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Tuesday, January 1, 2013


"For in a warm climate, no man will labor for himself when he can make another labor for him." Thomas Jefferson.
I don't know whether my Tarheel ancestors were able to buy slaves or not, but in any case they didn't buy them. Nor did they buy (at least I like to think they didn't) the whole plantation ethos. They were free farmers who actually did labor for themselves and knew they weren't 'trash' either, for all the planters' sneaky efforts to press them and their like down into the 'trash'!
This is something--homesteaders v. planters, say--which I see as a subtext of the Civil War. Lincoln himself, for all his legal work for the railroads, was a definite homesteader. Who else but a homesteader could or would say, "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. To me, this is the essence of democracy."? And Lincoln was rarely as prescient about what would follow the Civil War as he was in a letter to a Colonel Elkins dated November 22, 1864. In that letter he expressed his fears about corporations corrupting democracy after the war. Rarely was he more right.
The industrialists also believed in having others, yea, legions of others, labor for them. This has traditionally been a feature of societies dominated by hereditary privilege from the Roman Empire where a majority of the Empire's population were slaves of one kind or another through medieval times when the great majority of the people were serfs to our own South, both before and after the Civil War and e'en unto the present day.
And now the North is belatedly fighting against becoming, to use Fannie Lou Hamer's phrase, 'up South". The results of the last election help our fight, but to what extent is highly debatable. We can all be sure that our country, and democracy itself, has dodged a bullet but what more than that remains to be seen. But we are far less of an exception to that societal pattern than we once were. And I suggest that if American Exceptionalism is anything but an empty phrase used by bloodthirsty trench-dodgers to drum up wars to fill the pockets of crooked contractors, it means to be the exception from that ancient, sad pattern--and to encourage others who seek to change their societies' patterns too!
I see the stage set for yet another serious war between we homesteaders and planters. Be warned here: 1) Many planters have mastered the art of camouflaging themselves to appear as homesteaders, so be not deceived. Most of those doing so tend to mouth certain memes which they don't respect in their own lives. 2) To be rich does not necessarily mean to be a planter and not all 'planters' are rich. To be a 'planter' is a mindset more than anything else. I'd never call uncle Warren a 'planter', nor Steven Spielberg nor (probably) Bill Gates or even certain Rockefellers. On the other hand, your crazy uncle who lives in a trailer but won't stop mouthing Rush and/or Glenn even though he never earned more than sporadic hourly wages in his life and says rot like 'git the gubmint offa my Medicare!' very definitely is a 'planter' inasmuch as if he could, he'd be hiring 'slaves' to do his scut-work. And we all need to get away from delegating necessary work which we just don't want to do ourselves. And yes, there is a difference between this and hiring someone to help with a job they know better than you do. If and when we're honest, we know in our hearts which is which. Now is a time when such honesty is absolutely necessary. The coming confrontation need not have bullets flying, but if past experience is anything to go on sooner or later the 'planters' will, as they did in 1861, fire the first shots. Another trait of 'planters' is that most of them share a trait with the Bourbons: they forget nothing and learn nothing! Do we then need to buy military-grade weapons while we still can? I very, very much hope not!

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