Tag: slavery

Contra Zizek: Capitalism Doesn’t Need Slavery

Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

When discussing Slavoj Zizek, “prolific” is an understatement. He has written over fifty books in English over his life, and many more are to come. His theories have ranged from philosophy and cultural theory to Lacanian psychoanalysis and economics. Even those that disagree with his fundamental theses could learn a lot from him. He does, though, fall into the trap of traditional anti-capitalism. “Profit man bad” NPC memes aside, let’s look at where Zizek goes wrong in claiming that slavery is necessary for capitalist organization.

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Sorry Traditionalists, There Is No Judeo-Christian West

Ellie McFarland | @El_FarAwayLand

Many traditionalists claim that The West was founded on “Judeo-Christian” values. Specifically, they say, “The Ten Commandments”. The Daily Wire, PragerU, and Louder with Crowder are just a few of the respected media platforms which broadcast this argument repeatedly. Along with these outlets, there is a large group of individual commentators who also push this idea of The West to their audience. There has been enough dismissal of the Christendom angle for years now, but what is seldom addressed is how and why The Ten Commandments were not a foundational document of Western Civilization.

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No LeBron, the NFL Is Not Slavery

By Jack Parkos | United States

NBA superstar turned pseudo-political activist LeBron James has recently stated that NFL owners have a “slave mentality”. LeBron James was quoted in his show, The Shop, saying,

“In the NFL they got a bunch of old white men owning teams and they got that slave mentality, and it’s like, ‘This is my team. You do what the fuck I tell y’all to do. Or we get rid of y’all.”

Not only is this claim blasphemous, but it is insulting to people who were actual victims of slavery. Under slavery, slaves were captured from their homes (or were born into it) and were subject to forced labor, daily beatings, and separation from their family. They obviously had no choice in the matter, yet Lebron compared this to choosing to pursue stardom by having a profession of playing a game. No doubt playing in the NFL is hard, but it is nothing compared to slave labor.

Slavery Vs. The NFL

The highest NFL player, Aaron Rodgers, makes 30 million a year with the average player making an average of 2.5 million a year. What was the wage of a slave? Nothing.  They were forced into labor or faced severe punishment. Lebron claims that if NFL players slack off they get punished in a similar manner to slaves. This is an absurd comparison for many reasons, mainly being that slaves were forced into their labor. In the NFL, you sign a contract and voluntarily participate. Nobody is forced into being a professional football player. Former NFL player Antonio Gates disagreed with Lebron James, stating,

“I don’t know all the owners—I know my owner, and, my relationship with my owner has been phenomenal. And, it’s sports. You know what I mean? You get paid to play. We all know what we sign up for a lot of us make a really good living, man, being able to support our families at the same time. So, it is what it is.”

Moreover, if you do bad at your job, then naturally, your boss can fire you. This isn’t magically changed because you make millions of year and play a sport. It is your job. If you don’t do your job, you don’t keep your job. If you do not like your job, you can find another one. That is one of the benefits of the free market. A characteristic of slavery is when one does not have access to the free market. Slave owners did not “get rid of” them and let them go to find a new job. LeBron is truly being insulting by comparing these two immensely different situations.

The NFL has turned thousands of people into millionaires and celebrities by doing what they love. Millions of kids have grown up dreaming to play football. Millions of Americans tune into the sport that has become a huge part of American culture. To compare this to one of the most shameful parts of American history is disgusting. Naturally, he has received much backlash from his comments and rightfully so. His comments were insulting and absurd.

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It is Too Late for Slavery Reparations in the U.S.

By Joshua D. Glawson | United States

Just as I do not advocate for slavery, a lack of Justice, I do not advocate reparations for enslaved people or their modern descendants. I have written a two-part longer article on American Slavery and its Repercussions: Comparing Thomas Jefferson, Frederick Douglass, and James Baldwin.

The first issue is that slavery existed in the U.S. This was a problem from our founding and continues to be a point of conflict even today. Few people advocated for manumission in the time of the signing of the US Constitution, but there were some such as Benjamin Lay, John Lay, and others, including the Manumission Society. Most abolitionists believed in the democratic process of slowly transitioning people out of slavery and into their natural state of freedom and liberty. Unfortunately, it took a war, money, and time to finally end slavery in the U.S. Even then, chattel slavery continued among some of the Native American reservations after the Civil War.

The second issue is that politicians rarely kept their promises. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman was famous for wanting to give freed slaves “Forty acres and a mule“. This rarely occurred. In order for reparations to work, they would have had to come right after slavery ended.

As many philosophers, political scientists, and economists have pointed out, the math to provide reparations is nearly impossible at this point. Many different estimates exist. Some have estimated as low as $6.4 trillion, or up to $14 trillion USD. Let’s examine how the math for reparations would work out today.

  1. Person A was a slave and freed with the promise of 40 acres and a mule. The state gave no reparation. Person A, along with Person B who is also a freed slave, have 3 children- Persons C, D, and E.
  2. Persons C, D, and E  were not slaves but receive the will of Person A and B, equaling 80 acres and 2 mules. Splitting this equally between them, someone is already out of a mule, and the acreage is around 26 or 27 acres per person. These children of Persons A and B do not get their parents’ will of 80 acres and 2 mules.
  3. Person C marries Person F whose parents were also freed slaves given the same ungranted promises. Person F is also a sibling of 2 others, meaning that with Person C, they each are told they are owed around 26 or 27 acres and maybe a mule each if they were lucky. They have 3 children, Persons G, H, and I. These children are given a will of their parents, but it is not kept. It is of around 54 acres and maybe 2 mules. But, we are not sure who got the mules from before. Persons G, H, and I also never get the original will or any subsequent offers of reparation. 3 people splitting the 54 acres is 18 acres each.
  4. Person G marries Person J and they were both never slaves, but they have similar circumstances in that their families never received reparations, and they were each a member of families with 2 other siblings that were supposed to split the reparations. This, excluding the mule, is 6 acres per child, making 12 total acres between Person G and Person J to be split between their offspring. If they had 3 children, the math continues to deteriorate the amount due to the following offspring. Eventually, it leads to nearly nothing per person.
  5. As time passes further, and more mixing of races continues, along with more legitimate and illegitimate children are born, there are fewer and fewer claims to reparations to be made, as simple mathematical application shows.
  6. Additionally, if the U.S. government were to make these past-due reparations, it would happen with tax money. Well, not everyone in this country had slaves or benefited from it. Not everyone’s family was here, not even every black person in the U.S. has slave ancestors. So, paying any reparations today would punish everyone, even those that never had slaves or benefited. The craziest part is that the state would force people who are of slave ancestry to pay for wrongs they surely did not commit, just to turn around and pay themselves again via taxation.
  7. In today’s world, how much would the grandparents and each of their children and grandchildren, etc. get? If by now, the amount due per person is so minuscule, and if only the grandparents get reparations, is there Justice? Or will all of those with slave ancestors need a payment? If so, for how long does that need to go? Are we to punish everyone for the sins of their ancestors? That opens an entirely new discussion.

Overall, in order to pay reparations, the state would need an equivalent amount in today’s money, a list of benefactors and list of people to pay for it.

This is simply impossible to determine. How would they pay someone of mixed races, who has ancestors that both owned slaves and were slaves? Would they payment be a lump sum, or sent in installments? What if DNA charts show that some children were born out of wedlock? Who will provide payment from a will for that child and their descendants? Many other questions regarding verification and exact payment would be necessary in order to find out the true modern amount. How will that impact the value of the USD? The notion brings up many difficult economic questions as well.

The questions continue, and for everyone involved, it is quite troublesome. It would be even worse if this came into fruition today. All we know is that slavery was, indeed, wrong. It is disgustingly inhumane and we should learn from that harsh lesson of the past.

Unfortunately, though, if reparations occurred, it should have been immediately after ending slavery within the U.S. Any other plan simply is not feasible.

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Should Colleges Remove Thomas Jefferson from Curricula?

By Kaihua Zhou | United States

Among the Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson is one of the greatest. His accomplishments include largely authoring the Declaration of Independence, helping pass the Virginia Statue for Establishing Religious Freedom, and enacting the Louisiana Purchase. Many principles that conservatives and libertarians hold dear first took form under Jefferson. Jefferson extolled the virtues of limited government, stating that “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” America is fundamentally Jeffersonian in its outlook. It is almost impossible to imagine America without these signature accomplishments.

However, Jefferson is increasingly labelled as a hypocrite. In March 2018, student activists in Hofstra University protested Jefferson’s statue on campus.  A number of liberal organizations such as Young Democratic Socialists of Hofstra denounced Jefferson as a white supremacist icon who justified slavery. This disgust has spread to Jefferson’s native Virginia. In the University of Virginia, a vandal defaced Jefferson’s statue, marking him as a racist and a rapist.

While it would be easy to dismiss these incidents as isolated cases of iconoclasm, they are part of a larger trend. In 1996, Stephen Ambrose, a celebrated historian, attended a panel on “Political Correctness and the University” at The University of Wisconsin. During the discussion, he discovered that one of his fellow professors, teaching American political thought, had purged Jefferson’s from her curriculum. When Ambrose inquired why, she simply responded that Jefferson owned slaves. What about Jefferson’s extraordinary accomplishments? They were erased merely for Jefferson’s status as a slaveholder.

How justified are these criticisms? It cannot be denied that Jefferson owned slaves, more than 600 of them at given moments of his life. Moreover, it cannot be denied that he held repulsive prejudices. He could not foresee free African Americans peacefully coexisting with Whites.  Moreover, Jefferson denied the potential of African Americans to obtain the same accomplishments as whites. “Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid: and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

By contemporary standards, Thomas Jefferson was a racist.  Despite such prejudices, there is much more to his legacy.  What is too often forgotten in such denouncements is Jefferson’s anti-slavery efforts and views. Jefferson recognized that slave-owners were tainted morally by their practice: “The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other.

Far from being an unapologetic white supremacist, there is a note of self-awareness in Jefferson’s tone. It’s possible to imagine Jefferson privately feeling a very human remorse for his hypocrisy. Such remorse led to action. Jefferson limited slavery, barring it far from the contemporary Midwest in the Northwest Ordinance of 1784. Such legislative foresight prevented slavery’s depravity from expanding further into the new nation. As a revolutionary in 1774, Jefferson attacked the royal British government for allowing the slave trade.  As president, he acted on these noble instincts, passing the Act of 1807. This act concluded the slave trade in the United States, giving severe fines for illegally purchasing slaves.

Was Thomas Jefferson a hypocrite? Yes: his powerful mind was severely constricted by his era’s racial prejudices. Is this grounds for retroactive demoralization? If Jefferson’s primary accomplishments are insufficient to redeem him, what can? His anti-slavery views demonstrate that there is much more to his legacy than pure racism. This complex legacy deserves to be seriously studied by college students. Seeing Jefferson as “merely” a hypocrite or a racist oversimplifies the issue.  He should be respected and celebrated, not worshiped or demonized. He was a hero, but also deeply flawed.

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