Fri Oct 13 00:09:47 PDT 2000

In a message dated 10/12/00 5:21:04 PM Eastern Daylight Time, CharlesB at writes:

<< You describe his racist thesis in what you say following here. The thesis that the slaveowners ruled significantly by consent is a racist thesis. Not revolting and accomodating yourself to force is not CONSENT. Upon legal analogy, agreeing to do something under duress is not consent.


Even if the thesis is false it is not racist. It does not say or imply or presuppose that the slaves were biologically or in any other way, say culturally, inferior to whites as a race. Moreover, the terms "consent" and "coercion" here are derived from Gramsci, who argues that no ruling group can long maintain its power by mere brute force ("coercion"), but must also rule largely by accommodating, to the extent necessary to prevent revolt, the interests of the subordinate groups, and to make a claim that is at least accepted by the acquiesence of those groups, to rule by right. This is "consent," and it is compatible with a lot of resentment and resistance to a ruling group's rule as klong as that resistance is not fundamental.

Gramsci's complex notionof consent is partly intended to attack the naive liberal idea that mere consent legitimates a group's rule, end of story. Gramsci was talking about workers and capitalists, but Genovese extended his idea brilliantly to slaves and masters. Moreover, I think he was right. So did Malcom X, I will remark,a lthough he did not know Gramsci or Genovese. But the ideas are in his writing.

I think it would be more productive for you discuss where you disagree and why than to spatter slurs.


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