Saturday, 15 July 2017

Thomas Sowell on slavery

None of this will be news to anyone with even a passing interest is such matters, but is the wider story of slavery worth knowing, at least in outline?

Of course it is, the question is rhetorical, but with black slavery coupled to white guilt as virtually the only aspect we see in the mainstream arena, what do we gain personally if we try to set the issue in a wider historical context?

I’m not sure. When a particular narrative dominates the public arena, then even accuracy seems somewhat futile and that cannot be good.


Clacket said...

First rule of the Thomas Sowell Appreciation Fight Club is it’s always worth listening to the seriously impressive and courageous Thomas Sowell! If any unreconstructed ‘whitey’ imagines a borrowed superiority in thought or achievement, this great gentleman puts the lie to that.

It is important to attempt (but inevitably fail to a greater or lesser extent) to know the (...vain hope of course) truth. The phenomenon here happens to be the charged issue of slavery, but the same pressures apply in so many areas of historical narrative over larger or smaller sweeps of time. All of which seep into and help to form the present.

People (that is us) need myths. It helps them (us!) sleep easy, excuses them and energises them. Myths are like cartoons, powerful and vivid. It is actually a bit of an intellectual insult. The trouble with the unsatisfying 'thin broth' of a questioning disposition may be that it can tend to a moral vacuum, effete relativism, peevish ineffeciveness. People (again, us) ‘en-masse’ tend to be self-aggrandising opportunistic shits. It’s all about power. Undoubtedly true, and worth remembering, but ultimately so what? Is that what you are touching on?

Still think it’s worth trying to figure stuff out. As objectively as one can, trying to recognise one’s own inevitable limitations.

All the best, and pardon the ramble!

Sam Vega said...

"with black slavery coupled to white guilt as virtually the only aspect we see in the mainstream arena, what do we gain personally if we try to set the issue in a wider historical context?"

A trip to the HR Department. Or a trend on twitter. Soon, it might be a couple of months in a re-education facility.

Demetrius said...

During the last few millennia of human life and social organisation there have been many and various forms of servility. In fact the periods when some groups somehow avoided it are rare and relate to local belief systems. War and conquest invariably led to winners and losers the latter becoming servile classes or slaves. One feature of many of the "raiding" groups was to pick out best prisoners to put up for sale in one market or another. Those in England trapped in the 19th Century workhouses were not free, nor were many orphan children sold into "apprenticeships". In Scotland bound labour lasted until the early 19th Century.

Roger said...

Interesting. But the Gig economy is much more efficient, they pay their own B&Lodging and you can offset their mistakes against tax.

A K Haart said...

Clacket - I've no problem with the ramble, it's a good one and yes it is still worth trying to figure stuff out. However we may as well accept that many don't bother and are not necessarily disadvantaged by that.

Sam - or the lucky ones retire and speak as they please - to each other.

Demetrius - I agree and by concentrating on a narrow view of slavery we miss a much wider and much more nuanced picture.

Roger - it is more efficient and so are many forms of more secure but tightly regimented employment. Hard to see which will prevail, but the world seems to be on a predictability drive at the moment, in all kinds of areas.