_America

    So I often respond to people who bark about it being over “State’s rights” with “Yes, it was about State’s rights – the State’s right to let people own slaves.”

  • Alix

    “It was a culture clash!” Yeah, between a slave culture desperate to not change and a non-slave one.

    “It was about politics/westward expansion!” Yes, over which new states and territories could be slave or free.

    I mean, come on, folks. Some things really, truly are that simple.

  • Alix

    Second reply, ’cause why not:

    I pissed my dad off royally once by telling him I thought the tag team of Grant and Sherman was some of the best strategic thinking in the Civil War.

    …He is, as I may have mentioned before, a Robert E. Lee fanboy, and considers Sherman a monster. Because god knows no Confederates ever did anything bad…

  • BaseDeltaZero

    Nathan Bedford Forrest, anyone?

  • Alix

    (Third reply, woot!) This was niggling at me, so I reread my old paper. I did mention the Confederate Constitution in there, when I was dismantling the “states’ rights” canard, but apparently that still doesn’t mean slavery was the major cause of the war.

    …I honestly don’t know how much clearer it can get. :/

  • J_Enigma32

    I live around a quite a few people who fly the Confederate flag (which is both a surprise and not at the same; I live in one of the few places where blacks out number whites, and as a result, the whites that live here are either more egalitarian than usual or they’re hardcore racists who’ve learned how to act civilized because they’re in the minority. Guess which one is the majority of whites I’ve met. Go ahead and guess).

    Since so many people who fly the Confederate flag are Schrodringer’s Racist, I’ve been known to provoke. My favorite question directed at these people (beyond “What’s it feel like to be at traitor”) is “So if you get to fly the flag of a different country for your heritage, and often fly said flag above the American flag, and define yourself through your southern heritage, why is it so bad when people do that with the Mexican flag and identify as Mexican American?”

    It’s because brown people, and everyone watching knows that, but it’s so much fun watching them lash around.

  • Jessica_R

    No. 1 also makes me think of the great line from Jessica Williams on last night’s Daily Show. In talking about the Paula Deen debacle they played a clip of her on some ancestry show being showing a copy of a bill of sale for the 35 slaves her ancestor had and her murmuring “that’s a lot of slaves.” And Williams’ spot on “No, you know what that’s a lot of slaves? One! One is a lot of slaves! Come on!”

  • Jamoche

    I heard someone try to excuse her by saying she’s 66 and grew up in the South. So? My grandmother is 90 and also grew up in the South, and I’ve never heard her use language like that.

  • Alix

    Thank. You. If I heard one more person use that excuse, I was going to scream.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Absolutely. If she’d said, “I used that word in the 50s and early 60s and I am deeply embarrassed and sorry about that now,” AND wasn’t racist AND didn’t defend her racist, sexually-harassing husband — well, okay. But then she wouldn’t be in this position in the first place, and she’d be a completely and totally different person.

  • AnonaMiss

    Idk, Paula Deen seems like probably a racist asshat, but I think “Of course!” is a perfectly acceptable answer to “Have you ever used the n word?”. Not to “Have you ever called someone the n word?”, but just “have you ever used it?”. Personally I’ve used it dozens of times, usually in an academic context (great example of taboo language), but also when joking or being a good listener, e.g. “What the actual fuck? Was just calling you a nigger too classy for him?”.

    The above quote was in reference to an occasion when a a policeman stopped my friend as he was unlocking the (street-facing) door to his apartment, demanded to know what he was doing there, and upon being told that he lived there, demanded my friend bring him the lease to prove it. What the actual fuck.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    AnonSam has reached 3000 comments!

  • themunck

    *Attempting a Robert Webb impression as a loud ding is heard* And that bell means..absolutely nothing.
    (We all love Sam, but the quantity of posts is in no way relevant to -anything-)
    EDIT: David Mitchell, not Robert Webb. Should’ve remembered correctly considering I went through 3 other people before settling on the one I thought was right.

  • arcseconds

    People celebrate meaningless milestones all the time. Why not 3000 comments?

    Do you respond similarly when any blogger reaches 1000 posts, or magazines publish their 1000th issue, or people celebrate their birthdays?

  • themunck

    I admit, usually not where they can see/hear/read it. But I think it, for what it’s worth. Meaningless milestones are, after all, meaningless. Why is 3000 more important than 3001? Why is 36519 (100 years, assuming 19 leap years in a century) days more important than 36520?

  • arcseconds

    You must be a thrill at birthdays, wedding anniversaries, new year’s eve parties, centenaries, ‘going platinum’ parties, Christmas, thanksgiving, Eid-el-Fitr, &c. &c. …

    Is there something non-arbitrary about days, when you’re picking them out over years?

    I think you’d better stick to talking in terms of planck time, hadn’t you?

    (there is a considerable difference to lasting 100 years rather than 1, obviously, or selling a million copies rather than a few thousand, but I guess as there’s no non-arbitrary point to celebrate this, it’d had best go unmentioned to avoid making you grumpy…)

  • themunck

    “Is there something non-arbitrary about days, when you’re picking them out over years?”

    Nope, I arbitrarily picked a unit of time for the example. I would not begrudge you considering me a hypocrite for that, mostly since I probably am.

    “there is a considerable difference to lasting 100 years rather than 1, obviously, or selling a million copies rather than a few thousand, but I guess as there’s no non-arbitrary point to celebrate this, it’d had best go unmentioned to avoid making you grumpy…”

    Huh? I’m am sorry if I came across as grumpy. It was not my intention.

    “You must be a thrill at birthdays, wedding anniversaries, new year’s eve parties, centenaries, ‘going platinum’ parties, Christmas, thanksgiving, Eid-el-Fitr, &c. &c. …”

    Yeah, you caught me, I’m not good with with parties. Although I will point that based on his response below, Sam doesn’t really seem to mind, and in the end, isn’t that what matters, since it’s him we’re celebrating? :P

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Oh, pfft. I’m quite comfortable with the spotlight on someone else. (Part of why my blog goes without updates so often…)

  • themunck

    Point made and taken. *Turns off the spotlight and moves on* :P

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    I is loved! ♥

  • arcseconds

    So, of your 3000 comments, which one is the best, do you think? :)

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Just naming one older than a couple of days with my terrible short-term memory would be a challenge. I do remember a post in the LCMS thread that made me very mushy though, where I realized that that I had grown so attached to the community that anything which happened to members of it had personal significance to me. It probably seems silly, but that’s kind of a thing for me.

  • arcseconds

    d’awww…

    no, it doesn’t seem silly at all.

    liquid chromotography – mass spectrometry? learning content management system?

  • http://anonsam.wordpress.com/ AnonymousSam

    Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, a thread regarding a pastor being rebuked for participating in an interfaith mourning group. The LCMS official position is to distance themselves from all other religions and denominations, lest it be construed that they in any way approved of the existence of those pagan heretics and their false gods. (Hypocritically, they saw nothing wrong with throwing in their lot with a handful of other non-LCMS churches in order to lobby against equal rights and protections.)

  • arcseconds

    Ah, so you weren’t afraid we might be separated out by the heavenly HPLC machine and smashed to bits by the great Mass Spectrometer in the sky…

    To be honest, I did work out what LCMS stood for after i worked out how to google it, and I even remember the thread, but not the acronym…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    *inner chemistry geek rejoices*


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