[Marxism] Notes on David Brion Davis' review

Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at berkeley.edu
Fri Nov 3 16:14:26 MST 2006

"The second issue was the question of the origins of racism.  I find 
that history interesting and it is an area of research for me. 
However, I am dropping out of that discussion, as well, because there 
is little willingness to consider what the historical record actually 
tells us."

The historical record seems to tell us that what you call essential 
differences in the treatment of European and African labor were 
hardly that in the early years of Chesapeake (if they were already 
essential, then what do you call what followed centuries later--super 
essential differences!) and that to the extent that differences did 
exist they were result of rather common ethnocentrism and religious 
prejudice rather than widespread belief in God's curse of a black Ham 
or a racialized Great Chain of Being, much less the naturalistic 
ideological belief in Africans as an inferior breed or stock as you 
put it.  The last ideology only gains ground in the twilight years of 
heritable racial servitude. 

You are advancing the ideas of David Brion Davis and Winthrop Jordan. 
They are controversial, don't you know.

Another point of view is expressed by George Frederickson, Audrey 
Smedley, Barbara Fields, Edmund Morgan (whose classic book I haven't 
read in fifteen years),St.Clair Drake, John Lie (whose recent Modern 
Peoplehood from Harvard is relevant there, though not yet out in 
paperback),  the Handlins, Theodore Allen and many others who have 
examined the historical record more closely than either you or I have.
Are all these people unwilling to study history; are they all dishonest?

We know that you are a free thinker, a thinker who frees himself of 
reasoned response to serious criticism.

And from where I stand, I think you have hurled many more insults and 
been much nastier in debate than I have been. But I have that foreign 
name so perhaps you can count on my coming across as the impolite 
one. Drowning man, dishonesty, truth avoidance--I can't remember all 
the things you have said. But for some reason you imagine yourself 
some kind of innocent. Pathetic.


ps I'd be happy to send your reply to the list if you have in fact 
been kicked off. You shouldn't have been.

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