Enslavement of the Mind – Cedar Sanderson

Enslavement of the Mind – Cedar Sanderson

The human mind is capable of great complexity. It is entirely possible, to be happy and sad all at once. It is only in embracing that paradox that we can hope to fully understand our fellow humans and empathize with the past and present, while looking forward into the future. It is not easy, which perhaps is why some people seem to think that they can only possess one thought at a time.

This singularity of thinking lies at the core of political correctness, progressivism, post-modernism, or whatever label that school of thought is wearing today. For a movement that loves to change names like a chameleon changes colors, they are remarkably inflexible.

I was scanning through various news and blogs and came across yet another controversy over ‘diversity’ that has arisen surrounding a children’s book. The problem the scolds are having is that slaves are portrayed as smiling, loving, and being a family that serves with pride. As humans, we can encompass at the same time both longing for a better future and contentment in where we are, now. To do otherwise is to rend one’s heart and soul into tatters.

Resolution of the human condition comes only with the final march borne by six strong men to the grave. Before then we are a chaotic people. But in chaos, there can still be joy, and constancy. The story of the slaves who served with honor despite being compelled in that service can be an inspiration to the children of today who face lives as wage-slaves. To children who need to know that in true adversity smiles bloomed like flowers. And to children who need to learn that out of pain, triumph can arise.

I was studying history recently, nothing new for me, but it makes me think more broadly than my daily focus on family and the here-and-now. Slavery has been with us since the foggy depths of pre-history. The fact of a slave was not limited by color, origin, or religion. That we here on this continent live largely free of the shackles is not a ‘normal’ condition, it is in fact deeply abnormal when you gaze down the timeline of history and at the globe without the blinders of the ‘transnationalists’ to see the reality of it. Can we say that we are not superior to those who still own slaves? To those who traffic in their fellow men for profit? Freedom and the concept of personal liberty is heady drink and meat, that gives us the strength to build that which the progressives would tear down.

Do not mistake their intent. In reducing history and humanity to dimensionless tales told only through the accepted dogma, they would strip away the complexity of the human soul and enslave us once again. The thought police are just below the horizon, and behind them the bloody-handed men who shadowed Pol Pot, Mao, and Stalin in their quest to kill the learned men and suppress the free pursuit of learning. Their advance is led by those who would exhort us to think as they think, do only as they would have us do. Speak only when we are told what to say.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Do we say those words too often? Do we strip them of their weight through familiarity? Do we teach our children what they really mean? They are not rights granted by our government, who seeks to erode them in pursuit of power. They are not protected by the scolds who would dictate what humor is allowed. If humor is allowed. Those words are the warp of the human soul, the support that the tapestry of life can be woven on, and they are not given by any human agency. People in power can only take the rights, not grant them.

I would remind those who seek to enslave the people through regulation that history shows a clear progression. The state that grows fat on the taxes of the people and ever-more restrictive is the one that falls, and in the time between that state and the rise of the next, that is when freedom flourishes. America is a fluke, a freak of nature, and a natural result of centuries of change all at once. Like the slave who also smiles and loves, we are a people who came out of the dark into freedom. We are unlikely to willingly put the shackles back on.

A soul can at once hope, and despair. History tells us that the slave was right to hope, that it was not in his lifetime, nor that of his daughter, but then freedom was opened before those who had kept living in hope. Despair leads to no doors. Discontent and desire for power erode the soul, leaving bitterness in their wake. Hope, love, and persistence will win through.

61 responses to “Enslavement of the Mind – Cedar Sanderson

  1. c4c

  2. The state that grows fat on the taxes of the people and ever-more restrictive is the one that falls, and in the time between that state and the rise of the next, that is when freedom flourishes.

    And that freedom is often an ugly one as it is given to people who, due to external regulation, often failed to learn self-regulation.

    I’d argue the real achievement of American freedom is not the freedom in and of itself but that it exists without having (yet) devolved into the rule of the unrestrained strong over the weak (despite what the crybullies claim).

    • I’ve just done a survey class of history from the dawn to time to 1500, and one thing I remarked on as you see the timeline in fast forward, as it were, is that the fall of one state usually involved greater freedoms until the new state was up and running enough to lock down restrictions of it’s own. Here in the US we have broken the mold. If we can keep it from reforming, that will be very good.

      • Was there a common factor in all those other circumstances the US lacked? Also, what was the median time to re-oppression?

        • Most of them were going from some kind of ruler to another ruler – China in particular seems unhappy without an emperor at the top dictating and it’s bureaucracy firmly in place. I don’t know that there’s a median time, to be honest, some of these were outside ‘time’ as we know it, we’re deducing from ruins. It does seem to be universal, though, even happening in the Americas where the lack of domesticated animals suitable for riding or hauling stunted development of empires.

          • I just suspect, based on a much narrower knowledge of history, the freedom has often corresponded to “rampaging gangs can do what they want” so people trade their freedom to the local strongman for protection. The strongmen then form a hierachy and we’re back to oppression.

            I think what makes American unique (for now) is freedom didn’t translate to that (and that England experienced something similar, gradularly). Napoleon may have been right calling the UK a nation of shopkeepers but I think that was the key to freedom.

            Shopkeepers and yeoman farmers (rough urban/rural equivalents) want order and realized that if that order wasn’t to be external it would have to be internal. By building a society that explictly limited external ordering forces that depended on deep seated internally ordering forces they pulled off a miracle.

            • That’s why I say that anarchists just want to take the scenic route to feudalism. The big innovation was in weaponry that didn’t require a lifetime devotion to use effectively. Without the military necessity of men-at-arms, you knock out the lowest level of the feudal system. The farmers and shopkeepers start handling their day-to-day organizing themselves and soon they’re wondering why the heck they can’t have a say in the larger scheme of things.

              • Also see the Swiss – between the advantage of pikes over cavalry and the advantages of their terrain, they managed to stay mostly king-free for quite a long time. And after Napoleon managed to conquer and briefly rule the Swiss, they took the new lessons of the age of gunpowder to heart and updated the whole citizen-soldier thing to the Nth degree, staying mostly unencumbered by foreign entanglements from then through the Cold War’s end.

                Not a bad set of data points to include in any model.

              • Feudalism in its most basic form is arguably the oldest civilized (as in “living in and around cities”) form of government to exist. That means it solves some fundamental human problem and like Chesterton’s fence we need to understand that problem and provide a different solution before we give up on.

                The English did, subconsciously, over time (including the Middle Ages although English feudalism was never as developed as the French or German model…in that the Anglo-Saxons conquered the Normans). Then the US came along and made quit explicit our solution (although I think perhaps they relied more than they realized on transportation technology being static).

                • The problem was the amount of specialization required to run a civilization. You need soldiers, laborers, and administrators, and the level of technology of the time meant that there was a great deal of physical specialization required to perform those jobs well. One of the reasons children started weapons training at a young age was to spur the kinds of musculoskeletal deformities that would be advantageous in a fight.

                  The invention of machinery and firearms reduced the level of physical specialization required for laborers and soldiers. The invention of the printing press made information transmission much faster than hand-copied letters in Latin. All of the sudden you’ve got common workers knowing almost as much as the high-level administrators and more than capable of giving professional soldiers an actual fight.

              • Either that, or you need a culture where willingness to obey reasonable laws is deeply ingrained.

                I became a so-called anarcho-capitalist when I learned about Medieval Iceland, and to a lesser extent, Anglo-Saxon England. As I reflected on their societies, however, while they have only a loose number of laws, they also have a deep respect for the laws they have. Indeed, realizing this helped me realize that “anarcho” is a misnomer…

                Even more ironically, a lot of examples given as to why anarchy won’t work (“Egypt and India have horrible traffic! People always running red lights and driving on whatever side of the street they want, so it takes forever to travel three miles!”) are examples that have *lots of laws* along with *no one willing to obey them*.

                So there you have it. The key to a successful, orderly anarchic society (probably any society, really) is to have a law-abiding people….and no amount of law will order a people who aren’t willing to obey laws.

                • It only works in relatively small societies.

                  • I’m not entirely convinced by that, but I’m certainly convinced that the worst way to test my convictions would be to attempt to have a revolution overthrowing the government! When one considers that being law-abiding is a crucial element in making sure anarcho-capitalism works, throwing off the current legal structure is probably not exactly the best way to start off such a “utopia”…

                    A startling realization came to me a couple of years ago, that if we really wanted to, we can start living as anarcho-capitalists right now, a little bit at a time. Gather up a group of like-minded individuals, and then show up each week at city council meetings explaining to the councilors who you are representing and why. Opt for arbitration in your contracts, when you can. And so forth.

                    Of course, such things take time and commitment, so I haven’t pursued this as much as I’d like…

                    On the other hand, this is a lesson I wish Libertarian Party types would learn: If they want to be effective, they need to start at the bottom, rather than try at the top to win the Presidency against all odds…without the foundation of local, State and Federal representatives, taking the Presidency isn’t going to mean much at all…

                    • richardmcenroe

                      Back in Los Angeles County the Libertarians idea of how to do that was to print up counterfeit stationery and declare themselves the official LAC GOP. Took a lawsuit which they actually fought to make them stop.

                  • Then the next question we had better consider is whether America has grown too large to be governed by a Constitution “written for the government of a moral and religious people”, to borrow from John Adams.

                    And how do we separate out those who are not capable or willing to live in such a society?

                    • Come on, Steve. Even in the olden days there were grifters and no gooders. The question is should franchise be universal and so early?

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      The question is should franchise be universal and so early?

                      First, I’m assuming you meant “so easy” not “so early”. [Wink]

                      While I’ll admit that RAH set up an interesting method of “earning the franchise” in Starship Troopers, I get nervous about discussions about “restricting the franchise”.

                      First, I can easily imagine how people like the SJWs would just love to set rules on who could vote and who could not vote.

                      Second, I can easily imagine that such a system of “earning the franchise” might be abused to ensure the children of the “Proper Folks” always earned the franchise while the “Improper Folks” would never earned the franchise.

                    • No, I mean “so early.” 18 is ridiculous these days. Most people haven’t left the house at that time, now. And yeah, I know “but it could be restricted badly.” Okay, fine, but Thomas Sowell’s vote counts the same as that of your local meth addict. That too is vote restricting, through dilution with irrelevant input. “Pays taxes” would be a good limit to the franchise.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Pays Taxes?

                      Are we talking Income Taxes?

                      I’m on Social Security now and I don’t pay Income Taxes.

                      Should I lose the franchise because I no longer pay Income Taxes?

                      Mind you, I’d say that “paying Income Taxes” has the plus of being hard to “fake” one way or the other.

                    • I suppose income or property. Sorry. Of course, in my ideal world you’d have been able to retain and invest your own money.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well in my ideal world, every adult would be worthy of the franchise. [Wink]

                      Of course, when we discuss possible means of “earning the franchise”, we should think about “how do we get there from here”.

                      In Starship Troopers the system has existed for generations but we were told that it started after the military kicked the civilian government out and took over. The system was set up afterwards so that the military wouldn’t have to “do it again”.

                      In other words, the Revolution created something good.

                      My worry is that it would take a Revolution to disenfranchise a large percentage of the people and what the Revolution created may be worse than what it is replacing.

                    • All the concern over fixing the franchise is misdirected. We need to fix the voters — and under the current educational system the fix appears to be in.

                    • That question comes up every time someone mentions limiting the franchise to those who “pay taxes”, but it’s a red herring, and I don’t see why it would come up here. Clearly, if you’re on Social Security because you’ve already paid into it and are now old enough to reap the benefits, only the real outliers would try to deny the franchise to you.

                    • Paul, there’s an important part of Heinlein’s system that most people overlook. The government cannot restrict the franchise. If you volunteer, they HAVE to take you and if you complete your hitch they have to give you the vote. There are allusions that one of the headaches the government has to deal with is what to do with the volunteers that can’t even hack MI.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Jeff, I’m aware of how RAH’s system worked.

                      My problem is that I’m not sure that it’d work in the Real World.

                    • The Other Sean

                      I object to the idea of having the government fixing voters. Didn’t we have enough of government eugenics programs and forced sterilizations?

                    • Feather Blade

                      Okay, fine, but Thomas Sowell’s vote counts the same as that of your local meth addict.

                      To be fair to Thomas Sowell’s vote, the meth addict probably couldn’t find his polling place even if you gave him a map.

                    • He doesn’t have to; motor voter makes sure he’s in the system and his vote will be cast for a Democrat.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Going some what along with this, there was a line that I remember from my reading about old English law.

                  Apparently somebody in a discussion spoke of another as “respecting old laws because the laws were old”.

                  The response was “that the laws weren’t good because they were old, but the laws were old because they were good”.

                • You probably need a strong family structure to protect the kids and bring them up law-abiding.

            • it’s nicer to be oppressed by one strongman than by a herd. one has more freedom because of the inherent limits of being one person in charge.

        • > common factor

          The American Revolution roughly coincided with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

          Slaves were less efficient than steam, other than for the kind of unskilled handwork steam couldn’t accomplish, like planting and reaping. (the factory owners in the north liked to brag, “We don’t need slaves, we have the Irish.”)

          Watt, Whitney, McCormick, Newbold, and the others who began the mechanization of agriculture had already driven a stake through the heart of the economic reasons for slavery in the South before the Civil War.

          • Hmmm…although I’d say water power as much as steam. Those early New Englad mills made extensive use of water power…the mill damns and ponds are still common in Connecticut.

            • The early Industrial Revolution was water or wind powered almost everywhere. See David Weber’s Safehold series on where that could have ended up..

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


            The American Revolution was different because it was a “revolt” of the local governments against the main government.

            • Then why didn’t liberty arrive in the various revolts during the Crisis of the Third Century (among other places)?

              Note, the Swiss do arguably provide a second example.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                IMO the American Revolution was in defense of the Liberty held by the British colonies against the attempted tyranny of the British Parliament.

                IE We already had Liberty and our chosen representatives fought the attempt by the British government to lessen/destroy that Liberty.

                The biggest problem with most revolutions is that they destroy the “structure” of government and the revolutionaries have to build a new “structure” of government.

                The American Revolution didn’t destroy the “structure” of government in America.

                After the British gave up, the state governments continued the structure of government that had already existed.

                The problem was trying to create an overall government that united the thirteen states into one country that didn’t destroy the existing “state government structure”.

                • witness that as soon as hostilities broke out, the militia rushed to proclaim their loyalty to the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, to show they weren’t just criminals, instead of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress standing or falling according to whether they could hold the military’s loyalty.

  3. George Washington’s treatment of his slaves was, for that era, remarkably generous, allowing them to work and save money for their eventual manumission. At that time slavery was a common practice throughout the world with only a few religious fanatics challenging its propriety. Rather than examine the historically unique development of its repudiation, idiots strive to signal their virtue by loudly belabored denunciation — as if there is any reason to believe they would not have happily engaged in the institution had they lived in earlier times (their eager conformity to contemporary fashions of thought strongly suggest they would not have been amongst that “religious fanatic” opposition.)

    • More slave-owners than George Washington permitted their slaves to work for “outside” wages and to save to buy themselves free. Skilled workers were often able to do so, and to set up in their own businesses. The “peculiar institution” was a great deal more nuanced and complicated than the current crop of SJWs can contemplate. Relationships between slaves and free of all colors were also a great deal more complex than advertised.

      • IIRC, Ouladah Equiano not only worked on the side and bought himself out of slavery, but went back to work for his former owner as a ship captain.

      • Feather Blade

        If i’m not mistaken, the concept of lifelong slavery was as much of an aberration as the complete lack of slavery.

        Or I could be wrong and the idea of a slave becoming a freedman through his own efforts was a Roman peculiarity

        • Depended on the time and culture. In some places slavery was a caste, in others a condition.

          • Note that the black population of Sharialand in Arabia and Persia is near 0%, though many more black slaves went there then to the Americas. Slavery there was a death sentence, serve until you die. It wasn’t passed on to the children of slaves, for there were none. Males were castrated. Women used for entertainment purposes.

            • The population of Algiers is noticeably paler than the surrounding countryside, owing to all the paler slave mothers.

      • It doesn’t take very long when going to primary sources that you realize that slavery wasn’t all the chains and whips that the SJW’s would have you believe. The South was a complicated society and some slaves were actually far better off, like the one in the book mentioned in the link than most people, North or South. And we gotten culturally far away from the idea that there is merit in fine service for somebody else.

    • Rather than examine the historically unique development of its repudiation, idiots strive to signal their virtue by loudly belabored denunciation — as if there is any reason to believe they would not have happily engaged in the institution had they lived in earlier times (their eager conformity to contemporary fashions of thought strongly suggest they would not have been amongst that “religious fanatic” opposition.)

      +1 absolutely. They show no courage of conviction today — there’s no reason to think they would be different 250 years ago.

  4. Understanding complexity requires thought – and goodness knows where that might lead! Just as dating teenagers are advised not to get on the train unless they are going to Minneapolis, the Cool Kids in our colleges learn not to even start in with that thinking stuff. Slaves are all always sad – it’s much easier that way. Recognizing any complexity is just giving in to the Man, or something.

    The same ‘thinking’ applies elsewhere, too. Morally, bad people are always bad, good people are always good. (That’s why the idea that rank and file Nazis were no worse than we are causes head to explode, or at least is certain to get anyone raising that point labeled a Nazi themselves lickity-split) Good people are victims; bad people are oppressing members of some hegemony or other. Thus, in our flat, flat, flat world, any happily married women, for example, are repressed no matter what they may tell you, and their husbands are evil meanies no matter what they do in fact.

    And on and on – pick your topic, and the modern world will steam-roller any bumps out of it and hand it back, ready for use to justify any evil in the name of fixing whatever binary problem the now-2-dimensional world presents.

    • And these are the same people who call themselves “nuanced” in regards to ethics. And they are nuanced, when their own ethics are involved. Which is why a professor who makes a six figured salary and drives a new Lexus can denounce people who make six figured salaries and drive new Lexusis (Lexii?).

    • > certain to get anyone raising that
      > point labeled a Nazi themselves

      The SJW belief that knowledge of something equals support for it.

      SJW: “blah, blah, blah”

      TRX: “That’s straight out of ‘A Communist Manifesto’.”

      SJW: “That’s not true!”

      TRX: “I’ve read the book.”

      SJW: “Then you must be a Communist!”

      Since I’m somewhat less Communist than Sarah Hoyt, this is usually good for some amusement.

  5. Is it true that the end of slavery in the west, doom the Ottoman empire?

    • I’m inclined to say no; what doomed the Ottoman empire was its inability to institute the reforms that created the European nations. To the degree that ending slavery was one of those reforms, yes, but that was not the primary cause.

    • In Europe or In Russia? Ottomans were taking slaves (Slavs) from the Russian border area for quite a while after it was officially banned in most of western Europe and the US. And it was practiced within the Empire and the Islamic states around the Ottoman Empire through to today. I’m not sure if abolition had any economic effect on the Ottomans, but I’m pretty comfortable saying it had no foreign policy effect on them vis a vis western Europe. Russia’s different, but then Russia had its own problems and was elbow-deep in the Caucasus as well as the Crimea.

  6. The modern way to look at slavery is that it was economic exploitation (reparations, anyone?). The reason most people hated the idea of being a slave, though, wasn’t just because their labor was being taken from them. It was loss of control. Someone else was in control of every aspect of your life, from where and how you lived to who you married, what happened to your children, and how you died.

  7. “The story of the slaves who served with honor despite being compelled in that service” — Like most of the soldiers throughout modern history?