Correspondence

History and Nature

Thanks for your response.  I enjoyed it immensely, and I believe you will understand that this is debate as it should be, not the invective that often substitutes for intellectual vibrancy these sad days.

One of the pitfalls of this point in history is that everything ends up reduced to discussions of “slavery.”  One single institution is used to paint the entire past with a broad brush as “oppressive.”  With such an attitude, a society is forced to spit on the graves of its ancestors, and no civilization that does that can survive.  Slavery has been practiced in various historical contexts; in Western civilization it has never been a norm, and during its relatively brief existence in the American South, it was vehemently protested against by such poets as William Cowper and William Blake in Britain as well as the whole abolitionist movement.  If you ever look into some of the writers in Chronicles such as Clyde Wilson, you’ll find that the South would in all likelihood have phased the practice out without the Civil War occurring; of course, we cannot know for sure.  But everything cannot be reduced to this alone.  Even giving women the vote is legitimately controversial; the whole feminist argument about women being collectively “oppressed” is ahistorical and open to rebuttal.  As early as 1910 G.K. Chesterton wrote a brilliant essay called “Feminism: The Mistake...

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