Cannibals all! or, Slaves without masters

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DigiCat, 29 Mei 2022 - 226 halaman
George Fitzhugh's 'Cannibals All! or, Slaves without Masters' delves into the contentious mid-19th-century debates on the moralities and economics of slavery. With assertive prose and polemical zeal, Fitzhugh presents the case for slavery as a civilizing and protective institution. He juxtaposes the Southern slavery system with the 'wage slavery' of the North, contending that the latter offers no real freedom or security for the workers. The book's archaic literary style and the provocatively ironic title underline its historical and ideological importance, anchoring it firmly within antebellum Southern thought and the wider literature of American social critique. Fitzhugh, known for his outspoken advocacy for the Southern cause and a social system buttressed by slavery, was deeply influenced by the sociopolitical climate of pre-Civil War America. His arguments mirror the pseudo-aristocratic ethos prevalent among the Southern elite, aiming to justify and perpetuate a mode of production and social hierarchy rooted in involuntary servitude. Fitzhugh's work offers crucial insight into the intellectual defense mechanisms employed by proponents of slavery, reflecting the underlying fears of unsettling a deeply entrenched socio-economic order. 'Cannibals All! or, Slaves without Masters' comes recommended to scholars and students of American history, sociologists, and those interested in the ideological foundations of social systems. Though its arguments are now discredited, understanding Fitzhugh's perspective is vital to grasping the complexities of pre-Civil War American society. It serves as a stark reminder of the potent intersection of economic interests and racial ideology in the shaping of historical narratives and presents a challenging yet indispensable text for comprehending the antebellum South's worldview.

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George Fitzhugh (1806-1881) was a notable American social theorist known for his extreme pro-slavery stance and sociological treatises justifying slavery during the 19th century. Born in Virginia, he was a prominent figure in Southern intellectual circles and often engaged in debates concerning the moral and economic dimensions of slavery. Fitzhugh's contributions to literature primarily come from his provocative texts that defended slavery as a beneficial institution both for the enslaved and society at large. His major work, 'Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters' (1857), is a polemical response to the growing abolitionist movement in which he asserts that Northern wage workers were actually worse off than Southern slaves. A reflection of the antebellum pro-slavery ideology, Fitzhugh argued that slavery provided necessary protection and support for those unable to compete in a capitalist economy. Despite the moral reprehensibility of his arguments by contemporary standards, Fitzhugh's works are relevant from a historical perspective as they encapsulate the attempts to intellectually justify the institution of slavery by its proponents. His writings are characterized by their use of satire, dire predictions of societal collapse without slavery, and a paternalistic view towards the social hierarchy. Fitzhugh's perspectives have been largely discredited, but his texts remain objects of study for scholars interested in the complexity of pre-Civil War Southern thought and the lengths to which its advocates went to defend the indefensible.

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