SFP

sfp-5-108-for-web

Show Comments
  • Markus

    Saying “Lives are to be spent, that’s all” in a paragraph with chattel slavery isn’t generally the winningest strategy.

  • Kid Chaos

    So, “Life sucks and then you die”? Patrick, you’re (still) *not helping*!!!

  • Subbak

    I think I figured out the biggest problem with Patrick’s philosophy. He claims to have an end goal which justifies the means, which could be argued is true. But he’s still only human and has failing. By putting himself in a position where he can kill people for no real good reason (“because it amused me to do so”), and by killing people (admittedly for good reasons) on a regular basis, he runs the risk of losing sight of the end goal and just killing people he doesn’t like.
    Yes, deontology is generally less efficient, but I’m pretty sure Patrick is on the verge of just losing sight of his goal, if he has not already.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001702773745 Charles M. Hagmaier

      Why does he have an end goal? His absolutist relativism precludes the existence of valid moral goals. Remove all criteria for validity – and he’s done so by denouncing all virtues and values as human-biased or sentience-biased or what have you – and you pretty much negate all justification for any sort of action except on the basis of will to power, maybe. At least existentialists can fall back on “if nothing you do matters, then all that matters is what you do”, as circular and paradoxical as that nonsense-statement is, it’s at least an axiom.

      • StClair

        I wonder if he maybe isn’t coming to the point of “what does any of it, including the plans I had when I started this, matter?” Compared to his energy earlier while arguing, he looks very weary in the last few panels.

  • http://www.elizmallory.com/ Liz Mallory

    Her unreasoning goodness – still caring for this sociopath – juxtaposed with his disdain for life and philosophical distance from others…it’s just beautiful.

    The fact that they are still here talking, still trying to be friends… Makes me wonder if Patrick really cares about her in some convoluted way, or if he’s carefully using her.

    • http://axcrazy.tumblr.com Perlite

      I’m still holding out for the former, even if Pat is being an unrepentant douche-nozzle.

    • Ryan

      I think Patrick cares about a lot of things, but is trying to find objective reasons to care about them so he can tell himself that he’s not just acting on instinct.

      • AlpineBob

        Person? It was ‘Human’ he didn’t identify as, as I recall…
        I guess he considers himself post-human or something.
        Can hardly blame him, at that…

    • Classtoise

      I’d say less beautiful, more exhausting. There is a limit to patience, generally, but Alison seems all too willing to just treat his flaws and murder and attempted coups like a tantrum from a 6 year old. He’s not deep; he’s an ass.

  • Pol Subanajouy

    “How many pessimist does it take to screw in a light bulb?”

    “Why bother, it will just break eventually.”

    Okay, a simplification of his argument, but his final point of “Why save anyone, they’ll die eventually?” just smacks of ethical laziness.

    Well we are at least back to something like a conversation again.

    • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

      thank…you…so…much…for saying this

  • Mechwarrior

    Patrick, you need more eyeliner and longer bangs if you’re going to start resorting to crappy nihilistic arguments about how nothing’s important because people eventually die.

  • http://mistressdizzy.deviantart.com/ Mistress Dizzy

    …I think Patrick needs a therapist. I’m not being funny or anything. I really think he would benefit from someone to talk to, whose mind he cannot read. All this pouring out of him, going from one pole of heated anger, and the next to ‘why bother’ despair… Having a good idea but letting the doubt spoil it before it even gets off the ground?

    Is Pat depressed?

    Or does he have a knowledge of how to tug people’s (especially Alison’s) heartstrings, until they don’t know how they could ever have been angry at him?

    …DAMN I love this webcomic. I never read a Batman comic that made me question the motivations of the villain.

    • StClair

      Part of that is because in Batman particularly, their motivation tends to be that they’re insane. (Which has been extended to the protagonist, now and then.)

    • Guk Young

      Because of his mind-reading, it’s no wonder he has such little regard for individuality. What is a wonder is that he’s not far more pessimistic or nihilistic than he is now, and is actually trying to save everyone, but that isn’t possible. Any people he does save will have to be for subjective reasons. And even if he could save everyone, he questions the actual value of a perfect utopia. He wants to escape subjective good, but finding himself trapped instead.

    • Love Janse

      Have you ever watched Batman: The Animated Series?

      • http://mistressdizzy.deviantart.com/ Mistress Dizzy

        That I have. Maybe Batman was the wrong example, but you know what I mean… The villains never get past evil/crazy/assholes with superpowers. This… seems to be happening to Patrick, but the reader gets to see him as an ally of the protagonist, and watch him crumble in on himself…

        (I would love a Patrick side comic.)

    • Nexxo

      I think Pat uses existential cynicism as a defence against depression –or even worse, rage (I think he’s done rage, and to his credit has come out of that). I think this is him trying to be functional and considerate of people. This is him trying to be an idealist, within the constraints of what he knows about the human condition.

    • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

      It would not help. He would reject everything he or she suggested. In his mind, he has no reason to listen to anything they say. He has no motivation to change, and he would see any of their attempts to change his views as naive and idiotic.

      You need a motivation to change for therapy to help.

      • http://mistressdizzy.deviantart.com/ Mistress Dizzy

        That is extremely true. *chinrub*

    • Roboticanarchy

      So what you’re saying is that he needs Linda to design him an AI therapist? ; )

  • S.I. Rosenbaum

    I can’t tell if he’s Rorschach trying to be Dr Manhattan or Dr Manhattan trying to be Rorshach

    • Roman Snow

      Surely there’s at least a little Veidt in there.

    • Love Janse

      Dr Manhattan trying to be Ozymandias for sure.

  • Ryan

    Ok, I think my “nihilist utilitarian” joke last page actually wasn’t too far off. Patrick is a utilitarian who doesn’t know which objective function he should be optimizing. Optimizing for “fewest deaths” is impossible because everybody dies eventually.

    • NCD

      It seems he’s trying to optimize for human flourishing per life-hour per person while disregarding total lifetime flourishing as a metric, which means life length doesn’t matter.

      Even more terrifyingly, in addition to, or instead of the previous metric, he may be trying to optimize for average justice level per society or even justice level averaged over humanity, in which case absolutely nothing matters except that the most possible people get their just reward. On that level, individual fates actually are of little consequence, especially when you consider that death is, as Patrick points out, everyone’s eventual reward.

      The purer the strain of philosophy, the more potentially monstrous it becomes. A pure consequentialist might be willing to kill healthy people to harvest their organs in order to save lives, while a pure deontologist might willingly pave the road to hell with good intentions. Alison flounders because she rejects the extremes her other super-powered compatriots are embracing – but she retains her humanity.

      Patrick may not be an actual villain again – yet – but he’s definitely revealed himself to either be a monster, or deeply mentally ill.

      • Travis Staggs

        Actually, if you think about it, of course he’s a monster. He has the ability to read minds. He has empathy. At the age of 14, understanding exactly why everyone around you does what they do, exactly how they feel… it would marginalize you. To an extreme. Add in a few of the wrong influences, and it only grows worse.

        Looking at it, I’d not peg him as a villain. I’d peg him as true neutral. He’s an amalgamation of every person he has ever met. He’s trying to find a solution, and while he recognizes that there isn’t one, what kind of person would he be, with his power, if he didn’t try? Certainly, it is not the solution of an altruist, but we saw with Feral where altruism gets you. We see what Megagirl’s ‘punch it in the face’ response gets you.

        I honestly don’t think with his power I’d have turned out any better. He sees a whole lot of suffering all over the place. And as much as I want to disagree with his philosophy… he’s not wrong.

        • Nexxo

          A significant minority of people are messed up (psychological research suggests about 60% are reasonably well-adjusted, and 30% have a varying degree of issues. 10% have significant mental illness. And people being group animals means that –in the true spirit of teamwork– as a society they can achieve levels of dysfunction that are far beyond even the most mentally unwell individual. Just look at current world events: the ‘sane’-ish 90% put together are more cause for worry than the mentally unwell 10%). Most people’s dysfunction is not obviously visible, but if you’re a mind reader, you’d find yourself unwillingly privy to some of the most intimate, horribly sad and sometimes quite icky messed-up-ness in many people around you. We all (try to) have boundaries for a reason.

          Taking the normal distribution of intelligence amongst the population into account, if you’re a genius mind reader, you’d find that over 99% of people are dumber than you. Hell, even if you’ve got a modest IQ of 120, you are already smarter than nine out of ten people.

          If you’re a 14-year-old genius mind reader, you’d find yourself surrounded by dumb, dysfunctional adults who haven’t got a frigging clue, blundering through the existential void of their desperate lives, and with the senseless suffering and death of millions caused by the dysfunction and callousness of humanity as a whole, with no framework for making sense of that, because you’re still a somewhat egocentric, narcissistic teenager with a limited life experience and the wisdom that can impart. Now keeping in mind that most teenagers feel that way in any case (and admittedly not without reason), you can imagine that for someone like Patrick that experience and worldview would be dialled up to 11. You’d become Rorschach (read Watchmen if you don’t get the reference, but I’m sure most of you will). Rorschach with telepathy and mind-manipulation powers. In that respect, I think that Patrick turned out quite functional, considering…

          • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

            If anyone read my surface thoughts, they would think I was a depressed, ultra-violent sadistic psychopath with anger issues, detached from any sense of reality. Just goes to show the difference between your fantasies and what you do about them.

      • Nexxo

        “The purer the strain of philosophy, the more potentially monstrous it becomes.” Quoted for truth.

        • NCD

          Thanks! :D

  • Sabriel

    Panel 3 he just realized how he sounds. Panel 4 he doesn’t look happy about it.

    It’s funny because so often people will be dismissive of rape by comparing it to murder. People defend rapists because at least they’re not murderers.

    Here we have Patrick thinking, “I might be a murderer, but I’m no rapist!”

    I don’t know how genuine Patrick is being in this conversation, but even if he’s bullshitting everything, I hope Alison’s reaction to his tirade will be a wake up call.

    • Ryan .

      I say Patrick is pretty genuine. Shock is an emotion that you can’t really fake.

  • http://axcrazy.tumblr.com Perlite

    “Everyone dies eventually.” Yeah, and everyone lives in a vacuum where their actions absolutely make no impact in the world or future. Yep, that’s how it works.
    Allison was ready to punt Patty through the window in panel 3. “Rape is special type of evil” indeed.

    • Silva

      “Yeah, and everyone lives in a vacuum where their actions absolutely make no impact in the world or future.”

      He said the opposite of that: “still have chattel slavery for our trouble”.

  • motorfirebox

    Bonus points for the War Nerd link.

  • motorfirebox

    It’s possible or probable that chattel slavery wouldn’t be around today if not for the Civil War, but it’s also very probable that it would have taken at least another decade or two, if not longer, to end without the Civil War. I’m not sure what the effect on Jim Crow laws would have been—the Union screwed up governance of the South so incredibly badly that it’s hard to say.

  • Classtoise

    Wait, so “I’ve killed so many people MWAHAHAHA” is met with “wait have you victimized women?”

    Alison. He just admitted to murder. A lot of murder. And trying to stage a coup. The idea that he might have preyed on women should: A. Not surprise you, and B. not be the point.

    And it’s not even angry! It’s concerned! Because apparently admitting to countless acts of cold blooded murder and attempted overthrowing of a government means dick-all when your boyfriend doesn’t rape anyone. Good for him, he could’ve been MORE of a monster. Let’s pat him on the back and call him a tragic hero.

  • Classtoise

    Right? That’s a minefield.

    He might’ve launched off into a philosophical rant to distract her from the actual issue for another month and a half.

    • Silva

      … oh no. He actually does know exactly which noes mean something other than “no”, and exactly what.

  • MrSing

    Why do I have to clean my room anyway? It will be dirty again in a week. Cleaning rooms is pointless.
    In fact, I’m so convinced of this that I’ll force other people to live in dirty rooms forever.
    Not me though, that would be crazy.

    • Kid Chaos

      Just for that, I refuse to vacuum underneath my bed this weekend.

  • Kittenbot Doomypants

    Have we touched on how far his telepathy works? I don’t remember. Maybe a remote island isn’t far enough…

    • http://mistressdizzy.deviantart.com/ Mistress Dizzy

      I wonder if there are those with powers that can negate or interrupt Patrick’s telepathy. *thinks* Maybe someone who can project some kind of something into people’s minds. Not read them, but put things in. Like… hypnotic suggestions, except smaller.

      More like music.

      Just think, send in this musical hero, and all Patrick can get from people’s brains is the chorus to a Lady Gaga song.

      • Kittenbot Doomypants

        I can see it now..
        Patrick: Tell me all of your secrets Mr. Super Secret Agent Man….
        SSAM: Can’t read my..Can’t read my.. No you can’t read my popopopoker face…
        Patrick: Nooooooooooooooo!

  • kalmia

    Well, by asking if Mary would kill him, she’s saying, “Are you a rapist?” and when he says no, she starts saying, “But if human life doesn’t matter, why not? Why not go there?” I think she’s less concerned for his life than goading him to admit he does have some empathy.

  • ApostateltsopA

    It’s not just necessary advances, last time I saw the stats we “spend” about 25,000 lives a year, in the US on traffic deaths. We could reduce that massivly, by going back to 55 mph and a few other things, but we don’t.

    • http://opusthepoet.wordpress.com/ Opus the Poet

      Peak was 57,000 in the ’70s, average this century was right at 37K +/-, last year for accurate stats was just under 34K. If the trend from the ’50s continued we would be right at 90K about now, so things got a lot better. I do traffic safety research in my spare time, I used to analyse bicycle wrecks to determine what happened. I have looked over about 8K fatal bicycle wrecks and I don’t know how many non-fatal wrecks.

  • Steel166

    I was wondering when he would bring out this argument “life’s short, then we die so nothing matters at all” also the example he gave was dumber then New Coke. Just cause you stop an event from happening “On Time” does not mean it will not happen, I mean what if it was just postponed till 1914 and the number goes up to a couple of million? Bah Allison needs to get a better group of friends, they keep screwing with her mind.

  • StClair

    The world has a tendency to do that, when seriously considered for any length of time.

    • Matthew Dowd

      Every time I take an economics class, I slide closer to becoming a commie

      • StClair

        Communism tends to fail because it assumes/requires humans to be something they’re not, but “should” be.
        Capitalism “succeeds” (for some extremely abusive and inequitable values of “success”) because it acknowledges how humans actually are (i.e., greedy selfish bastards).

  • RainWall

    Man, this is becoming insidious. I know Patrick is a mind-reader, and therefore knows exactly what to say to Allison to keep his face attached to his body, but these are flimsy excuses for murder. Just straight-up, “I do what I want” justification.
    I can’t wait for the day Pat screws up and comes face-to-face with “Murder a thousand people everyday” Allison, because then he’ll finally realize he bit off more than he can handle.

  • Darkoneko Hellsing

    Hahaha, she took him by surprise with her reaction !
    And that helped him regain his composure, He’s answering to her speech again rather than direct thoughts.

  • Love Janse

    Remember, Alison were about to kill those people (and did kill one of them), except she would’ve started by killing demonstrators at random in order to find them.

  • Tylor

    I dunno, it’s been ages since I dabbled in the history of the American Civil War, but it always felt like the only way for the war to be avoided was for either a) The North to not push for the abolition of slavery, or b) let the south go peacefully.

    And a) really just feels like it would have postponed the other question the Civil War was about (and honestly, despite the reframing, was probably the principle issue the war settled) which was the primacy of Federal Rights over State Rights.

    • KatherineMW

      Option (a) wouldn’t have prevented the Civil War at all, because not even Lincoln was pushing for the abolition of slavery when he was elected. The South didn’t secede over abolition; they seceded over Lincoln’s opposition to expanding slavery into any states that joined the Union in future. And their fundamental position (upheld in principle by the Dred Scott decision) was that no state in the Union should be able to ban slavery, because that restricted the rights of slaveowners to retain their “property” when they moved between states.

      The fundamental conflict of the Civil War was not that the north wanted to abolish slavery – it did not, though many northern abolitionists did. It was that the south wanted every state to be a slave state. Short of the Union agreeing to that, or choosing not to retaliate against a southern attack, the Civil War would not have been prevented. And either one of those choices would have extended slavery for more than a few decades: at the time of the Civil War, the slave system in the United States was getting stronger, not weaker.

  • Zach Z

    YOU ARE A TERRIBLE FINANCIAL MANAGER.

  • http://mistressdizzy.deviantart.com/ Mistress Dizzy

    I feel like Patrick seems to be ready to snap. He’s been swinging wildly between emotional states. Calm and friendly, to mocking, to disdainful and now… seems completely despondent. …If he’s taking in people’s minds and he can’t stop it, when does he get to release some of these thoughts?

  • Nexxo

    And Alison killed a few in her time too, let’s not forget. At least one an innocent bystander. The thing about both Pat and Alison (and all the others) growing up is that they are starting to take ownership of their actions and the consequences. For better or for worse.

  • Silva

    I understand the analogy between “mental contact without consent” and “sexual contact without consent”, but I think we call rape “rape” thinking it’s something that leaves the victim worse off, and I’m not sure the scientists would be traumatized even if they found out they were pirated (and I think “mindrape” usually means telepathic *torture*, or perhaps brainwashing – not that you can’t use it otherwise). Besides, one could extend the analogy to “visual contact without consent” – do you want to? (Yes, abduction is bad, but Mary isn’t going against kidnappers for, say, money.)

  • Carl Congdon

    “I love people, it is mankind I cannot stand!”–Jonathan Swift

  • Silva

    As said elsewhere, it could be something else: people have been murdered for actual good reasons. Never raped.

  • Silva

    As said elsewhere, it could be something else: people have been murdered for actual good reasons. Never raped. Another alternative: he was forced to think about sexuality, which he abhors.

    • kalmia

      Sure, I shouldn’t have said “usually.” Although there are definitely people out there with the ugly mindset I mentioned above.

      What makes you say Patrick abhors sexuality? Is it just that he’s embarrassed when Allison thinks sexy stuff at him and turns down her mental come-on in the hotel? Those incidents could have more to do with their relationship than with his attitude toward sex in general.

      • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

        Despite what Jack Black movies would tell you, I think hearing every bit of your partner’s thoughts –good, bad and unrelated– while you’re having sex would be a bit disturbing

        • kalmia

          Yikes, good point!

  • Silva

    One possible counterargument (not that I think he’s using that one) is: baseline humans aren’t scarce; Patrick is.

  • Silva

    Is Allison the protagonist? She’s the viewpoint character, but hasn’t she practically stopped “agoning” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agon ) a good time ago?

    • Justin Williams

      Until a more viable character comes along I feel pretty safe in describing Alison as the Protagonist.

      Its certainly not Patrick or Moon-shadow, Feral is too obviously a lesson, Pintsize barely appears in the present setting and the comic has taken pains to dismiss him.

      So if not Alison who?

      She’s going through the wandering phase of the hero’s journey, she’s completed her labors and found the world lacking and she’s searching for how she’s supposed to make it better.

      She has lost her Enkidu and now wanders in directionless confusion, searching for a guide or a sign. Now is the time for her to prove she is a true hero not simply a doer of mighty deeds.

  • Silva

    “Also, do you really think that an order like that ends without innocents dying?”

    Yes. If the one giving the order wanted that. Not that even the best professionals have 100% accuracy, but I think it’s close enough. That so many innocents died in Iraq even when it was the USA attacking was … a good part of the *point*.

    • Justin Williams

      Maybe if Patrick hired a small army of highly skilled and unusually morally scrupulous assassins, who worked with clockwork timing and simultaneously dispatched all the targets before any of them could get their families, the authorities or fellow members of their political group ( who may well be innocent, or at least innocent of the crimes Patrick is handing out death orders for ).

      But do you really think not one child, not one cop, or emergency services worker, not one innocent spouse or relative suffered so Patrick could feel like he was in charge?

      Their deaths amused him, think about that really think about that. Would a man who feels that way, that espouses a creed of nihilism care how those killings were carried our?

      Considering his actions in the past can you honestly say he’d draw the line before car-bombings? A fire-bomb or three? A few sprays of automatic weapons fire into a crowded home or into one of the targets place of business?

      Nothing Patrick has said so far points towards ANY regard for people as anything but a huge anonymous body, a hydra with seven billion heads. What does he care if a few more extraneous people die, we’re all just snowflakes to him.

      He killed before and he’s killing now. He has used and discarded allies and used and discarded strategies.

      Do you honestly think that if he had the power to sweep the armies of the world before him he wouldn’t?

      Even if it meant the deaths of thousands, tens of thousands or even millions of innocents?

      For the love of love “Lives are there to be spent. That’s all”

      That is not the philosophy of a man who cares who dies to reach his goals.

      He kidnaps people in their sleep and rapes their minds!
      He kills for amusement and I’ll be honest I’m pretty disturbed by how long it took him to answer if he was a physical rapist!

      • Kelvandil

        What if he had a small army of devoted biodynamics? (He does.)

  • Silva

    “her first concern is whether YOU might be in danger of getting murdered!”

    I was pretty sure she was close to killing him for being a rapist.

  • Silva

    And we live in a gynocracy, right?

  • Silva

    What morals? You mean modern economic theories? You show awareness that “morality” and “empire” (the one based between 2 weak neighbors, western fish and eastern fish included) have limited overlap.

  • http://opusthepoet.wordpress.com/ Opus the Poet

    I think so. Rape is a personal violation on an individual basis. Not everyone gets raped, but everyone dies eventually. Some of us more than once.

  • http://opusthepoet.wordpress.com/ Opus the Poet

    Have you looked at the former CSA lately?

    • CanuckAmuck

      What can I say? – I’m an optimist.

  • Kelvandil

    He just said that he wouldn’t consider someone killing him evil.

  • Kelvandil

    Do you think she would cut Rich’s throat? http://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-2/page-13-2/ I think it’s safe to assume that he’s read a lot of women’s emails without their consent.

  • fairportfan

    “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.” – attributed to Josef Besarionis Dze Jugashvili

  • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

    Why is she still listening to him? Why is she not doing anything?

  • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

    I feel like he would see getting rid of his telepathy as something akin to losing his sense of sight or sense of touch. He would feel really uncomfortable about skype calling too, because he hates not seeing other’s thoughts while speaking to them.

    • Snow Monet

      And while losing a sense can improve other senses it would cause a sense of distress and depression. Especially if that sense was taken so suddenly.

      True Skype would be a really awkward experience. I think the tape recorder idea could work. But maybe texting between his therapist could be better help.

      • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

        Perhaps. He’s still too proud to do any of it.

        • Snow Monet

          Agreed. Which is too bad since he does have great great potential, he just…I don’t even know what he’s doing with said potential. But I think talking to someone woul help. If only Patrick could swallow his pride.

  • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

    She was almost willing to kill those people anyway. Not saying it’s not f’ed up, but it’s internally consistent for her.

  • http://sortofanaliyah.blogspot.org/ Scar Man!!!

    As someone pointed out above, his philosophy might not be internally consistent for a couple big reasons. The biggest one is that he got his powers when he was 14, and his brain doesn’t finish connecting the parts that control emotions and rational thoughts, respectively, until sometime when you’re 21.

    So he had to deal with seeing how lost everyone is at the age of 14, and his brain, still developing to this day, is having even bigger issues dealing with it than an adult.

    Really, just look up and find it. I didn’t get my point across as well as the commenter that inspired this did.

  • http://mistressdizzy.deviantart.com/ Mistress Dizzy

    You’re saying he is depressed… but is also being manipulative?
    That is a good point, a very good one.

  • Ryan

    I don’t think he necessarily needs to be isolated from everyone, he just needs to find a therapist in another city and have sessions via phone.

  • KatherineMW

    The South wasn’t phasing out slavery: it was entrenching it further, and tried to secede not because Lincoln sought to abolish slavery by law (he didn’t) but merely because he wanted to prevent the expansion of slavery to any new states which joined the US. The South, in contrast, wanted every new state that joined to have slavery, and wanted to force every northern state to accept slavery as well (that was the point of the Dred Scott decision: that a slave transported into a ‘free’ state still remained a slave, meaning that any northern-state anti-slavery laws were meaningless). The South was also furious at northern states for neglecting to implement the Fugitive Slave Law, which required northern police forces to cooperate in apprehending slaves who escaped to the north (or, really, any black person a southerner wanted to kidnap – they didn’t really care about black people’s legal status, and free black people were kidnapped from the north, as depicted in the Best Picture-winning Twelve Years a Slave). All this shows how much of a lie the idea of the south fighting for “states’ rights” was. It was one specific right that they cared about – the right to maintain and expand a chattel slavery sytem, and numerous of the Confederate states said as much when they seceded.

    Don’t mistake me: the North, at least northern white people, certainly didn’t go to war to abolish slavery. The South did go to war to retain and expand slavery. Black people in both the north and south fought against the Confederacy to end slavery. For that reason, there’s an argument that the Civil War really had three main sides, not two.

    I have looked it up; I’ve read extensively on the Civil War. And in the case of the Civil War, the books for many, many years were written based on the dominant Southern narrative – that black people just weren’t smart enough to have rights and should have been left in slavery. It’s only comparatively recently, after the Civil Rights movement, that the books have gotten genuinely historical. James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom is the best I’ve read on the subject of the Civil War, and quite comprehensive.

  • KatherineMW

    The British abolition of slavery was in a very different context: slavery only existed in the colonies (it has been made illegal in Great Britain by judicial decision many years prior); Britain had already abolished the slave trade, without which the colonial slave system was unsustainable because slavery on sugar plantation was brutal to level that slaves died faster than new slaves were born; and the white colonists couldn’t have rebelled, because they were completely dependent on Britain both for trade and for protection (as black slaves far outnumbered white colonists); and slavery was not essential to the British economy.

    In the American South, the slave system was sustainable without the slave trade, and had been for years; slavery was still brutal, but more people were born than died. Slavery was absolutely central to the Southern economy, with slaves being the most valuable commodity – the only comparable economic change in the present-day US would be if you tried to abolish land ownership entirely. Think about the chances of accomplishing that with nothing but moral claims as your argument for it.

    From James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom:

    In [1860], the nearly 4 million American slaves were worth some $3.5 billion, making them the largest single financial asset in the entire U.S. economy, worth more than all manufacturing and railroads combined..

    And it wasn’t just an economic system, it was a social system. Southern white people with no slaves still supported slavery, because it gave them status over slaves, and it fed their economic aspirations: they might be poor now, but they could get rich enough to hope of owning slaves in the future. If slavery ended, they lost that status. Heck, the American South went to great lengths for 200 years after the Civil War to put in place a system that replicated slavery as closely as possible. They used sharecropping, tying black people to white plantation-owners’ land by exploiting the use of debt. They used terror, burning the homes (and often the occupants) of black families who achieved any success. They used prison, sending black men to jail for years for trivial offences such as “loitering” or gambling and assigning them to do forced labour (and often renting them out to landowners to labour on plantations). They used Jim Crow to re-introduce and entrench the social control and social inequality of black people that existed under slavery.

    I can’t see a reason to think the South would have willingly abolished a system that they spent a century working with all their might to re-introduce.

  • Sage Catharsis

    Ok, sorry about the last post, here it goes:
    Frustration and fear, how do people do it, imply/threaten that if ONE question is answered incorrectly (and correctly meaning popular) than so much of a investment in a relationship is thrown away and some goes from being in the trusted column to the malign as much as possible column?
    How? Well, quickly.
    Do you guys do this, like if you find out one of your friends is scared of trans people or black people or whatever, how many friends have you left on the side of the road because they didn’t manage the moral challenges of life exactly how you were taught?

    Because I use to be that way because I was taught God wanted me to immediately drop an association if they stepped outside a certain boundary, and it usually wasn’t that much, and sometimes it was a philosophical discussion.

    That’s it.

    • MrSing

      Hey now, some of my best friends are racists.