Saturday, January 02, 2016

Really! Pirates and Tea Party Conservatism

Yes! There's a connection - and recognizing this connection has been a long time coming, I think. It has split America from England and even itself - we have been a divided union ever since wet ink pooled on the Constitution...

An argument made in Pirates & Slaves: Making America is that America’s unique drive toward private, free market capitalism and absolute freedom, bolstered by a vengeful God, derives from piracy. The official image of "piracy" was trashed to hide it. Still, it naturally follows - all nations once condoned piracy in the Americas and the “Wild West” Indies atmosphere set the standard for American behavior, including its most basic economic conduct. 

The current system of economics in our country has ingrained itself in our society so deeply and for so long as to seem almost natural, even necessary. But, take a step back... West Indian piracy’s ideological development in the Caribbean, cast from the molds of early pirates like Sir Francis Drake and John Hawkins, gave birth to this unique American ideology. After its transfer to mainland Carolina in 1671 and later diffusion to the young United States, it was also inevitable that a unique American capitalism would develop with its accompanying assurances that humans were naturally greedy and a focus of profit over any other consideration.

Historian Mark G. Hanna asserted that “many of the most notorious pirates” settled in America as “respected members of the local gentry.”

Capitalism and West Indian piracy were both born of the same western mother Europe. Like capitalism, piracy is a departure from our basic nurturing human instincts – unnatural and synthetic - a business, with expenses, income, buyers, sellers, supply and demand. Piracy or theft was a particular favorite of the old Stuart monarchs, Charles I and Charles II; the last Stuart, Queen Anne, died in 1713. Upon the accession of the Hanoverian king, George I, liberals ascended to power and tried to eradicate piracy. Supporters of the old, conservative regime, or Jacobites, attempted to overthrow the foreign, German Hanoverian line. "Pirate king" Edward "Blackbeard" Thache's Queen Anne's Revenge or pirate Stede Bonnet's Royal James were not named by accident.

“The swashbuckling activities of deep-sea pirates,” historian Mark G. Hanna writes, “were integral to the political and social development of the colonial maritime communities that depended upon these adventurers' goods and services.”  

An emerging America, 3,000 miles away, merely pirated piracy away from its distant and negligent mother and secured the benefits for themselves, while the mother sought liberal reform back home. America and England ideologically split - essentially over piracy. Americans then rebranded and refined their piratical practice on land after the turn of the eighteenth century, styled simply as “capitalism.” The final break came only fifty years later, in 1776. After that, pirates were finally free.

Destroying the Evidence:

"The image of Blackbeard as a cruel and ruthless villain was largely created by newspaper accounts and A General History of the Pyrates, first published in 1724. This book has been plundered by generations of historians, despite the fact that it is riddled with errors, exaggerations, and misunderstandings." -- Arne Bialuschewski, "Jacobite Pirates?"

As one might suspect before the British government's political misdirection, pirates have not always been viewed as "notorious criminals" or "enemies of all mankind." They were once seen as vital to the seventeenth-century English economy. In the eighteenth century, however, the paradigm changed and pirates were reviled by the mother while the offspring, America, brutally enhanced the rough and ready economic narrative into unregulated “laissez faire.” Americans, especially conservatives, preserved piracy in a slightly modified form. Still, the masses of capitalism's workers would eventually feel the strain...

Late 19th century novelist Robert Louis Stevenson noted his novel Treasure Island as a wry commentary on the "ambiguity of morality"—as seen in pirate Long John Silver—unusual for children's literature - "prevalent themes of Stevenson’s prose: duality of one’s character, internal struggle against social pressure, assumed respectability and criticism of oppressive policies." 

Self-styled “Explorer and Treasure-seeker” Harold T. Wilkins, writing for the American Weekly in 1940, offered a raucous interpretation of Blackbeard’s sexual prowess and scandalous behavior. Still, his description was less than flattering. “Gradually women,” he wrote, “scum of the waterfronts came and the shores became hells of unbridled revel.” Wilkins appeared to hold a customary scriptural view, blaming women for an evil influence upon men, perhaps with allusions toward the Biblical Genesis. 

Consider this reaction from South Carolinians: On June 24, 2009, Republican governor of South Carolina Marshall Clement "Mark" Sanford publicly revealed that he had engaged in an affair with María Belén Chapur, an Argentine woman. While it led to censure by the South Carolina General Assembly and his resignation as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, it did not result in Sanford's actual resignation from the governorship. After his term, Sanford formally launched his bid for Congress in early 2013. He quickly became a front-runner in a crowded field of 16 Republican candidates and won!

Modern popularity of the "notorious" Blackbeard began late in the 19th century... "The Industrial Revolution was also a demographic revolution with consequences in urbanization as it accelerated the emigration of the population from country to city and the result was the development of horrifying slums and cramped row housing [results of capitalism] in the overcrowded cities. It was in this century that literature saw its importance growing rapidly" - an illusory rhetorical salve for the victims of capitalism.

Why are memes such as this one becoming ever more popular at a time when inequality is even more pronounced than ever? The "real" criminals are usually seen as the ones who lord power over others... like the Robber Barons of our late 19th century - the wealthy purveyors of anti-democracy who created the Great Depression with their economic abuses. Discovering that Blackbeard himself was not poor, but one of this same wealthy war-like class, exposes them a little more. We intuitively see capitalists as pirates or criminals... and they are identical in anti-social ideology.

Blackbeard is really not a "notorious" and "filthy" pirate after all -  he's actually one of our capitalist heroes - a war veteran and grandson of an Anglican minister - and possibly the leader of a failed revolution!

Blackbeard's wealthy family!? You have to be kidding me, right?

Still, we could not just admit to ourselves that we kept actual piracy as an institution – especially later, as our children began to see themselves as more civilized and Godly. We had to demonize the "idea" of piracy, while elevating capitalism to virtual divinity. We now worship the acquisition of wealth above all else - truly, that is piracy.

Although we heavily depend upon it, American capitalism and its unruly pet of chattel slavery truly embarrassed us. Therefore, we further suppressed this prickly relationship - again, with God's help - essentially giving America a split personality disorder, reflected by the hostile and extreme two-party political system that we have today.  It created the Civil War and what we know today as the "Tea Party." This is the slavery-supporting old-testament-style of God's vengeance... against the enemies of wealth acquisition...

America's "Deep South" - A "Christian Nation"

How did God do this? Why did he decree America (at least half of it) as his favorite capitalist creation? Well, it was necessary for our sanity! The seed of the godly rhetorical salve was devised at almost the same moment as the Golden Age and transferred to the mainland through Carolina to be dispersed throughout the Deep South and, eventually, all of America. See: Colin Woodard's American Nations.






The ideology of piracy and theft had its affects... the Carolina grants of 1663-1665, West Indian immigration to America in 1671, and the development of the Deep South - the entry of slavery into America!
The popular disturbances that followed Dr. Henry Sacheverell’s religious and passionate preaching in 1709 and prosecution of Whigs for “High Church” views in England created the unusual election of 1710, the “most riotous election campaign of the period.”  This popular revolt firmly paired Jacobitism, rioting, piracy, and a personal God against the established government. It spread throughout an empire, already suffering from class division, into the West Indies, then ripe for revolution, partly resulting in the heavily Jacobite Golden Age of Piracy. Once independent, the United States made such Godly piracy its own. Yes, the American Revolution almost began 60 years before 1776!

It certainly helped today’s pirates to ensure that we were simply made that way – by God, unchangeable and everlasting. Appealing to the old testament biblical notion of an inherently greedy human nature has become the only unquestionable support for private control of production and consumption, or free-market capitalism. God owned the stock exchange and, boy, did he hate history in high school!


Yes... we do this to ourselves to ignore our brutal past and cultural responsibility.
Still, I can assure you that we are not an inherently greedy species. This solitary religious justification fails.  American conservative politics, though, desperately keeps that rhetorical fuel for capitalism alive with vehement nationalistic support. Sinclair Lewis symbolized that rhetoric in regards to returning right-wing fascism as "wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." 

Manifest Destiny... God's imperialist decree!


American Progress, an 1872 painting by John Gast is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Here Columbia, an angelic personification of the United States, leads civilization westward with American settlers. She brings light from the East into the darkness or evil of the West (progress must always be profitable), stringing telegraph wire and the railroad as she sweeps westward. The different stages of economic activity of the pioneers are highlighted and, especially, the evolving forms of transportation - progress as a function of capitalism that destroyed entire nations of aboriginal peoples in the process.

We simply could not admit this to ourselves - we doubted our own intelligence and hid behind our "omniscient," yet cruel Levitican deity!  God had a purpose! He would make it all right... ironically, though, his "children" died by the millions.

Our basic conservative ideology is parasitic... not human nature! Our founding fathers were very wrong - early Americans were wrong. WE are wrong! Humans are NOT inherently greedy! The Bill of Rights is the only thread of decency keeping us from drowning in conservatism.

Biology Professor S. A. Barnett’s book Biology and Freedom: An Essay on the Implications of Human Ethology demonstrates that modern ethology, experimental psychology, genetics and evolutionary theory destroy the notion that humans are predominantly and unavoidably violent, grasping, selfish and stupid. We do, indeed, have redeeming innate factors. We also should not be selfish with this perception, for other animals generally regarded as lower on the evolutionary scale demonstrate similar characteristics as well. 

Continuous conservative rhetoric against “the pirate,” per se, deflated the necessity of the old English reform arguments and were cultivated in America to hide the natural relationship to capitalism - our greed. We debased our own natures and denied our own teachers - the pirates of old in the “Golden Age” like Blackbeard. Capt. Charles Johnson (aka Nathaniel Mist)'s A General History of the Pirates started the revision process - we finished it. 

This is Mist's Piracy... he masked the true capitalist Blackbeard... and stunted our emotional growth!

Edward Thache, the real educated military man, landed gentleman, and successful businessman had to die while the notorious “Blackbeard the Pirate” character remained, cast in a smoking cloak of perpetual evil simply to emotionally support the newer economic narrative: “Thou shalt not steal… without a proper license.” 

We now have proof of "Mist's Piracy" in Blackbeard Reconsidered...

This type of historical revisionism was an ideological argument similar to Sen. Jim Inhofe's use of a snowball on the floor of Congress to deny a very real climate change... nothing personal there, Edward Thache might say – just business.



"Once you establish that Blackbeard was not the evil and notorious man that he has been made out to be, that he was diminished by early British authorities... and that early America loved its pirates and their way of life, it is only one more step to conclude that America owes something of its basic conservative ideology to Golden Age Piracy."




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Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist's Piracy, Thache's Genealogy on Amazon.com

Today's popular image of the pirate Blackbeard as a bloodthirsty criminal, "a Devil incarnate," has its origins in Nathaniel Mist's A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724). Mist's narrative only accounts for the last two years of Blackbeard's life, yet subsequent historians and scholars accepted and promoted this colorful but unsubstantiated image for three centuries. In Blackbeard Reconsidered, historian Baylus Brooks examines the myth of Blackbeard in the light of official government records in Jamaica and Church of England records. This new evidence allows Brooks to present the immediate lineage of Edward Thache, a respected resident of Spanish Town, Jamaica, and to place the gentleman's actions within an accurate historical context that successfully challenges the violent image of Blackbeard.


Was Blackbeard a GENTLEMAN? Historical records show feared pirate was actually an aristocratic family man who gave up his wealth to help his brother and sister



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