Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Prussia

How and Why Slavery Got Abolished

One of the things I find odd about the American discourse about slavery is how rarely Americans think about slavery as an institution which existed outside America. Not only did slavery exist in the ancient world in a pre-racialised way–in which many slaves were white, and many masters were people of colour–but it also existed in many other places during the period in which it existed in America. In many of these places, slavery was abolished not by violence but by ordinary politics. Yet this is rarely acknowledged or discussed, and it is increasingly common for Americans to frame our history largely in terms of the slavery question. We don’t often ask why slavery was more contentious in the United States than in other places. That’s what I want to think about with you today.

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How the United States Invented a New Kind of Corruption

It’s easily forgotten that the US constitution was written to address the defects of a very specific kind of government–the 18th century European absolute monarchy. The trouble is that when we design our states to solve one very specific kind of problem, we often over-correct and create precisely the opposite sort of problem. Our minds are too aware of our recent experience. We get myopic, we fail to see how our solutions to yesterday’s problems contain within them the beginnings of tomorrow’s problems. This piece aims to detail how America’s answer to absolutism has contained within itself the foundation for many of our current political woes.

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A Critique of Hegel

Today I seek to come to grips with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the late 18th and early 19th century German philosopher. Why Hegel? Because of Hegel’s influence on a broad range of philosophical movements and traditions that have sprung up over the last 200 years, and because there are elements within his system of belief that strike me as manifestly false (and, consequently, serve as a false foundation for spin-off theories), and I seek to articulate why.

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