Mene Mene Tekel Parsin
"Forgiveness is better than revenge. The one shows native gentleness, the other savagery." Epictetus
In ancient Babylon, there was a king named Nebuchadnezzar. Like most kings throughout history, he was the law. All other people beneath him must submit to his authority or face his wrath. Of course, all of these despotic things were done by others to whom the king delegated his power. Nebuchadnezzar had judges, counselors, police magistrates, governors and other officials that would see to it that his laws and decrees were enforced upon the people. Nebuchadnezzar was not restrained by any fundamental law and did whatever he wanted. One thing he did was have a big golden image made that was a representation of his authority as king. He ordered that all people should prostrate themselves before this image and worship it whenever a loud chorus of musical instruments was played. All people within earshot had better come running and worship the image which represented the king's authority, or else they would face the king's punishment pursuant to the king's laws. As most of us know, there were three men who refused to worship the image and this enraged Nebuchadnezzar. The penalty for not worshiping his authority was death by fire. Real nice fellow, wasn't he? The three men, whose names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, were ordered to be cast into a furnace that the king ordered to be made three times hotter than usual. Do you think he was angry? The three men took the position that, whether God chose to deliver them or not, they wouldn't worship Nebuchadnezzar's authority. God saved them from such a horrible death by sending an angel to protect them from the fire. God was finally able to humble Nebuchadnezzar after he struck the king with insanity for a few years and the king was reduced to the same level as the beasts of the field. After all this happened to Nebuchadnezzar, the king confessed: "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, am praising and exalting and glorifying the King of the heavens, because all his ways are truth and his ways are justice, and because those who are walking in pride he is able to humiliate."1
After Nebuchadnezzar died, his son Belshazzar became king. Did the lessons of what happened to his father cause him to be a God fearing king that had respect for truth and justice? The account in chapter five of the book of Daniel shows that this was not the case. Belshazzar made a big feast that was attended by thousands of people. God probably wouldn't have cared much about this great feast, but Belshazzar, drunk on wine, ordered that the vessels of gold and silver that had been taken by his father from the temple at Jerusalem when he sacked the place be brought out so that they could drink from them. They were having a grand ol time drinking wine from these vessels looted from God's temple and praising the gods of gold, silver, copper, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly, from out of the blue, a hand appears and starts writing upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace. Needless to say, this brought an end to the party and Belshazzar became very afraid to the point where his knees were knocking together. He summoned the wise men of Babylon and told them that whoever could read the writing and interpret it would be clothed with purple, get a gold necklace, and be third most powerful ruler of Babylon. The queen advised the king to send for Daniel, and he did. This is what Daniel said to Belshazzar..
"Let your gifts prove to be to you yourself, and your presents do give to others. However, I shall read the writing itself to the king, and the interpretation I shall make known to him. As for you, O king, the Most High God himself gave to Nebuchadnezzar your father the kingdom and the greatness and the dignity and the majesty. And because of this greatness that He gave him, all peoples, national groups and languages proved to be quaking and showing fear before him. Whom he happened to want to, he was killing; and whom he happened to want to, he was striking; and whom he happened to want to, he was exalting; and whom he happened to want to, he was humiliating. But when his heart became haughty and his own spirit became hard, so as to act presumptuously, he was brought down from the throne of his kingdom, and his own dignity was taken away from him. And from the sons of mankind he was driven away, and his very heart was made like that of a beast, and with the wild asses his dwelling was. Vegetation they would give him to eat just like bulls, and with the dew of the heavens his own body got to be wet, until he knew that the Most High God is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that the one whom he wants to, he sets up over it. And as for you, his son Belshazzar, you have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. But against the Lord of the heavens you exalted yourself, and they brought before you even the vessels of his house, and you yourself and your grandees, your concubines and your secondary wives have been drinking wine from them, and you have praised mere gods of silver and of gold, copper, iron, wood and stone, that are beholding nothing of hearing nothing or knowing nothing; but the God in whose hand your breath is and to whom all your ways belong you have not glorified. Consequently from before him there was being sent the back of a hand, and this very writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the word: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it. TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balance and have been found deficient. PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians."2
That very night Belshazzar was killed and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom of Babylon.
The slaveholders of pre civil war times had no intention of relinquishing their power over the millions of slaves that were subject to their authority. One thing I found in the Dred Scott decision was a hint from Justice Nelson, who said: "A question has been alluded to, on the argument, namely: the right of a master with his slave to transit into or through a free State, on business or commercial pursuits, or in the exercise of a federal right, or the discharge of a federal duty, being a citizen of the United States, which is not before us. This question depends upon different considerations and principles from the one in hand, and turns upon the rights and privileges secured to the common citizen of the republic, under the Constitution of the United States. When that question arises, we shall be prepared to decide it."3
You see, since the Supreme Court had ruled that the Constitution upheld the right to own slave property, it followed that the Congress had no authority to bar people who owned this species of property, or any other property that could be lawfully owned for that matter, from taking it into territories belonging to the United States. This makes perfect sense. If I have the right to own it, I have the right to move it from point A to point B. So then, it follows that the next Dred Scott decision would have been one where a slaveholder took his slave property into a free State. What prevented this was the fact that Lincoln got elected to the presidency in 1860 and the anti-slavery forces had gained the upper hand in the federal government. If a pro-slavery man would have gotten elected president, then there is little doubt in my mind that there were slaveholders willing to put state laws prohibiting slavery to the test in the free states by moving with their slaves into a free state. Lincoln saw this and said that the next Dred Scott decision would nationalize slavery. It would have given slaveholders the right to move their slave property anywhere they wanted in any state or territory. Lincoln's election stopped this from happening. So since the slaveholders lost power in the federal government, they made their threat of succession a reality. As J.H. Hammond said in Cotton is King: "We are well content to give up the Union sooner than sacrifice two thousand millions of dollars, and with them all the rights we prize. You may take it for granted that it is impossible to persuade or alarm us into emancipation, or to making the first step toward it. Nothing, then, is left, to try, but sheer force. If the abolitionist are prepared to expend their own treasure and shed their own blood as freely as they ask us to do ours, let them come. We do not court the conflict; but we will not; and we cannot shrink from it."4
Here we can see the mentality of a ruler when he is part of a oligarchy that commands the labor of millions. An oligarchy is legally defined as: "A name given to designate the power which a few citizens of a state have usurped, which ought by the constitution to reside in the people."5 The main power that's been usurped is the people's right to free labor, which is supposed to be guaranteed to all working people by the Constitution. Hinton Helper called the slaveholders a "villainous oligarchy" because they had command of the labor of all working people in the South. "That we shall encounter opposition we consider certain; perhaps we may even be subject to insult and violence. From the conceited and cruel oligarchy of the South, we could look for nothing less..... The liberation of five millions of poor white trash' from the second degree of slavery, and of three millions of miserable kidnaped negroes from the first degree, cannot be accomplished too soon."6 Helper saw that the slaveholders only represented around 3% of the population, but yet they had power over the labor of all working people. Is this any different today? When we add up: all elected representatives at both the federal and state levels; all the judges at the federal and state levels; and all the bureaucrats that exercise power in the Executive Bureaucracies at both the state and federal levels; I doubt that it would even amount to 1% of the population today. But this oligarchy has obtained power over the labor of millions of working people, and most people continue to support them. We've traded an oligarchy of slaveholders for an oligarchy of labor cannibals, and even though a century-and-a-half separates them, they are the same in spirit. In order to maintain their power, they must hide the truth.
"We mean precisely what our words express, when we say we believe thieves are, as a general rule, less amenable to the moral law than slaveholders; and here is the basis of our opinion: Ordinarily, thieves wait until we acquire a considerable amount of property, and then they steal a dispensable part of it; but they deprive no one of physical liberty, nor do they fetter the mind; slaveholders, on the contrary, by clinging to the most barbarous relic of the most barbarous age, bring disgrace on themselves, their neighbors, and their country, depreciate the value of their own and others' lands, degrade labor, discourage energy and progress, prevent non- slaveholders from accumulating wealth, doom their children to ignorance, and all its attendant evils, rob the negroes of their freedom, throw a damper on every species of manual and intellectual enterprise, that is not projected under their own roofs and for their own advantage, and, by other means not equally at variance with the principles of justice, though but an insignificant fractional part of the population, they constitute themselves the sole arbiters and legislators for the South. Not merely so; the thief rarely steals from more than one man out of a hundred; the slaveholder defrauds ninety and nine, and the hundredth does not escape him. Again, thieves steal trifles from rich men; slaveholders oppress poor men, and enact laws for the perpetuation of their poverty. Thieves practice deceit on the wise; slaveholders take advantage of the ignorant."7
Lincoln and many others back then saw this too. They knew that the politicians of the South kept those under their rule ignorant and hid the truth from them. After all, they had no choice, and the abolitionist agitation was a threat because they believed that slaves had the right to an education. The only reason Frederick Douglass had an education is because he was able to teach himself. Today, education is mandatory, but sorely lacking when it comes to certain things. For example, after doing old book searches and studying them, I learned what "slave property" is. Since then I have asked the question - "What is slave property?" - to hundreds of people at random. Not one person has been able to answer the question correctly. It is property in human labor, as we have already seen in the quote from Jefferson Davis. If I bought you at a slave auction, then your labor would belong to me - you would be a slave and your labor would be reduced to slave property. If one or more political parties enacted laws that took your labor away from you without your consent - you would be a slave and your labor would be reduced to slave property. Either way works, but the latter is a lot cheaper for the masters to implement since the rights to the labor are stolen rather than purchased first. Let's do some math again. Recall that it would take 185 of today's slave dollars to equal 1 slave dollar back in pre civil war times. Uncle Tom sold for $1300, but let's be conservative and use $1000 per slave for our calculations. That would equate to $185,000 today to buy a slave. The population in the U.S. just passed 300,000,000. Let's be conservative and say that 100,000,000 are able bodied workers. That would mean that it would take $18,500,000,000,000 ($18.5 trillion) to buy the rights to the labor of 100,000,000 working people.
The people who went through the horrors of the Civil War are long dead. There are none who can tell us first hand what it was like to go through that period of time. Therefore, we must read the writings of old to get a sense of what was happening back then. Of all the materials I have studied from pre civil war times, I respected this man's the most, who said: "Books which are to pass away, may yet render such service, by their fitness to the intellectual struggles and moral aspirations of the times in which they are written. If in this or in any way I can serve the cause of truth, humanity, and religion, I shall regard my labors, as having earned the best recompense which God bestows upon his creatures."8 Channing saw that the churches in the South we pro-slavery churches, and the sermons preached in them were pro-slavery sermons. Do not almost all church sermons on the subject of taxes, fees, and child support instruct you that it is you duty as a Christian to pay it all? Uncle Tom got sold to a slave trader, and the slave trader sold Tom to a fellow named Augustine St. Claire. St. Claire was a benevolent master and was the son of a wealthy Louisiana planter. He saw through the hypocrisy of the slave system. His slaves were well taken care of. One day after church, his wife, Marie, started some conversation.
"O, Dr. G--- preached a splendid sermon," said Marie, "It was just such a sermon as you ought to hear; it expressed all my views exactly."
"It must have been very improving," said St. Clair. "The subject must have been an extensive one."
"Well, I mean all my views about society, and such things," said Marie. "The text was, He hath made everything beautiful in its season;' and he showed how all the orders and distinctions in society came from God; and that it was so appropriate, you know, and beautiful, that some should be high and some low, and that some were born to rule and some to serve, and all that, you know; and he applied it so well to all this ridiculous fuss that is made about slavery, and he proved distinctly that the Bible was on our side, and supported all our institutions so convincingly. I only wish you'd heard him."9
How did St. Claire think about this line of reasoning by the church leaders?
"I am one of the sort that lives by throwing stones at other people's glass houses, but I never mean to put up one for them to stone."
"That's just the way he's always talking," said Marie; "you can't get any satisfaction out of him. I believe it's just because he don't like religion, and he's always running out in this way he's been doing."
"Religion!" said St. Claire, in a tone that made both ladies look at him. "Religion! Is what you hear at church religion? Is that which you can bend and turn, and descend and ascend, to fit every crooked phase of selfish, worldly society, religion? Is that religion which is less scrupulous, less generous, less just, less considerate for man, than even my own ungodly, worldly, blinded nature? No! When I look for a religion, I must look for something above me, and not something beneath."
"Then you don't believe that the Bible justifies slavery," said Miss Ophelia.
"The Bible was my mother's book," said St. Claire. "By it she lived and died, and I would be very sorry to think that it did. I'd as soon desire to have it proved that my mother could drink brandy, chew tobacco, and swear, by way of satisfying me that I did right in doing the same. It wouldn't make me at all more satisfied with these things in myself, and it would take from me the comfort of me respecting her; and it really is a comfort, in this world, to have anything one can respect. In short, you see," said he, suddenly resuming his gay tone, "all I want is that different things be kept in different boxes. The whole frame-work of society, both in Europe and America, is made up of various things which will not stand the scrutiny of any ideal standard of morality. It's pretty generally understood that men don't aspire after the absolute right, but only do about as well as the rest of the world. Now, when any one speaks up, like a man, and says slavery is necessary to us, we can't get along without it, we should be beggared if we give it up, and, of course, we mean to hold on to it, - this is strong, clear, well-defined language; it has the respectability of truth in it; and if we may judge by their practice, the majority of the world will bear us out in it. But when he begins to put on a long face, and snuffle, and quote Scripture, I incline to think he isn't much better than he should be."
"You are very uncharitable," said Marie.
"Well," said St. Claire, "suppose that something should bring down the price of cotton once and forever, and make the whole slave property a drug in the market, don't you think we should soon have another version of the Scripture doctrine? What a flood of light would pour into the church, all at once, and how immediately it would be discovered that everything in the Bible and reason went the other way!"
"Well, at any rate," said Marie, as she reclined herself on a lounge, "I'm thankful I'm born where slavery exists; and I believe it is right - indeed I feel it must be; and, at any rate, I'm sure I couldn't get along without it."10
The price of cotton or any other commodity has nothing to do with the institution of cannibalistic slavery we live in today. Power over labor must be a permanent fixture in the system so that the massive and expanding social programs of the state can continue, to force the non-custodial slave class to pay child support to the custodial slave class, and to support the massive Executive Bureaucracy that administers the system. Amen. Let us now pass the collection plate and bless the system.
Do you believe that the state has the right to tax and garnish people's labor without any restraints? Do you support such a system? Do you want it to continue? Some will say "yes" and some will say "no." What side most people take will depend upon who wears the saddle, and who wears the boots and spurs.
The Civil War cost the lives of over 600,000 soldiers. It was a terrible and bloody war that destroyed lives and property on a massive scale. This was the price that had to be paid to secure a free labor market for all working people. This meant that all working people, no matter what color their skin, would have the right to go out and find work and keep the money they earn and be able to plan their own existence. This Liberty that was secured by the Civil War and the 13th amendment was best described by Herbert Hoover in 1934, when he said:
"Who may define liberty? It is far more than independence of a nation. It is not a catalog of political rights.' Liberty is a thing of the spirit - to be free to worship, to think, to hold opinions, and to speak without fear - free to challenge wrong and oppression with surety of justice. Liberty conceives that the mind and spirit of men can be free only if the individual is free to choose his own calling, to develop his talents, to win and keep a home sacred from intrusion, to rear children in ordered security. It hold he must be free to earn, to spend, to save, honestly to accumulate property that may give protection in old age and to loved ones..... It holds, both in principle and in world experience, that these intellectual and spiritual freedoms cannot thrive except where there are also these economic freedoms. It insists equally upon protections to all these freedoms, or these is no liberty."11
The only way that this great Liberty could be taken away would be for punishment for crime after conviction; something the labor cannibals don't like. Those who have died in wars to secure and preserve Liberty can do nothing to help preserve it today. They're in their graves. Free labor won the Civil War, and it was a sacred duty to those in power to preserve this Liberty and respect the 13th amendment, and not to create legal fictions whenever it suited their purpose to force large classes of society into servitude and then deny that any servitude exists, which is what has happened over the last century. Free labor was the great Liberty that was won after the Civil War, and it's the great Liberty that's been lost since the New Deal began. All people are supposed to be equal in free labor. It was a grave error for the labor cannibals to deceive the people out of this right, because slavery breeds hatred and division. Perhaps now you can better understand what the Gettysburg Address means.
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicatewe can not consecratewe can not hallowthis ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
The slaveholders, like Nebuchadnezzar, were haughty and defiant when it came to a person's rights. Free labor was a repulsive thought to them, and their statute books and court decisions reflected this. All institutions of slavery have the force of law behind them and are supported by judicial decisions. It took a Civil War to get rid of rulers with slaveholder mentalities; and it's sad to see that, in the end, all that the Civil War did was remove the obstacle of the auction block. Now we have a system that Fitzhugh aptly described as one where "it is the whole duty of government to hold the weak whilst the strong rob them."12 Those rulers who came after the Civil War respected their covenant with the people and supported the people's right to free labor until FDR and the New Deal; and then the covenant was broken and a majority of the people cheered it on, carrying the dissenting minority with them. They started drinking from the old cups the slaveholders used, and today they have become drunk with slavery's spirit. A system founded upon lies and deceit is built on a bad foundation, and it finds no favor in the eyes of the Most High. It's days are numbered.
1. Daniel 4:37
2. Ibid., 5: 17-28
3. Dred Scott v Sanford 19 How. 393, 468
4. Cotton is King, pg. 663
5. Bouvier's Law Dictionary, 1940ed., pg. 873
6. Impending Crisis of the South, pp. 26-27, 32-33
7. Ibid., 139-40
8. The Works of William Channing, Vol. I, pg xxx
9. Uncle Tom's Cabin, pp. 180-81
10. Ibid., pp. 182-83
11. The Challenge to Liberty, by Herbert Hoover, pg. 2
12. Cannibals All!, pg. 25