346: Preserving Moral Progress

Play

C-Realm_346KMO welcomes Charles C. Mann back to the podcast to discuss the themes of slavery and the second great African diaspora, which took the shape of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In his book, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created, Charles details how the human taste for sugar, plantation-style agriculture, and diseases like maleria and yellow fever shaped the social arrangements of Europe, African and the so-called New World and which continue to influence our contemporary way of life. KMO asks Charles about the potential for preserving the moral progress we seem to have made in the last 200 years in an ear of limits to growth and economic contraction. Nicole Foss, in an excerpt from an upcoming Full Circle podcast, weighs in on that same question.

Music by The Autumn Olives.

You can hear more conversations with Charles Mann in C-Realm Podcast episode 256, on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and on the Orion Magazine Podcast.

Learn more about transition training in Dobbs Ferry, NY February 1-3.

  • William

    Correction
    The 13th Amendement specifically legalizes slavery of usa prisoners.

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      Hi William,

      Here’s the text of the 13th Amendment:

      Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

      Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

      Alas, yet another example that Congress needs an editor. I take the amendment to be abolishing slavery (that is, the ownership of human beings) and limiting involuntary servitude so that it is only applied as a punishment of convicted criminals. Still, because of the ambiguous sentence structure, I can see how people can make the plausible claim that the qualifying phrase, “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” applies to both slavery AND involuntary servitude. What does seem clear is that the authors of the amendment thought that slavery and involuntary servitude were not one and the same, which is why they listed both.

      Thank you for listening and commenting.

      -KMO

  • lolly

    what moral progress? Haven’t noticed any….

    • http://c-realm.com KMO

      Hi, Lolly.

      Did you listen to the podcast? Charles and I spent a fair amount of time describing forms of institutionalized brutality which used to be common, accepted practice and which are now considered crimes. Slavery is the primary example, but if you read 1493 (which I strongly encourage you to do) and compare the social climate today to that of 500 years ago, the moral progress will be self-evident.