Happy new year. Let’s hope 2014 is a good one. I recently saw this video from Thaddeus Russell, discuss the subject matter of his book A Renegade History of the United States:
I highly recommend watching the video and I personally plan on reading the book in the near future. Perhaps I will review it here. In both Russell argues that it was actually the people on the under belly of society who violated our laws, and broke social taboos that gave us our freedoms. Prostitutes for example were among the first American women to dance, to freely go in public without male escorts, wear bright colors and makeup, and protect themselves with fire arms. Gangsters, not only fought alcohol prohibition, but they set up some of the bars where the gay culture could develop. What’s more it was the first generation of unruly wage laborers that gave us the weekend, simply by being unable to work.
I love his opposition to the Protestant work ethic and puritanical religious conformity. I have always believed fighting these things has been an important goal. While there are a lot of individuals at all levels of society who fight for freedom, who get more attention, I think some credit should be given to individuals who buy and sale illegal drugs, such as marijuana or download copyrighted material. I disagree with the legal restrictions on both, and yet it is these people who are actually ignoring these restrictions that are doing the most weaken them.
Of note, I did not agree with Russell on everything. For one he seems to refer to “the left” as a monolithic entity (despite the fact that much of what he says identifies himself as part of the left). I also thought there is some room for clarification of his views on same sex marriage. While, I agree that government recognized marriage is a form of social engineering, and should be gotten rid of for this reason, I recognize that granting some part of the population this package of benefits while arbitrarily denying it to others is just as bad if not worse. If marriage is available to some groups it should be available to all, but of course it would be preferable if government recognized marriage was also available to all. I also find issues, on how frames the idea of worker controlled businesses, since he seems to overlook the fact workers could delegate some subset of there members to handle some of the more burden some management tasks, and the fact that they control the business gives them further incentive to institute labor saving technology. Over all, I found this to be a thought provoking talk, and I am looking forward to the book.