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January 27, 2011

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Let me be the first: Gary Farber sucks and is ruining the site. This wasn't brief, it has too many links, it's too long to read, why didn't you mention X, help Y, why don't you post more/less/shorter/better/I miss Hilzoy.

Are we there yet?

I didn't care for TNC's critique of Santorum. It seemed to me to focus on obvious facts that no anti-abortion activist would deny--of course abortion in detail is very different from slavery, even if one grants the notion that abortion is the killing of a person. The anti-abortionists are claiming that the similarity is that in both cases a certain class of persons are stripped of their full rights as human beings. In one case they are robbed of liberty and in the other case they are robbed of life. Santorum didn't claim that there is a similarity in the socioeconomic effects of slavery and abortion.

Now one could criticize Santorum and others for not really acting like they think millions of innocent babies are being murdered, but TNC didn't take that up. Instead, he put words into Santorum's mouth (via Joe Klein's defense) and then gave a short history of the peculiar institution.

I don't want to defend Santorum. I just find TNC's attack pointless and if I happened to agree with Santorum I'd probably be mad about it. Since I don't it goes under the heading of "pointless rant where someone refutes an argument that wasn't made."

And Farber is incoherent, wanders from subject to subject, is incomprehensible, condescending, wrong on the facts, can't read, can't write, is juvenile, over-explains, under-explains, and isn't at all defensive.

But: by all means, I like comments; when I don't get them, I become uterly wet and weedy. Tell me why I suck! I love the attention!

Have a happy, everyone!

Calm down, Gary. You're great and you're not wrecking the site. Seriously.

Just wow. I do enjoy your analysis when you 'get it on' and dig out perspective I can't see myself having ever. Not that I disagree : I just don't see myself generating the concepts.

But the essentials do slide right into innuendo, pejoratives, racism and more. GOP /Tea Party/Radio Show talk is as good as speaking code to the listeners because the frames of cultural imperatives are being injected.

And while I seem to flog my 'Perception Alteration' file in the Topical Index at opitslinkfest.blogspot.com a lot, I did have to have someplace to stash the goodies on DuckSpeak ( Orwellian idea of meanings in language abused so that it becomes meaningless quacking ) and all the other lovelies dealing with linguistic and mental trickery and intellectual fraud or even hypnosis .

While there are excerpts more germane to racism and hatemongering in there - including an AlterNet piece by Orwell citing his radio propaganda experiences - I want to show you a piece of 'politically correct' work that shows how manipulated and insideous that can be....no shock.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21052.htm

It really is weird how sometimes I will go from one thread to another that seems totally unrelated topically...and notice it isn't at all dynamically. It's about honesty and open-mindedness even when at first blush that might not seem blindingly obvious.

http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/01/bbc-horizon-president-of-royal-society.html

BTW Heads up because I would be violating Markos' dictum on the motls piece. I don't bother commenting at Kos - even when a writer deserves it - when Strawman Argumentation and Poisoning the Well tactics override discussion.
I see no difference no matter what 'side' it comes from : and I am talking 'climate debate' from the perspective of somebody appalled by the way we are literally killing ourselves by our economic choices...and still am not ready to accept the New World Order as the Benevolent Society.

It's ironic that people who make with the slave analogies are always talking about the fetus and not the woman. Forced labor is NOT slavery??

--TP

Fixed a link that was under "others."

"Calm down, Gary."

Donald, thank you for your advice.

I suspect I'm unable to tell your emotional state at this moment.

Just a thought.

My other thought (I only have two!) is: gimme guest post!

Pliz? With [DONALD'S FAVORITE REWARD] spread on top?

Say what you like. Plug a cause. Endorse someone's thinking. Tell us what's important we should know about.

Doesn't have to be long or complicated. Short and simple will do: you write well, and you have important things to say all the time. Here, use my megaphone. I'm a bit busy. So are all of us. :-)

Lend us your mouth, fingers, ears.

I promise to return them no less damaged than anyone gets around here.

My first two comments were what passes for my sense of humor.

But it's not very funny if I have to put "[JOKE]" each time, and everyone's reading is always different, which is why we're not all clones -- who wouldn't think alike any more than any other twins -- which is good, because that would be boring.

Let's Be Frank about this.

All dis isn't what it's always cracked up to be.

Know your local history, folks, or those who don't know their local blog continuity are doomed to:

* Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
o This famous statement has produced many paraphrases and variants:
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who do not remember their past are condemned to repeat their mistakes.
Those who do not read history are doomed to repeat it.
Those who fail to learn from the mistakes of their predecessors are destined to repeat them.

Those who do not know history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

Taking the express is faster, but you miss the local sites.

Think Globally, Act Locally.

I can also put a fair bet down on a response from someone I'll get to this comment. Anyone want to volunteer to read a prediction? :-)

Well, I enjoyed this post. You may be right, possibly there are too many links only in the sense that many will not click on them all.

I'll see what I can do to get it out there.

A Santorum/Bachmann ticket would be a sight to behold. Unfortunately, if they would win, I'd unfailingly violate the posting rules enough to get a ban for this life and any possibly following.

I totally agree. Everyone should read TNC all the time. And his commenters are the shiznit. My only problem is that by the time I get home from work in Australia and read him, all the best comments are already made. But that's true of this blog too. Usually Gary has made the best comments himself.

What does Joe Klein being Jewish have to do with anything? Why even bring it up?

btw, Eschaton's got you linked. :-)

What does Joe Klein being Jewish have to do with anything? Why even bring it up?

Haven't the Jews suffered enough? Must they also have to endure counting Joe Klein among their number?

At least, that's what I think whenever I hear the name "Joe Lieberman", but it works almost as well for Joe Klein.

I love links, and am happy to go clicking, but I'm not seeing the linkage between Santorum and political correctness. There are a couple of things that I think are possible, but it would probably be easier for me to just ask. So, what's up with that?

But that would be a pretty short comment, so I will pick up the thread from where Gary said 'the meme must die' (which I am assuming means 'political correctness should not be considered an insult'?)

I've been called to explain political correctness to Japanese colleagues and my go at it is this. When you modify a noun like 'correct', you are restricting the scope of it, so you are automatically implying that there are places where it is not correct. Some examples might be 'medically correct' or 'intuitively correct'. So, you can come upon early usages of 'politically correct' as simply saying something like 'if you are in this group, the correct thing to do would be X'.

However, in the 1980's, the realm of what was 'political' changed, so that rather than two or many political spheres co-existing, and one person's political correctness was simply a statement about the political beliefs of the group that the person aligned him/herself with, politics came to be defined as the opposite of a realm of honesty. Contrast this 'A typical political answer' with this "EU must have 'clear political answer' to Belarus". In the first case, the phrase is obviously pejorative, in the second, it highlights the fact that other possible answers are not on the table.

I'm not going to link this, but this blurb about a book entitled 'Truth, the Political Answer' gives a good idea of strongly pejorative the modifier can be.

An astonishing account of Obama's personal agenda compared to his administrative agenda. This personal agenda exposes his true nature creating dangerous times ahead for all that believe in the Constitution and are Christians. Truth The Political Answer, reveals intricate patterns of foundations, organizations, and associates giving financal support for their propanganda. Through sociometry a matrix exposes most of the socialists and radical Muslim participants. This martrix provides a roadmap of their plans that include the year 2020. This book proves why they will fail and is supported through the Book of Proverbs and our founders words of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and insight

I wonder what the author of that book would think of calling St. Paul 'politically correct' because he used Galatians instead of Phrygians

Phrygia was famous for its slaves-so famous that the name Phryx denoted a slave all over the empire-and Lycaonia was notorious for bandits and thieves. To use such words would have been equivalent to calling his audience "slaves and robbers." But "Galatians," a term that was politically correct, embraced everyone under Roman rule, from the aristocrat in Antioch to the little slave girl in Iconium.
(H. V. Morton, In the Steps of St. Paul, link here)

I also like this Linguist List posting about the term, which might help you get at some other interesting observations on that list, including the possibility that politically correct came in thru its use by Mao, into the radical left, which then became a term of sarcasm which then was leveraged by the right.

I look at the fall of politically correct as a non pejorative term as simply the outer defenses falling (which raises images of liberal notions being under siege, a final battle for humanity, orcs overrunning the gates. Present company excepted, of course). It also represents a sort of expansion of personal space, in that you may suggest to someone that it is their language and labelling that is a problem rather than some inherent notion they have and the person can then take offense that you are somehow commenting on them rather than just the labels they are using.

I've always thought of the notion that you want to take care in the way you express things so as to avoid giving offense to people without you knowing as a simple point of etiquette. That it is interpreted as some sort of revelation of fundamental dishonesty on the part of the speaker is a sad statement on current discourse.

He then asserts that the only other "class of Americans" to be denied "the right to exist" were slaves.

Except that he doesn't. What he does assert is that, as quoted above (though it doesn't appear to be part of the quote because it's not inset as far as the rest of the quote) "According to Santorum, the only other category of Americans whose civil rights were so severely truncated were slaves. He's right about that."

So it seems Klein is wrong in his comparison of the severities of the truncations of the rights of fetuses and slaves, rather than that he wrongly asserts that slaves were denied the right to exist. Klein even goes on after the quoted part to describe the ways in which slaves rights were truncated, and nowhere does he say anything about their being denied the right to exist. So WTF?

He's asserting an erroneous equivalence between two different things, not saying that slaves were treated the same way as aborted fetuses (i.e denied the right to exist). That seems to take some of the steam out of Coates' discussion of the need for slaves to exist for slavery to work, no?

BTW, Santorum's a big a-hole IMO, none the less.

Where Klein really goes wrong is here:

But those who would describe his argument as racist are either purposely trying to distort what he said or they don't know what they're talking about.

I'd say that an assertion that someone should think a certain way based on their perceived race is a decidedly racist one.

Gosh, that's not how I remember "politically correct" in the 70's. I remember it as being careful to couch your speech in the currently avowed terms of the communist party. It was a skill to find a way to say what you meant without deviating in a way that could be attacked as politically incorrect.

"Politically Correct" was complimentary only among the limited group that used the term. And even then it could have a double meaning -- a way of warning about someone without sticking your own neck out. Or such was my impression.

I'd say that an assertion that someone should think a certain way based on their perceived race is a decidedly racist one.

Well, you would say that, wouldn't you?

"Donald, thank you for your advice.

I suspect I'm unable to tell your emotional state at this moment."

Gary, I don't know how one is supposed to read your first two posts in this thread and know that this was self-deprecating humor as opposed to self-lacerating masochism. I think I've seen you engage in self-laceration at times, but maybe all those times were actually examples of humor. Live and learn.

My recollection of '70s usage of "political correctness" is pretty much the same as Doug's. Outside of out-and-out Commie circles, I never heard it used other than ironically.

Well, you would say that, wouldn't you?

I am 1/8 Irish, so, yeah, it figures.

During the immediate postwar years of 1816 to 1820, cotton constituted 39 percent of U.S. exports; twenty years later the proportion had increased to 59 percent, and the value of the cotton sold overseas in 1836 exceeded $71 million. By giving the United States its leading export staple, the workers in the cotton fields enabled the country not only to buy manufactured goods from Europe but also to pay interest on its foreign debt and continue to import more capital to invest in transportation and industry. Much of Atlantic civilization in the nineteenth century was built on the back of the enslaved field hand.

I question this. The wealth of the slaveholder was certainly built on the enslaved field hand, but the wealth of the nation - maybe not.

Suppose there had been no slavery. Southern plantations would have been just as suited for cotton production as they were. The difference, in many cases, would have been that the planters would have had to pay wages to free workers, so the workers would have been much better off, the owners worse off.

Maybe less cotton would have been produced, but the substitution of other products, whether agricultural or industrial, very likely would have been beneficial to the national economy. Slave-based cotton was highly profitable to the planters, on this theory, largely because they as individuals were able to take much of the share of output that rightly belonged to the workers. But that doesn't mean that the total value of the output exceeded what would have been produced in the absence of slavery.

My guess is it was much less.

I wasn't in the circles to know how "politically correct" was used in the Seventies, but by the late Eighties in liberal circles it had acquired a gently ironic connotation, except that some people still used it in sort of a complimentary fashion with an overlay of mild self-deprecation: "yes I know I'm being kind of robotic here, but that person seems to Get It".

Then, right around about 1988, conservatives latched onto Political Correctness as the great menace of the left-wing campus thought police. I remember George H. W. Bush bashing it in his election campaign. Rush Limbaugh really got into it.

I question this. The wealth of the slaveholder was certainly built on the enslaved field hand, but the wealth of the nation - maybe not.

There are a lot of dimensions to this, but IMO in the absence of slavery, the plantation economy of growing cotton as a cash crop would probably not have been as significant.

The demand for raw labor was a big issue in the colonial period through the 19th C. Pre-independence, it could be met through a mix of slavery, indentured servitude, transportation of convicts. Post-independence, it was really just slaves and immigrants.

It *might* be that free immigrants would be willing to do brute agricultural work for a wage, but IMO it's more likely that they would not. If they were going to do brute agricultural work, they'd rather work to acquire and improve a land holding of their own.

In the absence of slavery, the south would probably have had an economy of small farms, primarily growing food for their own consumption and perhaps local markets.

I'm not sure the cotton industry would have been tenable without very very cheap or free labor.

Incidentally, Gary, thanks for the repeated invitation, but I won't be taking you up on it.

On "political correctness", my memory of it is similar to that of Matt McIrvin. I used it as a joke in the late 80's and people around me thought it was funny (as intended) but clearly hadn't heard the phrase before. Within a year or so it became a great menace to Western civilization, a form of totalitarian thought control. It wasn't just conservatives who picked up on it. Liberals used it as a weapon against people to their left. I think the NYT had articles on it and it really stirred up a NYT-reading friend of mine, who was a liberal. It became politically correct to denounce political correctness, which I thought was sort of funny. It amounted to a new way of stigmatizing people to one's left--accusing someone of being PC was like accusing them of mindless Stalinism or the equivalent.

1. TNC rocks (and so do his commentors). I spend far too much time reading his blog.

2. No slavery probably means no plantation economy in the south, less cotton production/more expensive cotton, which in turn would have impacted Northern textile mills (and British ones too, obviously). I'm sure one can overstate how much wealth was stolen from slaves, but my gut says it would be hard to do so.

3. Which brings me to a great line from Raiders of the Lost Ark:

Marianne: "More than you can imagine!"
Indy: "I dunno, I can imagine a lot."

Completely off topic, it seems the Egyptian military has arrived in several places to protect the protestors from the police. Maybe we could get an open thread to discuss what seems to be an ongoing significant event?

The military is backing the protestors? Woah.

But that doesn't mean that the total value of the output exceeded what would have been produced in the absence of slavery.

I don't think that was said- if a factory in country X uses slave labor to build its products, then they are in fact entirely the product of slave labor- not merely to the extent that using slaves increased productivity over the use of wage labor.

So, the US did profit greatly from selling the product of slave labor, and did use that money to fund its infrastructure. Whether much of that infrastructure would've been built in an alternative universe without slavery is interesting, but not on point.

The anti-abortionists are claiming that the similarity is that in both cases a certain class of persons are stripped of their full rights as human beings. In one case they are robbed of liberty and in the other case they are robbed of life.

I think the initial statement goes a critical step further- that the similarities of this action ought to inspire particular sympathy from one group to the other.
And this strikes me as a gay marriage advocate saying "hey, you fundamentalist Christians are so big on marriage and commitment to one's partner etc, it seems to me that you ought to be particularly sympathetic to homosexual marriage." That is, entirely and almost intentionally missing the point, in a very offensive way I might add.

Or, another way- is Santorum really saying that we ought not decide who is people and who is not people? Are dogs people? Are rocks people? Is an idea about Zeus a person?
Of course not. He's saying- when I think something is a person this is a fact, and when someone else thinks that this isn't a person, that's a value judgment. And people who make value judgments that something isn't a person *when it is, in fact, a person* is like slavery. Basically, bury the known disagreement (ie are fetuses people?) and (again, with the offensiveness turned up to 11) claim that the black experience of slavery and discrimination ought to compel their sympathy to Fetus Discrimination.

ts;dr

"He's saying- when I think something is a person this is a fact, and when someone else thinks that this isn't a person, that's a value judgment. And people who make value judgments that something isn't a person *when it is, in fact, a person* is like slavery. Basically, bury the known disagreement (ie are fetuses people?) and (again, with the offensiveness turned up to 11) claim that the black experience of slavery and discrimination ought to compel their sympathy to Fetus Discrimination."

That's, I think, an accurate account of Santorum's position. I'm not interested in defending him--I just didn't think TNC's attack was relevant.

3. Which brings me to a great line from Raiders of the Lost Ark:

Marianne: "More than you can imagine!"
Indy: "I dunno, I can imagine a lot."

I think that's a line from Star Wars between Luke and Han on how much of a reward Han would get for helping Luke rescue Princess Leia.

I was thinking the same as Carleton Wu 01:29 PM. The comment I didn't write was going to include a driving-to-work analogy, along the lines of: Just because I could have come to work a different way doesn't mean that I didn't come to work the way I did. (Mental constructs involving cars or football work for me most of the time.)

ts;dr

Thanks for the trip to Urban Dictionary, Slart.

I'm not interested in defending him--I just didn't think TNC's attack was relevant.

I think TNC is aiming at that buried distinction, ie 'here is the black experience, and how exactly is that supposed to be like the Fetus Experience?'

Well, that and the fact-check of the idea that black people 'were denied the right to exist'- which is a critical rhetorical part of the hand-waving parallel between the two situations. Otherwise, he'd be forced to make the slightly more ludicrous assumption that all people who perceive themselves to have been treated unjustly must be sympathetic to each others' situations.

ts;dr

Addendum: I should admit to spending some amount of time looking at this sideways under the assumption that it might have been an emoticon. Maybe a winking, swoopy-haired guy with a goatee sticking his tongue out and wearing a baseball cap, whatever that might mean.

Carleton,

the US did profit greatly from selling the product of slave labor, and did use that money to fund its infrastructure. Whether much of that infrastructure would've been built in an alternative universe without slavery is interesting, but not on point.

Depends on what you mean by "the US" and "profit." What my argument comes down to is that it seems plausible, indeed likely, to me that GDP would have been greater without slavery.

I wrote a lengthy post responding to Russell, but all it really says is that slavery reduces labor productivity and, by making labor artificially cheap leads to misallocation of resources.

By "artificially cheap" I mean that it gets less than the value of its production and the slaveowner gets more than capital's share. Hence the allocations are wrong. If you can produce $1000 worth of goods at a cost of $200 in slave labor you'll do that rather than producing $1200 worth at a cost of $500 in free labor. But the second choice is better for the economy as a whole, all the more so if the same workers are involved.

But the second choice is better for the economy as a whole

Well, on the one hand you produce more goods. You have a higher local demand for goods from workers, and also an incentive for them to invest in their own productivity.
On the other hand, you have higher returns on investment, possibly leading to more infrastructure. Lower worker demands may mean a positive balance of trade. etc.
Long way of saying, "better for the economy" is something of a murky concept.

What my argument comes down to is that it seems plausible, indeed likely, to me that GDP would have been greater without slavery.

Sure. But I still don't see how that's relevant to the actual situation. It'd be like someone getting arrested for sexually assaulting a woman outside of a bar, and defending himself by claiming that- being handsome and driving a nice car- it's entirely possible that he could've got the girl into bed voluntarily if he had tried.

Some fraction of the infrastructure of the US was built using the fruits of slave labor. It didn't have to be that way. And it might even have been more efficient for it to have been done another way. But it did, in fact, happen that way.

Now, if you're arguing against the proposition "without slavery the US wouldn't have built that infrastructure", then I can see why you'd say this. And Id certainly be willing to concede the point that, in an alternative history, the US would likely still have become an industrial powerhouse on roughly the same timescale. But how does that point fit back into the matter at hand?

I dunno' Bernard. I think you're going afield, and your microeconomics may not be correct. Slavery flattens the supply of labor curve, or could conceivably make it downward sloping. More labor is "supplied" at a lower price. Setting MC to equal MR, we then would expect greater output, ceterus paribus, than if there was a upward sloping supply of labor curve.

I just wanted to throw out some dissenting opinion on Gary's purported excessive expansiveness.

"If you can produce $1000 worth of goods at a cost of $200 in slave labor you'll do that rather than producing $1200 worth at a cost of $500 in free labor."

Maybe. Conversely, you would also prefer the slave model if your other choice was $800 worth of output costing $400.

I get the sense your conclusion does not necessarily follow your premise.

Carleton,

I wasn't trying to defend anything.

Some fraction of the infrastructure of the US was built using the fruits of slave labor. It didn't have to be that way. And it might even have been more efficient for it to have been done another way. But it did, in fact, happen that way.

I agree.

The only thing I was disagreeing with was the implication that the wealth would not have existed without slavery. I think it would have, and would likely have been greater. If so, then slavery was actually destructive of wealth, and maybe not only for the slave.

If you think I'm quibbling, or that I've misread, fine. You may be right. But that's what I was trying to get at.

Slartibartfast: I just wanted to throw out some dissenting opinion on Gary's purported excessive expansiveness.

[in the voice of Temperance Brennan] Oh, a joke! [laughs]

If you think I'm quibbling, or that I've misread, fine.

Sorry, wasn't trying to imply that; I didn't see the implication that you saw, so I was trying to see where your thought was going.

While not an exact match, the book Liverpool and Transatlantic Slavery that looks at the number of ways Liverpool prospered because of the slave trade with a number of novel approaches (one was looking at the upward mobility of slavetrader's children iirc). As Liverpool was a transit point, you could argue that it's not the same situation, but the book pointed to how much of a network slavery created. Still, if slave labor had not been available, I have a vague feeling that the use of other sources, such as India, that arose during the naval blockade during the civil war, would have taken up the slack earlier and there would have been a decrease in wealth.

There's also the invention of the cotton gin, which was a labor saving device that set up the conditions to employ slaves as field hands. A trip thru google about cotton gin reveals that whereas before the war, cotton gins were machines set up at individual plantations, after the war, cotton gins became operations where tenant farmers brought their cotton to a central location, which served to keep them impoverished. One can't keep a successful economic system down, I guess.

Carleton,

No problem. I understand your point.

BobbyP,

Yes, I'm afield here, and just sort of speculating. The economics definitely bears further thought, but I think you are making the mistake of looking only at cotton and other slave-based industries. To get closer to the full picture we'd have to include an industry that relies on wage-earning workers and see the joint effect.

While slavery lowers slaveowners' labor costs, it raises that of others, by holding labor out of the market. It also encourages unduly labor-intensive production and discourages types of agricultural production that are not suited to slave labor. I'm not going to work all that out on a cold Friday evening (even if I could), but I think there's something there. If it all comes to me in my sleep I'll write it down and post it. .

Conversely, you would also prefer the slave model if your other choice was $800 worth of output costing $400.

But there's no reason your land should physically be unable to produce as much cotton just because you have to pay your workers. And if the labor cost is so high as to cause you to reduce your production, that just means workers have found other employment which is more productive than working for you.

Actually, I think the biggest hole in my argument is that it assumes that even without slavery the slaves would still have been here, as part of the free labor force.


I'm not big on counterfactual history, but it does seem to me that Bernard Yomtov's version of it is making one large, and unjustified, assumption: that in the absence of slavery, the same number of Africans (African-Americans) would be part of the US labor market, looking for, and perhaps finding, "more productive" work than planting & picking cotton.

Since this is obviously untrue - there was, AFAIK, no significant voluntary migration from Africa to North America - the absence of slavery means not just a distorted market from "holding labor out of the market," but a real shortage of workers in the South. Possibly there would have been more European migrants, but that's a different matter, unless one assumes that the international labor market is somehow "perfect," an assumption too far for me.

Does this kill the italics?

Somebody besides Rick Santorum takes Rick Santorum seriously as a Republican candidate for President in 2012? Wow...

Anyway, I don't know about avowed commies and political correctness, but my recollection is that "political correctness" became a term of derision almost immediately, outside of the relatively small portion of society that actually were "politically correct".

More on Santorum's run.

I've updated the bottom of the post with just a few of these. I'm sure the New York Times will notice... in a day or so.

Bernard,

It's interesting this subject came up. I am currently reading Inhuman Bondage by David Brion Davis. Most of the millions of slaves brought to America went to Brazil and the Caribbean. The sugar industry was slavery's mainstay for many decades. The planters perfected a production process that would make Fred Taylor green with envy.

My recollection of the use of Political Correctness was that it was used as a perjoritive substitute for sensitivity. As in, " You mean I have to be P.C. and can't call gays Fags any more?" I don't recall it ever being actually a real force.

It seems to me, whenever I hear the term, it is a prelude to some kind of dog whistle comment about some group of "others".

I am, franky, surprised that no one else seems to have this take on this term.

"My recollection of the use of Political Correctness was that it was used as a perjoritive substitute for sensitivity. As in, " You mean I have to be P.C. and can't call gays Fags any more?"

That's true. "Politically incorrect" also became a term of self-praise (one reason why I've never thought very highly of Bill Maher). Just show your insensitivity and it meant you were bravely standing up for free speech.

To get closer to the full picture we'd have to include an industry that relies on wage-earning workers and see the joint effect.

The other end of the cotton production cycle, textile mills, which employed a couple of generations of New England farm girls and immigrants in the 19th C.

Thanks for your comments here Bernard, you're bringing an interesting perspective to the plantation economy topic.

Most of the millions of slaves brought to America went to Brazil and the Caribbean.

Yes, they were brought there to replace the indigenous people, who had basically been killed off either directly or through being worked to death.

Sugar, indigo, cotton, rice.

In this country black slaves were seen more or less as a capital asset. In the Caribbean and South America, they were treated more as a consumable. Slaves were generally worked to death within a few years of their capture and then simply replaced.

I'm not sure it's possible to overstate the astounding - really astounding - greed and cruelty of plantation culture.

Bobbyp,

I do find it interesting, and will look for Davis' book. My first comment on the topic was based on a thought I had that slavery actually damaged the south's economy - held it back might be a better way to put it - for the reasons I give.

Obviously, I had not considered the point about the importation of slaves. Maybe the analysis would hold if we consider the possible consequences of abolition in the early 19th century.

Or maybe not. Even after the Civil War it was necessary to use various forms of coercion to get the freed slaves to work in the cotton fields. It's possible the work was no unpleasant that it was difficult to make cotton production profitable, given the state of technology, with wage labor. I think this was probably even more true of the sugar plantations you mention.

Of course, part of my argument is that more effort might then have gone into mechanization of agriculture, or into other economic activities, to the ultimate benefit of the southern economy.

If you can make a comfortable living stealing then your incentive to become more productive diminishes.

I suppose you could make an interesting parallel between this, and illegal immigration: Certain parts of our economy are reliant on the labor of illegal immigrants; Would we be a lot poorer if the supply were cut off, or would those parts of the economy react to a reduced supply of cheap, easy to intimidate labor by increasing automation? I'm betting the latter.

Yes, unions are often accused of "restricting the supply of labor", but off shoring has overcome that. As Dean Baker tirelessly points out, doctors, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and newspaper columnists are not subjected to such economic pressures, and their restrictions "on the supply of labor" are in fact seen as a good thing. Pretty amazing.

As for capital labor substitution, rest assured the urge to improve is well neigh ceaseless and fairly inventive:

http://gizmodo.com/231979/ad-watch-swiss-self+cleaning-toilet

"As Dean Baker tirelessly points out, doctors, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and newspaper columnists are not subjected to such economic pressures, and their restrictions "on the supply of labor" are in fact seen as a good thing. "

By who? Other doctors, lawyers, accountants, bankers, and newspaper columnists, I'm guessing.

Brett,

I'm all for reducing the number of workers who are easily intimidated into accepting low wages. I think the best way to do that is to give the immigrants the protections they need so that they are not subject to what amounts to extortion.

That's actually more like abolition.

I'm all for giving immigrants every protection due US citizens. I'm also for deporting every last illegal immigrant, at which point THEY wouldn't have to worry about being abused by US employers, either.

Brett,

When I said "give immigrants protections" I meant to include illegal immigrants.

Despite the hysteria, I am very far from convinced that illegal immigration is any sort of serious problem, or unserious problem either, or that even if it is, that we can sensibly and decently do much about it.

If you can show me all the headless bodies in the Arizona desert I might change my mind about the problems.

I know, you meant to reject a distinction a large majority of the American public have considered important for decades now. I just wanted to remind you that it's not a distinction that's going to be ignored, no matter how much you wish it.

Brett,

I think it will be ignored as long as your "large majority" finds it convenient to ignore it, which it does.

Regardless, I don't care. The idea that we can admit N immigrants, but the N+1th is somehow a criminal who deserves no rights whatsoever seems insane to me. Further, I think that the choice of N is completely arbitrary, and based on no actual consideration of anything.

If the xenophobes win they win. I don't have to think they are right. You can line up with Joe Arpaio and Jan Brewer if you like. I refuse to.

Donald:

On "political correctness", my memory of it is similar to that of Matt McIrvin. I used it as a joke in the late 80's and people around me thought it was funny (as intended) but clearly hadn't heard the phrase before.
Whereas I have documentation, though not currently online, of my friends and I using it that way in 1976 -- specifically, in certain science fiction apazines in that year, specifically in one I co-founded with someone now very well known in the sf field, when we lived in a house we shared with others, as well as in other such apas, and etc.), and can, well, really, how much does anyone want to know about the history of the term? Should we go back to Maoism, neo-Maoism, the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA in 1975, Bob Avakian, history of Maoism in the U.S., earlier US CP and socialist history, or where?

Hey, I know! I've written a bunch of versions of this personal story, but here's the most recent: my story of how I ended up finding myself, sort of accidentally, leading a march of college students, in my grand career of three months at an Experimental College at SUNY, and making a speech with a bullhorn -- at the age of 16 -- because a bunch of local Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigaders were trying their tactics by organizing a quite legitimate protest against the crap Food Service at the college, which the students were forced to buy into.

I did my quiet watching and listening Galactic Observer thing at the open meetings, and then, since I agreed that the food service thing was ripping us all off, making us pay money for bad food, while we could use the money to buy good food, knowingly allowed that I would come and help do flyers, because, um, I had these mimeo lettering guides, and stylus -- for some reason -- and knew how to use them.

And then I had to argue as to why boilerplate Avakian Mao language was not really the best agitprop language. I rewrote the text, since I was the one with the typewriter, and had the mimeo stencils. :-)

As a result of that, I ended up organizing the march, because no one else, again, was competent, and suddenly I'm in the middle of the square making a speech.

Then we got a new food service, and I dropped out of college, and went on to other things.

I tend to do things like this. Then, and since.

I thought you might enjoy this little story, and some day I must write it up!

Seize the means of production, comrade!

But only if we're allowed to dance.

Our little commie front organization -- their front organization, but with a legitimate cause to draw in the bourgeois so they could be exposed to the Vanguard -- was "Students For A Better Food Service."

I think that march was the first time I was threatened with arrest, but most definitely not the first or last time I was tear gassed. :-)

I think the first one was either this, or the lesser known one in May of the previous year, but what I ...recall best was the incredibly intense heat, and everyone sharing salt pills and water, along with, of course, so many other memories:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Mobilization_Committee_to_End_the_War_in_Vietnam

Early marches in the early sixties in NYC my parents carried me on shoulders, or I crawled under the legs of people to get up front to watch. Advantages of both being very small and very young.

I think I didn't mention here that my mother was a member of the CP until Molotov-Rippentrop; by the fifties, just Good Liberals.

But I was reading an awful lot of leftist history VERY young. Along with everything else I vacuumed up at every library I could get into. :-)

The above is a cut and paste from a response to a comment on Facebook on my link to this post, and thus we all circle around back to LJ's post on Facebook.

Sorry I haven't been around much. Busy with stuff like my own medical issues, life, a friend dying of brain cancer, quite rapidly, and suddenly last night learning that... well, she's still alive, so I shouldn't say more, and that should be clue enough, and otherwise my usual mixed messages. :-)

But I don't take well to old friends from 38 years or so ago in my life abruptly dying, or being about to die, or having just died, and especially when it's so sudden, and especially it's cancer.

Plus other stuff going on.

But lots of good stuff, too, including meeting some more ObWiers in person.

Also bad stuff, including a cancellation of a $50 sub to my blog, and why, yes, I've been writing lengthy personal comments at ObWi since 2003.

LJ, you'll notice I fixed your little ital problem not all that long after it happened, though.

However, at present, my ability to do that in certain cases is currently more limited.

I'd love to say more about Reconstruction, and the slave trade, and cotton, and the economy, but I am realizing that I really should use more writing time on posts then comments, within limits, but I'm also pretty committed to a variety of other commitments for at least the next... several days, and more stuff is getting locked in all the time, so we'll have to see.

On the other hand, I'm also getting more and more organized, so I may be able to fit more in. We'll find out together when we find out. :-)

I'm delighted there's been interesting conversation stirred up by my post. Keep it up! :-)

And, amusingly, the captcha code for my prior comment was SDS3W something, which I'll interpet as the internet suggesting it knows about SDS, and the Wobblies, which leads me to mention that I used to know Dick Ellington via science fiction fandom.

[...] The Army’s discharge pay and his own inclinations led Dick to trade Seattle (nothing but fucking water sports") for the somewhat more cosmopolitan horizons of New York, a city which would trans- form Dick into that most dangerous of creatures, a rebel with a cause. Dick’s love of science fiction (a lifelong love, one which he devoted much passion and thought to, giving my friends and me another bon mot, "publish your ish," meaning "publish the issue of your fan- zine") motivated him to join an informal club of offbeat types into the same scene, a scene that bordered on an even more radical kind of alternative reality, that of revolutionary anarchism. Through the sci-fi crowd, Dick met the "legends" and they were always real people, with real faults and limitations, to Dick) of the New York anarchist milieu: Sam and Esther Dolgoff, Russell Blackwell, Boris Yelensky, Bob Calese. It was also the place where he met his companion, collaborator and wife, Pat.

As he reminisced about this period of his life, Dick exhibited an almost senti- mental fondness for his participation in the Libertarian league, a group which in the 1950s (a grim time, to say the least, for anyone daring to be a "libertarian," when libertarian still meant "anarchist," "anti-authoritarian revolutionary," sworn enemy of Stalinists, fascists, cops) kept a certain black flag flying when all seemed dark. Dick lovingly described the personalities, conflicts, adventures of an unusual, international (and internationalist) group of people who tried to shed a little light on questions that were proscribed during the deadly "peace" known as the Cold War—questions such as the nature of social revolution, free association, freedom itself. Trifling matters to be sure— issues that were virtually excluded by the dominant ideologies of Cold War liberalism and Stalinism.

Through the Libertarian League—and Dick movingly described what he felt when he finally met people who "had the same fucking ideas I did politically, but they had a fucking political theory about it... and a history!"—Dick met up with History itself, in the sense that he came into direct contact with Spanish anarchists, with Americans who had fought in Spain on the anarchist side, with people who had known Kropotkin and Nestor Makhno, with the friends of Carlo Tresca and Emma Goldman. His and Pat’s interest in the ideas behind this history would lead them into contact with the English anarchists around Freedom Press; history would also give them the name they chose for their daughter, Marie Louise, named for the anarchist Marie-Louise Berneri, who is unjustly known today more for being the daughter of Camillo Berneri (the legendary Italian anarchist who died during the Spanish Revolution [probably murdered by Communists—typesetter]) than as the thinker and activist she was in her own right.

[...]

In all his years as a Wob (and he joined up in the mid ‘50s, serving a number of times on the Executive Board), Dick never thought that he was continuing some lost cause. He always hoped that others would take up the challenge that confronted him in his youth: How to respond to the world in a radical way, a real way. Dick’s life offers one such answer; there are undoubtedly many other ways to respond (and Dick was as non-exclusive as they come on the "anti-authoritarian" left, preferring a sense of the "movement" to any particular label). Dick didn’t tolerate bullshit from others; he wouldn’t have wanted any funereal incense to enshroud his name. The old s.o.b. died on Memorial Day weekend.

That was 1991. We never actually met, we were really just Friends of Friends, but it's a small world, and damn but it all always connects. Only connect.

Food for thought, ladies and germs? To be sure, we could discuss non-sexist language.

Why mention Joe Klein is Jewish in this context?

First of all, I'm Jewish, so if I'm critizing someone for something Jewish, I'm self-critizing -- then I can be accused, and have been, and will be, of being a "self-hating Jew" -- I'll argue against that, so now that's out of the way, except maybe not.

Second, let's talk about Joe Klein and the ability of people to both find commonalities, yet not.

As a generality, the history of Jewish/African-American relations in the U.S. is complicated. Both have been oppressed peoples, but, of course, in different ways, there have been many alliances, many tensions, different groups of people reacting differently at different times.

Spike Lee on Joe Klein and African-Americans.

James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner. Incidentally, some actual facts "Missippi Burning." More.

Alan Parker's movie is a wonderful movie, but absolutely crap history.

Joe Klein has a history of sticking his foot in his mouth as regards African-Americans and Jews.

It's also true that anyone who writes as much as Joe Klein, or, say, in a much tinier set of venues, me, will inevitably say a lot of smart things, a lot of idiotic things, and a lot of mixed stuff. I'm not condemning Joe Klein as a "racist"; anyone who is on the public record can be found to say such a mix.

But I don't think it's particularly unfair to, in the context of my post, where I'm quoting Coates on Klein, on the very issue of Klein's inappropriate (in my opinion) comparison of slavery to abortion, to bring up Klein's mixed history of often seeming to assume that because of both the often positive history of African-American/"black"/Jewish alliances, and his own personal "liberal" history of being anti-racist, that he himself can't also sometimes seem to assume that this immunizes him from saying things that sometimes come out rather stupidly insensitive, at best, about African-Americans.

Again, this sort of thing is something that, really, no one is immune to, and yet also there's no one who can't be legitimately called on it when they do it.

As I and others point out, Everybody's a little bit racist.

S'nuff of an answer?

Or should I have made these comments posts? And been more careful?

Donald, by the way, you may have assumed that the second comment I made on this post was a response to yours; it wasn't; you merely commented very quickly, and thanks, and good for you, but the fact is that I typed both in succession, and hadn't read yours yet. And I was just trying to be funny and mock the "X is ruining the site" joke that dates back to Charles Bird and the founding of Hating On Charles Bird.

Clearer?

Incidentally, I just had a little chat with Typepad to tell it that my previous comment wasn't spam. Typepad needs to get to know me better; I'm getting to know it better, after all, and isn't that how friendship works?

Or should I take this back to the Facebook thread?

And speaking of both African-American/Jewish history, and my personal history, my parents both worked for the NYC Board of Education, and I was young, but paying attention to all sides during the Ocean Hill/Brownsville strike.

Solidarity Forever, but, no, unions are not always right, and things are always complex.

One can read more about this: Troubling the Waters:
Black-Jewish Relations in the American Century
by
Cheryl Lynn Greenberg.

And so on.

Would we be a lot poorer if the supply were cut off, or would those parts of the economy react to a reduced supply of cheap, easy to intimidate labor by increasing automation?

One thing is for sure, they would not be replaced by Americans.

Total number of responders to the UFW Take Our Jobs campaign, as of July 2010:

Three.

Thanks Gary, I tried to fix it with my next comment, but it is nice that you went in and did that. Many thanks.

Typepad has gotten fussier and fussier as they "improve" it. Same thing with Blogger. I expect it's the same with Wordpress.

Same with Google and Yahoo, and Microsoft and Apple, yadda yadda. They all take the best ideas, from the other, and then make them their own, but some do it better than others.

Then it comes down to preference, although my leanings are towards Google's octopi generally being better.

But even they screw up, such as Buzz.

And I don't remotely pretend to keep up with these treadmills; I just run as fast as I can after them. :-)

And every time I practice a little, if I have a moment, I try experimenting a little more. So I learn a little more all the time.

And then it's obsolete. :-)

I'm still using a lot of Yahoo; transitioning takes a lot of time and energy, though I kinda am trying to move to Google stuff, while still learning Yahoo's newer tricks. And so on.

The world keeps changing faster and faster, and I hate being one of those people stuck in the past, though like anyone, I don't always welcome change much. It does take work and effort.

But the alternative is... being stuck in the past.

Not so say that I don't love investigating and learning from the past. It's just that I want to visit, not permanently dwell. :-)

"I give you the Capitol Steps' Guide to Politically Correct Dating in the 1990's."

This seems oddly familiar. It must be deja vu, if not you.

What he does assert is that, as quoted above (though it doesn't appear to be part of the quote because it's not inset as far as the rest of the quote)
For the record, if one uses Typepad's rich text editor, it will fight you on many fronts if you don't know all its tricks. I know, so far, only some of its tricks, but I'm learning. It is non-obvious.

And every time you go to make a correction or revision, if you haven't tricked it carefully, or know its tricks, it'll revert to the same, ah, wonderful previous format, which means all the paragraphs and spacing run back together. So you have to separate them all out again, by hand, each time.

A work around is to first use the rich text editor, then open the HTML editor, stick p tags and close p tags within the div tags, then jump out of the HMTL editor, and that usually fixes it.

But you still have to do it by hand, and me, I have to learn what little more HTML I do be sheer expermimentation, poking, using logic, and my usual autodidactic techniques, and see what CSS might fall on my brain and crash it, at the same time.

By all means, if anyone would like to dive into the software, and fix things up, I CERTAINLY INVITE YOU.

But anyone who thinks blogging is like commenting, or simply writing stuff down on a piece of paper, well, you must know this stuff better than I do, which isn't hard at all, because I know diddly; I just now how to xkcd 627.

">http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/tech_support_cheat_sheet.png">

Also, blogging means knowing how to register with search engines, keep up with the changing software options, so blogs can have, say, options for readers to use links without having to write the html themselves in commons, and other post-2003 innovations.

It's all quite easy to do, really. If you care. And... it's your blog.

This is a group blog.

Sorry about the size of that image; I know how to fix it, but too tired and owwie. Maybe tomorrow, except I expect to be very busy tomorrow, but it may only take a gif, er, jiff, so we'll, um, see.

Meanwhile, LJ:

But that would be a pretty short comment, so I will pick up the thread from where Gary said 'the meme must die' (which I am assuming means 'political correctness should not be considered an insult'?)
In short, "political correctness" was a Maoist term used in "self-criticism" (go stick a pointy hat on your head and sit in the corner for a time out, while people pelt you with rocks and kill you), adopted by American neo-Maoists who loved dem that little ol red book, because they knew squat about what was actually going on under Mao, and particularly the ever so not wonderful Cultural Revolution, and so adopted the term seriously, leading the sane people on the left to use it in mockery, leaving the insane people outside to think it was being used seriously, and then they used it to mock the left as if all leftists were serious Maoists, leading to accusations that all attempts at basic courtesy were Evil Insidious Mind Control Attempt by The Great Lefty Commie Conspiracy, meaning the whole thing has long been a giant cr*p load of bollocks, being I would love to see the meme die die die die.

I don't know if this is any clearer, but it's what you get from me at 3 a.m. when I can't sleep. :-)

Meanwhile, I laze about, living a life of utter unbusyness, unencumbered by family, prestigious job, and remaining a man of weatlh and taste.

No busyness at all. Everyone knows that. Especially if they don't read comments.

Obscure? Me? No, not really. Just a bit of self-criticism.

In short, "political correctness" was a Maoist term used in "self-criticism" (go stick a pointy hat on your head and sit in the corner for a time out, while people pelt you with rocks and kill you), adopted by American neo-Maoists who loved dem that little ol red book, because they knew squat about what was actually going on under Mao, and particularly the ever so not wonderful Cultural Revolution, and so adopted the term seriously, leading the sane people on the left to use it in mockery, leaving the insane people outside to think it was being used seriously, and then they used it to mock the left as if all leftists were serious Maoists, leading to accusations that all attempts at basic courtesy were Evil Insidious Mind Control Attempt by The Great Lefty Commie Conspiracy, meaning the whole thing has long been a giant cr*p load of bollocks, being I would love to see the meme die die die die.

As an older, maybe not much wiser, lefty with SDS/IWW membership to prove it, I can attest that is exactly Precisely Correct.

Gary, I only mentioned the formatting of the quote because it confused me for a bit, and I thought it might confuse others, too. It wasn't intended as "Gary sucks at blogging (and is a vacuous, toffee-nosed, malodorous, pervert)." I don't think it's easy and wouldn't dare attempt it myself. I dig you, man.

My memory matches those of Matt McIrvin and others.

I won't dispute that the term "politically correct" was used by neo-Maoists and other such fellow-travelers in the 60s and 70s; I wasn't there, but I believe it--it stands to reason that the people who turned it into a joke later must have been basing the joke on a real expression.

But by the time it reached mainstream usage, it was a joke. A bit of gentle self-deprecation, poking fun at the arguably excessive gentility of language of the left.

I wasn't involved in the radical end of politics in the early 80s, but I knew lots of mainstream liberals who tried to use non-racist and non-sexist language and then jokingly used the term to compare themselves to those overly-serious radicals of a prior decade. This had as much relevance to actual communism as the term "grammar nazi" does to actual fascism.

Which, of course, didn't stop Rush Limbaugh from using it as a hammer to beat the left with.

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Whatnot


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