Grigoris wrote: ↑
Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:47 pm
Malcolm wrote: ↑
Sat Jan 13, 2018 10:00 pm
Well, no this is a misrepresentation of US history.
All of the founders from the south were indeed slaveowners. Most of the founders from the North were not.
With respect to murdering Indians, at that point in history, Indians and Europeans were murdering each other with equal frequency, as we can see in the French-Indian war. By this point (1756), the 1.5 million people in the British colonies had expanded no further than the Appalachian mountains, inhabiting the 100-300 mile strip of land area to the east of them from the Carolinas to what is now Maine, only about a tenth of the total landmass of N. America. Beyond that it was all Indians until the Pacific. Of course, then there is the fact that people like Franklin consulted with the Iroquois Confederacy about their principles of governing, some of which were adapted to the new constitution.
The part of Massachusetts in which I live, the hills west of the Connecticut river, was uninhabited by the 17th century because of the constant wars the Pocumtuc confederacy had with the Mohawks who lived in the Hudson Valley. When the first European settlers arrived in 1764 in Ashfield, my town, there was literally no one living here or anywhere around. The whole Berkshire region was uninhabited because of the constant warfare the tribes of the Connecticut river and Hudson Valley were waging against each other for generations before Europeans arrived. Also smallpox definitely took its toll on the local tribe. Their remnant survives as the Abenaki Indians of Vermont.
I see that the rationalisation based on the legal concept of terra nullius
is happily applied by the offspring of white colonialists in America too.
I am not rationalizing anything. These are the facts. Eastern Forest Native Americans, unlike Europeans, did not have a concept of property. Instead, they had a concept of usufruct. Their wars were frequently over who had the right to use a given tract of land. Ownership just did not occur to them. However, the tribes fought many brutal wars with each other that had nothing at all to do with European colonialism.
They further thought the European concept of "property" was very strange, since they had a slash and burn type of agriculture and land management strategy. Thus, they also thought the European practice of growing plants in animal manure was disgusting.
In short, at least in New England, there was a total lack of understanding on both sides.
To your point about Terra Nullius, the Pilgrims and others of their era were pretty much steeped in ideas of divine mandate -- they did not assume, after they landed, that New England was unpopulated, they imagined themselves Israelites, as is show in this introduction to Increase Mather's account of King Phillip's War:
That the Heathen people amongst whom we live, and whose Land the Lord God of our Fathers hath given to us for a rightfull Possession, have at sundry times been plotting mischievous devices against that part of the English Israel which is seated in these goings down of the Sun, no man that is an Inhabitant of any considerable standing can be ignorant.
My point is that because of a long standing war that preceded the English occupation of New England, the region in which I lived was in fact a no man's land, (not in the sense of terra nullius, but because it was too dangerous to live here prior to the end of the French Indian war) between Pocumtuc and the Mohawk tribes. So, the point here is that in the eyes of settlers, the Americas were not terra nullius, as Cook declared of Australia, but rather, it was land bequeathed by God to the "English Israel," meaning Puritans.
And though a People comming into possession of a land by warre, do not alwaies exterminate the antient Inhabitants, (as did the Jewes,) but leave to many, or most, or all of them their Estates; yet it is manifest they hold them afterwards, as of the Victors distribution; as the people of England held all theirs of William the Conquerour.
Locke, coming later, deals with the notion of individual property as a function of labor rather than conquest:
Sect. 30. Thus this law of reason makes the deer that Indian's who hath killed it; it is allowed to be his goods, who hath bestowed his labour upon it, though before it was the common right of every one. And amongst those who are counted the civilized part of mankind, who have made and multiplied positive laws to determine property, this original law of nature, for the beginning of property, in what was before common, still takes place; and by virtue thereof, what fish any one catches in the ocean, that great and still remaining common of mankind; or what ambergrise any one takes up here, is by the labour that removes it out of that common state nature left it in, made his property, who takes that pains about it. And even amongst us, the hare that any one is hunting, is thought his who pursues her during the chase: for being a beast that is still looked upon as common, and no man's private possession; whoever has employed so much labour about any of that kind, as to find and pursue her, has thereby removed her from the state of nature, wherein she was common, and hath begun a property.
Locke also addresses the limitations of usufruct:
Before the appropriation of land, he who gathered as much of the wild fruit, killed, caught, or tamed, as many of the beasts, as he could; he that so imployed his pains about any of the spontaneous products of nature, as any way to alter them from the state which nature put them in, by placing any of his labour on them, did thereby acquire a propriety in them: but if they perished, in his possession, without their due use; if the fruits rotted, or the venison putrified, before he could spend it, he offended against the common law of nature, and was liable to be punished; he invaded his neighbour's share, for he had no right, farther than his use called for any of them, and they might serve to afford him conveniencies of life.
And his attitudes towards the peoples of the Americas, here:
Sect. 41. There cannot be a clearer demonstration of any thing, than several nations of the Americans are of this, who are rich in land, and poor in all the comforts of life; whom nature having furnished as liberally as any other people, with the materials of plenty, i.e. a fruitful soil, apt to produce in abundance, what might serve for food, raiment, and delight; yet for want of improving it by labour, have not one hundredth part of the conveniencies we enjoy: and a king of a large and fruitful territory there, feeds, lodges, and is clad worse than a day-labourer in England
Now, Locke's ignorance of Natives in America is of course staggering. But his attitudes reflect the general 17th and 18th century attitudes towards the Americas, and indeed, his understanding of the cultures of the Americas is one of the main points upon which he hangs his conception of the state of nature.
Naturally, in Buddhadharma we also have the idea of a state of nature, the origin of government when someone takes more than their usufruct rights should allow them, indeed in this there is much in common between the Aggañña Sutta and Locke's notions of the evolution of the property from labor, and the evolution of the state from the need to protect that property.