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Tag Archives: slavery

The struggle for the means of reproduction

Recently read the sort of work of history I particularly enjoy–one that gets into how past societies and states actually worked. Edited by historians Walter Scheidel and Ian Morris, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires: State Power from Assyria to Byzantium has essays on the Neo-Assyrian, Achaemenid Persian, Athenian, Roman and Eastern Roman (“Byzantine”) empires (the last […]

Social bully politics

I have previously articulated what I call the paradox of politics (or the paradox of rulership)–we need the state to protect us from social predators but the state itself is the most dangerous social predator. The paradox can never be solved, merely managed more or less well. The guardian delusion The delusion that one can solve […]

Apologies for absence

The combination of the Melbourne heatwave, being very busy at work (having to get up a 5.30am in the morning to beat the traffic then doing a full day’s presentation teaching takes it out of me) and an obsessive writing project have meant I have not been around much.  Apologies for that. When I have […]

Letter from a former slave to his master

Today I came across an interesting post, via Letters of Note, which details a letter which a former slave, Jourdon Anderson, wrote to his former master, Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee. Colonel Anderson had written to Jourdon Anderson, requesting him to come back to work on his farm. According to sources of the […]

Ambiguous victory

The war aim of the victorious North in the the War Between the States was simple — that the Union not be divided. As Abraham Lincoln put it, the Union position was “We won’t go out of the Union, and you shan’t”. The Northern victory was, indeed, the Union victory. Freeing the slaves was a natural outcome […]

The past really is a foreign country

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. (L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between) I was forcibly reminded of the truth of Hartley’s statement while undertaking some legal research today. I have been conducting research into the doctrine of specific performance, which is when a court orders a party to a contract to perform […]

The taxman cometh (but only for what he can see)

There have been two great transformations in human affairs. One is the Neolithic Revolution, the transition from foraging to farming. This is a transformation which is still going on, as there are still some foraging groups around the planet (though it is a vanishing way of life). The second is the Industrial Revolution, the shift […]

The law tells it as it was

One of the more irritating historical memes is the preposterous notion that the American Civil War was not “really” about slavery, it was about tariffs and states rights. Fortunately, it is easy to demolish this claim for the historical canard it is. All one has to do is to read the Constitution of the Confederate […]