The Spencerian Gambit & Southern Slavery


In recent speeches, Richard Spencer has advanced a powerful gambit that the Alt Right, including southern Christians, should consider. He admits that our people have “sinned” against other races, and that he “owns” that. Of course, Spencer doesn’t really believe in a concept of sin, in the sense of a cosmic infraction against an Almighty God, but it’s an interesting and useful tactic nevertheless. By embracing the central charge of the multiculturalists, that whites in the past have abused their power, he disarms the thrust of their main argument. Instead of taking the bait, cuckservative-style, of defending America and the West as the vehicle for the Whig version of history, he forces the Left to make their next point. The next part of their argument is the one they dare not make – because white people in the past have done bad things, therefore whites today must suffer and die out as a people. The Left knows this is a losing argument with most whites, and so by choosing to not defend their attacks on historical whites as a group, Spencer exposes the ugliness of their contemporary anti-white stance. By saying essentially, “yes, our people have sinned, we own it, now what?” he forces the Left to answer the question in a way that will be detrimental to their propaganda. Spencer then turns on their timidity, for the smart Leftists do not want to be seen as anti-white, and demands the same rights for whites that are claimed for all other people groups.

Southerners under constant cultural attack can be tempted to defend all aspects of our history without reservation. We forget, however, that the best Southerners, from Lee to Dabney to Jefferson, all considered slavery to be at best a necessary evil, a “least worst” solution to a serious problem, which was the occupation of the same territory by both Africans and Europeans, two groups with incompatible notions of the good life, and both of which would be frustrated in any attempt to compromise their way of life with the other. In debating other Christians in the past about how slavery was Biblical, an objection I often received was that Southern slavery was different from Biblical slavery in that is was “race-based slavery.” I now agree with this argument, for perhaps different reasons, and with definitively different conclusions.

While I am sympathetic to George Fitzhugh‘s arguments about the benefits of a slave-based society over a free society – Fitzhugh was a brilliant, highly readable writer whose arguments convince me of the necessity of some base level of socialism in society, slavery being a form of private socialism – I do believe Southern slavery, being race-based, was qualitatively problematic relative to the Biblical concept.  Slavery, to be practiced in a way that is just, must have some degree of social mobility.  Masters in the ancient, Roman world, for example, would often free virtuous, intelligent slaves as an act of kindness – they understood that slavery based on lineage would tend towards injustice if exceptional men were not freed from their accident of birth. A freed slave in the Roman world could, within a generation or less, completely blend in with his fellow freedmen, including marrying into Roman families.  The racial differences between most Romans and their slaves were minor – Slavs or Germans are descended from the same Indo-Europeans that gave birth to the Romans themselves.  The slaves in Roman society were assimilable.  The ability to assimilate into a particular flavor of Indo-European society was available to any Indo-European.  However, as genetic distance increases to the maximal differences between whites and blacks in the Old South, the idea of assimilation was horrific.

In the Roman world, if a free Roman married a former slave from Ireland, no one fretted about the descendants’ possibly inheriting Irish blood. In the South, however, the genetic differences were so profound that mixing with blacks was unthinkable. The resulting progeny were pitiable, and could fit in with neither group, so vast were the genetic differences and proclivities.

The need to protect this color line, and the reactionary defense of slavery from abolitionists, led to the late antebellum trend of seeing slavery not as a necessary evil but rather as a positive good.  By 1861, Texas is citing the “blessings of Negro slavery” in their Articles of Secession.  This is followed by Alexander Stephens’ “Cornerstone Speech,” where he makes the claim that all blacks are only fit for slavery under the white man.

The problem with the racial superiority, absolute slavery position is that it’s false. There are blacks that are intelligent enough such that they are fit for more than slavery, yet due to the need to maintain the color line, these blacks were not freed. Such slavery was especially unjust to the mulattos, and even more so to those blacks with a majority of white blood.

Human justice is organized under the principle that it is better for ten guilty men to go free than one innocent man to be punished.  Similarly, a system of slavery that forever seeks to keep the intelligent part of the population in chains will be seen as unjust. Since some blacks are clearly very talented, any absolutist position that makes claims like Stephens did will be seen as morally hollow. Clearly the most talented blacks would be better off leading their own societies than as slaves in a white man’s society.

The position consistent with justice is in my view the older Southern view of Lee, Dabney and Jefferson: African slavery was forced upon the South by the English crown and the institution was thought to be a necessary evil that enlightened Southerners hoped would one day be abolished, followed by repatriation of the African population.  We should “own” the sins of our ancestors to take away the power of the charge – their sin was to allow King Cotton to make permanent an institution that could have been eliminated, and its victims repatriated, during the period following the Revolutionary War. Both Dabney and Thornwell privately expressed doubts about the southern system of slavery, its inconsistencies with Biblical practice and feared these injustices, despite the hypocrisy and legalism of the North, might bring God’s judgment.

One problem with race-based slavery is that it works too well, for a while. Had the fire-eating pro-slavery faction prevailed, they would have established a great slave empire in the South and Caribbean. It would no doubt have been prosperous, but its long-term fate would have been that of South Africa. If not isolated by international do-gooders, eventually law and order itself would break down.  People forget that part of the reason for the fall of apartheid was the difficulty of maintaining order in a situation where whites are a single digit percentage of the population – the raw numbers of the subjugated group, enabled by the very prosperity of the race-based system, eventually collapse the golden circle.

The Spencerian gambit is powerful. We obviously are not personally responsible for the injustices of the past, but by acknowledging them, even to some vague degree, we force the Left to reveal its ugliness: their seeking to take out blood guilt on whites today for the acts of whites of the past.  When we propose the reasonable alternative – if whites are so bad/racist/imperialist/hateful, then why don’t we all just agree to be good neighbors in our own countries – we will have the moral high ground.

9 thoughts on “The Spencerian Gambit & Southern Slavery

  1. It thus was not a necessary evil, but an imposed one that created a cultural addiction. Machines were not invented because there were slaves.
    I often make the parallel to Illegal Mexicans and other Latins who “will do Jobs Americans won’t” (at slave wages) or H1-Bs. Lets import LABOR from the 3rd world, what could go wrong?
    You also forget the Northern profit, and the tariffs of the prosperous south that paid for the Government, leaving Northern Merchants free from the burden.
    (No, the War between the States was about slavery, see all the articles of secession, they don’t mention tariffs, nullification, they mention Slavery specifically).
    The South didn’t take their slaves and use them as human shields against Northern bullets.

    The current national sin, and there are many paralles inculding the upcoming war, is Abortion. Even the southerners. They care more about statues? All brave about having guns and knives, but the Planned Parenthood Molech Satanic death clinic is still intact, the priest or priestess unwounded… While outrage over the Confederate Battle flag distracts. Even so, there are very few clinics in the south.

    The Southrons, unfortunately would not let go of slavery. Nor will they attack Abortion like they do a dozen other things while talking about Christ and Christianity.

    The Southern Baptist Convention is meeting. They have a number of annoying resolutions, and are thoroughtly cucked, but where’s the counter=resolution that Abortion is murder, abortionists should pay that penalty, the clinic should be reduced to smoking craters, the landlords, or suppliers should be boycotted…

    Somehow babies being murdered by dismemberment isn’t as important.


  2. I have a question for you, Travis. Do you think that blacks are elevated or are made better in some way by (true) Christianity? Does Christianity make them any less likely to act like heathens?


    1. I think Christianity elevates all peoples, and I think the diversity of humankind means we have to be careful about judging different groups by the same standard. Christianity elevates people through the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, whereby we overcome, incrementally, our narrowly selfish and even self-destructive desires. Since different groups have different proclivities, the “fruit” is always relative to the baseline culture. In the case of Europeans, we already had a relatively high-minded culture, and we have had the longest “marination” in Christianity, so our culture is the most advanced, though losing ground as we spend the cultural capital of our ancestors. It would be a mistake to judge the veracity of African Christianity by European standards of behavior. We have to look at where they’ve been, and the improvement, not the absolute level of culture.


      1. Different groups may have different proclivities. So a Christian society in Uganda may be objectively a worse place to live than an atheist Denmark. This does not necessarily implicate the faith of Ugandans as insincere, because what matters is the improvement from baseline, which should always be present in any society that Christianizes. Also, I think after 4-5 generations of atheism Denmark will also regress. A lot of the continued social stability of post-Christian societies is borrowed capital from the past – people voluntarily adhering to Christian morality out of custom, a custom that will erode over time absent Christian belief.


  3. Spencer’s instincts might be right on, or they might be way off base.

    Here’s the potential problem with his gambit.

    He’s making two presumptions:

    (1) The egalitarian left even has a genocidal “next point.”


    (2) If it did, that they’d be dumb enough to reveal it after our bait-and-switch confession.

    I think the main problem with The Gambit is that I think that all this talk about “white people are evil muh slabry lol” has nothing to do with genocide, and everything to do with manipulating white guilt and white pathological altruism to widen the gibs and goodies spigot. So, it may be the case that if we “confess” our “sins,” the left will respond not with an admission of genocide, but an invoice with an account payable.


    1. You make good points. I suppose one response is that the gambit is not meant to convince the Left, but rather is for the benefit of the normie audience. Most normies, I’ve noticed, hold sort of contradictory historical views. They feel sorry for Rosa Parks, the slaves, but also think America has always been the greatest country in the world. If our position is white Americans have never done anything wrong as a group, that contradicts the normie worldview. If we say, “yes some bad stuff happened, we own it, and so did some other groups” we pace and lead the normie – pace with the acknowledgement of past injustices, but then lead to good fences make good neighbors.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s