Retrospective review: Natives: race and class in the ruins of empire (2019) – by Akala
Virtue! a fig! ‘tis in ourselves that we are thus, or thus..
You labelled me – I’ll label you!
So I dub thee “unforgiven”
There is a particular scene in Mario Puzo’s The Godfather where the Don instructs his son, Michael, telling him:
“There are men in this world,” he said, “who go about demanding to be killed. You must have noticed them. They quarrel in gambling games, they jump out of their automobiles in a rage if someone so much as scratches their fender, they humiliate and bully people whose capabilities they do not know…”
The Don continues, explaining to Michael how he made a loyal weapon out of the brutal baby-burner Luca Brasi. An interesting thing about that passage, aside from its obvious truth about the stupidity of many, is that Puzo cannot use the expression ‘road rage’ because – in the early 1970s when the novel came on the scene – the expression hadn’t been invented. However the behaviour which later became known as ‘road rage’ was and is a real phenomenon of human behaviour.
Not all expressions minted to describe human behaviour describe something new. Sometimes the expression is new while the behaviour it describes is old. ‘Binge-drinking’ is an example. ‘Binge-drinking’ means ‘getting drunk’ – a behaviour almost as old as the human race, and is a sub-set of ‘anti-social behaviour’. But if one gives an old problem a new name, then – as if by magic – there is a new ‘problem’ for mouthpieces of ‘authority’ to complain about, while demanding new legal powers from the government of the day. Continue reading