Dave Killion — September 7, 2015
As I’ve mentioned previously, the Kindle reading app enables readers to find passages that are frequently highlighted. I have noticed that these popular highlights tend to occur most heavily in the early chapters, and then gradually taper off into nothing. Such is the case with our current reading. In this fourth essay, “Germans and History”, Sowell argues that
“… Germany should not be defined solely by the 12-year period of Adolf Hitler‘s régime from 1933–45. Sowell argues that anti-semitism was not commonly held by ordinary Germans in the interwar period, and that suspicion and hatred of Jews was relatively isolated to the Nazi Party. Sowell further argues that Hitler was highly inconsistent in his views toward a unified Germany – while he strenuously argued for annexation of the German-dominated Sudetenland, German-dominated portions of Italy such as Tyrol were ignored as Hitler preferred his alliance with Benito Mussolini.”
From this essay, there is only a single frequently highlighted section –
“Planned parenthood was founded not simply as an organization for limiting the size of families in general but more particularly to reduce the reproduction of the black population in the United States, as Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger herself noted. Such ideas were common among intellectuals who consider themselves “progressive” at the beginning of the 20th century.”
Sowell offers this as evidence that racism in its modern sense of belief in a genetic inferiority and superiority of particular races was not restricted to Germany nor limited in its application to Jews.
And here are a couple of passages I found particularly interesting –
“This cultural persistence among Germans around the world represented a loyalty to the particular subculture of the locality from which the had come, not a political loyalty to the German nation.”
This seems to me much like libertarianism, in which libertarians are loyal to their own particular subculture of individual sovereignty, rather than a political loyalty to any nation.
“… where the Germans were greatly outnumbered, and especially where the great majority of the German immigrants were male, then interactions among groups, including intermarriage, eroded the German culture.”
This suggests that if one is libertarian, and wishes to preserve libertarian culture, it may be best to befriend other libertarians, marry one, and produce little libertarians.
Dave Killion — September 2, 2015
The Victoria LBC recently discussed “The Real History of Slavery”, which is the third essay in Thomas Sowell’s “Black Rednecks and White Liberals“. As per the Kindle reading app, here are some popular highlights;
“…racism was neither necessary nor sufficient for slavery, who’s origins antedated racism by centuries. Racism was a result, not a cause, of slavery and not all societies that enslaved people of another race became pervaded with racism to the extent that the American south did.”
“People were enslaved because they were vulnerable, not because of how they looked.”
“…within Western civilization, the principal impetus for the abolition of slavery came first from very conservative religious activists – people who would today be called “the religious right.” Clearly, the story is not “politically correct” in today’s terms. Hence it is ignored, as if it never happened.”
In addition, I found the following passages notable;
“Over the centuries, as more and more territories around the world consolidated into nation states with their own armies and navies, raiding those territories to capture and enslave the people who lived within them became more hazardous in itself and also risked military retaliation against the countries from which the raiders came.”
“When the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire first raised the issue of abolishing slavery with the sultan in 1840, he reported this response: … I have been heard with extreme astonishment accompanied with a smile at a proposition for destroying an institution closely inter-woven with the frame of society in this country, and intimately connected with the law and with the habits and even the religion of all classes, from the Sultan himself on down to the lowest peasant.” (Personal note – I found this striking because of how completely the prevailing sentiment has changed concerning slavery. And if this can be done with slavery, it can be done with tyranny.)
“It was the abolitionists doctrinaire stances and heedless disregard of consequences, both of their policy in their rhetoric, which marginalized them, even in the North and even among those who were seeking to find ways to phase out the institution of slavery, so as to free those being held in bondage without unleashing a war between the states or a war between the races.”
“… nowhere did Burke view this as an abstract question without considering the social context and the consequences and dangers of that context. He rejected the idea that one could simply free the slaves by fiat as a matter of abstract principal, since he abhorred abstract principles on political issues in general. Thomas Jefferson likewise regarded emancipation, all by itself, as being more like abandonment than liberation for people “who’s habits have been formed into slavery.” “
“Even at the individual level, it was not always legally possible for a slaveowner to simply set a slave free, for authorities had to approve in many states. When the motion was introduced into the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1769 to allow slave owners to free their slaves unilaterally – a motion seconded by Thomas Jefferson – there was anger at such a suggestion and the motion was roundly defeated. An unlimited power to release slaves into the larger society was considered too dangerous to leave in private hands.”
“In later times, as slavery became evermore repugnant to people throughout Western civilization and even beyond, apologists for the South would stress other factors.” (Personal note – I think Sowell might be in error here. One can find instances in which contemporaries of the ‘Civil War’ who were strident critics of slavery insist that the Federal Government’s motivations had very little to do with slavery, and a great deal to do with cementing federal power. Lysander Spooner is a good example.)