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Linebaugh and Rediker:

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This week’s reading was as interesting as it was horrifying. The places and perspectives Linebaugh and Rediker address paint a stark picture of how unforgiving this time period was on so many people. I liked how they structured the section on the “hewers of wood and the carriers of water.” It framed their argument effectively, weaving politics, religion, and capitalism into a neat little phrase. What is so startling about this reading is how history truly makes its dirty little secrets fade conveniently into the background and allows us to pat ourselves on the back for all the progress we have made. Progress that has been attained at the expense of those the influential deemed expendable.



Compared to our other readings I like this one the best. And as Alyssa stated above the chapters we had to read were a little scary but it explained capitalism a more forward than previous authors. With history making its dirty little secrets fade, I believe history doesn't make them go ahead, but instead over exaggerate our accomplisments.


Elizabeth Leidel


I thought that one of the passages in the reading gave a clear definition of what stood out to me the most from the reading, "A 'free negro' cook divided provisions equally so that the crew aboard Francis Sprigg's ship might live 'very merrily' in 1724". Equally is the key word though not the only important one. To "live merrily" is also a phrase that is important to this book. These are two words that caused the hydra to unleash its fury on those who tried to oppress it. Consumerism takes advantage of those who make it possible. It turnes its head from the process and only demands the end result, but what happens when it does this is that it forgets the process, it forgets who makes it possible. This is one of the causes of the reoccurance of the Hydra, the uprising of the oppressed. The unfair treatment of the most crucial element of consumer goods, the workers, will ultimately cause the process to grind to a halt. This is what people started to realize. This is still the case in today's economy. Industry is at the mercy of the workers, the laborers, the slaves. Without bodies, there can be no production. Without spokes, there is no wheel. When people finally realize this, they realize how much power they actually have. And at this point, there is no longer separation of people, there is unity of the oppressed.


Evan Gallagher


I appreciated the chapter in Linebaugh and Rediker devoted to the study of hydrarchy. It's always fascinating (and excruciating) to see how violence breeds violence: While the slave trade it itself was a gruesome and violent crime against humanity, piracy was pretty ugly as well. Tracing the roots of piracy from the top of the social ladder down, it's strange to examine the subjection of the "common men of the deep" to the cruelty of being part of the circumatlantic trade. The diseases, riots and bloodshed onboard, on the one hand, paved the way to the gallows on the other. In the middle of the chapter, Linebaugh and Rediker describe the "early shapers of the tradition," including prisoners, religious zealots, prostitutes, servants, and on and on. Wages were low and disease was rampant thanks to the ever-expanding Royal Navy. Even more curious, perhaps, is the organizational structure that arose from the tumult of the high seas. It seems like the pirate ship, with its unquestioning sailors, authoritative captains, and majority rule served as a relatively well-functioning government, especially in comparison to the royal rule on European landmasses. The book mentions the motley, multiracial and multicultural build of the pirate ship, such as Black Sam Bellamy's crew, which actually included several Africans "liberated from a slave ship." While piracy was a dangerous, fearsome business, probably not as hip as Hollywood makes it out to be, it's kind of cool to see some evidence of a kind of sensibility and order (and even, dare I say it, a bit of equality?) on the seas that didn't exist on land.


Bryan D. Peach


"The Outcasts of the Nations of the Earth" proves the point of one of the general theses of this class, something we discussed in detail during the first week and have hinted at since: the history of slavery is anything but linear. It is not wholly related (in fact, not nearly) to a certain color or region. But it is nevertheless a history with its roots in routes through the Atlantic. This chapter was dense, but a couple of the take-home points are, I believe, linked to the idea of trade and travel along the Atlantic. The Insurrection of 1741 followed a trade drought that plagued New York City and according to Linebaugh and Rediker deepened the division between the poor and ruling classes. Interestingly enough, the cycle of actions began in the Caribbean and caught on in America. I don't think it's a stretch to make the connection between the trade of bodies which invariably would influence the expanding market of New York to the effect that the bodies of those who were enslaved by economic chains revolted as had their Caribbean brothers and sisters. The participants in the revolts also participated, perhaps unwittingly, in the exchange of wealth and labor which would influence their pocketbooks directly. The necessity of such participation notwithstanding, slavery in this case begets slavery in the same way that Atlantic violence begets the same. And as L&R point out, this insurrection involved not only slaves, but the sailors who would invariably help facilitate the trade, the Irish whose economic situation in America and across the sea was exacerbated by the trade.



The key idea here is "trade," and the word manifests itself in so many different ways that it would be hard to keep them all straight, even here.


So the insurrection was inspired by similar revolts across the Atlantic and facilitated by those to whom 1) the plots and actors were familiar, 2) economies of scale were manifested in economic turmoil, and 3) revolt seemed necessary as a means to (if temporarily) incapacitate the system, if not means to an end itself. (Thus the trade of slaves across the Atlantic lent itself to the trade of ideas and attitudes which would transcend culture, color and creed in order to accomplish a goal.) This is extraordinary. I think in short what is most striking about this chapter was the way the (capitalist-driven) system of slavery all across the Atlantic created slavery in the United States even when the actors weren't all chosen by hand and chained into boats. (The actors were still forced to facilitate slavery in no uncertain terms, and it's interseting how what is described as a microcosmic type of "communism" was born out of this economic interchange, but that may be an entirely different topic.)



Hope I made sense...



Brandon W. Peach


I liked this reading better than the others we have read so far. I thought it was interesting to see the ship and how it was run and the difference between a merchant ship and a pirate ship. We usually see the pirate captain as harsh and completely in control. The captain was allowed much less power and advantage than on a merchant ship. The most equal place was on a pirate ship. While Africans were being enslaved in the empire, they were treated well by what were concidered the rebels of society.

Erica Osterloo


I found the discussion between slavery and capitalism in this chapter to be fascinating. I liked how the discussion began with the clear fact that workers/slaves are necessary to its growth, and how each of them are rendered invisible, yet they are completely responsible for its maintenance and production. I find it so twisted that not only are these people being subjected to a miserable life of terror and slavery, but worse yet the fact that this very act of slavery is what is driving it so stay alive. Isn't it strange then to think that if these people were to somehow collectively stop building the ships, planting the crops, and maintaining the civilization, that the slave empires would crumble? But perhaps that is all easier said than done, since a relentless terror was invoked throughout that managed to keep everyone in line. Fear as the control mechanism is just further feeding into building up of this capitalistic world that the colonies are creating. What I find most interesting about the reign of terror over the slaves is how the English white men have somehow deemed all of the Africans, Native Americans, Irish, and all other slaves as "savages" just because they live close to nature or because they may be illiterate, when in my opinion the savage behavior can be found in the blood left on their hands after they have forced innocent lives into a life of slavery and either killed them through terrible living conditions or with their own bare hands.


Jillian Winn




While doing this reading I was struck by the ways the ruling class used myths to target “punishable categories of people” within different areas of society (61-65). By marking West Indians as cannibals (a hypocritical claim, as the text points out), pirates as the “common enemy of human society”, armed women as “amazons”, and other enemies the ruling elite subscribed to a mythic terror as justification for targeting these outcasts of society. I think this is interesting because of how often it is done today in our post-9/11 world. Our enemies are not classified by the individual threats they pose – rather they are lumped together in a larger religious or social group. And myths of terror are still used as justification for violence or repression of certain groups.




On a small side note, I found it very interesting that Linebaugh and Rediker were not only able to trace back to the early roots of capitalism, but also communism (65) with the Anabaptists group. Its interesting how in the linear history we have been taught to believe communism begins with Marx. Yet as we’ve discovered many times over already in this class, it is not quite so.




Samantha Luceri


This reading was indeed very dense with its historical data, but much easier to read than that of Baucom. The hydra has brought back the idea of when people are pushed they push back. The fact that people were just picked up from their lives and forced to go to the new world to slave away in a field for some overlord, English citizens just stolen from the world and put to work, this just really upsets me. It makes me wonder if those in charge were actually thinking about what they were doing. they were using the labor of others to further their ideals of modernity, expecting the hewers and drawers to comply and stay subjected to a life of hard work and no benefits. I also would like to look at how those in charge continue to supply a sort of "freedom" to those that choose it. they let people into the world that has been crafted for profit and become upset when the culture that is brought with them becomes a norm in the world. the minority becomes a majority, this is frowned upon by those in charge. they dont like this because it promotes change and new ideas. Pirates and people in need of free music are shunned from society because they want something different from life and refuse to listen to the leaders when it comes to value. price is such a fantastic idea to incorporate into the world. for something to have value is just...should information have value? should we charge for information? if so, lets just all be pirates and hack our ways towards k-nowledge. Yargh! Matt



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