Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Reciprocity Years

By this post the undersigned idiot blogger intends to make mild criticism of the greatest scholar of colonial America EVER. So, yeah.

"Reciprocity." "Balance." Two terms Professor Bailyn uses repeatedly to describe Indian culture. Nice words, "reciprocity" and "balance." Like "reciprocal" trade. Like a barn raising. You help me build mine, I'll help you build yours. Those are good things. Reciprocity could be the "Golden Rule," do undo others as you would have them do unto you, or similar to it. Reciprocity is vague, and can also be pretty close to revenge, at least as close as to the Golden Rule.

"Balance," EVERY fucking thing has to be balanced these days, balanced meals, the right balance in life between work, play, exercise, sleep, and watching porn. A culture that strives for "balance" is doing it right.

Reciprocity and balance are Bailyn's terms, they're not translated from the fucking Algonquin, or whatever. And the mildly, vaguely positive connotation to their meaning in English, has NO application to Indian culture. The meaning of reciprocity when applied to the Indians is synonymous with revenge, with "an eye for an eye." Similarly "balance." Our warrior didn't kill your warrior the "right way" (?. Fucking ?.)? Okay, we'll balance things out by killing him, then roasting him and then eating his heart.

The "Perpetuall Warr" the English unleashed on the Powhatans after 3/22/1622? Perpetual war was not unknown to the Indians of North America; it was, in fact, striking the right "balance" in life for them. Opie actually was somewhat non-plussed that the English were so sensitive to the massacre and took it so seriously and retaliated with such extreme prejudice. He (Fact now, this is fact) thought the English would understand the massacre as his request that they henceforth confine themselves to an eastern sliver of Chesapeake Bay. He had no mind to exterminate the English, they were useful in slivers. That was the proper "balance" for Opie, let's be friends.

Add "cognitive deficits" to "revenge" and "eye for an eye" balancing to the hallmarks of Indian "civilization."

Why then would our greatest scholar of the period use gauzy terms for unambiguous ones and not call a spade a spade and a Redskin a Redskin? Ask him. He would (betcha, don't know but betcha) take umbrage at the presumptuousness of this here mild criticism and hold fast that he was using the terms he thought struck just the right "balance" for The Barbarous Years. He was wrong.