Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Slavery and Tyranny

Thomas Sowell reminds us about how slavery was ended in the last century: (hat tip: Betsy's Page)

...nowhere before the 18th century was there any serious question raised about whether slavery was right or wrong. In the late 18th century, that question arose in Western civilization, but nowhere else.
It seems so obvious today that, as Lincoln said, if slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. But no country anywhere believed that three centuries ago....

The anti-slavery movement was spearheaded by people who would today be called "the religious right" and its organization was created by conservative businessmen. Moreover, what destroyed slavery in the non-Western world was Western imperialism.

Nothing could be more jolting and discordant with the vision of today's intellectuals than the fact that it was businessmen, devout religious leaders and Western imperialists who together destroyed slavery around the world. And if it doesn't fit their vision, it is the same to them as if it never happened.

As anti-slavery ideas eventually spread throughout Western civilization, a worldwide struggle pitted the West against Africans, Arabs, Asians and virtually the entire non-Western world, which still saw nothing wrong with slavery. But Western imperialists had gunpowder weapons first and that enabled the West to stamp out slavery in other societies as well as in its own.

Sowell makes these comments in reviewing a book "Bury the Chains". I urge you to read the entire Townhall commentary. I had never thought to connect the abolition of slavery and the abolition of tyranny as parallel processes, but Sowell does, and it's very eye-opening.

Too many people today seem to rush to the conclusion that the equation of [moral conviction + business+ fighting against tyranny = the Good ] is a fascist plot. But those who have the courage to look beyond such stereotyping can see that history is filled with examples of free people with the courage of their convictions overcoming tyranny and hate. I believe we are in such an historical period now.

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