There has been more talk in the Unites States of reparations for slavery recently. Ironically, this is at a time when the foundations of the economy and therefore of the tax base are rapidly eroding for everyone except the rich and those who have political power — usually the same people, as has often been the case throughout history.
Back in 1867 in fact, the English political economist William Bagehot wrote in his book, The English Constitution, that the propertied and monied classes of England were the real rulers of the British Empire through the House of Commons of the British Parliament. The queen (Victoria) and the House of Lords, the Church of England, the whole of the aristocracy, in fact, were just there for decoration and to give the comforting illusion to the uneducated and unenlightened English lower classes that their traditional rulers were still in charge and that they had rights that need be respected, such as life, liberty, and private property when they had none of the third to secure the first two. It was really money, as Bagehot later made even clearer in his 1873 tome, Lombard Street, that ruled the British Empire and therefore the world.
|Franklin Delano Roosevelt|
Bagehot, who despised the United States for what he regarded as its pretense of democracy and sovereignty of people without money or property, was the model whom John Maynard Keynes took for his economic system founded on wealth concentrated in the hands of as few people as possible and the State having absolute power. Keynes was able to impose his program, which bore a startling resemblance to that of the Fabian Society, on the United States in the early 1930s, through the proposals of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “Brains Trust,” heavily influenced by Fabianism, and the enthusiastic concurrence of FDR himself.
|Jacob Sechler Coxey|
The program itself was essentially a rehash and an updating of the program proposed by the theosophist and socialist Jacob Sechler Coxey in the 1890s, when “Coxey’s Army marched on Washington, gaining only a reputation as a rapacious and filthy mob of vagrants. “As hungry as Coxey’s Army” and “As dirty as Coxey’s Army” were proverbial for decades.
Roosevelt was so enamored of the New Deal that he persisted in it even after such astute politicians as James Farley — who was responsible for FDR’s election by delivering the Catholic, woman, and Black voting blocs — were convinced that the so-called New Deal was “dead in the water” and it was an unmitigated disaster for the country.
Interestingly, Keynes’s protégé, E.F. Schumacher, who was a member of the Fabian “inner circle” and an office holder during the British Fabian-Labour government of the 1940s that instituted today’s “Nanny State,” converted to Catholicism. His two books, Small is Beautiful (1973) — touted as “the New Age guide to economics” — and A Guide for the Perplexed (1977), whitewashed the Fabian program and imposed it on the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, completely contrary to the intent and purpose of the Council itself.
Now that the economy is in no shape to do what it is supposed to be doing and what it must be doing — facilitating the production, distributing, and consumption of marketable goods and services between producers and consumers — demands are growing that descendants of slaves be compensated for what was done to their ancestors . . . at a time when the tax base has eroded and the government has for decades been meeting increasing expenditures by floating immense amounts of debt that as far as most people know, will never be repaid.
This is not the place to debate the injustice of cash payments in reparation for slavery. The United States is faced with a simple fact: reparations as traditionally meant simply cannot be paid. Even if a law were to be passed tomorrow mandating payment of reparations and a way was devised to ensure that everyone received what is presumably due to him or her, it’s a moot point. The law cannot require that anyone do the impossible, and paying reparations at this point in history is impossible.
Note that we said reparations as traditionally meant. What about looking at the issue from a new perspective? Let’s consider the efforts of Mr. Eugene Gordon, founder of Descendants of American Slaves for Economic and Social Justice in St. Louis, Missouri, the “Heart of America.”
Gene’s idea is that “reparation” comes from “repair” — the idea being to repair or make whole. As he accurately points out, there is not a single person alive today who was a legally owned slave prior to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. That being the case, there is not a single person alive today who is due reparations for slavery . . .as traditionally meant.
But, you say, what about the effects of slavery? Aren’t there still various forms of systemic racism, and so on, that affect people just as profoundly, if in different ways, than actual slavery? They aren’t slavery, at least in the usual sense, but they are damaging, too.
That is why Gene is spearheading the “Heart of America Project” to start the healing and make true reparations that will not only reverse the effects of slavery but work to undermine the basis of poverty, racism, and war for everyone, not just the descendants of slaves. As Gene says, true reparations will not only “repair” the system for descendants of slaves, but also for descendants of slave owners and for the rest of us as well — and that is what we will look at in the next posting on this subject.#30#