12 Years a Slave

Those who deny individual rights cannot then claim to be defenders of Constitutional rights. Neither the right nor the left understands this. This has led to the modern contradiction called racism where a man is judged not by his own actions but by the actions of his collective ancestors, both black and white.

In the antebellum South, two young men would be bought, then brought before the slave master who’d be told, “This here one is strong but not too bright, while the other one is highly skilled at problem solving.” And it mattered not to the master, who’d conclude, “Both go to the fields since they are black.”

Nowadays, two men apply for college entrance, one with higher grades than the other, but what matters is one is the recipient of Affirmative Action because of past injustice. In both scenarios, the decisions are based on race, leaving the individual at the mercy of someone else’s motivation rather than the acknowledgment of anything other than racial affiliation.

How does slavery happen?

So quickly that nobody notices!

12 Years a Slave has film critics universally humbled and apologetic without any acknowledgement that the practice continues to this day! Without question the most heinous act in history, it strips away an individual’s identity and dignity, offering no hope other than satisfying another’s demands. The best example today is pimping or through the sexual trafficking of kids.

12 Years a Slave follows Solomon Northup, a successful violinist on his way from his hometown of Saratoga, New York for a musical engagement, only to wake up in leg-irons headed for a Southern auction block. In actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, Solomon is only a means to an end. The film may indeed be set in 1841 but its relevance is universal in capturing how individual rights are rejected.

The individualist neither sacrifices himself for the benefit of others nor sacrifices others for his own benefit. That’s why it’s so difficult for Solomon to bullwhip a fellow slave under the threat that if he doesn’t, he too will be whipped!

Under the slave system, the master knows what’s best. The alternative is to either acquiesce or struggle against demands. Unable to prove who he is, Solomon sees cooperation as his best chance for survival.

Borrowing plot points from Doctor Zhivago where Omar Sharif walks out of the life he’s chosen only to be inducted into The White Army in need of a medic, it illustrates how little regard is paid to an individual. In Mizoquchi’s Sansho the Bailiff, a family is divided when the father is sent into exile, his kids sold into slavery while the mother ends up a prostitute. A similar scene in 12 Years a Slave shows a mother being separated from her children.

The concept of slavery that festered in the feudalistic South was rife with lynchings and lashings. 12 Years a Slave pulls no punches. Instead, through psychological dehumanization based around some undisclosed act, those enslaved were guilty by nature. As the malevolent slave master, Michael Fassbender is only concerned with humans as material, so Solomon’s intellect, rather than granting him any dispensation, makes him a target!

There are two conflicting philosophies at work here: Solomon is objectively logical; the master subjectively acts on whim. Things are the way they are because he says so.

The purpose is not to make his property (i.e. slaves) perform efficiently but to destroy any and all capacity they might have to function individually! It’s a system dependent on the healthy young, with strength and agreeability, to make it happen. Those more capable work harder to offset those who are insufficient, or find penalties levied against them. Unconditional obedience is what’s required.

Under a slave system, a man exists solely to provide for his master – be it physical work, sexual pleasure or comfort and security.

Slavery is chaotic in that slaves must obey their master’s whims whether they make any sense or not.

How is this any different than Obamacare?

Both the premise and the desired results are the same. An individual exists to defray costs, to prop up a system that has yet to work. Servility and submission are necessary that I contribute to a healthcare system that I did not choose nor did I want. What differentiates freedom from slavery? It’s the principle of voluntary action versus compulsory obedience.

Obamacare means openly declaring that your health and wellbeing are dependent on some other person to foot the bill for your needs. Each according to their ability sustaining those according to their need.

And the question is asked, “Why wouldn’t you want people to benefit from affordable healthcare?” At whose expense?!

It would be like those who complain that the federal government allowed slaves to be sold, then outlawed slavery without compensating those who purchased slaves. The idea is deplorable in the first place.

A willingness to abide bad laws leads to more demands. A government that can FORCE citizens to participate in purchasing healthcare can just as assuredly keep participants healthy by denying large-sized Big Gulp sodas, candy, trans-fatty foods, butter and salt.

But then, all you want is a health plan paid for by someone other than yourself!

Rejoice! Rejoice! You have no choice.

12 Years a Slave barely scratches the surface.