Saturday, January 09, 2010

Slaves, Guns and Mind Control in Colonial America

Archaeology is challenging the belief that American slaves were controlled by denying them weapons, including guns. Recent work by historical archaeologists like Ywone Edward-Ingram and Marley Brown reveals that not only were slaves armed, their owners armed them intentionally:

Says Brown:
"Providing guns to slaves was also, quite literally, against the law of the day. But it turns out that the practice of giving firearms to slaves so that they could hunt was widespread."

This makes sense: picking cotton, cutting indigo or planting rice is hard work that requires a lot of calories. Even if you don't have to pay your laborers, you still have to feed them. This is easier and cheaper if you let them feed themselves.

But why on earth would armed slaves allow themselves and their loved ones to be degraded and abused, sold and separated? Brown provides the answer:
"The risk of an armed resistance had already been substantially reduced by a complex set of emotional and psychological relationships as well as by the threat of actual physical restraint and punishment. Thus, the recovery of gun parts at slave quarters in the 1970s, surprising as it seemed then, made sense in terms of the larger complex of slave-master relations, and particularly the well-established techniques used by slaveholders to maintain control over their slaves."

This should make clear to contemporary 2nd Amendment advocates that the means to keep your freedoms are useless without the will to keep them. Look at the typical gun owner talking about defending freedom and compare that with the cowering acquiesce with which Americans have accepted warrantless wiretaps and evasion of court oversight, suspension of habeas corpus, secret detentions, torture and the pervasive lie that challenging the executive's decisions during war time is somehow treasonous. If daily updated terror-level color charts and pointless "security theater" by airport TSA drones aren't part of a "complex set of emotional and psychological relationships" designed to subdue the population, I don't know what to call them. I can't help but shake my head at the disconnect between rhetoric and action in our "home of the brave."

As Bob Marley said, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."

3 comments:

brian r said...

Zak,
Very interesting read. I think a lot of it has to do with fear of retribution and the consequences of their actions if slaves had taken arms against their "masters." Remember that by law they were lesser people and therefore the law and "justice" would not be very forgiving if they were caught and prosecuted. That is if they were even given a trial (which obviously wouldn't be fair). It would likely take a very well organized revolt to get people willing to turn on their "masters."

The same would probably hold true in present day regarding citizens taking arms against our government. I think that there would be a lot of fear holding people back from doing so, unless there was a large organized group willing to do this.

This fear is very powerful and can certainly act as a mind control agent.

ToeJamm said...

I agree with Brian. Just cause these slaves were LENDED a few hunting muskets doesnt mean they were armed to the teeth and ready for a battle against some good ol boys from the south. The masters probably knew the slave they were giving the weapon to and trusted the slaves judgement.

Zak Johnson said...

Hard to say, ToeJamm. The archaeological evidence is based on what was found in slave dwellings, though, not just the big house. The pre-invasion domination of Iraq by the Sunnis--roughly 20% at most--is probably a good modern analogy.