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.

"You can’t flag the truth away."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."
"LMAO! Dan gets desperate because his failed ideas fall flat and I am to blame. ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."
"Recently the gear has been shifted and he's started on the gas lighting. It's sad ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."
"Unfortunately the US hierarchy have sold their souls to fascism, under the spurious justification of ..."

It’s not 2011, and no one’s ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • 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.

  • 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

    *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.)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Alix

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

  • 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.

  • Alix

    You have a choice between that and death.

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

  • 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. :/

  • 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.)

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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:


    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Arresi

    Does that mean I should start taking movie villains seriously?

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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. :/

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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…

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

  • arcseconds


    no, it doesn’t seem silly at all.

    liquid chromotography – mass spectrometry? learning content management system?

  • 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…

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Why?