This has nothing related to gaming, but I figure it would be interesting to the readers.
If the reader happens to be young, he or she would undoubtedly have had to suffer through conversations, in both classrooms and outside the classroom, revolving around the subject of slavery… particularly slavery advocated of the South prior to the Civil War. Such discussions are powered by the stale gas of cliches. But there is a way to make any discussion on Southern slavery interesting. I guarantee you that it will be like throwing a canister of lighting fluid and lighting a match.
It is to bring up and quote Fitzhugh.
Who is Fitzhugh? He was the leading intellectual advocate of slavery in America. The stuff he says is quite astonishing. Here are a few quotes from the wikipedia entry on him alone:
He argued that “the negro is but a grown up child” who needs the economic and social protections of slavery.
I have always wondered how anyone could make an argument FOR slavery. But he sees slavery as a frame of ‘economic and social protection’! Protection from what? What is slavery a protection from?
Fitzhugh decried capitalism as spawning “a war of the rich with the poor, and the poor with one another” – rendering free blacks “far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition.” Slavery, he contended, ensured that blacks would be economically secure and morally civilized.
So Fitzhugh proclaimed slavery was morally good because capitalism was morally bad. He says slavery is a necessary protection against the ‘evils’ of capitalism. Who believed any of this junk?
Fitzhugh practiced law and was a painter for years, but attracted both his fame and infamy when he published two sociological tracts for the South. He was a leading pro-slavery intellectual and spoke for many of the Southern plantation owners. Before printing books, Fitzhugh tried his hand at a pamphlet titled “Slavery Justified” (1849). His first book, Sociology for the South (1854) was not as widely known as his second book, Cannibals All! (1857).
Why is Fitzhugh never brought up in discussions about Southern slavery (which are all too infrequent in modern times)? After all, Fitzhugh is the leading intellectual in advocating slavery in that time period. You would think he would be mentioned more. But I bet two doughnuts and a walnut that the reader had never heard of him.
Fitzhugh did not like the United States as it was founded. From wiki, we read:
Sociology for the South, or, the Failure of Free Society (1854) was George Fitzhugh’s most powerful attack on the philosophical foundations of free society. In it, he took on not only Adam Smith, the foundational thinker of capitalism, but also John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and the entire liberal tradition. He argued that free labor and free markets enriched the strong while crushing the weak.
The Leading Pro-Slavery Intellectual attacks Adam Smith and the concept of Capitalism. The Leading Pro-Slavery Intellectual attacks John Lock and the concept of a free society. The Leading Pro-Slavery Intellectual attacks free markets and free labor.
None of this should be a surprise to any thinker. The Civil War is correctly framed as a war between an Industrial North versus a Feudalistic South. The North embraced the Industrial Revolution while the South resisted it.
But this is the reason why you never hear Fitzhugh mentioned today:
What society needed, he wrote, was slavery, not just for blacks, but for whites as well. “Slavery,” he wrote, “is a form, and the very best form, of socialism.”
That line. It shows that the leading advocate of slavery in the Southern States shows that the South was not fighting for slavery. His own words says that slavery is but ‘a form’. The South was fighting for socialism. His words. Not mine.
Fitzhugh believed that slavery reduced the pressure on the poor and lower classes; in other words, he advocated slavery for poor whites as well as blacks.
Wow. Just wow. Here we have it folks. This is why they fought for slavery. They were fighting against the idea of a free society, against capitalism, against the Industrial Revolution.
Cannibals All!, or Slaves Without Masters (1857) was a critique further developing the themes that Fitzhugh had introduced in Sociology for the South. Both the book’s title and its subtitle were phrases taken from the writing of Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish social critic and a great hero to Fitzhugh’s generation of proslavery thinkers. The aim of his book, Fitzhugh claimed, was to show that “the unrestricted exploitation of so-called free society is more oppressive to the laborer than domestic slavery.”
Cannibals All! was a sharp criticism of the system of “wage-slavery” found in the north. Fitzhugh’s ideas were based on his view that the “negro slaves of the South” were considerably more free than those trapped by the oppression of capitalist exploitation. His idea to rectify social inequality created by capitalism was to institute a system of universal slavery, based on his belief that “nineteen out of every twenty individuals have…a natural and inalienable right to be slaves.”
So apparently a free society was ‘wage-slavery’ but actual slavery was true ‘freedom’. What a kook.
So next time you find yourself stuck in a slavery discussion, in a classroom or out of it, bring up Fitzhugh and quote what he says. After all, he makes the intellectual case for why the South fought for slavery. And the reason to fight for slavery was to fight against the tyranny of ‘capitalism’, the oppression of a ‘free society’, and the inequalities it all brings. Slavery, he argues, is much better.
Fitzhugh explodes the notion that the American South were admirers of Adam Smith or were fans of Thomas Jefferson. The best way to describe the American South, at that time, was as gaggle of communist states… a sorrowful inheritance of the Old World.
“But Communism was not invented yet,” you say. “Marx had not written about it.” You make the assumption that Marx was the original thinker. It is, very much believed, that Marx took many of his ideas from Fitzhugh.