Lydia Maria Child: liberal religionskritiker och abolitionist

Under 1800-talet fanns det flera personer i USA som använde sig av liberalt naturrättsliga argument mot slaveri och för att såväl svarta som kvinnor skulle ha samma individuella rättigheter som vita män. Till de mest kända hör systrarna Sarah och Angelina Grimké, som var några av pionjärerna i det avseendet, före detta slaven Frederick Douglass och senatorn Charles Sumner. Mindre känd är Lucy Colman, som i likhet med Douglass dessutom var starkt religionskritisk.

Utan att de behövde vara liberala i alla avseenden, var deras insatser i frågor av fundamental vikt betydelsfulla genom att visa att det liberala rättighetsbegreppet omfattar alla människor. Dessutom var de huvudsakligen liberala även på andra områden.

Jag har upptäckt en för mig ny stjärna på denna himmel: Lydia Maria Child.

”Child attacked the very idea that one man could own another and in so doing enunciated the heart of libertarianism. “The personal liberty of one man can never be the property of another,” she wrote. “In slavery there is no mutual agreement; for in that case, it would not be slavery. The negro has no voice in the matter—no alternative presented to him—no bargain is made. The beginning of his bondage is the triumph of power over weakness…One man may as well claim an exclusive right to the air another man breathes, as to the possession of his limbs and faculties. Personal freedom is the birthright of every human being.””

Hon ansåg även att indianerna hade samma rättigheter och var en skarp religionskritiker:

”Child’s magnum opus was a three volume work called The Progress of Religious Ideas: Through Successive Ages. “Even if nothing worse than wasted mental effort could be laid to the charge of theology, that alone ought to be sufficient to banish it from the earth, as one of the worst enemies of mankind,” her study concluded. “What a vast amount of labour and learning has been expended, as uselessly as emptying shallow puddles into sieves! …What a blooming paradise would the whole earth be, if the same amount of intellect, labour, and zeal, had been expended on science, agriculture, and the arts!””(…)

”Child’s criticisms of religion weren’t limited to Christianity. Betraying a profoundly capitalist spirit, she also wrote, “he made a mistake, that good ‘Lord Buddha.’ It would have been more wise to have taught his fellow-creatures how to raise more grain, weave more cloth, and take better care of their health, than it was to descend into beggary with them.” Of course on the other hand, she wrote that “Buddhism can show a cleaner record than Christianity. It has had no such institution as the Inquisition, and has never put men to death for heretical opinions.””

Lydia-Maria

Uppdatering 20141020: Daniel Bier har en ny, kompletterande text om Child.

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