Emancipation. Everybody who’s ever been a school kid thinks they know about it. That’s kids everywhere in the civilized world! The adult that kid grew into in Vietnam is as likely to think of Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation as is the adult in the US. Lincoln: January 1, 1863, during the Civil War. What about Tsar Alexander’s emancipation? (Alexander II, 1861!) (Two years earlier!) (Hundreds of years too late!)
Alphonse Muca’s The Slav Epic
You want complexity? See Thomas DiLorenzo’s book The Real Lincoln.
Or read Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard! Read it, see it: as a play, as a movie … And realize as you do so that Chekhov presented his last play as a comedy: his forte in my opinion. Stanislavski though directed the debut performance as a tragedy!
Jan and I watched a DVD of the Michael Cacoyannis version, with Charlotte Rampling. No subtitles, bad sound, neither of us any longer hearing or seeing very well in our 70s, 80s. Talk about complex.
I’d need to do a lot of homework, more than I can or will, to be scholarly authoritative in my comments on any aspect of emancipation in the second half of the Nineteenth Century or since. But I’ve already been more than responsible enough to hint at the complexity, as just stated, and emphasized, and emphasized again!
Comments can be added scrapbook style, post your own comments too, but I want to add some of my own ironies and skepticisms to those already promised from the Dilorenzo book. No, no: let me just list a few, never mind who we might credit:
In 1860 much of the world’s economy was made possible by forced labor, by forced repression. Societies have always excluded input from some of its “members”: women, slaves … displaced persons … me.
Alexander abolished serfdom, 1861. Was the world suddenly made fair?
Land serfs worked the land for the owner of the manor, land serfs retained some of the gain for their own uses; house serfs got nothing: Oh, goody, I’m now free: and broke, in Calcutta, with no transportation or per diem back to whereever I’m deracinated from!
Lincoln said the south’s slaves were free; DiLorenzo’s book says they were actually the theoretical property of the US: ie, the Union, the north. Actually, the document had no meaning but what propagandists made of it: for good. and ill. But: the blacks didn’t suddenly own the manor! Didn’t suddenly own 20% of the manor; not 1%! If I’m free and broke in Calcutta, how about the black free and broke in Monroe Alabama? He has no “home,” his home in Dutch Africa, or German Africa, or British Africa, or Arab Africa … was destroyed long before! (But don’t think Africans are any more innocent in all this than anybody else: they too were kleptocrats: expanding Bantu … raiding Semitics …)
Don’t wait for me to redraft this to perfection: realize right now: we’re born into political systems where someone born ahead of us already owns and controls everything. Or, we’re born into a system, a set of systems, where others have already long been contesting for whatever it is. Politics. War, trade.
How much of the US was owned by the people who’d lived over 100% of it before Columbus opened the doors … for genocide, disease, enslavement …?
How can we take seriously a Russia 50% owned by the aristocrats? or 100% owned by the Workers!?
My Free Learning Exchange (1970) invited the public to allow me and my coworkers to create data bases for them. The funding was to be volunteered by the public, the labor, the technology were to be developed by me and my colleagues. We would give, you would give. There would be no compulsion, no arbitrary hierarchy: no licenses, no taxes … But; if you didn’t pay for it, you wouldn’t get it!
Decades later, hearing my ideas, for the N,000th time, watered down, the government extorted money from you, and “gave” you an internet!
IBM, the phone company, declined to help me to help God to help you; now they profit.
But it’s an illusion; nobody profits, since no one is free!
Through FLEX I tried to argue (and since, despite poverty, interference) that no one legitimately owns any part of the earth. Civilization subtracted land for cultivation, our ancestors did that, we can hardly undo it … But we could admit that Germans have no more right to Germany than Hitler had a right to Poland, that whites cheated their way to ownership of this and that, hegemony of this and the other … But, if we admitted this, then, democratically, cybernetic democratically, anyone able to use the digital data bases (no one forced to, no one forced not to) then we might share in a way that could give history’s first sensible meaning of Christianity.
I got knocked down, I got sabotaged. Kleptocratic democracies, universities, media will not permit free discussion of the human dilemma.
Alexander, Lincoln … wrote this or that? Chekhov wrote The Cherry Orchard? Kleptocrats unwrote it!
How’s that for comedy, Anton Supreme Genius, Chekhov? Or is it tragedy?
Russian emancipation, 1861, Lincoln’s Proclamation, 1863. Related in ways I’m only beginning to chew on: most of England’s common land had been enclosed by 1860! Land that a serf, peasant, or person, common person, not a titled land holder, could graze his sheep on, or his cow, or gather nuts, or snare a bird, had been claimed by by a titled land holder as his! the crown, the church, cooperating!
One effect of enclosure was to drive the very poor to the worst ghettos of the worse cities where they could compete against each excess other for the lowest wages. Mid-1800 US welcomes these helpless excesses with open arms to work in US factories at the lowest wages, work the deepest most dangerous mines, carry the dynamite …
Last night Jan and I watched Ned Kelly: the wasteland Irish carrying disadvantage to the other side of the globe: one or two acting like “men” anyway.
I’ll develop parallel consciousness of enclosure, emancipation, and imi-emi-grations further at another time. Of course the “morality” that Karl Marx perverted the sorry mess into is one of the worst not best examples of misplaced human sympathy. But it is funny as hell that conscience migrated from England, where it belonged, to Russia: one of the most inappropriate places for it: the Russians had factories and workers, but not like the English: the inventor-geniuses of vertical social disintegration.
I referred to Semitic invasion in Africa: did you know Semitic languages, Hebrew, Arabic, originated in North West Africa!? That language group had migrated far before it became Hebrew or Arabic!
I had a grad school professor, old guy, who called Chekhov a “supreme genius”: I agreed. and agree.