On flattery & slaving

Flattery is a useful resort for those who lack charm. Or they think it is. Apart from the thing itself, there is nothing wrong with flattery. In combination with charm it is lethal. One is at risk of becoming a “friend for life,” or forming other involuntary adorations. But the machine flattery that is a currency today, and probably was in previous generations, marks a man as a public nuisance. Even if he doesn’t want something, it is assumed that he is paying in advance for something we don’t want to sell. And we will sometimes part with it, just to shake him off.

Were it not near the root of what foreigners detect as “English perfidy” — once confined to the English themselves, until they settled America — it would not be a source of their despication. The genius of British imperialism was to offer things, such as flattery, to the natives of Elsewhere, until they figured out who was strongest, and formed an alliance against the lesser tribes. But the alliance would end with toppling their friends — as a learned Bengali once explained to me. They’d then show their old allies the back of their hand. (“Divide and conquer,” as the Romans called it.) Having dispensed with any other possible ally, he was now at their mercy. The flattery would now cease.

But the amateurs of flattery are na├»ve; only the professionals know how to use it. For them, it must be employed “diplomatically” — which is to say, cynically. It can be a means to power; to get the upper hand. Charm, in such cases, is unnecessary. One employs that only when one is able.

The history of slavery is a cynical one. However, the taking of slaves is not the most cynical part. Rather, it is the alliances formed. You get native tribes to do the dirty work for you; tribes you have noticed are already into “dirty,” such as slaving raids. It is a transaction, after all.

The history of slaving in West Africa, is a history of free trade, as any leftist would correctly point out. So far as I can see, this pertains generally, and the English don’t have an enforceable monopoly on perfidious behaviour. They just do it so well, that they are generally resented. No one much complains about Portuguese perfidy, for instance.

Let me further observe, the non-existence of racism, in trading relationships. It would get in the way. Or rather it appears to exist, but only derivatively. It is something that arises after the fact (of enslavement), rather than before. Flattery is more effective in the investment stage.

Perhaps it will appear that I abhor the English, but I love them, with all their flaws. As for any nation, one should cultivate stereotypes, in order to be alert to their tricks. Using “English,” now, in reference to all the natural-born English-speaking people (“Anglos” as the French say), I would suggest a more subtle narrative for Black Lives Matter; certainly more subtle than gentle reader will find in the nasty, racist, “1619” fairy tale.

It was a world in which slavery was common (as it still is, in many regions). By reversing the order of the motives by which these Anglos came to be adept in slavery, they make a hash of the story. They omit, for example, that these Anglos were generally nicer to their slaves than lazier masters who cared less for productive efficiency.

And they do not provide the inspiring bits, when men — especially English — decided to place morality above trading advantage. This is always possible, and is my primary argument against “free trade,” when made into an ideology.

For we should all be free traders, but let us be Christians, first.