Friday, December 16, 2011

An Abolished Choice

When race-based slavery was abolished in the colonies and rebel republics of the Americas, black men lost an important right. That was the right to sell themselves into slavery. In most times and places where slavery has existed, this extreme choice has been available to men faced with starvation, or prison, or murder at the hands of neighbours who will not tolerate a free man.

I will leave aside the obvious question of whether we have really only exchanged this individual right for a collective right - as epitomised by famous book titles such as The Servile State and The Road to Serfdom - to make the obvious analogy suggested by the historical preoccupations of this blog:

The social conditions that would lead a woman to chose to kill her unborn child are as pathological as the social conditions that would lead a man to chose to sell himself into slavery.

Seven years and a month and a day ago I wrote this.


Oh, and I will miss Christopher Hitchens. Here he writes about Borges.


Marco said...

I think you ought to reconsider rejoining the dark side of FaceBook. Just as an aside, there are two ways of deleting ones account. One way just deactivates it so that in the future you can reactivate it with the same settings. The more complete way, also called "FaceBook Suicide" involves deleting all traces that you were there in the first place, enabling a clean start with different settings, if you ever so choose to come back. The latter is quite complicated, so I am not sure which way you would have gone.

Pteriforever said...

I think I did the Facebook Suicide, after finding a convenient link on how to do it. The problem is that all my relations would find me again eventually.

I once walked out of a Tarantino movie because it wasn't violent enough and I quit Facebook for a similar reason - in both instances, murder of innocents not punished outraged my sense of justice and made me lose sympathy for the surviving characters.

*You* should consider joining the dark side of Twitter. (@cfellows65536)

I would like to be brave and somehow integrate the two halves of my online persona but it is tricksy.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I am not Pteriforever, it said I would be asked to sign into my Google account but it just automatically went to the young fella's :/

Lexifab said...

I think I too will mourn the loss of Hitchens the essayist. He had a wonderful way with words, a fierce intellect and a genuis for asserting an argument.

I will not miss Hitchens the bullying polemicist though, because that guy - like anybody who assumes the absolute certainty of his opinion and ignores evidence to its contrary - was an absolute arsehole. In my observation he was that guy an awful lot in the last dozen or so years.

(Yes, even when it was stuff I agreed with, like a lot of his writing on atheism).

As an aside, I am working my way through the apparently-complete works of G K Chesterton. His facility with language is similarly exquisite, but I find myself far more often charmed than confronted when he expresses ideas that my modern (cf jaded, cynical, morally empty) sensibilities find outmoded.

Lexifab said...

Which Tarantino movie, by the way?

Marco said...

Yes. I've been meaning to join twitter for months now. I don't have a problem with privacy. The problem is thinking that anything is ever private or confidential for long. I don't really have a problem with having an "alter-ego", either. Just don't think that it protects you in any way privacy wise, so I don't bother.

Dr Clam said...

Hiya Lexifab!

I am reading Hitchens' last collection of essays "Arguably" which is pretty good with a few uneven patches. I was never tempted to read his atheist polemic since I heard that it was even more bullying intimidation-by-anecdote than Dawkins' effort.

It irritates me how many of his eulogists are at pains to point out that they didn't agree with him about the Iraq War or Mother Teresa, implying that they agreed with him about other stuff. He did write a lot of things that were poorly thought out, as you do when you write such a lot, but his opinions on the Iraq War and Mother Teresa were of a piece with his particular view of human dignity, and he went to a great deal of trouble to show how they were self-consistent with his worldview. So all those disclaimers tell me is that the eulogists are susceptible to peer pressure.

I know I have written before that I consider reading Chesterton a kind of sanity test. There are at least twenty seven volumes of his collected works so they should keep you busy for a while...

Noel-Who-Was should read Chesterton's "History of England" when he is done with the Qur'an, if you are reading this Nathanael!

"Dusk Till Dawn" was the movie. The decent crim brother had just come back to find that the psycho crim brother had murdered the hostage. And the decent crim didn't say: 'She was someone's *mother*, you prick' and shoot the psycho brother in the knee, and then after a moment he didn't shoot him again in the gut, and the camera didn't lovingly dwell on him thrashing about on the floor in agony in a pool of blood and shit for about thirty seconds before the decent brother shot him one last time in the head. So I walked out.

Vaclav Havel I will miss too.

Marco said...

Nathanael will not likely every read this. However he might be more inclined in the twittersphere, so I will pass on your twitter handle if I may.

Lexifab said...

Yeah, DTD was uneven, at best. Way too much of Tarantino himself, for one thing (casting himself as the murderous prick in question). Much better for all concerned when he stays off the screen.

I think he was demonstrably wrong much of the time on the subject of the Iraq war (then and now), but of course you knew that. I have no strong opinions either way about his views on Mother Theresa, other than that he ascribes to her less-than-salutory motivations which are not without precedent in the arena of international development.

But, you know, the man had a lot of opinions. Even for his most ardent readers, there are bound to be a few that strike a rank chord. However I would certainly agree that of the full spectrum of intellectual flaws to which he might arguably have fallen prey, susceptibility to peer pressure would not have been the one to keep Hitchens lying awake at night.

(I won't pretend that I am not subject to peer pressure, BTW. It's the price I pay for being open-minde- er, I mean a lazy thinker).

I have been reading Chesterton on my kindle for 2 weeks and have yet to progress beyond 1% of the whole. This could take a while.

Lexifab said...

Clam: Robin Laws on Hitchens sums this discussion up pretty well: