The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a mini-documentary of Avengers vs. X-Men, one of Marvel’s most ambitious crossovers ever. It was set up to be the most epic hero-versus-hero clash of all time. But ultimately, it turned into a battle that nobody truly won the grand scheme of things. In this video, I attempt to explore the why, how, and what we can learn from this ambitious, but misguided event. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: Civil War
Today is Juneteenth.
For a sizeable segment of the American population, it’s a day that carries a special, often personal meaning. That’s because it celebrates the formal end of legal, institutionalized slavery in the United States. For those whose ancestors endured the horrors of slavery and the slave trade, that meaning is impossible to put into words.
While this day has been celebrated in many forms since the end of the Civil War, it only became a federally recognized holiday in 2021. Now, many could argue it took way too long to formally recognized the importance of this day. I certainly understand and appreciate those sentiments. Regardless of how long it took, Juneteenth is here and we, as a country, are finally acknowledging its importance.
I know there are a lot of heated politics surrounding race, history, the Civil War, and minority issues in general. I’m certainly not qualified to discuss those politics, even though I’ve tried. For today, though, I think we should set the politics aside because what this day represents goes beyond politics.
We can’t beat around the bush.
We can’t ignore the facts of history.
For nearly a century after the United States gained its independence from Great Britain, slavery as an institution was both practiced and protected. In a country that espoused life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that is not a trivial oversight.
Slavery, no matter how common it has been throughout human history, is a barbaric practice. It was barbaric in the 1800s and it’s barbaric today. Sadly, the forces of greed, racism, bigotry, outdated traditions, and cruelty keep that practice alive and well. Sometimes it’s sanctioned. Sometimes it’s illegal. Whatever form it takes, though, it’s still unjust.
There’s just no way to properly articulate an atrocity that was allowed to legally fester and propagate for decades in the Americas. The fact it took a bloody civil war to finally end should make clear just how potent those ugly forces can be.
In the end, though, we were able to end the Civil War on the right side of the issue. We, as a nation, were able to accept and declare that slavery was wrong and could no longer be tolerated. It isn’t just barbaric. It’s antithetical to the ideals behind the United States of America.
Yes, we don’t always measure up to those ideals.
Yes, we still haven’t fully mended the wounds left by centuries of the slave trade.
That’s exactly why we need a holiday like Juneteenth. It doesn’t just celebrate how we were able to take this critical step in righting an egregious wrong. It reminds us that we’re still striving towards those ideals. We’re still trying to be the kind of nation that breaks the shackles of bondage rather than tighten them.
Sometimes, we make mistakes.
Sometimes, we encounter setbacks.
Sometimes, we’ll even outright fail in our efforts to pursue those ideals.
Even so, we can never lose sight of them. We should never stop striving for them. That’s what it means to learn, grow, and evolve as a nation. I believe we can continue to do better and Juneteenth is a way of reminding ourselves that we can be better.
So, in that spirit and with those ideals in mind, I wish everyone a safe and happy Juneteenth.
I am an American.
I am proud to be an American.
There’s no other country I’d want to be born in.
I say all while also acknowledging that America isn’t perfect. I’ve taken plenty of history classes, both in high school and in college. I’ve also sought out information about America’s past and the facts are clear. The United States of America does have some undeniably dark moments in its history. Some could be classified as outright atrocities.
It’s not wrong to state that those events happened and they were awful. In fact, I believe it’s critical for any country, nation, or community of any kind to admit their past failures and flaws. We cannot learn, grow, or improve as a society if we ignore those less favorable parts of our history. If we only ever know the good stuff, then we have no reason to improve and that only breeds complacency, arrogance, and stagnation. That’s something the world needs less of.
This brings me the controversy surrounding critical race theory. I know that just uttering that phrase in passing these days is sure to draw ire from certain crowds, some more so than others. In general, I try to avoid touching on topics like this when the outrage machine is still going full-throttle. Even when I do discuss something controversial, like abortion, I try to focus on the bigger picture.
Now, the specifics of critical race theory are too vast for me to get into. I’m certainly no expert, nor would I ever claim to be. I encourage people to investigate it themselves on Wikipedia. However, do not seek sources from the likes of PragerU, the Heritage Foundation, or any information source that claims to espouse the “truth” about Critical Race Theory.
They’re just right-wing propaganda pushers who are lying to you on behalf of their donors. They are not credible on this matter.
While I don’t see Critical Race Theory as being completely neutral either, it does have some relative themes. It gives greater scrutiny to how racism and past racist policies in America have had lasting effects on minority communities, even after the progress made during the civil rights movement.
That’s not an unreasonable approach to studying the past and present. After all, it’s undeniable that racism and its past effects still exist. If you deny that, then you’re just denying reality outright. Certain aspects of racism can’t be resolved by simply passing a law or enacting a certain policy. People and societies are just too complex.
Now, the way in which Critical Race Theory scrutinizes these issues isn’t perfect. In terms of analyzing and making sense of history, I think it doesn’t paint the clearest picture in terms of America’s racist past and how that past affects the present.
That said, I support it being taught or, at the very least, explored within a school. I think this is something we should teach kids and young people about in order to get them thinking about history, race, and the society in which they live. At the same time, I also think it exposes a critical element with respect to appreciating history and its many lessons.
The reason I’m bringing it up now is two-fold. Firstly, I think those protesting it are absurd and their reasons for criticizing critical race theory are equally absurd. Some are going so far as to try and ban it. Instead, they favor a more “patriotic” education for school age children. I put “patriotic” in quotes because there’s nothing patriotic about it. It’s just pure propaganda, plain and simple.
A true patriot doesn’t need propaganda to be proud of their country.
A true patriot loves their country, despite their flaws. Just like you do with someone you love, you don’t ignore those flaws and use them as motivation to be better.
The second reason I’m bringing it up has less to do with the political rhetoric surrounding Critical Race Theory. It’s being framed as though this is somehow redefining the story of America. It’s seen as somehow diminishing America’s greatness and ideals. Those who are blindly patriotic or excessively nationalistic are going to have a problem with that.
Now, blind and excessive nationalisms is a problem all its own. I won’t get into that, but I do feel that it highlights another important point about protesting new forms of study. In essence, those complaining about Critical Race Theory are working against their own agenda. They seem to forget that the internet still exists.
It doesn’t matter if efforts to ban Critical Race Theory succeed. It doesn’t matter if every American textbook removes all mentions of slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, or atrocities committed against Native Americans. That information is still out there. It’s on the internet and it’s easy for anyone with an internet connection to find.
In fact, by outright banning or opposing certain studies of history, it may only raise greater interest in it. Like it or not, people are going to get curious. Tell kids and teenagers that they should never learn about Critical Race Theory is only going to make them more curious. So long as they still have an internet connection, they will find that information.
That’s exactly why I’m in favor of teaching history that explores, analyzes, and dares to extrapolate from the uglier parts of history. It can do more than educate. It can also help us come to terms with our flaws and inspire us to be better.
A good example of this is the recent relevance of the Tulsa Race Massacre. There’s no getting around it. This event was a horrendous moment in American history and one that reveals just how ugly racism got in this country. Growing up, I never learned about this event. Most people probably never would’ve learned about it, had it not re-entered the news amidst recent pushes for racial justice.
This moment in history was awful. There’s no getting around that. Even if you’re an American who wasn’t alive during this event, we should still acknowledge it. We should still learn from it. That’s how we’ll get better. The past has so many painful lessons and we’ll never learn those lessons if we try to gloss over them.
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. It’s a video I’ve been working on for a while now. It breaks down “Captain America: Civil War,” a movie that’s held in high regard in the pantheon of superhero movies. I saw it too. I enjoyed it. However, I feel there were some significant flaws that got glossed over and overlooked.
This video is my way of highlighting those flaws, as well as a deeper exploration into what made the Civil War event in the comics so impactful. Enjoy!
Picture, for a moment, the perfect slave. Try to do it without making it a commentary on the current state of gender inequality, racial politics, or working at a fast food restaurant. Treat it like the other serious thought experiments I’ve proposed. What kind of traits would such a slave have?
Naturally, the perfect slave would have to be obedient. He, she, or it wouldn’t just obey an order without question. The idea of not obeying an order never even crosses their mind. In addition to obedience, the slave would have to be robust, durable, and capable. That may require some level of cognitive ability, but only to the extent that it can serve a master.
I bring this issue up knowing that slavery is an emotionally-charged topic with a bloody history. While we, as a society, have made strides in confronting the ethical issues surrounding it, including wars and social movements, slavery is still relevant today. At this very moment, millions of people are living as slaves.
The fact that many people find slavery morally reprehensible says a lot about humanity’s capacity for justice. The fact slavery exists despite that aversion says just as much about the economics behind it. Producing anything requires labor. Cheap labor ensures more profit. It sounds simple, but it understates the massive financial incentives at work.
It’s because of those incentives that slavery, as abhorrent as it is, will likely have a place in our future. Ideally, the rapid growth of technology and automation will eliminate the need for human slavery. Advanced machines that have no sense of self basically circumvents the moral problem entirely.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world. We also don’t live in a world where everyone exercises similar moral standards. Some are perfectly okay with utilizing slaves. Some of those people, sadly, are rulers of entire countries.
As such, it’s distressingly possible that emerging technology could be utilized to expand slavery rather than reduce it. I think it’s an unlikely scenario, given current social and technological trends. However, I worry it’s a road our society could go down if our choices are wrong and the incentives are strong.
To contemplate how, it’s important to note the limitations of slavery. While it does provide the cheapest possible labor, its inherent flaws tend to work against any society that relies on it and not just because of moral condemnation.
In any system that uses slavery, there are hidden costs that go beyond human suffering. Slaves require significant maintenance if you want them to produce. A master, no matter how ruthless, needs to care for their slaves so that they’re healthy enough to work. The logistics of that, especially in a world without modern medicine, made slavery a risky investment.
You could say the same about feudal societies that relied on serfs. While it wouldn’t be accurate to classify them as slaves, they still survived by providing slave-like labor to landlords. That may be a good deal for the landlords, but the system has a lot of vulnerabilities.
Historically, waves of death caused by disease, famine, and war hit these lower-class people first. When so much of the society relies on their cheap labor, it tends to collapse or stagnate. It happened after the Black Death and it happened in the American south.
It’s another byproduct of incentives. When you have cheap labor, there just isn’t much incentive to innovate. A lack of innovation over the long haul tends to doom empires and economies alike. In a modern context, that’s a good thing because it ensures slave-based economies can’t function over the long haul. However, emerging technology is in a position to change that.
Think back to the perfect slave I mentioned earlier. Those traits are currently unattainable for a human or a machine. On top of that, human beings are stubborn in their desire to not be enslaved. Refinements in biotechnology, genetic engineering, and cloning could change that, though.
This is where the dystopian potential of technology reveals itself. Even if robotics continues to advance, there’s a chance that the labor they provide isn’t adequate or the maintenance involved is too costly. In that scenario, those with the exceedingly flexible moral standards could resort to tapping genetic engineering to fill the gap.
It’s already possible to edit a genome, thanks to tools like CRISPR. It’s also possible to partially hack an existing genome, although that process is still in its infancy. In theory, there’s no reason why someone with the right tools couldn’t re-engineer a human being into a perfect slave.
That being may or may not look human. They may have a body, a similar muscle structure, and a series of specified cognitive abilities. However, every trait they have, biological or otherwise, would have the sole purpose of obeying and serving a master.
That means editing out the parts of the brain that give someone a sense of self or suppressing it with a brain implant. That also means limiting the slave’s capacity for thoughts and desires beyond serving their master.
Their bodies, as a whole, could also be engineered to minimize maintenance. Their digestive system could be made to require only an intake of cheap gruel. Their genetics and immune system could be structured in a way to resist disease. They could even be made sterile through gene editing or implants.
This is where the influence of cloning technology and artificial wombs enter the picture. One of the costliest parts of the old slave trade was traveling to remote areas, buying or subduing people into bondage, and then transporting them to areas where their labor could be exploited. Once you’ve engineered the perfect slave, though, biotechnology could effectively create a copy-and-paste process.
It goes beyond labor, as well. I’ve mentioned before how advances in sex robots could allow people to create customized lovers. Well, if it’s possible to engineer the perfect slave for labor, then it’s just as possible to engineer the perfect sex slave. The implications of that raise a whole host of disturbing possibilities.
Whether for sex or for labor, crating such slaves would be an incredibly tedious, incredibly risky feat. However, given the economics of slavery I mentioned earlier, the incentives are already there. With these advances, coupled with cybernetic augmentations, and the potential payoff is even greater.
Suddenly, there’s an endless pool of labor to work in factories, fields, and homes. There’s no need to worry about labor unions, minimum wage, or slave revolts. When slaves are engineered at the cellular level to be a slave, then it makes too much financial sense to use their labor.
As a result, future societies will find some excuse to justify this kind of slavery. The precedent is already there. It wasn’t that long ago that people found excuses to justify enslaving an entire race. In this case, though, it would be even easier.
If these slaves don’t come from existing populations and aren’t even genetically “human,” then it’s easy for someone to see this brand of slavery as something different from the kind we’ve utilized throughout history. If these slaves are engineered not to suffer or feel any discomfort, then that makes it even more tenable.
The end result could be something similar to what George Orwell envisioned with the proles in “1984.” There would be this massive underclass population that exists solely to work, serve, and obey. To some extent, it would go even further than Orwell did.
This population of slaves wouldn’t need to be placated with meaningless entertainment, indulgence, or distractions. Their default condition would be to serve their masters in every way necessary. Anything beyond that is never even a thought.
I don’t deny that the scenario I just described sounds bleak. If you have even a moderate sense of decency, you would be aghast at any society structured in such a way. Even if the slaves seemed happy and the people who served as their masters had no moral qualms with it, chances are it would still bother you and that’s a good thing.
I think it’s because of that inherent revulsion to slavery that this dystopian path is not likely. I believe advances in robotics technology is already outpacing the rate of biotechnology. By the time we have the tools to create the perfect slave biologically, we’ll probably already have the tools to make machines that can function just as well.
That’s still not a guarantee. Nobody can predict the future, especially not an aspiring erotica/romance writer. It’s still a potential path, though, and a very dark path at that. As a society and a civilization, we’re still recovering from the scars of slavery. Those are wounds we should avoid opening for the society we’re hoping to build.