Re: [sixties-l] Re: Plantation to the Penitentary.

From: William Mandel (
Date: Wed Jun 21 2000 - 22:16:59 CUT

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    I agree most strongly. Ask any African-American whether s/he'd
    rather be a slave or free, with all the limitations racism
       Maggie would have had abolition purely on moral grounds, but
    that's only one of many human motivations. Think of the meaning
    of hundreds sof thousands of Union soldiers who marched to the
    front singing:
            "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
            "But his soul goes marching on."
       That does not mean they were purified of racism or that most
    of them did not practice it when the war was over. But they did
    not return to the pre-war practice of mobbing and, on some
    occasions, killing Abolitionists.
       "Pure" leaps forward simply do not occur. If one waits for
    consciousness on any issue to reach that level, nothing will ever
                                    William Mandel

    Ted Morgan wrote:
    > Maggie (hi again!), you're very right to put the abolition of slavery in proper
    > context of subsequent years and years of oppression by other means. By the
    > same token, though, if we can't point to any momentous outcomes of mobilizing
    > against oppression (because oppression still remains) we run the very real risk
    > of a cynical fatalism --'why bother?' I think the abolition of slavery is a
    > great victory for progressive forces and shouldn't be dismissed because of the
    > horrific forms of oppression that persisted. "Owning other people" is no
    > longer justifiable in common discourse, whereas it once was --hard as that is
    > to imagine in today's world (exceptions, of course, still crop up). Now if we
    > could get to the point where common discourse considered "wage slavery" and the
    > huge income/wealth differential, and debilitating poverty in the same light....
    > In a sense, I think the 60s have succumbed to the same washing, at least in the
    > eyes of quite a few young people who don't know what the world was like before
    > the 60s: i.e., the Movement failed, so why bother to get involved if all that
    > noise and action didn't accomplish much.
    > My two bits,
    > Ted
    > Maggie Jaffe wrote:
    > > Dear Sixties People:
    > >
    > > Good to see / read a number of friends.
    > >
    > > I must take issue with the statement below
    > > >
    > > >In a recent post, Lynne Patrick Doyle recently submitted the following to
    > > >the list:
    > > >
    > > >>The American abolition of slavery was an extraordinary moment in the
    > > >>history of humanity of a people taking a united stand against the
    > > >>enslavement of their fellow human beings.
    > > >>
    > > >>It is indeed a starkly moral, an incandescent, moment.
    > >
    > > With the abolition of slavery, the labor pools were filled by "emancipated"
    > > slaves who were arrested on various charges like vagrancy, for example,
    > > because they didn't have the requisite 50 dollars. Freed slaves became
    > > part of the shackled road gangs. All of the roads in Georgia were laid out
    > > by prison "slaves." I really need to go back to Zinn on this, but to
    > > paraphrase Malcolm X: African-Americans "moved up" from the Plantation to
    > > the Penitentary. The policy of using cheap and replaceable prison labor is
    > > very much in effect today where the most volatile and rebellious segment of
    > > our society-young males-are incarcerated over antiquated and cynical drug
    > > laws (Barry McCaffery, our drug "czar," executed Iraqui soldiers and
    > > civilians *after* the ceasefire in the Persian Gulf. I digress).
    > > According to Joe Grant of Bookzen, 650,000 people were arrested on
    > > marijuana charges in the last year alone. Quite rightly, there is almost
    > > world-wide condemenation of the death penalty in the U.S.-and those ghastly
    > > cells are mostly filled with men of color, the poor, and the retarded.
    > >
    > > A "starkly moral, an incandescent, moment" sounds lovely, but it just
    > > brings to mind of the contrasting worldview between the wretched and the
    > > complacent.

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