Thursday, May 11, 2006


The blunting effects of slavery upon the slaveholder's moral perceptions are known and conceded, the world over; and a privileged class, an aristocracy, is but a band of slaveholders under another name. This has a harsh sound, and yet should not be offensive to any -- even to the noble himself -- unless the fact itself be an offense: for the statement simply formulates a fact. The repulsive feature of slavery is the THING, not its name. One needs but to hear an aristocrat speak of the classes that are below him to recognize -- and in but indifferently modified measure -- the very air and tone of the actual slaveholder; and behind these are the slaveholder's spirit, the slaveholder's blunted feeling. They are the result of the same cause in both cases: the possessor's old and inbred custom of regarding himself as a superior being.

Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

I am currently listening to the book quoted above, courtesy of librivox (, and I was struck by the truth in Mark Twain’s words.

Americans are at once both the cause and the solution to the world’s ills. Like a knot holding fast the gates to paradise, once unpicked, they no longer impede the pilgrims eager to get in.

The nub of the problem is that Americans genuinely believe they are better people. A better country, the best in fact. The relentless wall-to-wall American media feed and reinforce this delusion from every side.

Yet it is unquestionably a delusion. American healthcare is among the worst in the minority world; average life spans are lower, infant deaths on par with some majority world countries and one of the largest and fastest growing wealth gaps on the planet.

Of course there are a minority of Americans that are happy with that status quo, but the vast majority are simply ignorant of their situation. They are quite literally living the life of the "coppertop" of matrix fame. They supply the system with power, and although they are largely unaware of its existence, the have at least the vague smug sense that they are better than "the rest" whomever that might be.

I have been trying to grasp and articulate for years what that indefinable sense is, and I think I have it. It is the attitude of the slaveholder. Kill Iraqis for ephemeral minority world interests? Sure. Threaten Iran because they make us nervous? No brainer. Drop a nuke on those uppity sons of bitches if they get out of hand? You betcha. Need evidence? To lynch some nigger? Not likely.

There it is in a nutshell, and it's ugly. The good news is that it's not a majority opinion, not even in the US. Most Americans and Europeans are decent, and genuinely good people, as were many slaveholders. Once they understand how awful the system is, how it works to oppress the weakest in society, they will work alongside the rest of us it to tear it down.

And the system is awful. Roughly 6.6 Billion people live on Earth. Of those about 1.5 billion, mostly Americans and Europeans, live lives of relative ease and comfort. The other 5 billion or so live stunted, truncated lives in varying levels of discomfort, desperation and poverty.

Yet, Collectively the nations of the world spend over $1 trillion a year on the military, weapons systems, tanks, guns and all the assorted paraphernalia of war.

The notable difference between the Irish Famine of the 19th century and other humanitarian crises, was that it occurred within the imperial homeland, at a time well into the modern prosperity of the Victorian and Industrial age. In our connected world, were every happening is instantly visible, the details known and the horror exposed, where food to feed and armies to protect exist in vast numbers, every new outrage is an Irish Famine.

Visible, preventable and genocide by stealth. The world needs to change, and it has to start with the slaveholders first. Start untying that knot ….

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