First & Foremost, Slavery Was Stolen Labor

If I steal your car, I’ve stolen something you bought using money you made from the sweat of your brow. If I enslave you, I cut out the middle man as it were. I don’t have to steal your car to get what was yours, I steal your labor directly. It’s more efficient. More ruthless.

In America, slavery belonged to the south where it worked the fields mostly. Picking cotton and cutting sugar cane were labor intensive work back before machinery showed up. If a plantation owner had to pay for labor (never mind a fair wage for that labor), their profits would have been wafer thin if they’d had any at all. The whole point of slavery is you get the work done — and you make your money — without having to worry about the cost of labor. Sure, sure — you still have to feed and house that labor but, since they’re slaves anyway, it’s not like you have to make their food or housing decent.

Since slaves aren’t technically human to the slaver (even calling slaves three-fifths of a regular white person was an over-statement to them made solely to cut the Electoral College deal), he can not only steal their labor but every other facet of their lives too. The slaver can see the slave’s children like calves or lambs to be separated from their parents and sold off individually.

If I steal your labor, I steal a big part of you — of who you are and why you’re here. You may think your purpose in life is to live happily. I think your purpose is to pick my cotton and keep the mint juleps flowing — for free. If I win that fight and force you to work for me, for nothing, you will have no way even to earn your way to freedom. I will know that you will be my slave forever.

The fact is, slavery was very good for the Confederacy’s agrarian economy. “If the Confederacy had been a separate nation, it would have ranked as the fourth richest in the world at the start of the Civil War.” Without slavery, the south couldn’t produce cotton cheaply. That is no justification for slavery. But it was to the south.

Ironically, when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794, they thought the gin’s ability to comb cotton seeds from cotton bolls would reduce the need for slavery. The opposite happened. While a slave “could pick the seeds out of 10 pounds of cotton in a day. The cotton gin could process 100 pounds in the same time.” The white guys running things planted more cotton. Rather, they had their slaves plant more cotton.

America has always lived with an impossibility at its core — the idea that “all men are created equal” except the ones who are slaves. Not only did we not actually believe that all men were created equal, we did not believe their work was equal either. We’ve always believed that white peoples’ work was worth more than black peoples’ work — even if it was the same damned work.

Once I steal your productivity, your happiness is easy to pick off and destroy. It’s stolen labor that makes slavery “slavery”.

Never Mind ‘Winning The War’ If You End Up ‘Losing The Peace’ That Follows

History is littered with the lamentable stories of Cultures that ‘won wars’ but lost the subsequent peace that should have been the spoil of their victory.  Case in point: The Union (The United States of America) v The Confederate States of America.

Grant accepted Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.  The Civil War ending was the Union’s high water mark.  Turns out, it was all downhill from there.  From Lincoln’s assassination to Johnson’s presidency (and his impeachment) to the terribly botched Reconstruction to the rise of the Ku Klux Klan to Separate But Equal to & through every awful instance of America’s deep-seated racism — all born of a terrible, terrible mistake:  the refusal to deny SLAVERY at America’s inception — and IN America’s Constitution.

A lot of terrible things have flowed from the Civil War into our Timeline.  But the most damning and damaging comes via the Confederacy’s Ghost:  Having lost the War, it seemingly ‘rose from the dead’ and WON THE PEACE.  How’d it do that?

Usually, it’s the Victors who get to write the History.  But, perversely, that didn’t happen here.  Southern writers — or writers influenced by Southern sympathies — started using the term ‘States Rights’ to describe the Confederacy’s motives for attempting to destroy the Republic. Suddenly the rebels went from trying to destroy the country to being the ones ‘dedicated’ to making us ‘A more perfect Union’.

It’s utter bullshit, of course.  If you go back and read every Confederate State’s exit statement — not a one of them mentions (their supposed core principle) State’s Rights.  On the flip side — the Northern states do talk about State’s Rights — what they are and what they aren’t.  The NORTH cared about States Rights while events were happening, not the South.

And yet — the South latched on to States Rights as its means to re-write History — to paint themselves more favorably — and less honestly.  And damn if they didn’t get away with it.  We actually still debate, in this country, what caused the Civil War — as if, when the simple facts are presented, it wasn’t as obvious as a sledgehammer landing on your foot.  The word we’re all looking for is: “Slavery’.  That’s what caused the Civil War.  But Slavery was such an egregious error on our part that even ENDING IT did not end our problem with it — because we enslaved people UNLIKE us — and never made that fact up to them.  We never ‘owned’ our racism — and apologized for it — and made the people we enslaved ‘whole’ again.

We — the enslavers — did not do that.  Slavery remains an open issue on our books.  That happened because the Union, exhausted by its war win, left the storytelling part of the exercise to the war’s ‘losers’.  They LIED about their story.  They pitched a completely FALSE NARRATIVE.  We bought it…

And, today, an empowered, racist South holds outsized power over the country’s future direction.  Mind you ‘The South’ doesn’t just live ‘in the south’.  it’s spirit lives all over the country in small enclaves of tiny-minded, racist-and-misogynist thinking.  Their horse shit was allowed to thrive and prosper because it wasn’t cut down at its inception.

And every time the news media wonders aloud why White People are so angry, they’re adding to the South’s (and Conservatives’)  narrative that their rage is justified.  If we had just paid a little more attention at the start — when the first Southerner/Conservative spewed the words ‘States Rights’.

If we had just slapped them down — with our words — we wouldn’t be having ‘this’ problem now.