May 12, 2007
hatever Professor Patterson says, race obviously is an obsession in the United States of America. I do not think the U.S. is ahead of other racially mixed industrialized nations, as he claims (although I once thought so). I certainly do not agree that Condoleezza and Barack Obama are exemplars of anything worthy. Yet Patterson makes some points with which I heartily agree. Notably:
In this unsettled, formative phase [the early 1600s], the Africans worked side by side with white indentured servants whose physical hardships and treatment were largely similar to their own.
The colony's élite remained committed to indentured white servitude as the backbone of the labour force until at least the middle of the 17th century because indentures were cheaper than African slaves.
The élite, fearful of an insurrectionary union of white servants and slaves, actively promoted racism and a racially exclusive popular democracy as a way of dividing and ruling black and white workers.
The ancestors of many "white trash" (everyone but the élite) once were slaves they were worth less to their masters than Africans. Africans were expensive. Scots, and Englishmen, could be bonked on the noggin' and shipped off for next to nothing. Ships bringing tobacco and sugar to Britain, could return to the plantations with "indentured servants" (slaves) and reduce Britain's surplus population while doing it. These masters of slaves were the very people who, oddly enough, founded their new nation on the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Or did they? Perhaps some, like Adams, did, while others, like the author of the Declaration, himself, did not. Look at Jefferson's record. . .
Here is Patterson's article in TIME: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1615164,00.html
Just for good measure and to avoid smugness, élite English Canadians had the same system as their cousins to the south. That would explain the snotty attitudes some of our leading Canadian citizens have even today. I point to Lord Conrad and his bride.
Visit me on the Web
Accurate Solutions to Complex Problems