Sunday, February 11, 2018

Three degrees from the Civil War ~ slave economics for evo-psycho bros

In the South, it seems the memory of the Civil War is still cherished. Here are some of the web sites associated with the Confederacy:
And hundreds more.

You'd never know they fought for the side of evil, committed treason and lost the war.

Growing up in the North, nobody cared about the Civil War. I have two great-great grandfathers who fought for the Union, but I didn't know it until I was well into adulthood. Nobody ever thought enough about it to mention it.

So I am five generations away from the Civil war, or three degrees of the Civil War - I knew my grandmother and she (theoretically) knew her grandfather, who fought in the war.  Thinking about it that way it doesn't seem like such a long time ago. And it's the same for those descendants of the enslaved people who are around my age.

The Texas articles of secession are probably the most racist:
In all the non-slave-holding States, in violation of that good faith and comity which should exist between entirely distinct nations, the people have formed themselves into a great sectional party, now strong enough in numbers to control the affairs of each of those States, based upon an unnatural feeling of hostility to these Southern States and their beneficent and patriarchal system of African slavery, proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color-- a doctrine at war with nature, in opposition to the experience of mankind, and in violation of the plainest revelations of Divine Law. They demand the abolition of negro slavery throughout the confederacy, the recognition of political equality between the white and negro races, and avow their determination to press on their crusade against us, so long as a negro slave remains in these States.
That sounds like it could have been written by a member of the evo-psycho brotherhood. Those non-slave-holding snowflakes proclaiming the debasing paranoid doctrine of equality of all men irrespective of race or color - a doctrine "at war with nature."

But the Mississippi articles  are more useful for our present purpose because they address the economic benefits of slavery - to the slave owners at least:
Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin. That we do not overstate the dangers to our institution, a reference to a few facts will sufficiently prove.
They were right about slavery being a huge wealth generator. French economists Thomas Picketty and Gabriel Zucman in their paper Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries 1700-2010 present a chart that shows how much wealth slavery generated in the South:

That's why the South was willing to fight and die for such an evil cause.

But slave owners didn't get so rich treating slaves well. Frederick Law Olmsted, the guy who designed Central Park wrote:
A cast mass of the slaves pass their lives, from the moment they are able to go afield in the picking season till they drop worn out in the grave, in incessant labor, in all sorts of weather, at all seasons of the year, without any other change or relaxation than is furnished by sickness, without the smallest hope of any improvement either in their condition, in their food, or in their clothing, which are of the plainest and coarsest kind, and indebted solely to the forbearance or good temper of the overseer for exception from terrible physical suffering.
  • No slave is to be taught to write, to work on Sunday, or to work more than 15 hours per day in summer, and 14 hours in winter.
  • Willful killing of a slave exacts a fine of £700, "passion"-killing £350.
  • The fine for concealing runaway slaves is $1,000 and a prison sentence of up to one year.
  • A fine of $100 and six months in prison are imposed for employing any black or slave as a clerk.
  • A fine of $100 and six months in prison are imposed on anyone selling or giving alcoholic beverages to slaves.
  • A fine of $100 and six months in prison are imposed for teaching a slave to read and write, and death is the penalty for circulating incendiary literature.
So the great wealth of the Southern economy was dependent on the torment and immiseration of millions of people. Wealth stolen from those enslaved workers over hundreds of years.

And don't think the slaves didn't know it, in spite of the great efforts on the part of the slave-owning society to keep slaves as ignorant as possible.

We'll talk about what happened when they were set free next.