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On the slaves siding with masters and related phenomenon: Corbett comments on Patricia's comment
Patricia raises the fascinating and widespread phenomenon of people who
can be, from some perspective, viewed as oppressed, siding with those
who are viewed as oppressors. We've seen it happening in Haiti as we
looked Haiti this week.
I think, however, it is not quite as surprising as it looks at first.
Most people seem to me to look very closely and self-interest as it
touches them immediately. We saw this with the case of reforestation
in Haiti as well. Not all that many people are, or care to be, politically
involved in larger struggles.
>From the point of view of the household slave, one can well see the slave
looking at his or her best chances in life and deciding with the master.
Revolution is a very dangerous thing. For every one that has succeeded
in human history another hundred have failed. What am I to do -- join
a rebellion for my freedom and take my chances, or live the life I've got
and not. One calculates risk against gain and the price of the struggle
itself. It is very easy to see that many, many people side with great
caution and the easiest out. If life in the manor house as a household
slave isn't so bad, then it is easy to see one saying, I'll take this which
I know and live that risk everything including mylife, or the unknown and
I grew up in a working class neighborhood. My greatgrand father was a
labor man and was blackballed in 1877 in the great railroad strike in
St. Louis. He had beaten a railway foreman either to death or very badly,
the details are not clear. He never worked the railroad again. The
railway workers lost that strike, but won 40 or so years later in the
stikes of the late teens of this century. My own grandfather and father,
labor men to the core in words and spirit, chose to take the safety of
their non-union jobs that join the struggles of the labor movement.
My father denounced labor all his life, yet never had a union job until
he bacame a city employee very late in life. it just was the easiest path,
and he calculated well on some criteria. He was never out of work, we
always had what we needed at a very basic level, and he never entered
that dangerous hard to measure labor struggle which caused his own
grandfather such grief and hardship since he was on the losing side.
I think we all have to calculate our possible losses and gains. Some are
in for the bigger fights for social change and other just aren't.
Perhaps the slaves' choices are just not so surprising after all.