Juneteenth and Subtle Slavery

Just a few words about Juneteenth, a commemoration, instantiated into law in 2021, celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, which was promulgated in 1863, but only made known to slaves in Texas on this day two year on. As Wikipedia puts it:

The holiday’s name is a portmanteau of the words “June” and “nineteenth”, as it was on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas at the end of the American Civil War.

Why Texas? Who knows? The point is that the process of gaining freedom was a gradual one, just as freedom itself is fraught and fragile. Chattel slavery is certainly an abiding evil, persistent throughout human history, and we should take joy in its abolition.

The primary reason slavery is evil is that humans are not animals, far less are they objects, to be bought and sold. We are persons, made in God’s image, as we pointed out in an accompanying post, a truth only revealed to us in Christ. It was the Catholic Church that gave us the theological notion of ‘personhood’, that humans are made in the image of the Trinitarian God, Three Persons in a communion of knowledge and love.

This was gradually adopted in the civil law – that humans have basic and inviolable rights, not because of what we do, or are able to do, but based on who we are.

We are now drifting from this revealed truth, and the danger now is a more insidious form of slavery, not so much of the body, but of the mind and soul. As Christ warned, ‘He who sins is a slave to sin’: Slavery to our passions, to our lusts and covetousness. Slaves to our own will, to our self-justified malice. And then there is the slavery of ignorance, of not knowing, or refusing to know, what we should know – for the truth will set us free. The thing about these more subtle forms of slavery is that people don’t know they’re slaves.

What is more, such spiritual slavery inevitably and inexorably leads back to slavery of the bodily sort. Even worse: Hilaire Belloc warned way back in 1912 in his Servile State that the neo-servitude of the neo-paganism, having rejected the Catholic Faith in toto, will be accepted voluntarily: You will own nothing, and be happy. Your movements will be curtailed in the name of ‘climate change’; fifteen-minute cities and fifteen-kilometre radii. Crammed into pods and eating cricket paste and all the rest of it. Many – especially of our mis-educated, propagandized and brainwashed youth – will think this a good thing. Like the denizens of Plato’s miserable cave, they will be chained up, watching the shadows of images of images, and think it’s all real and copacetic.

For those of us who resist? Well, there are ways and means. And read over chapter VIII of the Republic to find out what happens to those who descend into the cave to try to convince them that this is not reality, and there’s a beautiful God-given world out there to be discovered, and in which to rejoice and live.

Whether and however coerced or not, what the old and new slavery have in common is that not all persons are deemed to have the basic right of freedom. In fact, not all persons are persons, or at least not persons to the same degree; and perhaps no person is a person. Paganism, and certainly atheism, had, and has, no notion of personhood, or at least no metaphysical basis for such a theological concept. If we are but animals, highly ‘evolved’ simians, then might is right, and the strongest – or at least, those ensconced in the enclaves of power and authority – win.

Not so. We will be judged based on how we treated the weakest and most vulnerable amongst us, and not just because one day we may be amongst them, but because they are spiritual beings worth many – indeed an infinite – number of sparrows.

The first shall be last, and the last first.