The American Civil War
The Charleston massacre has highlighted some of the unresolved issues of the American Civil War, which are now being addressed in yet another round-about way. I think the whole thing has been poorly thought out and hasn’t really touched upon the issue that should be addressed — the principle of private property.
What would motivate young men who owned no slaves and realistically had no real prospect of owning slaves to risk their lives and enlist in a military enterprise (assuming they weren’t involuntarily press-ganged) to defend that institution? The usual explanation for the American Civil War was that it was about slavery. But more to the point, it was about the principle of private property and the supremacy of so-called “market forces”, and this remains the unresolved issue in American political and civil life. The Proclamation of Emancipation was, from the Southern perspective, interpreted as an expropriation of private property and an illicit interference by the State with private property rights.
It probably does no good to insist that other human beings cannot be considered commodities or private property without addressing the very root notion and meaning of “private property” itself, let alone dealing and trafficking in other human beings as if they were merely private property and commodities. The whole idea of “ownership” and “possession” must be addressed and interpreted, because, in the mind of the Charleston shooter, Dylann Roof, sexism and racism and imperialism were very much intertwined — ie, “to have and to hold” — where the principle of private property and possession applied not just to the institution of slavery and race relations, but to the institution of marriage and gender relations, as well as colonial entitlements, too.
This notion of the supremacy and sanctity of “private property” and of private property rights — to “the ego and its own” — is, I would suggest, the real unresolved issue of the American Civil War.
And is it not reminiscent of that very thing of which I wrote in “A Parable of Self-Destruction“?