Wednesday, February 9, 2005

How Western Civilization ended slavery

Thomas Sowell has a great review of a book by Adam Hochschild called Bury the Chains.

Sowell says:

The anti-slavery movement was spearheaded by people who would today be called "the religious right" and its organization was created by conservative businessmen. Moreover, what destroyed slavery in the non-Western world was Western imperialism.

Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today's intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.

As anti-slavery ideas eventually spread throughout Western civilization, a worldwide struggle pitted the West against Africans, Arabs, Asians and virtually the entire non-Western world, which still saw nothing wrong with slavery. But Western imperialists had gunpowder weapons first and that enabled the West to stamp out slavery in other societies as well as in its own.

Adam Hochschild is no conservative - in this interview with Mother Jones, he seems to be out there on the left with the "social justice", "fair trade" crowd. Mother Jones makes no mention of the political / religious beliefs of the leaders of the movement, and focuses much more on how it provided a "template" for grassroots movements of today.

There is one difference, however, between many of these grassroots movements of today and the anti-slavery britons - our leftist grassroots movements goals are for the restriction of individuals rights (environmentalism, "fair" trade, unions) , while the anti-slavery britons made the audacious claim that everyone should be treated equally. Note that they wanted everyone treated equally - not that everyone be equal.

This is an issue that the left is very good at disguising - they want people to be "equal." Since their goal is an equal outcome, and because people are different, one must treat people unequally to gain the equal outcome. More on this later, but I recommend Sowell's article.


There is a review of this in the Sunday Times (the British one):

At the same time, it is worth remembering that whereas slavery is not a western invention, abolitionism and the notion of humanitarian intervention are. Nor can the emancipatory impulse so easily be separated from the fiscal-military and hegemonic tradition that has made possible the rise of the great democracies. It was the Royal Navy that more or less destroyed the international slave trade in the early 19th century, and it was not particular about maritime rights in the process. It required the whole might of the Union Army, and 600,000 deaths, for the American abolitionists to end slavery in the South; their mandate would not have survived scrutiny by the international lawyers of the UN.'

They also claim, however, that

The trade in Africans and the sugar they produced is testimony to the threat unrestrained capitalism poses to basic human rights.

I disagree. Any form of slave trade or slavery is not capitalism, because capitalism by its defintion is a social system based on the principle of individual rights. (this is the philosophical definition, but the economic one is derived from this). Maybe if the Times had used the proper economic system at the time: "mercantilism" (which is not a free market).

Monday, February 7, 2005

The Next Step for Liberals Against the War

This post from The Belmont Club may mark the beginning of a new trend.

For 30+ years liberals claimed conservatives wanted welfare reform because they were evil. (Evil in this case involving greed and some lack of empathy and compassion.) Welfare reform showed the liberals were wrong. Welfare was an evil system, effectively encouraging people to disempower themselves.

For 30+ years liberals have claimed conservatives are against Affirmative Action because they are evil. (In this case racist.) There is no body of knowledge about whether or not Affirmative Action helps minorities or not. There is little research, and what research there is remains muffled. (I think Affirmative Action probably does more good than harm, for the record. It would be nice to know, though.)

At some point liberals stopped trying to win these debates and started trying to squelch debate about those subjects. Now, having failed to make a moral case against Bush's policies (at least in the sense that Bush won the election), and having squandered whatever power they have to use argument from authority by amassing a ridiculous record of non-prescience in Iraq-

Iraq will win the war: wrong.
Iraq will cause 50k American deaths: wrong.
Rumsfeld should have started with a 6 month air war: wrong.
It is a quagmire: wrong.
Iraq is not culturally ready for elections: wrong.
It is too soon for elections: wrong.
The elections will fail because of terrorists: wrong.
The elections will fail because Iraqis will think they are not legitimate: wrong.

-liberals are giving up debate, and trying to squelch debate. The new technique:

If you support the War on Terror and you have not volunteered for the military you are a coward and/or hyprocrite.

So you better be quiet if you disagree with us! This is familiar. It reminds me of the You can't talk about abortion unless you're a woman, argument.


Update: Here is another example of liberal squelching of debate.

It is a chicken or egg question, really. Do liberals squelch debate because they are so often wrong, or they so often wrong because they squelch debate?

Friday, February 4, 2005

Fashionable Anti-Americanism

It seems there is finally a bit of sense coming from OpenDemocracy, an organization that seems, to me, to espouse many marxist and socialist views of the world.

The industry of anti-American sentiment is just that – an industry. It should not be mistaken for legitimate and considered concern. “I hate America” is the world’s default position. Knocking America is a form of displacement. It helps non-Americans avoid focusing on their own big problems. In fact, strip it of its lacy hosiery and the world’s relationship with America is disgustingly Freudian.

What is most suprising is the recognition of the problem! Far be it from America to suggest that maybe it is Muslims that are the ones with the problem, wanting to kill infidels and subject women to extreme control by the men.

He goes on:

They are all morons, but the difference is that America can and should ignore the dinner guests. They pose no threat. Especially not an intellectual one. The philosophy of “damn you if you do, damn you if you don’t” is not worthy of serious contemplation. Insularly isolationist or intensely imperial, America is castigated for both, often by the same people.

And this gem!

To some, democratic movements are only legitimate if also anti-American. Ukrainians in Independence Square were pro-American, not pro-Castro. Must’ve been a CIA plot.

I am quite suprised to see this coming from an organization that seems to be devoted to a debate between the center-left and far-left. Though I don't recommend believing everything you read there, this article has a surprising amount of common sense in it.

One more, then read the whole thing.

20th-century Communism only served to augment belief in the American Dream. “The success of America was thus a devastating blow to the Left,” writes Michael Ledeen. “It wasn’t supposed to happen. And American success was particularly galling because it came at the expense of Europe itself, and of the embodiment of the Left’s most utopian dream: the Soviet Union.

Iraqis Citizens Attack Terrorists

Free Iraqi has the story:

Citizens of Al Mudhiryiah (a small town in the "death triangle") were subjected to an attack by several militants today who were trying to punish the residents of this small town for voting in the election last Sunday.
The citizens responded and managed to stop the attack, kill 5 of the attackers, wounded 8 and burned their cars.
3 citizens were injured during the fire exchange. The Shiekh of the tribe to whom the 3 wounded citizens belong demanded more efforts from the government to stop who he described as "Salafis".

Well, it doesn't seem that they needed much protection!
This is such a good news and I never heard anything like it before. I consider it good even if the government forces were not there at the time to do something about it, because it shows that Iraqis are no longer paralyzed by fear from the terrorists and are able to organize themselves and defend their town when it's necessary. I believe that this is one of the good outcome of the revolution that took place in the great Sunday. Iraqis realized at that day that they're much stronger than this bunch of psychopaths that are standing in our way to democracy in freedom. I still wish the government work harder on rehabilitating the IP and building the Iraqi army.

It's wonderful to see the Iraqis standing up for themselves against the terrorists. I'm sure the entire free nation feels strengthened after last Sunday's elections.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Ted and John on the Iraqi Elections...

Apparently, our two favorite senators from Massachussettes could not find time to remove their feet from their respective mouthes before issuing statements...

Iraq is No Vietnam

Todd Purdum, of the New York Times, wrote an article this past Saturday echoing the newfound Leftist rhetoric comparing the war in Iraq to the Vietnam War:

"..But the difficulties of achieving such objectives, then and now, have led a range of military experts, historians and politicians to consider the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq to warn of potential pitfalls ahead. Nearly two years after the American invasion of Iraq, such comparisons are no longer dismissed in mainstream political discourse as facile and flawed, but are instead bubbling to the top."

Relying mostly on vitriolic propaganda from Ted Kennedy and imprecise statements made by so-called Vietnam "experts," Purdum added fuel to the political fire in a journalistic work so clearly biased that it can be labeled an opinion piece at best.

The problem for Purdum is that, as Christopher Hitchens of Slate Magazine demonstrates, the situations in Iraq and Vietnam are completely non-analogous. To quote Hitchens,

"...perhaps now is the moment to state the critical reasons why there is no reasonable parallel of any sort between Iraq and Vietnam.

To begin with, Vietnam had been undergoing a protracted struggle for independence since before World War II and had sustained this struggle militarily and politically against the French empire, the Japanese empire, and then after 1945 the French empire again. By 1954, at the epic battle of Dien Bien Phu, the forces of Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap had effectively decided matters on the battlefield, and President Eisenhower himself had conceded that Ho would have won any possible all-Vietnamese election. The distortions of the Cold War led the United States to take over where French colonialism had left off, to assist in partitioning the country, and to undertake a war that had already been lost.

Whatever the monstrosities of Asian communism may have been, Ho Chi Minh based his declaration of Vietnamese independence on a direct emulation of the words of Thomas Jefferson and was able to attract many non-Marxist nationalists to his camp. He had, moreover, been an ally of the West in the war against Japan. Nothing under this heading can be said of the Iraqi Baathists or jihadists, who are descended from those who angrily took the other side in the war against the Axis, and who opposed elections on principle. If today's Iraqi 'insurgents' have any analogue at all in Southeast Asia it would be the Khmer Rouge.

Vietnam as a state had not invaded any neighbor (even if it did infringe the neutrality of Cambodia) and did not do so until after the withdrawal of the United States when, with at least some claim to self-defense, it overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime. Contrast this, even briefly, to the record of Saddam Hussein in relation to Iran and Kuwait.

Vietnam had not languished under international sanctions for its brazen contempt for international law, nor for its building or acquisition, let alone its use of, weapons of mass destruction.

Vietnam had never attempted, in whole or in part, to commit genocide, as was the case with the documented 'Anfal' campaign waged by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.

In Vietnam the deep-rooted Communist Party was against the partition of the country and against the American intervention. It called for a boycott of any election that was not an all-Vietnam affair. In Iraq, the deep-rooted Communist Party is in favor of the regime change and has been an enthusiastic participant in the elections as well as an opponent of any attempt to divide the country on ethnic or confessional lines. (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is not even an Iraqi, hates the Kurds and considers the religion of most Iraqis to be a detestable heresy: not a mistake that even the most inexperienced Viet Cong commander would have been likely to make.)

No car bomb or hijacking or suicide-bombing or comparable atrocity was ever committed by the Vietnamese, on American or any other foreign soil. Nor has any wanted international gangster or murderer ever been sheltered in Vietnam."

There exists no similarity between the two wars - none whatsoever. They share neither politics nor military occurences. In fact, the one thing they do share has nothing to do with the wars themselves, but rather the Left's reaction to them. In both cases - whether or not you agree with the reasons for America's deployment of troops in Vietnam - the Left has acted shamefully, resorting to decidedly un-American and borderline treasonous acts, demonizing their fellow countrymen who had served on foreign soil. The fact that the "Iraq is the new Vietnam" rhetoric was repeated a day before the Iraqi elections took place - which subsequently vindicated President Bush's actions in Iraq - only serves to demonstrate how far the Left has gone in its pointless devotion to naive principles.

Martial Law and Democracy - the Emergency in Nepal

King Gyanendra of Nepal has recently sacked his government and declared a state of emergency - cutting off the country from the rest of the world by severing phone/internet connections, diverting flights, and so on. As the Canadian Press reports,
"Gyanendra denied his takeover was a coup, although soldiers surrounded the houses of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and other government leaders.

In an announcement on state-run television, the king accused the government of failing to conduct parliamentary elections and being unable to restore peace in the country, which is beset by rebel violence.

Gyanendra also suspended several provisions in the constitution, including the freedoms of press, speech and expression; the freedom to assemble peacefully; the right to privacy; the constitutional protection against news censorship, and the right against preventive detention, according to a statement from the Narayanhiti Palace.


In Kathmandu, armoured military vehicles with mounted machine-guns were patrolling the streets of Kathmandu, the capital, and phone lines in the city had been cut. Many flights into Kathmandu were cancelled amid the uncertainty or turned back by Nepalese authorities, although the airport remained open.

Long lines quickly formed at grocery stores and gas stations, as worried residents stocked up on supplies.

'A new cabinet will be formed under my leadership,' the king said, accusing political parties of plunging the country into crisis. 'This will restore peace and effective democracy in this country within the next three years.'

Later, state-run television reported that a state of emergency had been declared.

The monarch, who is also the supreme commander of the 78,000-member Royal Nepalese Army, said security forces would be given more power to maintain law and order. But he insisted human rights would be respected.


The rebels, who draw inspiration from the late Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, have been trying since 1996 to overthrow the government and establish a socialist state. They have refused the government's invitation to come into the mainstream of Nepalese politics and end the violence. More than 10,500 people have died since the fighting began."
So the situation becomes clear: A democratic country is facing a socialist insurgency, which threatens the economy and democracy within said country. The democratically elected leaders are ineffective in neutralizing the socialist threat; so the only leader left - the monarch - decides to use whatever means necessary to prevent the democracy from being overrun by socialism. Those means include the declaration of martial law, and the deprivation of citizens of their civil rights.

This situation is strikingly apparent in America. We face a terrorist threat, and the democratically elected leaders and the democratically instituted processes are mostly ineffective at neutralizing this threat. Therefore, an act is instituted that curtails some rights in an effort to preserve them in the long run.

The question is, how far can this move be taken? Until what point can a government curtail its citizens' liberties in an effort to preserve them? Past what point is such a move to preserve liberties construed as totalitarianism?