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Category Archives: Abolition Of Work
Posted: August 25, 2017 at 3:59 am
If you understand relations among races, a social more than biological concept, youre ahead of me. Have you had an experience like this? In western North Carolina at the 50th wedding anniversary of a friend from my grade-school years, the fiddlers vocalist sang that people who thought men descended from monkeys were as dumb as monkeys. Pointing to the Confederate battle flags on my friends pickup, I asked whether his son, at whom I pointed, objected. No, he said. He knows I fly them to honor our heritage.
My friend and his wife, both white, adopted their son, now a successful black entrepreneur, when he was a troubled adolescent. Though parading Confederate flags is their privilege, why do it? I did not ask their son for his view.
The Czechs were right to tear down the Stalin Monument in Prague, and the Taliban were evil to blow up the 1,700-year-old statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Though slave owners and racists, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson built our nation and their monuments should stand. Robert E. Lee, in contrast, though a unifier after the war, fought as a traitor. We may hesitate, thinking of the Taliban, to destroy statues, but most of his should be moved or given context.
Though slavery is our original sin, the sin did not end with abolition. New evidence for the economic facet of that, as if more were needed, comes in a paper by William Collins and Marianne Wanamaker entitled, Up from Slavery? Painstakingly putting together data from census records from 1880 through 1930, Collins and Wanamaker address the question: Why were blacks in 1930 no higher in the income distribution than in 1880? The painstaking part of their work was linking sons to fathers from census to census, to see how far sons rose or fell from their fathers place in income rank.
They did that because the low income of blacks in 1930 could arise, in a mathematical sense, from starting very low, or from making little progress from father to son. (It was impossible, since women took their husbands names, to link daughters to parents.) Obviously blacks, newly freed, started low. More important, however, was that at all income ranks, sons of black fathers had far less chance of climbing. Even sons of well-off black men were likely to end up below the sons of poor whites.
It was the inheritance of race, not social class, that held back the former slaves and their descendants. The simple reason blacks did not rise before 1930 is racism. Collins and Wanamaker highlight two aspects of that. Though there were public schools for all, racial gaps in school quality widened from 1880 to 1910, and by 1910 the political disenfranchisement of southern blacks was nearly complete.
The statues at the center of controversy today, as is often noted, were erected to celebrate not the Civil War but the Jim Crow eras repression of blacks. Had it not been for that repression, the relative incomes of African Americans would have been as high by 1910 as they are today, a century later.
What about the years after 1930? Though black progress was greater than before, it has still been slow. First, World War II tightened labor markets, helping most those on the bottom rungs of the job ladder. A further boost came from the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts in the mid-1960s, which improve employment opportunities for blacks, especially men. After being forced to hire African Americans, employers discovered that they worked just as hard and ably as whites.
The Civil Rights Act also had a delayed effect in the 1990s. With improved black family incomes and with hospitals forced to serve minorities, the health of black infants improved dramatically during the post-neonatal period the period from one month to, say, three years. When those infants became adults, their better health, both mental and physical, resulted in higher incomes and less disability.
With that exception, however, there has been little progress since the early 1980s. Minority children have been re-segregated into poorer schools. Soaring imprisonment has disrupted black neighborhoods. And now we see racism coming into the open.
Dave Denslow is a retired University of Florida economics professor.
Posted: August 22, 2017 at 11:52 pm
There are many and varied examples of the assessment jargon that litters education. The system assesses so oftenthat conjuring new names for the manner and form of it is an art, requiring not only teachers but also parents and students to use them ad nauseum.
One such is controlled assessment: that contribution to the final qualification outcome made not by an examination, but by some form of project work, completed under the supervision of the class teacher, who also then marks it.
Controlled assessment is so named because it is not coursework, which could be taken home. Instead, it must be done in class time.
The latitude given to teachers in controlled assessment issubstantialand the opportunities to nudge the results of some, most or indeed all of the children in the desired direction is ever-present. Perhaps through sharing the specific question too early, or inappropriately editing a students work.
Even if an individual teacher has the moral fibre to resist that temptation, senior management might take a different viewand subtly or perhaps bluntly highlight ways in which the constraints of the rubric can be pushed against and, in some cases, pushed through.
It is a hard truth to acknowledge that cheating or the hardly better euphemism gaming is a problem in teaching. In 2016there were 388 penalties for all forms of cheating, including controlled assessment infractions, issued to school and college staff, an increase from 262 in 2015 and 119 in 2014.
The Tesforums are filled with people who suspect itand several who are open that they have seen it happening in their own school and do not know what to do about it. Innocent teachers and students were the victims of this behaviour.
In 2010, the coalition government more-or-less resolved this problem for teachers by announcing the almost totalabolition of controlled assessment from the reformed GCSEs. This week, the results of the first of those GCSEs English language, English literature and mathematics will be published.
Given that both the content and the construction of the exams is deliberately designed to make them harder, it is likely schools will see some decline in the quality of their results.
Students should be spared problems arising from this by the decision to align the new Grade 4 with the bottom of the old C-grade, so much the same number as got passing grades last year will get them this year, too. Schools, who are to be judged on the number of Grade 5 students receive, may feel more aggrieved.
Almost certainly, some will seek to blame the abolition of controlled assessment in English as one of the reasons for the changes in outcomes. They will probably be right, because controlled assessment is habitually marked more positively than terminal examinations, but no teacher should mourn the loss of controlled assessment.
As well as being enormous amounts of work to teach, invigilate and mark, it presented an unpleasant ethical challenge to all teachers and left a whiff of immorality around our profession that we are well rid of.
John Blake is head of education and social reform at the think-tank Policy Exchange, before which he was a state-school history teacher for 10 years.
Keep up to date with all the latest GCSE news, views and analysis on ourGCSE hub.
Find outwhat colleagues are chatting about in your discipline by visiting the subject based forums in the Tes Community or you can join in the conversation about GCSE results day.
Posted: at 11:52 pm
State Government employees in almost all departments boycotted work and more than 10,000 of them took to the streets on Tuesday in response to a State-wide strike call given by the Joint Action Committee of Tamilnadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations (JACTO-GEO).
According to sources, around 5,000 employees from various government offices and nearly 5,500 teachers from State Government-run and aided schools with affiliation to the JACTO-GEO protested in Pollachi, Valparai, Mettupalayam, Sulur, Annur and Kinathukadavu.
The Coimbatore city too saw a protest in front of the Coimbatore South Taluk office. The sources said that around 50 % of the employees from various departments and nearly 50 per cent teachers boycotted work.
Around 2,500 of them, including nearly 1,000 women employees, participated in the protest.
District representatives of JACTO-GEO M. Rajasekaran, V. Senthilkumar and S. Ganesh Kumar led the protests.
C. Arasu, member, district high-level committee, JACTO-GEO, said they had only three demands – the State Government should give up the new contributory pension scheme and revert to the old pension scheme. The new pension scheme was not beneficial to employees and kin of employees who had died in harness did not stand to gain.
The employees were unaware where the money deducted towards pension was and did not want to continue in the new scheme.
V. Senthilkumar said the employees wanted the State Government to implement the Eighth Pay Commission and that too after removing the anomalies in the Seventh Pay Commission. In the interim period, the government should pay 20 % as relief.
Todays was a token strike. If the Government did not heed to their demands, the employees would go on an indefinite strike from September 7, the leaders added.
To mitigate the impact of strike, the School Education Department had roped in students of Bachelor of Education, part-time and special teachers to teach students in its schools. It also took help from private school managements.
Around 11,200 employees of various government departments, affiliated to Joint Action Council of Tamil Nadu Teachers Organisations and Government Employees Organisations, struck work in the district on Tuesday.
The employees staged a protest in front of the Collectorate to highlight their multiple demands including abolition of contributory pension scheme.
Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:10 pm
When enslaved Africans arrived in the Americas, they were often alone, separated from their family and community, unable to communicate with those around them. The following descriptionis from’The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano’:
“When we arrived in Barbados (in the West Indies) many merchants and planters came on board and examined us. We were then taken to the merchant’s yard, where we were all pent up together like sheep in a fold. On a signal the buyers rushed forward and chose those slaves they liked best.”
On arrival, the Africans were prepared for sale like animals. They were washed and shaved: sometimes their skins were oiled to make them appear healthy and increase their sale price.
Depending on where they had arrived, the enslaved Africans were sold through agents by public auction or by a scramble’, in which buyers simply grabbed whomever they wanted. Sales often involved measuring, grading and intrusive physical examination.
Sold, branded and issued with a new name, the enslaved Africans were separated and stripped of their identity. In a deliberate process, meant to break their will power and make them totally passive and subservient, the enslaved Africans were seasoned.’ This means that, for a period of two to three years, they were trained to endure their work and conditions – obey or receive the lash. It was mental and physical torture.
Life expectancywas short, on many plantations only 7-9 years. The high slave replacement figures were one piece of evidence used by the abolitionist, Anthony Benezet, to counter arguments that enslaved peoplebenefitted from removal from Africa.
Other descriptions of the arrival and sale of enslaved people: Captain Stedman describes the condition of enslaved people leaving a slave ship Dr Cullen describes the arrival of the enslaved people in the West Indies Dr Alexander Falconbridge describes a sale, 1778Henry Lauren describes a sale, 1786
What was life like for the enslaved person?
Itwas a life of endless labour.They worked up to 18 hours a day, sometimes longer at busy periods such as harvest. There were no weekends or rest days.
The dominant experience for most Africans was work on the sugar plantations. In Jamaica, for example, 60% worked on the sugarplantations and, by the early 19th century, 90% of enslaved Africans in Nevis, Montserrat and Tobago toiled on sugar slave estates.
The major secondary crop was coffee, which employed sizable numbers on Jamaica, Dominica, St Vincent, Grenada, St Lucia, Trinidad and Demerara. Coffee plantations tended to be smaller than sugar estates and, because of their highland locations, were more isolated.
A few colonies grew no sugar. On Belize most enslaved Africans were woodcutters; on the Cayman Islands, Anguilla and Barbuda, a majority of slaves lived on small mixed agricultural holdings; on the Bahamas, cotton cultivation was important for some decades.Even on a sugar-dominated island like Barbados, about one in ten slaves produced cotton, ginger and aloe. Livestock ranching was important on Jamaica, where specialised pens emerged.
By the 1760s, on mainland North American plantations, half of enslaved African people were occupied in cultivating tobacco, rice and indigo.
Children under the age of six, a few elderly people and some people with physical disabilities were the only people exempt from labour.
Individuals were allocated jobs according to gender, age, colour, strength and birthplace. Men dominated skilled trades and women generally came to dominate field gangs. Age determined when enslaved people entered the work force, when they progressed from one gang to another, when field hands became drivers and when field hands were retired as watchmen. The offspring of planters and enslaved African women were often allocated domestic work or, in the case of men, to skilled trades.
Children were sent to work doing whatever tasks they were physically able. This could include cleaning, water carrying, stone picking and collecting livestock feed.In addition to their work in the fields, women were used to carry outthe duties of servants,child minders and seamstresses. Women could be separated from their children and sold to different ‘owners’ at any time.
Mary Prince, in her autobiography,described her experience ofbeing enslaved andseparated from her mother. To hear an extract from the autobiography.
A description of the life of an enslaved plantation workerwas described by Renny in 1807. To here the description.
How did the plantation owners control the enslaved people?
The plantation owners may have controlled the work and physical well being of enslaved people, but they could never control their minds. The enslaved people resisted at every opportunity and in many different ways – see the resistance section.
There was always the constant threat of uprising and keeping thoseenslaved under controlwas a priority of all plantation owners. The laws created to control enslaved populations were severe andillustrated the tensions that existed. The laws passed by the Islands’ governing Assemblies are often referred to as the Black Codes.’
Any enslaved personfound guilty of committing or plotting serious offences, such as violence against the plantation owner or destruction of property, was put to death. Beatings and whippings were a common punishment, as well as the use of neck collars or leg irons for less serious offences, such as failure to work hard enough or insubordination, which covered many things.
Thomas Clarkson described the life of an enslaved person in a speech to a gathering at Ipswich. To hear an extract of this speech.
Go here to see the original:
Posted: at 6:10 pm
The United States has not always been the worlds leading jailer, the only affluent democracy to make incapacitation its criminal justice systems goal. Once upon a time, it fashioned itself as the very model of what Michel Foucault called the disciplinary society. That is, it took an enlightened approach to punishment, progressively tethering it to rehabilitative ideals. Today, it is a carceral state, plain and simple. It posts the highest incarceration rate in the world as well as the highest violent crime rate among high-income countries.
Politicians, reporters, and activists from across the political spectrum have analyzed the ongoing crisis of mass incarceration. Their accounts sometimes depict our current plight as an expression of puritanism, as an extension of slavery or Jim Crow, or as an exigency of capitalism. But these approaches fail to address the question that ought to be foremost in front of us: what was the nature of the punitive turn that pushed the US off the path of reform and turned its correctional system into a rogue institution?
While the state-sanctioned brutality that now marks the American criminal justice system has motivated many activists to call for the complete abolition of prisons, we must begin with a clearer understanding of the complex institutional shifts that created and reproduce the phenomenon of mass incarceration. Only then will we be able to see a clear path out of the current impasse.
The core features of Foucaults account of crime, punishment, and social control are well known, although they have not always been well understood. In the disciplinary society he describes, authorities progressively withdraw punishment from public view. And as discipline becomes increasingly private, it shifts its focus from criminals bodies to their minds. Increasingly, punishment is calculated to rehabilitate it is not meant to damage or destroy.
Foucault highlighted how these disciplinary reforms created new and more effective tactics for consolidating power, especially as they spread to non-judicial institutions, like schools, hospitals, factories, and offices. Unlike its predecessor, sovereign power, which subtracts giving kings the right to seize property, to damage or take lives disciplinary power corrects. The Enlightenments gentle punishments would convince the miscreant to mend his crooked ways, not beat the bad behavior out of him.
An American preference for rehabilitative discipline over harsh punishment has deep roots. Resonant with the image of the country as a nation of laws, American justice promised to punish lawbreakers only as much as was necessary to straighten them out. The Bill of Rights prohibited torture, and the Quaker reformers who founded early American penitentiaries treated them as utopian experiments in discipline, purgatories where penitents would suffer and introspect until they found salvation.
No doubt time and circumstance created different opinions about how much suffering genuine personal reformation required, but American practices generally aligned with rising standards of decency. As James Q. Whitman notes, Europeans once viewed the US prison system as a model of enlightened practices. Foreign governments sent delegations on tours of American penitentiaries, and Alexis de Tocqueville extolled the mildness of American punishment.
Of course, we can find exceptions. Southern penal systems, racialized after the Civil War under the convict-lease system, didnt even pretend to have rehabilitative aims. They existed to control the black population and supply cheap labor for agriculture and industry. No doubt, too, the spectacles of punishment associated with popular colonial justice the pillory, the stockade, the scarlet letter cast long shadows across American history.
But, even in the face of these contradictions, the US criminal justice system seemed to support a grand narrative of progressive history: the arc of history bends toward justice, and the slave drivers lash and the lynch mobs noose disappeared as the nation extended more rights and more freedoms to more people. Reasoned law inexorably overcomes communal violence and brute domination.
Arthur Schlesinger Jr thus distinguishes the true essence of the United States from its various manifestations of racism and intolerance, glossing history as the perpetual struggle of Americans to fulfill their deepest values in an enigmatic world.
As recently as fifty-odd years ago, Americans could still believe this story. Here, as in other North Atlantic countries, modern penal models that stress rehabilitation, reform, and welfare had become the prevailing approaches. At the peak of this trend, Great Society programs attempted to address crimes socioeconomic causes: poverty, institutional racism, alienation.
Indeed, as a result of the legal reforms of the 1960s, the American prison population was shrinking, and the state was developing alternatives to incarceration: kinder, gentler institutions that focused on supervision, reeducation, and rehabilitation. To many observers, the prison system actually seemed to be reforming itself out of existence. Leo Bersanis review of Foucaults Discipline and Punish began with the (now astonishing) sentence The era of prisons may be nearly over.
Nothing in Foucaults analysis or anyone elses, as David Garland has remarked could have predicted what followed: a sudden punitive turn designed to incapacitate prisoners rather than rehabilitate them. The practice of locking people up for long periods of time became the criminal justice systems organizing principle, and prisons turned into a reservation system, a quarantine zone where purportedly dangerous individuals are segregated in the name of public safety. The resulting system of mass incarceration, Garland writes, resembles
nothing so much as the Soviet gulag a string of work camps and prisons strung across a vast country, housing [more than] two million people most of whom are drawn from classes and racial groups that have become politically and economically problematic. Like the pre-modern sanctions of transportation or banishment, the prison now functions as a form of exile.
At the peak of this mania, one in every ninety-nine adults was behind bars. Since 2008, these numbers have leveled off and even posted modest declines, but the basic contours remain intact. The United States ranks first in imprisonment among significant nations, whether measured in terms of incarceration rates which remains five to ten times higher than those of other developed democracies or in terms of the absolute number of people in prison.
Hyper-policing helped make hyper-punishment possible. By the mid-2000s, police were arresting a staggering fourteen million Americans each year, excluding traffic violations up from a little more than three million in 1960. That is, the annual arrest rate as a percentage of the population nearly tripled, from 1.6 percent in 1960 to 4.5 percent in 2009. Today, almost one-third of the adult population has an arrest record.
At prevailing rates of incarceration, one in every fifteen Americans will serve time in a prison. For men the rate is more than one in nine. For African American men, the expected lifetime rate runs even higher: roughly one in three.
These figures have no precedent in the United States: not under Puritanism, not even under Jim Crow. While some observers point to significant declines in crime statistics after 1994 as evidence of these policies success, informed estimates show that locking up millions of people for long periods contributed to only as much as 27 percent and as little as 10 percent of the overall reduction in crime.
Eighth Amendment prohibitions notwithstanding, conditions in Americas crowded prisons have sunk to the level of torture. Indeed, the Supreme Courts Brown v. Plata decision affirmed that overpopulation itself constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, creating unsafe and unsanitary conditions, depriving prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care. The court found that mass incarceration is incompatible with the concept of human dignity.
In this context, structural abuses invariably flourish. Reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch catalog various forms of sanctioned and unsanctioned human rights abuses. These include beatings and chokings, extended solitary confinement in maximum security and so-called supermax prisons, the mistreatment of juvenile and mentally ill detainees, and the inhumane use of restraints, electrical devices, and attack dogs.
Modern prisons have become places of irredeemable harm and trauma. J. C. Oleson surveys these dehumanizing warehouse prisons, where guards have overseen systems of sexual slavery or orchestrated gladiator-style fights between inmates.
Sally Mann Romano describes shocking brutality in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of Californias Pelican Bay State Prison, once touted as a model supermax prison:
It was in this unit that Vaughn Dortch, a prisoner with a life-long history of mental problems, was confined after a conviction for grand theft. There, the stark conditions of isolation caused his mental condition to dramatically deteriorate, to the point that he smeared himself repeatedly with feces and urine. Prison officials took Vaughn to the infirmary to bathe him and asked a medical technician, Irven McMillan, if he wanted a part of this bath. McMillan responded that he would take some of the brush end, referring to a hard bristle brush which is wrapped in a towel and used to clean an inmate. McMillan asked a supervisor for help, but she refused. Ultimately, six guards wearing rubber gloves held Vaughn, with his hands cuffed behind his back, in a tub of scalding water. His attorney later estimated the temperature to be about 125 degrees. McMillan proceeded with the bath while one officer pushed down on Vaughns shoulder and held his arms in place. After about fifteen minutes, when Vaughn was finally allowed to stand, his skin peeled off in sheets, hanging in large clumps around his legs. Nurse Barbara Kuroda later testified without rebuttal that she heard a guard say about the black inmate that it looks like were going to have a white boy before this is through his skin is so dirty and so rotten, its all fallen off. Vaughn received no anesthetic for more than forty-five minutes, eventually collapsed from weakness, and was taken to the emergency room. There he went into shock and almost died.
This scene recalls the opening moments of Discipline and Punish, in which Foucault graphically recounts the slow destruction of Robert-Franois Damienss living body in 1757. Of course, todays torture doesnt appear as a spectacle, staged for public edification. Nor does it resemble the touch of pain strategically administered as bitter medicine to cure the lawbreaker of his sickness a concept of corporeal punishment that goes back to Plato. In those cases, pain served a greater social purpose.
In contrast, a set of invisible and unsanctioned but nonetheless systematic practices, hidden away in the most secret parts of the penal system, has allowed brutality to flourish. Away from public scrutiny, it thrives on retributions personalized and sadistic logic, all that remains of the criminal justice systems moral purpose after rehabilitation disappeared.
Oleson summarizes the logic of the present system: [t]he prison no longer attempts to make angels of men. In modern prisons, a transformation of an entirely different kind is taking place: men are becoming animals. We should not be surprised that the modern penal system a pressure cooker of idle men packed into cramped space devolves into overt torture, for this prison was already an institution in which awful things regularly happen. Nor should we be surprised that these zealous punishments dehumanize the punishers no less than the punished.
The transition from a disciplinary to a punitive penal system happened very quickly, although its implications would go unnoticed for a long time. Arguably, we still dont fully understand the nature of this cultural shift, which exceeds the penal system and appears in a number of the institutions of everyday life. But I get ahead of myself.
The punitive turn began in the turmoil of the 1960s, a time of rapidly rising crime rates and urban disorder. In 1968, with US cities in flames and white backlash gaining momentum, congress overwhelmingly passed and Lyndon Johnson reluctantly signed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act. As Jonathan Simon has suggested, the act became something like a blueprint for subsequent crime-control lawmaking.
Shaped by a conservative coalition of Western Republicans and Southern Democrats, the legislation invested heavily in local law enforcement, asserted rules for police interrogations designed to countermand the liberal Warren courts decisions, including Miranda, allowed wiretapping without court approval, and, in a successful bid to secure liberal support, included modest gun control provisions.
Although the legislation did little to increase criminal penalties, it reversed the logic of earlier Great Society programs; instead of providing direct investment, the acts block grants ceded control to local agencies, often controlled by conservative governors. Most importantly, the act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), an independent branch of the Justice Department. Blaming low conviction rates on a lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, the LEAA launched demonstration projects aimed at recruiting citizens into the war on crime.
Tough talk about law and order articulated the strange new angers, anxieties, and resentments racking the nation in the 1960s, as Rick Perlstein has shown, and, by 1972, Richard Nixon had consolidated a new governing coalition that still dominates American politics. Nixons anti-crime narrative appealed to the traditional Republican bases rural and small-town values and incorporated conservative Southern Democrats, who viewed the civil rights movement as lawless and disorderly. It also attracted Northern hardhat conservatives and white ethnic voters alarmed at escalating crime, urban riots, and campus unrest. In short, the nascent war on crime firmed up white backlash and gave durable political form to a conservative counter-counterculture.
But race reactionaries were not the only group spreading tough law-and-order rhetoric. Vanessa Barker has described how African American activists, representing the communities hardest hit by surging crime rates, also agitated for harsher penalties for muggers, drug dealers, and first-degree murderers.
In 1973, incarceration rates began an unprecedented thirty-five-year climb, and political tides began to turn even in liberal states. That year, New York passed the most draconian drug legislation in the country. Under the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the minimum penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin was fifteen years to life. (It took until 2009 for New York to retire much of what remained of these laws.)
Ironically, the Left was helping to prepare the way for a decisive turn to the Right. Leftist activists from the civil rights, black power, and antiwar movements were leveling heavy criticism against the criminal justice system, and rightly so. Patterns of police brutality had been readily discernible triggers of urban unrest and race riots in the late 1960s, and minorities were overrepresented in the prison population (although not as much as today). Summing up New Left critiques, the American Friends Service Committees 1971 report, Struggle for Justice, blasted the US prison system not only for repressing youth, the poor, and minorities but also for paternalistically emphasizing individual rehabilitation. Rehabilitate the system, not the individual, the report urged but the point got lost in the rancorous debates that followed. As David Garland carefully shows, the ensuing nothing works consensus among progressive scholars and experts discouraged prison reform and ultimately lent weight to the arguments of conservatives, whose approach to crime has always been a simple one: Punish the bad man. Put lawbreakers behind bars and keep them there.
In 1974, Robert Martinsons influential article What Works? marked a definitive turning point. Examining rehabilitative penal systems efficacy, Martinson articulated the emerging consensus nothing works, and rehabilitation was a hopelessly misconceived goal.
Tapping into the zeitgeist, Hollywood released Death Wish that same year, followed by a host of other vigilante revenge films. Exploitation movies enlisted a familiar Victorian spectacle sexual outrages against girls and women in the service of right-wing populism. Their plotlines invariably connected liberals, civil libertarians, and high-minded elites with the criminals who tormented the ordinary citizen. Notably, however, such films carefully muted the racial backlash that had inaugurated the punitive turn: they depicted the vicious criminal as white, allowing audiences to enjoy the visceral thrill of vengeance without troubling their racial consciences.
Comprehensive crime-control bills came and went during the Reagan-Bush years, each more punitive than the last, and new social movements emerged around the politicization of crime.
The victims rights movement played an important role in this story. The movement had started inside the liberal welfare state, and proponents originally saw aid for victims of violent crime as the other half of their attempts to rehabilitate convicts. But, as conservatives recruited victims advocacy and self-help groups into the war on crime, the movement began to pit victims rights against the rights of the accused, aligning with claims that hordes of criminals were escaping justice on legal technicalities.
By 1982, the Reagan administration was drawing this movement securely within the compass of the right, as Bruce Shapiro explained. That year, the Presidents Task Force on Victims of Crime published a report based largely on anecdotal horror stories of double victimization and official unresponsiveness. Based in part on this report, congress passed the Victims of Crime Act in 1984.
This movement focused national attention on victims at a time when violent crime rates remained stubbornly high, providing the moral underpinnings for a punitive approach to crime. It persuaded voters to identify with victims, to diminish the rights of the accused, and to accept excessive policing. It aggressively lobbied for the harsher laws, enhanced penalties, and court procedures that put the prison system on steroids.
But liberal rationales also helped the punitive turn put down institutional roots. The victims rights movement had adopted feminist rhetoric around rape and domestic violence. For example, it claimed that survivors are victimized a second time by their unsatisfying experiences with the police and court system. During the same period, mainstream white feminists came to view rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence through a law-and-order lens and many started demanding harsh criminal penalties. This collusion between conservative victims rights advocates and white feminists undermined the historic liberal commitment to enlightened humanitarianism and progressive reform, especially as these related to crime and punishment.
Although no one could have known it at the time, the early 1990s represented a high-water mark in the crime wave that had begun in the early 1960s. In 1991, homicide rates crested at 9.8 per 100,000, matching the rate recorded in 1974 and almost matching the record rate of 10.2 per 100,000 set in 1980. After 1993, the thirty-year crime wave began to recede, but the punitive turn persisted.
In 1994, Democrats aggressively moved to take back the crime issue from Republicans, and a Democratically controlled congress passed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Like the 1968 act, this 1994 legislation pumped a great deal of federal funding into local law enforcement, funding 100,000 new police officers, new prison construction, and new prevention programs in poor neighborhoods. The new legislation also included an assault weapon ban.
Unlike the 1968 act, however, the 1994 version increased penalties for hate crimes, sex crimes, violence against women, and gang-related crimes. It required states to create sex-offender registries and prodded them to adopt truth in sentencing laws that would entail longer prison sentences. It also dramatically expanded the federal death penalty and eliminated support for inmate education programs.
The 1994 act completely reversed Great Society penal welfarism, consolidating the punitive approach, which Democrats, liberals, and some progressive advocacy groups now embraced. Indeed, lawmakers drafted many of the acts sweeping provisions with liberal interest groups in mind.
We have now lived through more than fifty years of this punitive turn. Its resilience resists simple explanations. Originally a conservative phenomenon, it condensed fears over rising crime rates with the political reaction to the upheavals of the 1960s. In its middle period, liberal aims and rhetoric helped spread the logic of incapacitation, enshrining the victim as the subject of governance and treating the offender like toxic waste to be disposed of or contained. Sensational journalism contributed to this shift, honing the publics focus on the victim, stoking panic and outrage.
Successive waves of draconian legislation targeted outsized monsters: drug dealers, repeat offenders, gang members, sexual predators, terrorists and their sympathizers. Americas zeal for punishment has been bolstered not by one or two causes but by a variety of changing factors. Today, perhaps, it persists as much out of institutional inertia as anything else.
If my thumbnail history is accurate, then we must recognize many of the prevailing critiques of American punishment today as either erroneous or partial and inadequate.
For example, we sometimes see scholarly work that treats mass incarceration as an instance of Foucaults theorized disciplinary system. It would be difficult to imagine a more confused approach. No doubt, todays system has retained many of the disciplinary regimes features: the existence of an institution called the prison; forms of power that penetrate even the smallest details of everyday life; the production of a carceral archipelago that exports surveillance from the penal institution to the entire social body. But all this tells us is that institutions communicate with each other: such examples of connectivity do not belong to the disciplinary mode of power alone.
In fact, the current regime of power represents a radical break with the disciplinary regimes logic and aims: by the early 1970s, the United States was renouncing the corrective focus of penal welfarism, and it now deploys supplementary surveillance beyond the walls of the prison not to rehabilitate offenders or regulate conduct but to catch lawbreakers and feed more and more people into the prison system.
Scholars who study the penal system have developed a large body of work connecting mass incarceration to neoliberal economic policies of deregulation and privatization. Some posit a neoliberal cause and a punitive effect, while others argue that deregulation and privatization exacerbated social inequalities and therefore fostered a fear of crime, ultimately producing more surveillance, policing, and incarceration.
Bernard Harcourt provides a broader view, meticulously examining how classical liberal and neoliberal theories approach policing and punishment as market functions and regulators. In my view, however, he never quite demonstrates a strong connection between such models and present-day lawmaking, penalties, and practices.
No doubt, these analyses express an elemental truth about capitalism and coercion. The hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist, as an apologist for both once put it. But the language that describes societys humdrum workings cannot explain systemic changes or historic shifts. Nor should we assume that whatever intensifies capitalism will also intensify coercive tactics. After all, neoliberalism is a global phenomenon, but the punitive state remains distinctly American, at least among developed democracies.
In any case, arguments that link neoliberalism and mass incarceration do not match the actual historical trajectory or the varied political currents in play. The punitive turn, as I have sketched it, began in the mid-to-late 1960s, but neoliberal policies did not begin gaining ascendency until the late 1970s.
Certainly, mass incarceration has had large economic effects. Bruce Western and Katherine Beckett estimated that, during the 1990s, Americas zeal for incarceration shaved two percentage points off unemployment figures. Roughly 4 percent of the civilian labor force either works for the penal system or works to put people in prison. If one includes private security positions and workers who monitor or guard other laborers, the results are striking: in an increasingly garrisonized economy, one out of every four or five American laborers is employed in what Samuel Bowles and Arjun Jayadev call guard labor.
No doubt, the American variant of neoliberalism used these facts to help establish itself. Indeed, one might conclude that the punitive turn, with its disdain for rule-breakers, losers, and outcasts, paved the way for the neoliberal turn, with its love of the market.
Another common line of criticism begins by recognizing the role liberals have played in constructing the punitive state. This scholarship conveys essential truths, but it too often overcorrects the prevailing storyline and erases valuable points of reference.
Naomi Murakawas book, The First Civil Right, is a case in point. The author scrutinizes New Deal timidity in the face of racial violence and calls attention to prominent Democrats and liberals who helped build the prison state by pursuing color-blind laws and modern police forces. In telling this important story, however, Murakawa blurs the important distinction between the Great Society approach to law enforcement and the punitive turn that followed.
Had the Democratic Party stayed its fundamentally social-democratic course, had it kept with the penal systems reformist program, had the policies of Johnsons Attorney General Ramsey Clark remained in place, and this is no small matter had the criminal justice system continued to develop alternatives to incarceration, the United States would not have evolved into a carceral state.
It is of course possible that prison rates would still have risen with the crime rates between the 1970s and the 1990s, but they would not have exploded, and mass incarceration would have remained the stuff of dystopian fiction.
Many activists, journalists, and scholars have highlighted draconian drug penalties as a primary cause of mass incarceration. To be sure, the war on drugs played a significant role in the prison systems growth, especially during the 1980s. But it represents just one element of the larger war on crime and has been slowly winding down since the early 2000s.
Today, drug offenders represent only about 15 percent of sentenced prisoners. While this is by no means a negligible number, we need a wider perspective. Enhanced penalties for a variety of offenses drug possession and distribution, surely, but also violent crimes, repeat offenses, crimes committed with a firearm, and sex crimes have all fueled the growth of the penal system. One often-overlooked population is parole violators, who represented 26 percent of prison admissions in 2013. The fact that the parole system, devised to reduce the prison population, now enlarges it gives us important clues about the self-perpetuating nature of the system today.
Finally, sociologists, criminologists, and critical race scholars have closely scrutinized the racial disparities in arrest, prosecution, and incarceration rates. Many conclude that mass incarceration constitutes a modern regime of racial domination or a new Jim Crow.
This perspective highlights important facts. While African Americans make up only 13 percent of drug users, they account for more than a third of drug arrestees, more than half of those convicted on drug charges, and 58 percent of those ultimately sent to prison on drug charges. When convicted, a black person can expect to serve almost as much time for a drug offense as a white person would serve for a violent offense.
These statistics demonstrate how race-neutral laws can produce race-biased effects, especially when police, prosecutors, juries, and judges make racialized judgments all along the way. Needless to say, had the mania for incarceration devastated white middle- or even working-class communities as much as it has black lower- and working-class communities, it would have proved politically intolerable very quickly.
But the racial critique consistently downplays the effects of mass incarceration on non-black communities. The incarceration rate for Latinos has also risen, and the confinement and processing of undocumented immigrants has become especially harsh. And although white men are imprisoned at a substantially lower rate than either black or brown men, there are still more white men in prison, in both raw and per capita numbers, than at any time in US history.
In mid-2007, 773 of every 100,000 white males were imprisoned, roughly one-sixth the rate for black males (4,618 per 100,000) but more than three times the average rate of male confinement from the 1920s through 1972. As James Forman Jr argues, the racial critiques focus on African American imprisonment rates expressly discourages the cross-racial coalitions that will be required to dismantle mass incarceration.
In his important contribution to this debate, Forman has outlined the racial critiques main limitations. First, he argues that this analysis minimizes the historical effect of spiking crime rates on public opinion and lawmaking. By blaming only white backlash for harsher penalties, the racial critique obscures substantial levels of black support for these policies.
Second, Forman shows that the often-invoked Jim Crow system makes for a poor analogy with mass incarceration. Jim Crow was a legal caste system that took no notice of class distinctions among black people. By contrast, todays punitive system does not affect all African Americans the same way; rather, it predisposes the poorest and least educated to incarceration, and the impact of mass incarceration is concentrated in black inner-city neighborhoods. (As Bruce Western has shown, the risk of going to prison for college-educated black men actually decreased slightly between 1979 and 1999.)
Third, because of its emphasis on drug laws, the racial critique skirts the important question of violent crime. Roughly half the prisoners now in custody were convicted of violent crimes, and racial disparities among this population are even wider. [An] effective response to mass incarceration, Forman concludes, will require directly confronting the issue of violent crime and developing policy responses that can compete with the punitive approach that currently dominates American criminal policy.
We might make a similar argument about the racial critique of abusive policing, which highlights important injustices but fails to provide a comprehensive picture of the whole system. Police do kill more black than white men per capita, a disparity that only increases in the smaller subset of unarmed men killed in encounters with police. But in raw numbers cops kill almost twice as many white men, and non-blacks make up about 74 percent of the people killed by police. We cannot dismiss these numbers as collateral damage from a racialized system that targets black bodies.
Examining the profile of these unarmed men is revelatory. Statistically, an unarmed white man has a slightly smaller chance of being killed by law enforcement than he does of being killed by lightning; an unarmed black mans is a few times more. In either case, these rates are many times higher than in other affluent democracies, where violent crime rates are lower, the citizenry is less armed, and police if armed at all are less trigger-happy.
Whether black or white, the victims of police shootings have a lot in common: many were experiencing psychotic episodes either due to chronic mental illness or drug use when the police were called. Many had prior arrest records or were otherwise previously known to the police. Whether black, white, or brown, the victims of police shootings are disproportionately sub-proletarian or lower working-class.
Exceptions occur the white middle-class teen shot in the back while fleeing from the police; the black child spotted in the park and hastily shot with what turned out to be a toy gun but most victims appear to have lived lives of extreme precarity, variously marked by racial discrimination, poverty, mental illness, and social abandonment.
Thus far I have described the rise of the carceral state in largely negative terms: what happened in the late 1960s was not only a war on drugs nor a new system of racial domination but something wider. A succession of changing motives and rationales supported the punitive turn, and the urge to punish came from an array of sectors and institutions. The time has come to sum up my analysis in more positive terms.
First, beginning in the 1970s, all social institutions turned toward detection, capture, and sanction. A broad-spectrum cultural shift away from values of forbearance, forgiveness, and redemption animated this transformation. The punitive turn was, first and foremost, a cultural turn.
Many observers today look skeptically at cultural explanations of this sort, which claim that people do x because they believe y. From structuralism to poststructuralism and beyond, a cavalcade of theoretical currents promoted an abstract idea of culture, severing it from history and political economy. In highlighting the cultural element in these developments, however, I do not mean to suggest that culture always sets the course of historical events, only that it sometimes does a point that Friedrich Engels was also keen to make.
Further, I do not assert that once the desire to punish got into peoples heads, it spread uniformly throughout society, nor would I argue that this cultural shift sprang into being ex nihilo.
At its inception, the punitive turn found fertile ground in preexisting institutions of race and class. As it developed, political actors and moral entrepreneurs reworked received ideas, some of them older than the republic, some of them torn from the headlines. The United States long history of capitalism and various forms of power all participated in the carceral states development.
Second, federal legislation played a key role in institutionalizing and hardening this cultural change. This was not merely a question of mechanizing the law with mandatory minimum sentences or three strikes provisions but of automating a system of interconnecting institutions.
The nucleus of this development was already present in the 1968 Safe Streets Act, aimed at expanding and modernizing policing, and in the LEAA, designed to increase prosecution and conviction rates. From this start, police forces grew, became more proactive, and made more arrests.
Securing greater cooperation from more victims, prosecutors brought more cases to court often with higher charges. Responding to the shifting mood, judges sentenced more defendants. Across four decades, legislators passed laws that criminalized more activities, increased sentences, and expressly barred compromise, early release, consideration of mitigating circumstances, and so on. Put simply, the law became more punitive. Such mechanisms could persist under changing conditions because a vast institutional network spanning the state and civil society actively produced fresh rationales for them.
The punitive turn was consolidated into a punitive avalanche.
The result was a transformed system, in which prison, parole, and so on were stripped of their disciplinary aims (reeducation, rehabilitation, reintegration) and reoriented toward strictly punitive goals (detection, apprehension, incapacitation). Horkheimer and Adorno would have called this instrumental rationality: a nightmare version of bureaucracy that suspends critical reasoning and tries to establish the most efficient means to achieve an irrational end.
The present moment seems propitious for change. Violent crime rates have fallen to levels not seen since the early 1960s, reducing public pressure for harsh laws and tough sentences. Upbeat journalists periodically write stories covering more rational approaches to crime and punishment in even conservative states. The criminal justice systems racial disparities have become a point of national embarrassment, and, as early as 2007, the United States Sentencing Commission began retroactively intervening to reduce the sentences of some federal inmates convicted on crack-cocaine charges. Polls suggest that Americans across the political spectrum largely support reducing the number of people in prison.
Improvements have moved slowly, however. The prison population fell from a peak of 2.3 million in 2008 to 2.1 million today, but more substantial declines do not appear to be forthcoming. Thanks to our federal system, substantially reforming the carceral regime will prove difficult: it will demand revising thousands of laws and practices at mostly local levels.
Meanwhile, the Left is divided over how to imagine and advocate for our goals. Prison abolitionism has gathered steam among some activists, although it shows little sign of winning over the wider public. With evangelical zeal, abolitionists insist that we must choose between abolition and reform, while discounting reform as a viable option. The history of the prison system, they say, is a history of reform and look where that has gotten us.
I have tried to show here whats wrong with this argument. It is remarkably innocent of history. In fact, the history of reform was interrupted some time around 1973 and what we have had instead for the past five decades is a history of counter-reform. The unconscionable conditions we see today are not inevitable byproducts of the prison; they are the results of the punitive turn.
Abolitionists base their approach on an analogy between the prison system and chattel slavery. This is a strained analogy at best, and it only appears convincing in light of the oversized and unusually cruel American penal system. Slavery was an institution for the extraction of unfree labor over a persons (and his or her childrens) lifetime; the prison is an institution that imposes unfreedom for a set period of time as punishment for serious infractions historically with the express bargain that at least theoretically the lawbreaker was to be improved and reintegrated into society. The better analogy might be with other disciplinary institutions, which also to varying degrees curb freedoms in the name of personal and social good: the school, the hospital, the psychiatric institution.
Abolitionists usually respond to the obvious criticism but every country has prisons by citing Angela Daviss polemical work, Are Prisons Obsolete? Slavery, too, was once universal, they point out; it required the abolitionists utopian vision to put an end to that unjust institution.
But this, too, misstates history. By the time American abolitionism got fully underway in the 1830s, much of Europe and parts of Latin American had already partially or wholly abolished slavery. The Haitian Revolution had dealt the institution a major blow, and slavery was imploding in parts of the Caribbean. A world without slavery was scarcely unthinkable. The same cannot be said of prisons: all signs suggest that the public and not only in the United States believes that prisons are legitimate.
Abolitionist arguments usually gesture at restorative justice, imagining that some sorts of community institutions will oversee non-penal forms of restitution. But here, we are very far out on a limb. Such models might more or less work in small-scale, face-to-face indigenous or religious communities. But, in modern cities, it is implausible to think that families, kinship networks, neighborhood organizations, and the like can adjudicate reconciliation in a fair, consistent manner.
In short, abolitionism promises a heaven-on-earth that will never come to pass. What we really need to do is fight for measures that have already proven humane, effective, and consistent with social and criminal justice.
Consider Finland. In the 1950s, it had high crime rates and a punitive penal system with high incarceration rates and terrible prison conditions. In these regards Finland then was much like the United States today. After decades of humanitarian and social-democratic reforms, the country now has less than one-tenth the rate of incarceration as the United States. Its prisons resemble dormitories with high-quality health care, counseling services, and educational opportunities. Not coincidentally, its prison system does not breed anger, resentment, and recidivism.
Finlands system aligns with that of other Nordic and Northern European nations, all of whom remained continuously on the path of reform. There, small-scale penal institutions are insulated from public opinion, with its periodic rages against lawbreakers, and prioritize genuine criminological expertise. They have expressly rehabilitative aims, working not only to punish but also to repair the person and restore him to society. Penalties top out at around twenty years, consistent with the finding that longer sentences have neither a rehabilitative nor a deterring effect. Many Scandinavian prisons have no walls and allow prisoners to leave during the day for jobs or shopping. Bedrooms have windows, not bars. Kitchens and common areas resemble Ikea displays.
Rather than call for the complete abolition of prisons a policy unlikely to win broad public support the American left should fight to introduce these conditions into our penal system. We should strive not for pie-in-the-sky imaginings but for working models already achieved in Scandinavian and other social democracies. We should demand dramatically better prison conditions, the release of nonviolent first offenders under other forms of supervision, discretionary parole for violent offenders who provide evidence of rehabilitation, decriminalization of simple drug possession, and a broad revision of sentencing laws. Such demands would attract support from a number of prominent social movements, creating a strong base from which we can begin to build a stronger, universal safety net.
Institutions become obsolete only when more effective and more progressive alternatives become available. The poorhouse disappeared when its functions were replaced by social security, public assistance, health care clinics, and mental and psychiatric hospitals. We see no such emergent institutions on the horizon today that might render prisons a thing of the past. What we see instead are examples of criminal justice systems that have continued reforming, modulating, humanizing, shrinking, and decentralizing the functions of the prison. Creating just such a correctional system, based on genuinely rehabilitative goals consistent with our view of social justice, should be a main task of socialists today.
David Olusoga’s look at a forgotten history shows there’s always been black in the Union Jack – New Statesman
Posted: at 6:10 pm
Nineteen eighty-four was a transformative year for David Olusoga. Then a young teenager, he was driven out of his council home, together with his grandmother, mother, two sisters and younger brother, by a sustained campaign of nightly stoning of their windows. When Olusoga recalled the experience before television cameras last year, he wept. His book is a product of that childhood terror, and partly an exploration of his condition as a black Briton. As he states, The oral history of 20th-century racial violence has never been collected or collated, but it is thereand it is shocking.
Nineteen eighty-four affected him in another way: the publication of Peter Fryers groundbreaking Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain introduced him to the scholarship needed to understand his position in Britain. Fryers book was monumental, inspiring conferences, publications, the setting up of local history groups, the establishment of Black History Month, and radio and television programmes. It began to alter (slightly) the history curriculum at university level: the first undergraduate one-year course on black British history and culture was taught at the University of Warwick in 1984. It was an apt university to experiment with such developments, since Lord Scarman, who reported on the Brixton riots of 1981, was its chancellor.
Olusoga patterns his narrative after Fryers, starting with the North African presence in Roman Britain. He updates Fryer, citing radioisotope analysis of skeletons and craniometrics, which support written documentation of Aurelian Moors guarding Hadrians Wall and settling in places such as Yorkshire. Indeed, third-century York may have been more ethnically and racially diverse than present-day York. Roman writers such as Pliny who chronicled or rather fabricated African life shaped perceptions of a continent populated by anthropophagi and other fantastic creatures, half-human, half-animal. John Mandeville, whose travelogue (circa 1356) was one of the most widely translated books of the later Middle Ages, presented Africans as naked savages living amid heaps of gold to which they gave no value.
And so, equipped with the fruits of Islamic learning (new navigational instruments, books on astronomy and trigonometry), European explorers set sail for Africa to relieve the natives of their gold. Pope Nicholas V gave his blessing, so long as the Vatican benefited. In the 15th and 16th centuries, thousands of pounds of gold were shipped to Europe. But slaves were more valuable, so the British fought the Spanish for a share in the trade and eventually came to dominate it. At the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Britain was granted the right to supply slaves to the Spanish colonies in the Americas, a right then passed on to the South Sea Company. The South Sea bubble, the greatest financial crash of the 18th century, was intimately connected to Britains dealings with Africa, though this is rarely acknowledged by historians.
The Royal African Company, established by Charles II in 1672, eventually enslaved and transported more Africans than any other company in British history. It built slave forts on the African coast, some such as Bunce Island in Sierra Leone furnished with a rape house. Separated from home and family and landed in the West Indies (countless numbers dying of suffocation during the journey, given that the people traffickers were packing the holds to maximise profits), the Africans had no recourse to the law, much less the conscience of their captors. The Barbados slave code of 1661 stripped Africans of all human rights, and set out ways in which they were to be punished, to exert control over their labour (mutilation of the face, slitting of nostrils, castration, execution). After decades of complaints, the Royal African Company lost its monopoly in 1712 and, Olusoga writes, Independent traders were turned loose upon the shores of Africa. These traders had argued (stone-blind to irony) that the right to enslave Africans was a defining feature of English freedom and that the Royal African Company had breached their status as free-born Englishmen. Eventually, 11,000 separate British slave-trading expeditions resulted in the trafficking of three-and-a-half-million Africans to the New World plantations, the greatest forced migration in modern history until the 20th century.
How could Britain, a civilised and Christian nation, indulge in rape, torture, killing and the forced labour of Africans over two centuries? The answer is money. If you had spare cash or could borrow, investment in slavery was a sure winner, never mind slave rebellions or hurricanes that destroyed cane fields. Sugar was king: originally a luxury, it became one of the main sources of calories for the British poor. And so many hundreds of thousands of British workers were directly dependent on slavery (from sailors to those who built, rigged and repaired ships) that it was easy to turn a blind eye to the inhumanity. Once insignificant villages, great cities such as Liverpool, Bristol and Glasgow sprang up on the profits of slavery.
But a group of 12 disciples of Christ set out to change things. In 1787, they met in London and set up the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. They included Josiah Wedgwood (the pottery entrepreneur), Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson. Fired by religious feeling, they embarked on a campaign of public education and political lobbying unprecedented in scale and revolutionary in nature. Supported by African authors of slave narratives such as Olaudah Equiano and Ottabah Cugoano, they held meetings all over the country, attracting huge crowds. Thousands of petitions were presented to parliament. Women, denied a meaningful role in politics, formed their own organisations, writing tracts, pamphlets and poems, gathering signatures for petitions and fundraising: At certain times and in certain places they were the engine room of the movement.
Abolition was the first mass philanthropic movement in Britain, and it ended the slave trade in 1807. It could have ended earlier, but the planter interests in parliament defeated William Wilberforces attempts. In 1796, a bill was defeated by only four votes: a group of abolitionist MPs went to the opera and missed the vote. Between that night at the opera and 1807, nearly 800,000 Africans were enslaved.
Women such as Elizabeth Heyrick continued to lobby for the abolition of slavery. They organised a boycott of sugar, produced more petitions and hosted meetings. It was such a brilliantly organised programme of mass protest that slavery was declared abolished in 1833: 46,000 slave owners were given 20m in compensation (17bn in todays money), the largest payout in British history and 40 per cent of all government spending that year. The enslaved Africans had to wait another five years for their freedom and were not given a penny.
Long after slavery ended in the British colonies, British people continued to lobby the American government to free their slaves. The many African-American abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass, who visited Britain from the 1840s onwards, were well received and, again, thousands of people greeted them and raised money to support their cause.
The publication in 1852 of Uncle Toms Cabin, by the American abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe, swelled national sympathy for the plight of black slaves. More than a million copies were sold in Britain cheap pirated versions reached a mass readership. The novel became the bestselling book of 19th-century Britain; it was adapted for the theatre and generated mass-produced merchandise playing cards, jigsaws, tableware. Its extraordinary success rested upon the foundation of sympathy laid down during the previous 70 years of abolitionist activity in Britain.
Yet American slave-produced raw cotton continued to feed the 4,500 mills of Lancashire. In 1860, cotton goods accounted for 40 per cent of all British exports. In 1861, the Economist stated that nearly four million people in Britain depended directly and indirectly on the cotton industry; a fifth of the entire population. When the American Civil War interrupted the supply of cotton, hundreds of thousands of British workers were made destitute, dependent on soup kitchens, and the British economy was dealt a thunderous blow, all because an ocean away the forced labour of four million enslaved black Americans had been disrupted. Needless to say, the national mood changed. The masses who once supported black freedom now campaigned for the Deep South.
Olusoga brilliantly reveals such contradictions in British society. In dealing with the black contribution to the First World War, for example, he cites popular gratitude and admiration for black Britons among them Walter Tull, who fought on the Western Front. Tull played professional football for Northampton but instead of signing up for Glasgow Rangers, he enlisted. Rapidly promoted to sergeant, then second lieutenant, he led white British troops into action and died in 1918, having been mentioned in despatches and recommended for the Military Cross. And yet Africans and West Indians were banned from the victory parade in 1919. Anti-black riots broke out in Liverpool that year.
During the Second World War, thousands of black American soldiers stationed in Britain were befriended by white Britons who opposed efforts by the white military to segregate them. West Indians fought with the Allies more than a hundred were decorated. And yet anti-black race riots broke out in 1948 in Liverpool and in 1958 in Nottingham and Londons Notting Hill. The following decades were taken up with popular and political rhetoric about immigration and parliamentary acts to limit blacks coming to Britain.
Olusogas stated purpose is to argue that black British history is not about migration and settlement, whether of black servants in the 18th century or black workers in the Windrush era. It is about the centuries-long engagement with Africa, a consequence of which is the black presence in Britain. Olusoga has benefited from and added significantly to the work of Fryer and other historians such as James Walvin. He has discovered new and exciting research materials in African archives, among them the Register of Liberated Africans in Sierra Leone, which list names, bodily details, ethnicity and origins, thus putting a human face on people otherwise treated as fodder and statistics. Such sources give his writing freshness, originality and compassion.
Like Fryers book, Olusogas will inspire and will come to be seen as a major effort to address one of the greatest silences in British historiography.
Black and British: A Forgotten History David Olusoga Macmillan, 624pp, 25
David Dabydeen is a novelist, broadcaster, academic and co-editor of The Oxford Companion to Black British History (Oxford University Press)
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Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:08 am
Aug. 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
by Comrade Malik
Comrades, I must take this time to broach a very serious topic. There is a growing movement here in Amerika which seeks to abolish legalized slavery in Amerika. At its very core, our movement is anti-imperialist. As many of you in the U.K. and throughout Europe are well aware, the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any country on earth. The state of Texas, where I am currently housed, has the largest state prison system in the United States.
I am one of the leading voices of prisoners throughout the United States who are calling for the amending of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a total and final abolition of slavery in Amerika.
An organization located here in the USA, Raleigh, North Carolina, to be exact, is educating, organizing and mobilizing as many people as possible to support and/or participate in the Millions 4 Prisoners March on Washington, D.C., on Aug. 19, 2017. The organization is called I Am We. You can learn more by visiting http://www.iamweubuntu.com/millions-for-prisoners-human-rights.html.
Comrades, there is a human rights and civil rights crisis taking place right now in Amerikan prisons. The ruling elite wont acknowledge us but have actually taken deliberate steps to silence our voices and sabotage our networking capabilities. Texas has enacted a draconian social media ban which even forbids our loved ones or friends from sharing anything about us or our circumstances on social media.
Texas has one of the most inhumane penal systems by far. The summer heat has proven to be deadly for years and now toxic water has become a prominent issue. My comrade and friend Kevin Rashid Johnson and I have been specially singled out for retaliatory actions because we fearlessly continue to educate and organize the lumpen.
The San Francisco Bay View National Black Newspaper (sfbayview.com) has provided a platform for the most advanced politicized prisoners in Amerika to speak. For 41 years the Bay View has engaged in revolutionary liberation journalism. Without the Bay View, there would be no Comrade Malik.
In August 2016, the United States FBI began to attack the Bay View, claiming that the Bay View was inciting violence against prison guards and law enforcement. This was a portion of an elaborate plan to muzzle our voices. Fabricated lies!
The Free Alabama Movement has defined itself as one of the leaders in this national struggle to abolish prison slavery in Amerika. Alabamas Holman Prison is one of the worst in the nation in regards to human rights and civil rights violations. The Bay View was recently banned there for being racially motivated.
Comrades, in the United Snakes something sinister is afoot. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is from the state of Alabama. Sessions has orchestrated a plan which seeks to criminalize free speech. However, he has gone even further by attempting to cease programs by the Department of Justice to monitor police departments with histories of brutally abusing citizens and violating their civil rights. Sessions is a well-known white supremacist and bigot. You connect the dots!
Solidarity is needed now!
On Sept. 9, 2016, many free world allies and imprisoned comrades in the United Kingdom and Europe made a show of solidarity with respect to our national prison work strike. On Aug. 19, 2017, we humbly ask for your support again!
If you have comrades or friends in the United States, please, by all means, encourage them to attend the Millions 4 Prisoners March in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 19, 2017. For us, locked in these cages in the Amerikan Slave Kamps and Gulags, withdrawing our free labor has become our chosen method of protest.
Comrades, because we dare to confront the imperialist oppressor in Amerika, many of us, both women and men, have been degraded, dehumanized, mistreated and abused. Amerika is telling the world a lie!
To view some of my work, please visit comrademalik.com and please support me and my comrades by visiting amendthe13th.org and facebook.com/amendthel3th.
Remember, comrades, revolution is a process, and in order to be a factor, you must be an actor! Dare to struggle, dare to win! All power to the people!
Send our brother some love and light: Keith Malik Washington, 1487958, Eastham Unit, 2665 Prison Rd 1, Lovelady TX 75851.
Posted: at 5:08 am
Tucker Carlson said the United States ended slavery around the world during the Aug. 15, 2017, episode of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Fox News Channels Tucker Carlson said on his primetime talk show that while many are arguing for the removal of Confederate monuments because they legitimize slavery, America should get some recognition for stopping the practice globally.
On the Aug. 15, 2017, episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host was discussing with political commentator Jasmyne Cannick whether former U.S. Sen Robert Byrds name should be removed from a building because Byrd was once a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan.
Cannick said that offensive or racially insensitive monuments or dedications may be reviewed in time, but Americans should still remember to mark its history properly. Carlson affirmed her answer with a remark about the result of the Civil War.
“The United States ended slavery around the world, and maybe we should get some credit for that, too,” he said.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, and the 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery in the United States after it was ratified following the end of the Civil War in 1865. But did that stop slavery across the planet? Experts told us there was no way that was true.
Beyond the Civil War
We dont know exactly how Carlson was defining slavery, whether as a government-sanctioned practice or criminal enterprise. We reached out to the show and to Fox News Channel but did not get a response.
But hes not right in any case, historians told us.
Slavery has been instituted by myriad cultures, empires and nations around the globe for centuries, they said. There have been patterns of abolishing slave trades and then the practice of slavery, before later reinstating them.
In the modern context, the roots of the abolitionist movement really began in Great Britain in 1787. The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade set the stage for organized, widespread protests against slavery.
“If anyone could lay claim to leading anti-slavery forces in the world it was Britain, which after it abolished the slave trade and slavery made anti-slavery a leading aspect of its foreign policy and policed the Atlantic to end the slave trade,” University of Connecticut history professor Manisha Sinha said.
The British stopped its own trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807, and America did the same a year later.
Vermont did become the first state to ban slaves in 1777, but it remained in practice among wealthy landowners into the 19th century. Other northern states also began to ban slavery, but the practice in the United States and abroad continued for far longer, eventually becoming the flashpoint of the Civil War.
Several Western nations ended slavery before the United States did. Spain abolished it in 1811, although Cuba refused the royal decree. Sweden, the Netherlands, France and Portugal all banned the slave trade but not the owning of slaves shortly thereafter.
The British didnt officially abolish slavery until 1833. Then other European powers began to follow suit.
Several Latin American countries and a handful of other places like the principality of Moldovia banned slavery through the 1850s.
Fast forward to the 1860s, when the Confederate States of Americas surrender to Union forces dovetailed with the official end of slavery here. But that wasnt the last word on slavery.
“The 13th Amendment abolished chattel slavery in the United States, but slavery continued in Cuba and Brazil until the 1880s, and in other places in the world well into the 20th century,” Georgetown University history professor Adam Rothman said.
Slavery and indentured servitude in Cuba finally ended in 1886, while Brazil stopped the official practice of slavery two years later. Thats still not the end of the story, however.
“Slavery still exists in most every corner of the world,” Siddharth Kara, director of the Program on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Harvard, told us. “When people speak about the abolition of slavery, what they mean is the abolition of the legally sanctioned institution of buying and selling other people like property.”
But forced labor continued, perpetrated by the likes of Nazis and the Soviet Union. Child labor and bonded labor, in which people must work to pay off debts, remains a problem, particularly in the Third World. The Associated Press won in Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for documenting cases of slavery in the seafood industry in Southeast Asia.
“The global campaign against modern slavery has been going on for a long time under the auspices of international anti-slavery NGOs and organizations like the U.N., which the U.S. participates in,” Rothman said. “But at the same time, it’s likely that forms of unfree labor akin to slavery lurk in the dark shadows at the end of the global supply chains of American businesses.”
Carlson said, “The United States ended slavery around the world, and maybe we should get some credit for that, too.”
The practice of treating other human beings as property that can be forced into labor continued as official policy for more than decades in Cuba and Brazil after the Civil War. Historians said slavery continued to exist across the world into the 20th century, and conditions comparable to slavery still exist.
Any credit for originating the ideals leading to the end of slavery as most people would define it should go to the British, historians said, who formally organized abolitionist thought long before the United States adopted any official policy.
We rate Carlsons statement Pants On Fire!
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2017-08-17 20:23:30 UTC
Pants on Fire
“The United States ended slavery around the world, and maybe we should get some credit for that, too.”
Fox News Channel host
in comments on ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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Posted: at 5:08 am
Christine Hong | Marilyn Bechtel/PW
LIVERMORE, Calif. As Donald Trumps fire and fury statements directed at North Korea ratcheted up worldwide concerns over possible nuclear war, some 250 demonstrators gathered outside the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Aug. 9, to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II and to demand permanent, total abolition of nuclear weapons.
After an opening rally nearby, protesters marched to the labs gates, where they held a ceremonial die-in and dance. Later, some four dozen demonstrators were nonviolently arrested after they defied police demands to disperse.
Marylia Kelley, executive director of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley Communities against a Radioactive Environment, opened the rally with a warning that the labs weapons developers already spending over $1 billion this year on nuclear weapons activities are busy designing a new warhead for a new, long-range standoff weapon. But she added a note of hope, over the United Nations conference that resulted in 122 nations approving a treaty for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons, with one nation abstaining and one voting against. (Not surprisingly, none of the current nuclear weapons nations participated in the conference.)
Were here at a critical juncture where there is escalating nuclear danger, Kelley said, but there is also escalating pressure for global nuclear disarmament . The overwhelming number of nations in the world say nuclear weapons are unacceptable. They are now illegal, and we must work toward their actual physical dismantlement and elimination.
Picking up on the medical professions motto, First, do no harm, medical oncologist and global warming expert Dr. Jan Kirsch warned of the catastrophic dangers posed by even a limited nuclear attack of some 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Tens of millions would die in the immediate aftermath, she said, while blockage of the sun by debris would bring worldwide crop failures, and a couple billion people would die within the next few years.
Noting that over $1 trillion is currently allocated for U.S. nuclear weapons over the next 30 years, Kirsch a global warming specialist with Physicians for Social Responsibility asked the crowd, Wouldnt it be a magnificent thing if we could mobilize money and minds to get to carbon neutrality within several years, not several decades? These are the things we should be spending our money on, not on weapons that could only be used to usher in the last day of civilization.
In 1971 Pentagon war planner Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Department of Defense study of U.S. political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. He has been a dedicated campaigner for disarmament ever since.
As featured speaker at the rally, Ellsberg pointed out that the atomic bombs ultimately killed around 300,000 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The threats Trump was making the other day the words and music were a little different, but the sense has been the same for 70 years, he said. The truth is, the American people need to tell this president, and Congress and the media: the U.S. has no nuclear first-use option on the table. That is not an option it is a rehearsal for the destruction of life on earth.
Takashi Tanemori, who survived the Hiroshima bombing as a child, urged that peace, kindness and forgiveness should replace the threats now being uttered about fire, fury and destruction.
Christine Hong, a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Cruz and an expert on North Korea, reminded the crowd that the Korean War, which began in 1950, had horrendous consequences for the Korean peninsula as a whole and for North Korea in particular. In an asymmetrical conflict in which the U.S. monopolized the skies, raining down ruin from on high, she said, an estimated 4 million Koreans the vast majority of them civilians were killed. Chinese statistics indicate that North Korea lost an unimaginable 30 percent of its population.
Calling North Korea the most heavily sanctioned nation on this earth, Hong said the country has been the subject of ongoing regime change efforts by the United States, including nuclear threats on several occasions and the basing of U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea in defiance of the 1953 armistice agreement.
A peace treaty has never been signed; officially the Korean War has never ended.
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Posted: August 16, 2017 at 6:08 pm
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has signed a decree that will enable citizens to travel abroad from the state without permission as of January 1, 2019.
The decree, published by state media outlets on August 16, orders the introduction of biometric passports and the abolition of the exit visa requirement.
The decree says the new rules for foreign travel are designed to “rule out bureaucratic hurdles and instances of corruption” linked to the system under which Uzbeks must seek government approval to leave the country.
A draft decree posted on a government website in January included a clause scrapping the long-standing exit-visa requirement, but officials at the time suggested the change was not imminent.
The system inherited from the Soviet era has been a major barrier for Uzbeks seeking to leave the country, and a source of illegal income for officials who expedite the process in exchange for bribes.
Many people in the Central Asian country of some 30 million travel to Russia to find work and send remittances home.
Mirziyoev has taken steps to decrease Uzbekistan’s isolation since he came to power in September 2016, after the death of autocratic longtime leader Islam Karimov.
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