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Lincoln could not have "bought out" the South, nor can we "buy out" our oligarchs - Elf M. Sternberg
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Lincoln could not have "bought out" the South, nor can we "buy out" our oligarchs
Ta-Nehisi Coates has a fascinating article in which he argues with Ron Paul's canard that it would have been better for all concerned that Lincoln had "bought out" the South's slave population. Coates points to a graph on the value of slave labor to the south, showing how their economic value had grown a hundredfold in a handful of generations.

Coates' main observation is an economic one: the US could never have bought out the South because, by being a buyer determined to buy, the seller can raise the price beyond the buyer's ruination. If the buyer maintains an immovable moral obligation to keep buying, he's doomed.

But there's a second observation here that's just as interesting: as the economic value of slavery accelerated, so too did the journalistic and intellectual machinery of slavery turn to convincing itself and the rest of the world that it was doing its slaves a favor. In 1830, slavery was viewed as a moral failing driven by economic necessity; by 1845, the South was arguing that it had helped Africans out of ignorance, poverty, and starvation, performing a vast moral good for the rest of the world.

So it is today. As wealth has flowed upward toward the wealthy and as they have garnered, through manipulation of the tax and benefits code, greater benefits to themselves, while arguing all the while that they must deny other Americans similar benefits in order to just stay in operation, the machinery of the upper class has kicked into overdrive in order to convince people of the rightness of this system. There is nothing so much to convince a man of the rightness of his position as that his income is dependent upon it. And those with a lot of income, it seems, have the power to repeatedly hammer onto the rest of us, the rightness of his position too.

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resonant From: resonant Date: June 22nd, 2013 01:05 am (UTC) (Link)
Note: Article I of the Constitution of the Confederate States prohibited the importation of cheap imported slaves, requiring everyone to Buy American. This was so important a requirement to the drafters that it preceded the clauses regarding selection of the President and so forth.
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