Liberalism = Conservatism + Time

Hillary Clinton in 2010 on the effects of racist colonialism on Africa:

For goodness sakes, this is the 21st century. We’ve got to get over what happened 50, 100, 200 years ago and let’s make money for everybody. That’s the best way to try to create some new energy and some new growth in Africa.

Antonin Scalia in 1993 on the effects of racist segregation on America:

At some time, we must acknowledge that it has become absurd to assume, without any further proof, that violations of the Constitution dating from the days when Lyndon Johnson was President, or earlier, continue to have an appreciable effect upon current operation of schools. We are close to that time.

I was going to leave the comparison there. But there’s an even more unsavory precedent: The Civil Rights Cases of 1883, which helped legitimate the racist backlash of Jim Crow. In that case, decided less than 20 years after the abolition of slavery, Justice Bradley argued that discrimination in places of public accommodation were the private acts of white citizens having nothing to do with the institution of slavery. They thus could not be prohibited by the state.

After giving to these questions all the consideration which their importance demands, we are forced to the conclusion that such an act of refusal has nothing to do with slavery or involuntary servitude…It would be running the slavery argument into the ground to make it apply to every act of discrimination which a person may see fit to make as to the guests he will entertain, or as to the people he will take into his coach or cab or car, or admit to his concert or theatre, or deal with other matters of intercourse or business….

When a man has emerged from slavery, and, by the aid of beneficent legislation, has shaken off the inseparable concomitants of that state, there must be some stage in the progress of his elevation when he takes the rank of a mere citizen and ceases to be the special favorite of the laws,…

After all, what’s 250 years of chattel slavery when you’ve had 18 years of freedom? Or 500 years of colonialism next to 50 years of independence? Get over it!



  1. Ra November 6, 2015 at 9:20 pm | #

    To be fair, other regions were colonized too, not just Africa, and yet Singapore, to use the most obvious example, is not an economic hellhole. Hillary’s point is just that: not that colonialism doesn’t matter, but that South Korea was a military dictatorship way into the late 80s too. Now, infer from that the not so obvious.

    • idriveabus44 November 6, 2015 at 9:33 pm | #

      Remind me, which of those plentiful natural resources did the West covet in Singapore?

      • Ra November 6, 2015 at 9:52 pm | #

        It was and remains one of the most strategic trading posts in the world — location, location, location! — which is no less important than simply having natural resources lying around, which were plentiful in its immediate neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, anyway.

        • Duggy November 7, 2015 at 1:19 am | #

          The type of colonization that occurs matters though. I don’t know much about Singapore specifically, but I assume a trade post requires a decent amount of local infrastructure in order to tax and benefit from nearby commerce.

          Africa almost universally was and still is largely a site of resource extraction for the West. In order to secure those resources communities were pitted against each other and local institutions were suppressed.

          Colonization always sucks, but different methods leave different scars.

  2. Roqeuntin November 7, 2015 at 8:47 am | #

    Hillary’s thinking is neoliberal straight to the core. It’s beyond me how people think voting for her will change anything. Then again, maybe that’s the whole point….people don’t want things to change, at all. The Clintons keep coming back because so many wish it was still 1996.

    The form of universalism Hillary is advocating is 100% a function of neoliberal ideology. This idea that we are all equal, autonomous individuals in the marketplace among whom no further distinctions need to be made comes directly out of that. If that quote from Hillary is sincere, and I tend to believe it is, she still thinks that neoliberal capitalism can swoop in and save everyone. It’s almost indistinguishable from the logic of the Chicago Boys that wreaked such havoc and suffering on post-Soviet Russia. Or Chile. Or a whole lot of other places. Nothing has changed but the weather, and for them it doesn’t need to.

  3. Snarki, child of Loki November 7, 2015 at 9:56 am | #

    I can see *some* of the point about ‘make money’ as a way to move beyond old disputes.

    Case in point: Northern Ireland. When the ROI economy got revved up, it took a lot of the motivation away from the IRA. Why bomb pubs and live in hiding when you can live the good life?

  4. David Green November 7, 2015 at 5:29 pm | #

    It would be giving HRC undeserved benefit of the doubt to claim that she is arguing against reparations and for radical economic equality, as I would do. Arguing for radical economic equality at least recognizes the historical origins of inequality and for the reparations of recognition–while proposing that the most just solution is just for everyone, a piece of the pie for everyone.

  5. gstally November 8, 2015 at 12:16 pm | #

    Good post.

  6. Bob Vitalis November 8, 2015 at 10:10 pm | #

    Well here are a few lines from my new book

    In Empire and Commerce (1921) Woolf advanced the idea of trusteeship as a means by which the right and law that governed one-quarter of the world might be extended in the face of the weakness of subject races and the relentless press of investors competing to control raw materials, utilities, and so forth in the colonies and dependencies. The “European state” he hoped would be “changed from an instrument of economic exploitation into an instrument of good government and progress, not for a few hundred white men but for the millions of Africans.”

    The rhetorical power of that dream of a “better tomorrow, tomorrow” (in Stephen Colbert’s words) has lost none of its force, a century later. So Barack Obama insisted to those assembled for the first US-Africa Leaders Summit in the summer of 2014

    As President, I’ve made it clear that the United States is determined to be a partner in Africa’s success — a good partner, an equal partner, and a partner for the long term. We don’t look to Africa simply for its natural resources; we recognize Africa for its greatest resource, which is its people and its talents and their potential. We don’t simply want to extract minerals from the ground for our growth; we want to build genuine partnerships that create jobs and opportunity for all our peoples and that unleash the next era of African growth. That’s the kind of partnership America offers.

  7. decollins1969 November 9, 2015 at 4:09 pm | #

    Corey, sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat at S-USIH. Very poignant post. Especially on a day like today, with the Mizzou president stepping down in the wake of student protests, a hunger strike, and a football players’ boycott. Liberalism = conservative + time (and how that might fit into an equation involving racism and/or narcissism and/or imperialism) = something for me to think on. Thanks!

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