The arendt files, p.8
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       The Arendt Files, p.8
 

           Ivan Rosemblatt
“You see Wilhelm, the negro type, the African, comes from a different habitat, a different milieu. They are not only inherently different and inferior to us, they are also out of their element. This you already know, but the more we understand it, the more we are able to use that understanding them the more we will be able to get the most out of them. What I seek here is not progress but stability.”

  “Yes of course, I understand this. What does this have to do with bare feet.”

  “All of the institutions of slavery, prior to it’s renaissance, under the leadership of the Nazi party, was based on a single, primary fear. The fear, no, the terror, that they would rise up.”

  “But they did not. Except for one or two meaningless rebellions.”

  “Yes, they did not. But the fear in the white man remained. My question is how do we change the conditions so that we do not need to feel fear, so that we can truly enjoy our bounty. Fear lessens a man, especially when he denies it. Others whisper about it’s symptoms after the dinner party, a bad stomach, headaches or worst yet, they handle it by becoming highly religious and proselytizing. We need a vigorous people. You understand of course.”

  “Of course.”

  With your help the use of force and threat and punishment has become much more efficient and effective, for which we are very grateful. I am looking to the other side. My nation was born under principles of freedom and this naive belief that freedom is an innate urge in everyone, to express their . . .” He made wave like motion from his chest, “well, some who knows what. I never really understood. But of course that is not the actual case. Freedom and it’s practice are a special case, a unique condition born into a few, an elite if you will. For the rest it is nothing they know or desire, it has nothing to do with them. They desire regularity, conformity, the known. They might like the sound of the word, like a jingle on the radio but it means nothing. But there is one thing that unites the elite and everyone else.”

  “And what is that?” Wilhelm felt extremely tense. He did not like the know the direction this was taking and once again did not like it.

  “Each want to fulfill their nature. And this is what I was getting at. The African race, they are primitive. They do not want to rise out of the natural world and assert their will, they wish to live with the and express themselves as a part of it. By finding ways to give that nature expression we relieve the pressure that caused the fear of their rebelling. We make the mistake of putting our own urges onto them -They want to be free, they want to take over. They want nothing of the sort. That is our nature, the white man's nature, to conquer to rebel, to bridle under any sensed affront. We must not allow ourselves to be seduced unknowingly by egalitarian Christian thinking. They are not like us. Hence barefoot. It allows them to feel in touch with the earth, the land. That is their nature. They need to sing as well. Have you seen the slave quarters before, have I shown them to you?”

  “I don’t believe you have.”

  They are set low so that they are not visible from the road or the house. I imagine with your responsibilities you have seen many others though.”

  “Too many. So many details to take in and administer. I don’t care how you house your slaves but don’t make it a public health hazard. Don’t create conditions for disease that can spread to us. I find it exhausting.”

  “I find it fascinating in this sense. Have you paid attention to the lay out of slave quarters?”

  “I can’t say I have given it much though.”

  “Neither had most of us southerners but when I was at college I found out that others had. The way slave quarters are laid out and positioned is in accordance with traditional West African villages.”

  “That is interesting. Also a bit disturbing”

  “One can only imagine that in the early days the slave owners gave the slaves time to set up their own quarters, probably out of a kind of laziness or lack of concern, then over time this became the norm.”

  “It sounds reasonable enough, what you find interesting about it I have no idea.”

  “My dear Wilhelm. You tire of my story. I apologize. We can change the subject.”

  “No, no. The bare feet, get to that.”

  “Yes, as I said connection to the earth, to nature. Our job is rule them and extract the most possible labor from them with the least risk to ourselves. I am looking for small ways where I can allow them to express their natures so that they feel at peace. We are all subject to some authority and we all have some burden of work. They know that. They are not smart but they are wily. I look not for concessions, not what do they want that I can give, but what can I give that they do not even know they want.”

  “And they want bare feet.”

  “Yes they do. Almost no tribes in Africa use any kind of shoes.”

  “So you study their ways.”

  “Know your enemy.”

  “Ah yes, use your superior intellect. But isn’t there the risk that you go native. Start to take on their ways?”

  “That may be a risk for some but I ask you Wilhelm, honestly, do you think that I have taken on their ways?”

  “I will look more carefully now.”

  “Is there any other plantation that works produces as much as mine? That gives as much tribute?”

  “No, none. That is why my visits can be spent in pleasantries.”

  “Yes, I do enjoy your visits. You have a curious mind which is a quality I find far too rare.”

  “Yes but one more comment on your methods. But how is it that you American’s say it. Ah yes what about the injunction, “Spare the rod, spoil the child?”

  “My dear Wilhelm, I assure we do not spare the rod. I think we have spent too long speaking about work. Let’s change the topic and the venue.

  There is something a little adolescent about this transition. Unsophisticated. Forced.

  It is much too beautiful a night to be cramped up in doors.”

  “Yes I agree. I feel that today my animal spirits are high.”

  “Well why don’t I have them saddle up a couple of horses and we can ride out to the pleasure house.”

  “Ja.”

  Chapter 9

 
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