I’ve been listening to Greg Grandin‘s The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom and Deception in the New World. The book is full of historical tidbits (and here), and I hope to write a review of it after I’ve finished.
As I was listening to the latter part of the book, after Amasa Delano has returned to Boston to face his creditors, I thought about how much he resembled today’s liberal class in the United States.
He did not favor slavery, but, when presented with an opportunity to make money by capturing the slave ship The Trial from the Senegambians who had taken it over, he didn’t hesitate to use great violence to subdue them and return them to Spanish captivity. When his debts mounted, he began taking shipments of salted cod to the slave-based economies of the Caribbean. In other words, he had a moral position against slavery but did not hold it strongly enough to desist from attempting to profit from it.
So far, based on Grandin’s book, the only regret Amasa Delano ever expresses regarding his takeover of The Trial was the failure of Spain and its colonists in the Americas to compensate him as much as he thought his right. He never considers the impact his actions had on the enslaved Africans.
In fact, it seems that Amasa Delano’s inner life centers around understanding a universe which permitted his failure to achieve the success he thought he deserved by virtue of his good (in his mind, for himself) intentions and his hard (self-reported) work (later undertaken by slaves, undocumented workers & laborers in unsafe conditions around the world).
Likewise, when I tell people today that the entire political class should be tried for the war crime of invading and occupying Iraq, they typically respond with some version of “We meant well” and “The US army is competent and did its best in a difficult situation.” Good intentions and hard work. Iraqis. Oh, them. I hadn’t thought about them.
If you want more information about the problems with this book, read this article from Atlanta Blackstar.
A friend on Facebook shared this article with this caption:
what could be the next installment in the series? “Trail of Smiles”?
I then suggested:
The Happy Rubber Gatherers of King Leopold’s Congo!
A friend of the original poster’s commented with additional details for the story. I thought that contribution worthy of publication on this blog! I wish I had been as clever.
King Leopold wanted new bicycle tires for his birthday – he loved to ride around his palace! Oh no! there was no rubber to be found in all of Belgium! But when his happy subjects in Congo heard this, they headed into the jungle to help the King have the best birthday ever! Follow the adventures of three companions, Bula Matari, Kurtz, and Mr. Native, as they learn lasting lessons about cooperation, depraved brutality, and the meaning of friendship.
Updated January 21, 2016
On November 5, 2015, author Robert Hicks (Twitter) talked about his book The Widow of the South and the place of the USA Civil War in history at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, USA as part of the 5th Civil War Symposium. In my opinion, he oversold the position he took in his New York Times column on the 150th anniversary of the final day of the battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. What I heard, which may not be exactly or substantially what Mr. Hicks said, was that the federal government’s victory in the Civil War preserved the United States so it could play a saving role for humanity “twice” in the 20th century C.E. Continue reading
Why do white southerners commit more personal conflict murders than other white Americans?
On September 9, 2014, GRU Professor Kim Davies is scheduled to talk about the higher incidence of personal conflict murders among whites in the U.S. south than whites in other regions of the country. Her talk is based on the book Culture Of Honor: The Psychology Of Violence In The South by Richard E. Nisbett and Dov Cohen, which I reviewed at Goodreads.com.
Prisoner Advocate Elaine Brown on Georgia Prison Strike: “Repression Breeds Resistance”
At least four prisons in Georgia remain in lockdown five days after prisoners went on strike in protest of poor living and working conditions. Using cell phones purchased from guards, the prisoners coordinated the nonviolent protests to stage the largest prison strike in U.S. history. There are reports of widespread violence and brutality by the guards against the prisoners on strike. We speak to longtime prison activist Elaine Brown of the newly formed group Concerned Coalition to Respect Prisoners’ Rights.