Intellectual Situation 7.0: On Michele Bachmann, Slavery & Capitalism

Mickey Jax makes a valiant effort at deconstructing the brain of Michele Marie Bachmann, who may really believe black people were better off during slavery.

Intellectual Situation 7.0: On Michele Bachmann, Slavery & Capitalism… By Mickey Jax

Last week I was a bit preoccupied with a minor (read: major) problem, so I was unable to impart a bit of my wisdom in digital print. Who would have thought that a nice cup of tea would make you sweat bullets during a urinalysis…

Coca Tea Leaves
Evo Morales’s favorite tea…

Don’t worry, I’ve been keeping up with my politics.

Before I go on, though, I have to say Bondness was wrong when he implied one could’ve freely stolen from Borders since the employees cared less than a honey badger. Back when I still lived in our homeland, an overzealous employee caught me at the Plaza Las Americas Borders trying to use a 5-finger discount on a notebook. I was slapped with a permanent ban from the store and unceremoniously photographed, mug shot style.

Cops Abusing Man

The employee also brought some friends along...

Don’t have to worry about that now that they’re bankrupt.

I digress. Michele Bachmann is apparently crazy enough that she got on the Koch brothers’ money radar back in May:

But when it comes to the 2012 presidential race, the Kochs have been more selective with their giving, with only one presidential candidate so far benefiting from their largesse: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

I’m pretty sure people like Bachman find it easy to pander to the Tea Party movement because they believe at least the basics of their complaints. I’m also pretty sure people like the Koch brothers are calculating sociopathic bastards in the image of Ayn Rand. Let’s compare them.

I like to find patterns and inconsistencies in everything. Sometimes I worry I’m one step behind A Beautiful Mind crazy. Bear with me as I go through a particular line of mental speculation.

American and French flags

Don't they look cute together?

I’ll give a shameless plug to Richard Wolff since his intro to Marxian Economics podcast provided some fuel for this. He explains how capitalism gets its intellectual start from the same enlightenment ideals that sparked the American and French revolutions.

Americans wanted life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The French wanted liberty, equality, and brotherhood. The argument for capitalism at the time was a moral one; the way to obtain liberty, the way for people to live in brotherhood and be able to achieve happiness, was through capitalism. It was this way because, unlike slavery and serfdom, under capitalism one would be compensated in accordance to one’s effort and ingenuity.

Following the moral argument, under capitalism you do not own people. Everyone should fall under the rubric of being compensated for their effort and ingenuity. That was obviously forgotten by the American South.

There was some well-deserved controversy a few months ago over Michele Bachmann’s signing of a  marriage vow pledge which gives the following as an example of how marriage as an institution is in crisis in the US:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-­American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-­parent household than was an African-­­American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

Funny African Kids

National Geographic went back in time to gather evidence of this claim.

Ryan Lizza has an interesting bit in the profile he did of Bachmann for The New Yorker about J. Steven Wilkins, the “leading proponent of the theory that the South was an orthodox Christian nation unjustly attacked by the godless North”. Lizza quotes Wilkins on race relations:

Slavery, as it operated in the pervasively Christian society which was the old South, was not an adversarial relationship founded upon racial animosity. In fact, it bred on the whole, not contempt, but, over time, mutual respect. This produced a mutual esteem of the sort that always results when men give themselves to a common cause. The credit for this startling reality must go to the Christian faith… The unity and companionship that existed between the races in the South prior to the war was the fruit of a common faith.

According to Lizza, Wilkins’s biography of Robert E. Lee, from where the above quote is taken, was listed for the longest time in Bachmann’s website under the heading “Michele’s Must Read List”. He makes the connection between the above and Bachmann’s earlier comment of the founding fathers working tirelessly to end slavery as her particular worldview.

Think about that for a minute. It’s not that far-fetched to say Michele Bachmann believes black people had better lives as slaves. Many people still hold that type of paternalistic “white man’s guilt” mentality. They see themselves apart from the savages, but instead of direct demonization and exploitation they prefer to go into condescending rhetoric. “They don’t know any better. We need to guide them”, and so on.

Michele Bachmann pays a lot of lip service to capitalism. The cynic in me doubts she believes in it for good reason, but let’s take her at her word. Capitalism is an economic system that works. It produces wealth and it distributes it according to people’s ingenuity and hard work. Why, then, would she be in favor of keeping black people in bondage? Does she not think they have the ingenuity to function in a capitalist economy? They sure as hell have the hard work down, otherwise they wouldn’t have been very good slaves to begin with.

Working Slaves in America

A typical day in the life of a slave... in the white man's mind that is.

Again, it’s very easy to believe Michele Bachmann is a highly condescending and opportunistic politician, but I repeat myself…

There’s one aspect that doesn’t get much time in print, on paper or digital anyway. What does it say about an economic system that one of its hardcore proponents does not believe it would bring liberty and equality for a significant number of people?

Also, what does it say of the morality of such person that she believes these people can only function and survive in an economic system (slavery) in which they are treated as things that can be owned, as a commodity?

But furthermore, to tie the Koch brothers in here since I despise them, what does it say about their morality that they basically want to act as force multipliers for people with already questionable ideas about the equality of people just so they can amass even more money?

I guess it’s true that some people are more equal than others.

Michele Bachmann exemplifies the cognitive dissonance of the American right wing. But why do I care? Because their absurd example seeps into my homeland’s politics and politicians.

Forewarned is forearmed.

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