Re: Paying up

John Pastore (venture@CANCUN.RCE.COM.MX)
Sun, 26 May 1996 04:53:37 +0000

On 26 May 96 at 16:30, Ronald Kephart wrote:

> Kristian Pedersen writes:
> "Perhaps we should look through the archives then and find those
> that did benefit from slave-holding, etc., and then make them pay
> :). (This is of course meant sarcastically)."
> And John Pastore writes:
> "I think its a great idea, and that's not sarcastic. Its time they
> stopped squelching on the bill to make anybody else pay up."
> I wouldn't pursue this, except that last night I watched Jonathon
> Kozol talk about his recent book Amazing Grace. His point, and my
> point, is that all of us who do not live lives like those lived by
> the mostly Black and Hispanic people he describes owe that good
> fortune, at least in part, to the accident of history that made
> Western Europe and its surrogates in the New World the exploiters,
> and Africans, American Indians, and others the exploited.

Not necessarily so. Italian immigrants were being locked-up at the
fall of night in Southern Italy by their Patrons (see "1900" by
Bertolucci). Irish people were being starved into submission (see
Disraeli comments) , Scots were being forced from their lands for
sheep (ask them), and Jews were being persecuted by pograms.

... It is not
> a question of whether any particular person's ancestors were
> slave-owners; it is a question of one caste benefitting, both
> synchronically and diachronically, from the exploitation of other
> castes.

That's right: the slave-owning caste, wherever they were, and be.

> I think that if we want to call ourselves a "society" we owe it to
> the people Kozol presents to us so eloquently, as well as to all the
> other people in analogous circumstances, to stop blaming them for
> their victimhood and share the wealth with them.

Who is blaming them for their victimhood? Anyone other than just
those who would foist the bill on others? I'd like to see just how
'liberal' their notions would be if they alone had to pay the bill.
Always very liberal with other people's money, no matter how little
those others may have too.

... In the US, 20% of
> households own 80% of the wealth; a little redistribution could make
> everybody comfortable, even if the elites kept some of their toys
> just to prove they're still the elites.

To heck with the elites, why should I, or anyone else, give up a nice
bowl of pasta for themselves or their children so those elites, who
did benefit, can keep any of their toys?

...For example: children
> everywhere should have the same amount of money spent on them for
> education (that this is not true is scandalous, in my opinion);

Agreed. It is why my parents always beleived in a public school
education, and not private, for example, and would vote against local
school taxes that would benefit a neighborhood with a greater
tax-base to the exclusion of another.

> adults everywhere should be able to make a living wage from one
> full-time job; families everywhere whould be able to live in decent
> housing; everybody should have access to the medical care they need,
> without regard to how much money they have.

They should and can if they would both not buy things until they had
their own money for them, and quit buying this story where everyone,
other than those who were repsonsible, owes them something too. That
only gets people working against each other, who, if they really
thought about it, should be the best of allies --but then isn't
preventing that the ultimate purpose of programs such as
"affirmitive" action?

> Anthropology is important here, because it shows that it is >
> possible; that there are/have been societies constructed in ways >
> that avoid the enormous disparity in wealth, access to resources,
> > and so on that our country exhibits. It is within the human >
> cultural bioprogram; it can be done. But, as I said before, it >
> won't, because the fury with which the elites lash out at such
> ideas is almost psychopathological.

Of course the elite would lash out, if they, as the beneficiaries,
had to be stuck alone with the bill. That's why they foment all this
gibberish about how anyone against "affirmitive" action is racist:
divide and conquer. Hopfully anthropology can do something about it,
by, at least, pinpointing where the responsibility, if there is
going to be any, lies.

> Of course, the program I've hinted at above would be way preferable
> to affirmative action.

Excuse me. I'm missing something. What is this program "hinted at"
that could be preferable to affirmitive action? Could it be some kind
of Socialism, for instance, where only the politicians own

... Affirmative action, while helping some,
> feeds the animosity between castes. But discarding it, and claiming
> that now everybody is "free" to fail or succeed on their own merits,
> is moral bankruptcy (again, in my opinion).

During the recessions of the 60's and 70's "affirmitive" action was,
in part, touted to be justifiable because there was, supposedly, a
job-shortage --not unlike the supposed oil shortage which prompted
rationing. Nixon even froze "salaries" (though not profits). Given
the rhetoric, Eugene McCarthy's solution to the distribution of
wealth, and welfare --since there, supposedly, weren't enough jobs
for everyone (and thus give them to just minorities [rather to
compensate])-- was to simply shorten the workweek from the normal 40
hours. It was of course rejected by the elite, because there was not
only no true job shortage, but also, they did not, in fact, want to
end, for example, the welfare system. Besides keeping the exploited
divided (even to exploit those to pay bills they did not owe), there
is a lot of money to be made in welfare. Look at all the bureaucrats
who would be grateful for the jobs awarded. Look at all the drugs
that can be sold in welfare neighborhoods --just for a few examples.

There will always be failures as opposed to successes, if for no
other reasons that such terms are relative, and there are other
scales, other than monetary, to measure failure or success, bu,t
nonetheless, which of the "moral bankruptcies" is preferable: the
possibility of having failures, or the insurance that there will be?

Will anthropologists recogonize such? And if they can: will they
without having to worry about being torn from limb to limb by their
adminsitrative collegues?

Ka Xiik Keech Ya Utzil,

John Pastore
Writer/Guide in 'El Mayab'
("The Mayan Homeland")

"A teepee is a pyramid, isn't it?"