Questions To Ask….
merits of a particular government policy or proposal with authoritarian-minded
political opponents is pointless if youre hoping to
persuade, at any rate. Far better to ask them a few apparently
simple questions and force them to confront the disquieting
answers about the authoritarian nature of the political and social
system they support.
you might ask what their view of slavery is. Is it morally wrong
to own another human being? Probably, they will say it is wrong.
Now ask: What does it mean to be a slave? Usually, they will tell
you it means being the property of another. Now ask the killer
follow-up: What does it mean to be the property of another?
Point out that
it means having control over another persons life
control of his actual person, his body. His mind, even.
To be in a
position to be entitled to use violence to
A slave is
not at liberty to act as he wishes to act. He must do as
he is told and if he does not, he can expect physical
punishment and that punishment will not be considered assault.
The slave must accept his punishment.
There is no
appeal, no recourse. He must bow low and submit or risk the
repercussions, which ultimately include death.
His only hope
most obviously, owns nothing because he controls nothing.
He may be allowed to use things. But the owner of these things
himself included is someone else. Someone else gets to say
yes or no. When and where. How and how
much. The slave has no real say in that he is never in
a position to say no. Not without consequences raining down upon
He merely obeys.
Because he must obey.
The fact that
his hands may hold the scythe does not mean the scythe is his. The
fact that the effort of his body cuts the wheat does not mean the
wheat is his. He is permitted to keep a portion. In
principle, because in fact, the slave owns nothing that may not
be taken away from him. At any time, for any reason. And he is powerless
to do anything about it.
dwelling, the clothes he wears even his very body
are subject to arbitrary control against his will by another person
or persons. This is the essence of what it means to be a
Be sure your
opponent accepts these points which he must accept,
because to not accept them is not unlike refusing to accept that
2 + 2 = four.
Now ask him
whether he (or anyone else he knows) is free to determine the course
of his own life. Or do others set down terms and conditions which
he must obey?
Is he free
to do business with whomever he chooses to do business? Or is he
told exactly with whom he must do business and under
May he travel
freely? Or is he required to travel with permission and only
under certain conditions? Must he carry ownership papers with him
wherever he goes? And is it not true that if he is caught without
these papers, he is subject to arrest and imprisonment for that
Is he free
to raise his children as he considers best? To teach them as he
sees fit? Or must he teach them things others decree he must
Is he even
free to choose whom to marry? Or must he submit to the authority
of others in even this most personal of lifes choices?
Is he free
to defend himself when accosted by strangers? Or must he submit
to these strangers, if they wear a certain type of outfit? (Did
not the overseer also wear a certain type of outfit?)
May he own
is he permitted other than conditional use of things? For
instance, that which he may think of as his home. If
it is in fact his, then surely that means no
one else has legal claim to it and cannot take it away from him
once he has paid the original seller in full. Ask him about the
large payments he must make to others every year, forever, in order
to be allowed to remain on his property. Remind him
that plantation slaves also had homes in the sense that they
were allowed conditional use of dwellings. Dwellings ultimately
owned by someone else. The slaves were permitted to use these dwellings
so long as their labor provided enough return to the true owners
of the dwelling. A slave who refused to work who declined
to make payments in the form of his labor then (and tax payments
now) would soon discover who the true owner of his dwelling
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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