While no right thinking person can disagree with Acton’s statement its corollary that, slavery means socialism, by no means follows. That is however the argument of the Genovese’s in their book that is all too typical or revisionist history where you begin with an assumption, borrow an artificial category and shoehorn convenient or invented facts to prove your thesis. This is why arguments about the dark ages invariably fail and no one is able to agree about the boundaries of the renaissance – itself an invented 19th century category.
Were many slaveholders Christian? Without a doubt. Did that fact influence the way they treated their slaves? To the same extent that they followed the 10 Commandments – yes. Did all Christians own slaves and support slavery? Of course not. Do all Christians follow the 10 Commandments? [We will allow you to answer this one yourself, dear reader]
History is replete with mistaken beliefs from Aristotle thinking that crocodiles occurred by spontaneous combustion – because no one had ever seen on born – to the hopeful souls who are going to the polls next week in the fervent belief that their choice can make a difference. We do not dismiss Aristotle, Christianity or democracy because of their imperfections. We acknowledge and attempt to correct them and go on and if you are offered a chance to read this book we suggest that you to go on.
Slavery in White and Black : class and race in the Southern slaveholders’ new world order Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2008 Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Eugene D. Genovese Slavery Southern States History 19th century Book. xv, 314 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG
Southern slaveholders proudly pronounced themselves orthodox Christians, who accepted responsibility for the welfare of the people who worked for them. They proclaimed that their slaves enjoyed a better and more secure life than any laboring class in the world. Now, did it not follow that the lives of laborers of all races across the world would be immeasurably improved by their enslavement?
In the Old South but in no other slave society a doctrine emerged among leading clergymen, politicians, and intellectuals– “Slavery in the Abstract,” which declared enslavement the best possible condition for all labor regardless of race. They joined the Socialists, whom they studied, in believing that the free-labor system, wracked by worsening class warfare, was collapsing. A vital question: to what extent did the people of the several social classes of the South accept so extreme a doctrine? That question lies at the heart of this book.