It has seemingly forever been taught to our children and assumed to be real, that America was founded as a classless society and intended to develop in that mode.
Any historian will tell you that is the most ridiculous assumption that can be made about the intended sociology of America. Even today we may readily observe its fossilized remnants as we refer to “establishment” beliefs versus those of “outsiders”. All of us who are natural born American citizens, who do not adhere to the dictates of the American aristocracy/those who see themselves as aristocracy, are “outsiders”. How bloody dare we! Looking at what one does as a modifier of what he says, historians for at least the first 75 years after the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution believed, wrote and taught that Jefferson’s “all men are created equal” was intended to apply only to male whites of certain lineages. The South Carolina government of the mid 19th century adopted this as a formal principle of law and it lasted more than 100 years. Women, blacks and non Christians could not even own property. When in 1852 a Charleston Jewish Congregation wanted to establish a synagogue, they had to get a Christian to buy the property and rent it to them. Jefferson was a slaver and opposed al laws calculated to make land ownership more broadly available to marginal working men and farmers. Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, in the DREAD SCOTT decision having to do with the disposition of a slave after he made it into a free state, specifically wrote that pedigree and lineage were the hallmarks of free men and that location change did not convert those intended to be slaves by genetics and God into free men.
Perhaps the most obvious display of this assumed position of preference occurs every election cycle. Each of the major parties has its “royal” family of traditional adherents who dictate policy and write platform positions that conform to their view of how America should work. This past year we were confronted with an unusually spectacular display of how that works. Usually it is more sub rosa and passes for a “democratic” process. That is because we come to think of it not at all. It is something that occurs behind the scenes; receives little attention in the nominating process; and is in any event not binding upon the government formed by the winner.
Names like Kennedy, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Romney and such fancy themselves today’s aristocracy. As a low born mongrel myself, I write this with great fun. Lack of lineage and pedigree may well have affected my ability to be well mannered and couth. However, neither my low estate nor its assumed attributes have kept me from success. The same goes for all my friends, who are also infra dignitatem. Moreover, when the shit hits the fan, nationally or on a more limited scale, we are who are called to pull it all back together again. The upper crust sissie boys from the grandee families rarely participate in life’s unpleasantries. With the very rare exception, the wars of the rich are always fought by the poor.
This was an import along with the original settlers of America. Popular kindergarten level history portrays America as having been settled by people fleeing religious persecution and by those who could not find “justice” in Europe and came here seeking new opportunities to lead good and productive lives. Nothing could be further from the truth.
What arrived in America were the dregs of England’s overpopulated and underemployed society. They were the dregs, the garbage, the trash people; debtors running from debtors prison; vagabonds running from prison for being vagabonds; any category of unwanted and disregarded, essentially uneducated scoundrels. America, like Australia, was England’s dumping ground for those it did not wish to spend the money to hold in prisons.
In addition to these folks were indeed some few who had been persecuted for religious reasons. The Puritans strayed from Church of England compliance and in America established their own intolerant religious tyranny. So also did the Quakers. The Puritans established formal charts of preference that extended to which seat you might occupy in church and which of you might be allowed to sit with his family in church. You had to own land to be a citizen of the community. Without land ownership you were scum, entitled to nothing, not even to vote. The Quakers established a similarly intolerant society, one so awful that William Penn himself was forced to flee because he came to feel differently from the orthodoxy of the congregation. In either group, marrying outside the congregation was anathema, literally. Everyone other than the elect was dirt.
According to the doctrine of the religious “pilgrims” God himself ordained and established the line separating the upper class from the rubbish accumulating in the alleyways of society. They brought with them the European aristocratic system from which they had been excluded. While in England there was no more room for the appointment of landed aristocracy without ousting those aristocrats currently enjoying favor, these pretenders decided to establish aristocracy in America where landed gentry was an available status.
So much for a classless society in America.
Throughout the colonies and in the states after the American Revolution to free us from English tyranny, voting rights were only for the landed gentry. Non land owners, women, minorities of every stripe had no voting rights and damn few civil rights. The patrician planter aristocrat and his cronies ran the government and set all political, legal and social policy and law.
Washington and Jefferson thought of themselves as royalty. Their writings and how they voted on every issue made obvious that this was their perspective upon how a decent Christian country should be administered. Lower orders were fit only for slavery or indenture. Rules of indenture read much like todays franchise agreements. If an indentured man died, his family were required to fulfill the terms and tenure of the indenture, and as such, could be sold and traded just like slaves. Indeed the children of indentured men were the property of their “owner” just as in the instance of slaves. These offspring were considered to be increase in the wealth of their owners, and breeding was encouraged for that purpose. The wife of an indentured man or a slave was expected to provide one child every two years in order to be considered an adequate contributor to the relationship. The laws were so configured that it was close to impossible for the poor ever to become landowners and impossible ever to climb socially. You remained who you were born to be.
The status of the “rubbish” as they came to be called was that they were useful more to fight in the wars of the wealthy. Rich men’s wars are always poor men’s fights. In that manner, society periodically was cleansed of its trash. Their work expectations were seldom really fulfilled, and they were thought of as slothful, lazy, immoral, drunken louts whose principal value was in breeding more human property.
Eventually the lack of opportunity caused people to leave the east coast and move over the Appalachian Mountains to occupy the land between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River. This was accomplished by driving the Native Americans from the land, by expulsion or genocide, whichever was more convenient at the moment. That accomplished, it was then feared by the landed aristocracy of the east that the new land to the west might become available to squatters. To remedy this, all that land was made Federal property available only through purchase. As those moving west had no money, the purchasers of that territory could only be the patrician large eastern land owners who were sold the land at very cheap prices. Social standing through ownership was cordoned off, and the settlers were still confined to tenants/renters.
This was the course of society through the election of Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, the first non establishment member of Congress and national politician, a total non establishment person who initiated policy changes calculated to enable financial and social advancement for the common man, America’s rubbish as they were called. Thus westward expansion became somewhat of a leveling influence in America. It is still a work in progress. As we look at America today it is easy to see some of these fossilized remnants of early patrician America.
Much of the impetus for the Civil War may be found in the fear of freed blacks by whites at the bottom of the socio economic scale, people with no education, doing physical work until their strength gave out or they were injured. There was no safety net for them, social or economic – no social security, no access to any medical resources whatsoever, whose children would in all likelihood follow that same dead end path. The only thing lower than they were in America were the blacks who were enslaved. Unfortunately today that fear of finding themselves at the bottom of every social, economic yardstick continues to be a major propelling force.
Today’s “conservatives” are trading on that fear. Attacks on minorities and refugees are carried out by these terrified people with no prospects, believing that they are doing so in the name of establishing a healthier society, something they are told by the “Alt Right” that now inhabits the halls of the White House in the person of Steve Bannon and his ilk. As Trump said, he would run as a Republican because they are where national stupidity lies. Their voters consist in large part of terrified white people who fear social displacement by blacks and now by refugees.
Even as a school kid I was aware that there were tough, desperate inhabitants of a dark corner of America. I went to school with them, at least through most of high school. They brought their parents’ attitude to school with them every day. In high school there was a rump junior KKK. But all through the rest of my life, until; now, I failed to recognize that the darkest corner of our society was filled with hordes of angry people ready to lash out whenever some “leader” wanting to use their anger told them to follow him to some imagined glory.
Now these people follow the most malevolent leadership in our history. The poison is spread throughout our society and spills over into our international relations. Those we traditionally considered our allies no longer know what to think of where we are going. Our own freedom of world travel is now to be curtailed in retaliation against our international policies, whether it is official hatred of Muslims or expressions of a willingness to abandon our commitments to our traditional friends in Europe or policies favoring deportation of productive Latinos, even breaking up families in the process.
We are in a very dark place. Darker than any I have ever seen. What we fought in other societies is now forcing itself upon our own. No one can be indifferent, thinking that it doesn’t/won’t affect him or his family. If it doesn’t directly impact you and yours today, it will in a few weeks or months. I never ever thought I would say this, but it is time to rise and strike with every lawful means at our disposal.
By Seamus Muldoon, Himself
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