Progressive, Socially Responsible Slavery

Article excerpt

In 1953, I was a nice, young (17) liberal persuaded by the anti-leftist reading of Orwell's 1984 that socialism = dictatorship. My English teacher at Crescent Heights High School in Calgary--where a large portrait of former principal William Aberhart sanctified the front lobby--introduced me to a different approach. She was a kind of Social Credit-CCFer; yes, there were such hybrids in old Alberta. She suggested that I read Jack London's The Iron Heel, about the rise of a future capitalist dictatorship in the U.S. But what really impressed me in the novel was London's absolute neglect of easy moralism: the class war was a class war, not a confrontation between bad, selfish, greedy, cruel bosses and good, generous, loving, righteous workers. The revolutionary hero falls in love with the daughter of a top plutocrat; hero and plutocrat develop a respectful dialogic relationship in the midst of their war-to-the-death

enmity.

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Which brings me to the question of slavery. Recently I came across a book called Advice Among Masters (edited by James O'Breeden, London, Greenwood Press, 1980) consisting entirely of southern U. …