One for our American friends

We at LSS are always honoured to have readers in the United States of America. For those who have never visited, it is a large country which is, on average, south of Canada and north of Mexico. It is famous for beautiful scenery and delicious foods. And for a deep, seemingly unbridgeable racial divide which is now close to tearing it down altogether.

The origins of the divide have perplexed historians and social scientists for centuries. It may well be that the instinct to form tribes and hate all who are different is a primary human drive. We certainly respect the learning of authors such as Amy Chua whose Political Tribes we link below.*

Could the United States have ever taken a different turn? Below we offer two studies of two experiments which both grew out of the Civil War. (1861-1865)

The Free State of Jones was a pro-Union rebellion in the deep Confederacy State of Mississippi between 1864 and 1865. Led by a charismatic poor farmer called Newton Knight, a group of white agriculturalists and runaway black slaves staged something that seemed to have been somewhere between a guerrilla insurrection and a full blown revolution. LSS links you to a wonderfully balanced, charmingly written piece in the Smithsonian by Richard Grant. Oddly, Knight survived until 1921 and the branches of his families still live today in various states of disamity

The True Story of the ‘Free State of Jones’ | History | Smithsonian Magazine

A political attempt to stage a multiracial democracy occurred in Wilmington North Carolina in 1898. It was overthrown when armed white insurrectionists rose up and overthrew the government, following closely contested elections. Their victory was total; segregation and Jim Crow laws were then enacted which were not cleared away until the 1960s. An irony of history was that all this was done in the name of the Democratic Party, then the principal exponents of white supremacy.

Wilmington 1898: When white supremacists overthrew a US government – BBC News

The views that genes are destiny and that our instincts are more powerful than our reason have been skated over too long by many doubtless well-meaning people. They remind us of the Victorians and sex: let’s all try very hard to pretend that it doesn’t exist. There is now an overwhelming need to discover how these instincts play out in many places from prisons and aircraft carriers to the halls of governance, and how factors like poverty and inequality may inflame them. Or not. It is the great scientific opportunity of this century. And about time too.

Amy Chua Political Tribes Bloomsbury 2018

Free State of Jones (film) – Wikipedia

#freestate of jones #wilmingtonnorthcarolina #politicaltribes #racism #uscivilwar #newtonknight #mississippi #northcarolina

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