Another Day.


He wakes up. He wonders how many slaves help him through the day. His building his apartment his electricity his water his gas his computer his software his notepads his pens his books his clothes his toothpaste his toothbrush his soap his shampoo his coffee his coffee maker his fridge his oven his plates his mugs his sausage his egg his bread his toaster his toast his socks his underwear his tshirt his shoes his pantaloons his antihistamine drug his bag his checkbook his wallet his check cards his credit cards his store cards his driving license the elevator the sidewalk the escalator his metro card the escalator the platform the metro train his neighbor his smartphone his office building the coffee the water the paper the computers the technical equipment his food his lunch his snacks his sandwich his ice cream his pencils his pens his coloring pencils his honey his cinnamon his hot water his ticket stub the movie the actors the technicians the staff the lights the hopes the dreams the slaves the chattel the trapped the debt bonded the employee the tomato pickers the trafficked the shackled the dead he has no answers he fears the answers he wilfully ignores the possibility of the worst answers he goes to sleep.

Liberty, Liberalism and Surveillance: a historic overview | openDemocracy


To be free we not only need to have no fear of interference but no fear that there could be interference. But that latter assurance is precisely what cannot be given if our actions are under surveillance. So long as surveillance is going on, we always could have our freedom of action limited if someone chose to limit it. The fact that they may not make that choice does not make us any less free, because we are not free from surveillance and the possible uses that can be made of it. Only when we are free from such possible invasions of our rights are we free; and this freedom can be guaranteed only where there is no surveillance.

 


I feel that with every post I get but one step further away from that green card I crave.

Liberty, Liberalism and Surveillance: a historic overview | openDemocracy


knowledgeequalsblackpower:

At the end of the 18th century, slavery in the United States was a declining institution. Tobacco planters in Virginia and Maryland had exhausted their soil and were switching to wheat. Wage labor was increasingly replacing slave labor in both the urban and the rural areas of the upper South.

And then came cotton.

The first part of the story is well known: the invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s and the concomitant rise of industrial capacity in Britain and the urban North made possible the profitable cultivation of cotton in a vast region of the lower South (Native land), one that stretched from South Carolina to Louisiana, which came to be called the “Cotton Kingdom.”

Between 1803 and 1838, the United States, most famously personified by Andrew Jackson, fought a multifront war in the Deep South. In those years, the United States suppressed slave revolts and pacified whites still loyal to the European powers that had once controlled the region. These wars culminated in the ethnic cleansing of the Deep South. By the end of the 1830s, the Seminole, the Creek, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw and the Cherokee had all been “removed” to lands west of the Mississippi. Their expropriated land provided the foundation of the leading sector of the global economy in the first half of the 19th century.

In the 1830s, hundreds of millions of acres of conquered land were surveyed and put up for sale by the United States. This vast privatization of the public domain touched off one of the greatest economic booms in the history of the world up to that time. Investment capital from Britain, the Continent and the Northern states poured into the land market. “Under this stimulating process, prices rose like smoke,” the journalist Joseph Baldwin wrote in his memoir, “The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi.”

Without slavery, however, the survey maps of the General Land Office would have remained a sort of science-fiction plan for a society that could never happen. Between 1820 and 1860 more than a million enslaved people were transported from the upper to the lower South, the vast majority by the venture-capitalist slave traders the slaves called “soul drivers.” The first wave cleared the region for cultivation. “Forests were literally dragged out by the roots,” the former slave John Parker remembered in “His Promised Land.” Those who followed planted the fields in cotton, which they then protected, picked, packed and shipped — from “sunup to sundown” every day for the rest of their lives.

Eighty-five percent of the cotton Southern slaves picked was shipped to Britain. The mills that have come to symbolize the Industrial Revolution and the slave-tilled fields of the South were mutually dependent. Every year, British merchant banks advanced millions of pounds to American planters in anticipation of the sale of the cotton crop. Planters then traded credit in pounds for the goods they needed to get through the year, many of them produced in the North. “From the rattle with which the nurse tickles the ear of the child born in the South, to the shroud that covers the cold form of the dead, everything comes to us from the North,” said one Southerner.

As slaveholders supplied themselves (and, much more meanly, their slaves) with Northern goods, the credit originally advanced against cotton made its way north, into the hands of New York and New England merchants who used it to purchase British goods. Thus were Indian land, African-American labor, Atlantic finance and British industry synthesized into racial domination, profit and economic development on a national and a global scale.When the cotton crop came in short and sales failed to meet advanced payments, planters found themselves indebted to merchants and bankers. Slaves were sold to make up the difference. The mobility and salability of slaves meant they functioned as the primary form of collateral in the credit-and-cotton economy of the 19th century.

It is not simply that the labor of enslaved people underwrote 19th-century capitalism. Enslaved people were the capital: four million people worth at least $3 billion in 1860, which was more than all the capital invested in railroads and factories in the United States combined. Seen in this light, the conventional distinction between slavery and capitalism fades into meaninglessness.

We are accustomed to reckoning the legacy of slavery in the United States in terms of black disadvantage. The centrality of slavery to the nation’s economic development, however, suggests that any calculation of the nation’s unpaid debt for slavery must include a measure of the wealth it produced, of advantage as well as disadvantage. The United States, as W. E. B. Du Bois wrote, was “built upon a groan.” (via New York Times)

Capitalism as Slavery. Slavery as Capitalism.


knowledgeequalsblackpower:

At the end of the 18th century, slavery in the United States was a declining institution. Tobacco planters in Virginia and Maryland had exhausted their soil and were switching to wheat. Wage labor was increasingly replacing slave labor in both the urban and the rural areas of the upper South.

And then came cotton.

The first part of the story is well known: the invention of the cotton gin in the 1790s and the concomitant rise of industrial capacity in Britain and the urban North made possible the profitable cultivation of cotton in a vast region of the lower South (Native land), one that stretched from South Carolina to Louisiana, which came to be called the “Cotton Kingdom.”

Between 1803 and 1838, the United States, most famously personified by Andrew Jackson, fought a multifront war in the Deep South. In those years, the United States suppressed slave revolts and pacified whites still loyal to the European powers that had once controlled the region. These wars culminated in the ethnic cleansing of the Deep South. By the end of the 1830s, the Seminole, the Creek, the Chickasaw, the Choctaw and the Cherokee had all been “removed” to lands west of the Mississippi. Their expropriated land provided the foundation of the leading sector of the global economy in the first half of the 19th century.

In the 1830s, hundreds of millions of acres of conquered land were surveyed and put up for sale by the United States. This vast privatization of the public domain touched off one of the greatest economic booms in the history of the world up to that time. Investment capital from Britain, the Continent and the Northern states poured into the land market. “Under this stimulating process, prices rose like smoke,” the journalist Joseph Baldwin wrote in his memoir, “The Flush Times of Alabama and Mississippi.”

Without slavery, however, the survey maps of the General Land Office would have remained a sort of science-fiction plan for a society that could never happen. Between 1820 and 1860 more than a million enslaved people were transported from the upper to the lower South, the vast majority by the venture-capitalist slave traders the slaves called “soul drivers.” The first wave cleared the region for cultivation. “Forests were literally dragged out by the roots,” the former slave John Parker remembered in “His Promised Land.” Those who followed planted the fields in cotton, which they then protected, picked, packed and shipped — from “sunup to sundown” every day for the rest of their lives.

Eighty-five percent of the cotton Southern slaves picked was shipped to Britain. The mills that have come to symbolize the Industrial Revolution and the slave-tilled fields of the South were mutually dependent. Every year, British merchant banks advanced millions of pounds to American planters in anticipation of the sale of the cotton crop. Planters then traded credit in pounds for the goods they needed to get through the year, many of them produced in the North. “From the rattle with which the nurse tickles the ear of the child born in the South, to the shroud that covers the cold form of the dead, everything comes to us from the North,” said one Southerner.

As slaveholders supplied themselves (and, much more meanly, their slaves) with Northern goods, the credit originally advanced against cotton made its way north, into the hands of New York and New England merchants who used it to purchase British goods. Thus were Indian land, African-American labor, Atlantic finance and British industry synthesized into racial domination, profit and economic development on a national and a global scale.When the cotton crop came in short and sales failed to meet advanced payments, planters found themselves indebted to merchants and bankers. Slaves were sold to make up the difference. The mobility and salability of slaves meant they functioned as the primary form of collateral in the credit-and-cotton economy of the 19th century.

It is not simply that the labor of enslaved people underwrote 19th-century capitalism. Enslaved people were the capital: four million people worth at least $3 billion in 1860, which was more than all the capital invested in railroads and factories in the United States combined. Seen in this light, the conventional distinction between slavery and capitalism fades into meaninglessness.

We are accustomed to reckoning the legacy of slavery in the United States in terms of black disadvantage. The centrality of slavery to the nation’s economic development, however, suggests that any calculation of the nation’s unpaid debt for slavery must include a measure of the wealth it produced, of advantage as well as disadvantage. The United States, as W. E. B. Du Bois wrote, was “built upon a groan.” (via New York Times)

Capitalism as Slavery. Slavery as Capitalism.

Culture of Illusion – It’s Not Easy Being Green.


interesting use of language and syntax.

The men who joined Washington’s army were young and mostly poor farmers, fishermen, and artisans; some were Africans.

Now I am not an expert in American history and the National Museum of American History in Washington DC is, no doubt, full of experts in history. I do, however, have a couple of points to make about this small sentence on their wall in their American War of Indepence section.

a. Why is the word Africans put after a semi-colon as if it were:

  1. an afterthought
  2. a profession.

b. The sentence is written as if Africans were just hanging around in America waiting to help Washington free the colony from the draconian yoke of their British overlords. From what little I remember I think all those first and second generation Africans were, at the time, mostly there not of their own free will.

c. Africans fought on both sides of the War of Independence because both sides promised freedom from actual slavery if the above mentioned Africans did so.

I am sure I am being both ignorant and churlish that The National Museum of American History should make reference to it’s sordid past at every turn of it’s very well designed corridors. It is a place where a recreation of the Greensboro Lunch Counter sit-in is but meters away from Kermit the Frog trapped in a perspex box. Inbetween the two the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. In another room the original Old Glory, the fine flag in a low lit room, the national anthem playing softly in hushed religious tones as you walk up to pay respect to a very beautiful idea of freedom; hard won. An idea of freedom that even now has difficulty manifesting itself in every day life.

Why should they mention slavery at every turn when Britain never mentions it’s involvement in slavery? For the British the common story is that we stopped slavery. How little we wish to remember, how we enjoy our ignorance throwing glances of superiority at our old colonies. We like to forget that the Americans were British before they were American. We like to forget that we helped finesse and perfect the insidious triangle between Africa, America and our own island before we found it to be economically inefficient. We like to forget that we took tea from one ancient Empire in exchange for opium and used another great Empire as a garden in which to cultivate that tea. How civilised is that little bag of dried leaf. How civilised are we.

The National Museum of American History is a building of mythmaking and all nations are guilty of that. No one likes to look into their dark rotten heart. Let the kitchz rub up against the profound. Let the hard won battles of the oppressed be preserved in amber; made anodyne and safe – nuetered and free of all context. It seems like the meat and the marrow has been sucked and licked of the bones of the past and all we are left with are clean plastic moments. Let the bravery of those young men and women who risked their lives drinking a milkshake at a bar sit as equals with Kermit the frog and his struggles. We all like Kermit the frog. What could be so wrong with that? These things are in the past, these issues have been solved. Move along please. Bow to the flag, respect the frog. Gape at the slippers. Wonder at the unusual syntax. It’s not easy being green.

I am sure that I am being both ignorant and churlish.


Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control, — in prison or jail, on probation or parole – than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. There are millions of African-Americans now cycling in and out of prisons and jails or under correctional control. In major American cities today, more than half of working-age African-American men or either under correctional control or branded felons and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives.

legal scholar Michelle Alexander. On Monday’s Fresh Air, Alexander talks about how the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the War on Drugs has undermined many of the gains of the Civil Rights movement. (via nprfreshair)

Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control, — in prison or jail, on probation or parole – than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began. There are millions of African-Americans now cycling in and out of prisons and jails or under correctional control. In major American cities today, more than half of working-age African-American men or either under correctional control or branded felons and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives.

legal scholar Michelle Alexander. On Monday’s Fresh Air, Alexander talks about how the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the War on Drugs has undermined many of the gains of the Civil Rights movement. (via nprfreshair)