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Was the Union war against the Confederacy a progressive war or imperialist bloodbath?

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S. Artesian
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Feb 10 2016 17:52
lettersjournal wrote:
And if communism never comes, and all the progressive wars were for naught, what fools we'll be for cheering the cannons and scorning the dead.

Communism is not the messiah, who "comes" and delivers us from our daily care. It is the practical activity of the emancipation of labor.

I'm not cheering the cannons, and I'm not scorning the dead-- at least not the dead of the Union, nor the slaves worked to death by the slaveholders.

I do cheer the death of slaveholders, and their legions, though. And will continue to do so. So here's to Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, John Brown and Thaddeus Stevens (a real capitalist. Owned an iron mill. Confederates placed a bounty on his head, and raided his mill in the attempt to kill him. Obviously those were proletarians in the grey uniforms of the slaveholders' army).

Just so that part is clear. Yes indeed, I praise, cheer, and hold in respect, the life, and deeds of a capitalist, one Thaddeus Stevens.

S. Artesian
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Feb 10 2016 17:49
lettersjournal wrote:
How are conscripted infantry in a modern army not proletarians?

We are talking about soldiers of the Confederacy, not a modern army, not draw from a modern industrialized society.

RC
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Feb 10 2016 18:37

S. Artesian wrote:

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What constitutes the abolition of slavery, the owning of the laborer as property, as opposed to owning the products of labor?

This is a weak distinction. The capitalist does not only own the products of labor. What the capitalist acquires from the free wage laborer is the legal right to command over labor for a period of time. The free wage laborer sells his ability to work as if this is something alienable from himself – but it his own activity, the process of his muscles, brain, nerves, etc. That's why it can be hard sometimes to tell the difference between slavery and wage work in capitalism.

The interesting thing about wage labor is that the wage solicits the will of the worker. No chains or whips need be present (though they are always in the background) -- just the whole free market economy.

lettersjournal
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Feb 10 2016 18:42

And if we are compelled to 'support' the spread of wage labor as progressive, then I presume that would mean support for, e.g., the mass industrialization of the peasantry carried out in Mao's China. Never mind the dead!

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James MacBryde
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Feb 10 2016 21:21

Cor blimey, what a lot of polemic!

Artesian, you are correct, it was Marx not Chomsky (the liberal fuck). And it was not written by him in reference to African slaves in America and should not be applied to them. I will apologise to you if I made you irate but I will never apologise for slavery and neither was Charles.

S. Artesian
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Feb 10 2016 21:12
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This is a weak distinction. The capitalist does not only own the products of labor. What the capitalist acquires from the free wage laborer is the legal right to command over labor for a period of time. The free wage laborer sells his ability to work as if this is something alienable from himself – but it his own activity, the process of his muscles, brain, nerves, etc. That's why it can be hard sometimes to tell the difference between slavery and wage work in capitalism.

There is nothing weak about it. There is nothing difficult about distinguishing slavery from wage-labor. The capitalist does not own the laborer. The capitalist does not own the existence of the laborer. It's an essential distinction, the very basis of necessary labor-time vs. surplus labor time, and therefore the existence of surplus value as value.

The capitalist purchases the time of the wage-laborer and owns as property the products of that labor, which labor is measured, quantified as time.

Moreover, the capitalist does not own the children of the wage-laborer. The capitalist has no "right," or claim upon their labor or their lives. This may appear as a formal distinction to you, but not to those whose ancestors have endured slavery.

RC wrote:
And if we are compelled to 'support' the spread of wage labor as progressive, then I presume that would mean support for, e.g., the mass industrialization of the peasantry carried out in Mao's China. Never mind the dead!

First, as a matter of accuracy, Mao's China did not involve the "mass industrialization of the peasantry." The rural population, engaged in agricultural pursuits remained at the 85% of the entire population until the late 1970s.

But let's not get hung up on petty details. This might come as a shock but there's a big difference between the US in 1861 and China in 1949, not to mention 1979. The difference being that China did in fact have an industrial proletariat nationally, and more than that, there exisedt an international proletariat which could and can in fact act on its own for its own interests as opposed to the interests of the bourgeoisie.

So tell me, where in the US in 1861 is the industrial proletariat capable of acting in its own interests, and in the interests of others oppressed and exploited as the slaves were, but separate, apart, and in opposition to the Northern bourgeoisie's program for the suppression of the slaveholders' rebellion and the abolition of slavery? Where? In the "proletarians in Confederate grey"? In some little coterie of proto-Lukacs-es suffering under the iron diktat of Marx's mechanical-ism?

Where? Nowhere.

Where is the international development of the proletariat in 1861 in similar degree so that it can act separate apart and in opposition to the capitalists? Where is it? Only in support of the US North against the plans, desires, inclinations of the French and English bourgeoisie to support the South.

Your impoverished lack of understanding of history is the direct result of your inability to assess class relations, just as the IP is unable to assess class relations, and so we get the falsification of "500,000 proletarians murdered." It leaves you, like the IP, anowhere to go, nothing to offer, empty-handed, nowhere. Literally.

S. Artesian
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Feb 10 2016 21:30
MacBryde wrote:
Artesian, you are correct, it was Marx not Chomsky (the liberal fuck). And it was not written by him in reference to African slaves in America and should not be applied to them. I will apologise to you if I made you irate but I will never apologise for slavery and neither was Charles.

OK, then I'm doubly glad that I excised my inflammatory language.

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James MacBryde
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Feb 10 2016 21:31

lettersjournal:

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And if we are compelled to 'support' the spread of wage labor as progressive, then I presume that would mean support for, e.g., the mass industrialization of the peasantry carried out in Mao's China.

Correct

RC
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Feb 10 2016 21:40

S. Artesian,

So you really, really hate slavery. Got it.

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Alf
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Feb 10 2016 21:56

Passions are running high, and I suggest that to channel them fruitfully we follow the question posed by Artesian's recent post. In other words, we look more deeply into the position of the world proletariat in 1861-4. This also means studying why the International, which at that point was supported and sustained by diverse currents in the workers' movement (marxists, mutualists, blanquists, etc), took such an unambiguous position against the slave-holders' war. And it means asking why, according to the letter to Lincoln from the General Council, the advanced fractions of the working class in Europe clearly expressed their solidarity with the Republic. I don't know much about the response of workers outside Britain on this issue, but it is hard to find a moment of class consciousness and proletarian morality more powerful than the declarations of the English workers, who were materially suffering because of the "cotton famine" resulting from the blockade of the South, in support of the blockade and the military response of the North. http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2013/feb/04...

It would also, eventually, mean looking a bit further ahead: to 1871, and one of Marx's conclusions from the experience of the Paris Commune: that, in Europe at least, the period of national wars and bourgeois revolutions was over. And to 1915, the Junius Pamphlet, and the polemic between Lenin and Luxemburg, with the latter arguing that the obsolescence of bourgeois revolutionary national wars now applied to the whole world. From her point of view, the 1861-4 war in the USA would have been seen as one of the last of the wars of this type, in a continent where capitalism was only becoming the conqueror.

PS - to Soapy: stay a bit longer.

S. Artesian
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Feb 10 2016 22:07

Good points, Alf.

IP will probably point to that as "false consciousness."

And indeed, looking ahead to 1871-- one should note that Engels' position was far more in support of Prussia, and the unification of German capitalism as a "plus" for the workers movement. Engels wanted a full endorsement of Prussia by the IMWA. Marx was much more cautious. I think Engels was flat out wrong, and Marx should have explicitly opposed Engels on this.

The Franco-Prussian War was the episode where "turn the guns around" could have had its first real significance, as indeed there were proletarians on both sides who needed to express class solidarity, opposing the programs of their respective capitalism's with their own program.

Now before this ignites another round of "told you's"-- let's be clear, Bismark advancing the cause of unification of German capitalism is not the same as the US North undertaking the abolition of slavery. The former is achieved over the bones of the proletariat. The latter over the bones of the slaveholders.

Engels BTW supported the US in its war against Mexico in 1846, in a display of rah-rah development-ism that is a)bizarre b)everything Marx's endorsement of Lincoln and the Union in the Civil War was not.

Engels justified and supported the US in that "Yankee energy" was exactly what was needed to shake up the "lazy" Mexicans, and give a big boost to commerce and industrial development. That the war was fought basically in the interests of the slave holders, was opposed, more or less, by the party of "pro-development"-- the Whigs, seems to have been lost on Engels.

Lincoln too opposed that war. Odd isn't it that IP doesn't say anything about old Fred and that war, but stakes its position on the Civil War. Man, talk about firing at the wrong target.........

Sander
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Feb 11 2016 02:38

This will be my last post on this thread. I will go back to the other thread but in this one, the discussion goes around in circles and has sunk to a deploringly low level. Apparently, anyone who disagrees with Artesian and Hieronymous is a racist, as well as a fuck-up, an idiot, ignorant, fool and so on. Scoring points, boosting egos seems to be the goal, not a common effort to understand. So I pass.

As a parting remark, I want to clarify what we mean by “autonomization”. Artesian dislikes the word and thinks we should use “self-organization” instead. But autonomization has a wider meaning.

The capitalist class and the working class are interdependent; together they reproduce capitalist society, neither class is autonomous from the other. From this relation, capital can never break away, it can not autonomize itself from its dependency on surplus value and thus on the working class. In contrast, the collective worker can autonomize itself from its dependency on capital. That is why working class struggle has the potential to become revolutionary. Its autonomization is in part self-organization, but it is more than that, it means breaking away from the capital-labor social bond in praxis and consciousness. All the important moments in the history of proletarian struggle were, to a greater or lesser degree, moments of autonomization.

Wars are the opposite: in stead of autonomizing, it’s rallying behind the capitalist state, behind the national banner, dying for it. It’s forgetting that “workers have no fatherland”.

That is what all the wars I mentioned in my previous post have in common. Obviously, that does not imply that all these wars were the same in all aspects. Artesian points to differences, but since I never claimed there were no differences, he’s once again attacking a straw man of his own creation. Not that his arguments are so solid. He explains Napoleon’s wars as a result of the defeat of “the revolution”. But the French revolution was a bourgeois revolution. Napoleon, a bourgeois reformer par excellence, spread it further.

Artesian reproaches us that, when we look at a war, we see a war. We see mass graves, burning villages, bombs falling on cities, famine and disease, fields littered with corpses. For Artesian, the question is: were these corpses certified proletarian? But that’s not the question. One thing is sure: the vast majority of them were not members of the possessing class.

Bourgeois accounting, Artesian sneers. Sentimental humbug. Yet he does his own accounting, inflating the war’s positive results, especially the abolition of slavery, even though it didn’t take long for racist oppression to become as bad as it was before, with the implicit approval of the victors of the war. I understand the argument that, historically, the window of opportunity for proletarian revolution had not opened yet, so the working class might as well embrace the state, when the latter’s goals overlap with its own interests; that the war accelerated the development of capitalism and thereby improved future conditions for revolution. It’s a reasonable position and I will not attack it with scorn and contempt, Artesian-style. But I disagree with it, as it is based on productivist, determinist assumptions.

It is true that proletarian revolution was not on the historical agenda anywhere in the 1860’s. But that doesn’t mean that the proletarian struggle was not on the agenda, or that there was no contradiction between its autonomizing tendency and making common cause with the class enemy. Only 7 years after the civil war, the proletarians of Paris (and yes, Astarian, they were not all proletarians) took over the French capital (this followed a war in which Marx also picked a side to support, although he switched sides over the course of the war!). The Commune was defeated of course. But it was a very important moment of autonomization, the only process that can lead to revolution, while the civil war was not.

I think our disagreements are clear. The rest, I fear will just be shouting and going around in circles. Before I get dizzy, I will step out of this not so merry-go-round. The floor is all yours, Artesian et al. Have fun.

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Hieronymous
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Feb 11 2016 04:22

Sander, you're a hypocrite and a liar. If you want to criticize me (or anyone), do it for something that was actually said -- not for words you put in people's mouths. And since you simply regurgitated the party line like a faithful cadre, you never said anything showing the slightest amount of original thought -- and nothing that would be worthy of debating. So I guess I'm saying you won't be missed. Unless we need to borrow your one-size-fits-all ahistorical "value-form" cookie cutter.

EDIT:

Sander wrote:
(and yes, Astarian, they were not all proletarians)

Who's "Astarian"? Was this person even part of the discussion?

Sander wrote:
Before I get dizzy,

Sounds like you've gotten there already.

S. Artesian
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Feb 11 2016 05:29
Sander wrote:
This will be my last post on this thread. I will go back to the other thread but in this one, the discussion goes around in circles and has sunk to a deploringly low level. Apparently, anyone who disagrees with Artesian and Hieronymous is a racist, as well as a fuck-up, an idiot, ignorant, fool and so on. Scoring points, boosting egos seems to be the goal, not a common effort to understand. So I pass.

Methinks the Sander doth protest too much. He's submitted one post to this thread, He was not referred to as an idiot, ignorant, or a fool. Every point he raised was considered and answered. However he has failed to answer the questions raised about the IP position.

In the interim of course, we've had replies from those who think the only thing that's needed for communism is that "enough people want it;" from people who think that not only did the war not abolish slavery, slavery was actually restored in a much harsher form after a brief interruption, but then they go off in a huff, much like Sander is doing, for tactical reasons, so they don't have to answer when and how and by whom slavery was abolished, if ever; we've had those who think there's absolutely, positively no difference between wage-labor and slave-labor; that recognizing and endorsing the North's struggle to abolish slavery means one must logically, automatically endorse Mao's forced mass industrialization of the peasantry (just ignore the fact that the massed industrialization part didn't happen); we've had others, or actually some of the same, claim that we're cheerleading for war; others, or the same, think that "proletarian" means "not very wealthy;" and still others, or the same, claiming that freed slaves were used as cannon fodder by the Union troops.

So...just on the face of it, given that each of these claims or counterclaims by the "Civil War don't mean a thing" crowd is demonstrably false, and truly a mis-characterization of the actual history of the struggle to abolish slavery, I think identifying the claims and the claimants as ignorant, or a fool (don't recall using fuck-up or racist, but no big deal) is being generous, is giving them the benefit of the doubt; is giving them too much credit.

Sander of course fails to come up with the answer to the so-called murder of the missing 500,000 so called proletarians. He cannot explain why a Marxist group, committed one would think to the accuracy and precision Marx himself demonstrated in his analysis of class relations, would create out of nothing the missing 500,000.

Sander cannot explain how Marx can be demonstrating a mechanistic approach to history at the very same time Marx is writing his Economic Manuscripts which IP acknowledges are anything but mechanical and or deterministic.

Sander can't even be bothered to ignore my questions and answer the questions that Alf raises about the expression of solidarity with the anti-slave struggle manifested across all the various participants in the IMWA and by the workers themselves.

He needs a way out, without answering questions. That's one of the things ideology gives you. And whining. That too gives you a way out without answering questions.

Sander wrote:
The capitalist class and the working class are interdependent; together they reproduce capitalist society, neither class is autonomous from the other. From this relation, capital can never break away, it can not autonomize itself from its dependency on surplus value and thus on the working class. In contrast, the collective worker can autonomize itself from its dependency on capital. That is why working class struggle has the potential to become revolutionary. Its autonomization is in part self-organization, but it is more than that, it means breaking away from the capital-labor social bond in praxis and consciousness. All the important moments in the history of proletarian struggle were, to a greater or lesser degree, moments of autonomization.

Wars are the opposite: in stead of autonomizing, it’s rallying behind the capitalist state, behind the national banner, dying for it. It’s forgetting that “workers have no fatherland”.

Once again we have a philosophy of the abstract that collapses in the face of the concrete. All wars, all the time are rallying behind a national banner? Even civil wars? The Spanish Civil War, was that rallying behind a national banner, or was there a real class content to that war?

When the slaveholders sent their terrorists into Kansas to terrorize free soil farmers, and free blacks, and the free soil farmers and free blacks organized to fight them in the war known as Bloody Kansas, was that capitulating to the reactionary capitalist national banner?

Better to tell the proletarians of Kansas, and the proletarian terrorists from the great state of Missouri: "Don't fight. This war isn't your war. Your serving only to strengthen the hands of your own oppressors. Don't be suckered by mechanistic conceptions of history."????

Or do we recognize the validity of the fight of the free soil farmers and free blacks in Kansas? Do we explore, explain, and bring to light the real impulse to the emancipation of labor that made its appearance, was expressed in this particular moment of history, by those proclaiming free soil, free labor, and wage-labor not slave-labor?

Sander wrote:
Artesian reproaches us that, when we look at a war, we see a war. We see mass graves, burning villages, bombs falling on cities, famine and disease, fields littered with corpses. For Artesian, the question is: were these corpses certified proletarian? But that’s not the question. One thing is sure: the vast majority of them were not members of the possessing class.

Priceless. "Not members of the possessing class"--- Somebody introduce Sander to Soapy so they can commiserate over Marx's determinism in specifying the conditions, relations that define class and how the determination of class configures the prospects for emancipation.

The vast majority were not members of the possessing class? This applies to soldiers serving the slaveholders?

That war was initiated by slaveholders in order to protect their system of owning the laborers as property. It's just as simple as that. If the slaveholders had simply agreed to emancipation, then no war would have occurred. And Sander wouldn't have to shed those copious tears over the poor non-possessing class slavery-defending corpses moldering in the mud. But the slaveholders did not.

And I'm, you, ANYONE is supposed to feel what? An ounce of suffering for those who sacrificed life, limb, in the service of a slaveholders' rebellion?

The question for me isn't if the corpses are proletarian, Sander. That's the question for you. YOU made the claim about Marx's "determinism" based on the fact that the "first industrial war was murdering 500,000 proletarians." You said that. The condition, or qualification of proletarian is what you used to criticize Marx's apparently mechanistic, and non-class based, misapplication of historical materialism.

This where I really do say-- if Sander believes a word of what he has written, then he is indeed an idiot, ignorant, a fuck-up. And if he doesn't...........

Sander wrote:
Bourgeois accounting, Artesian sneers. Sentimental humbug. Yet he does his own accounting, inflating the war’s positive results, especially the abolition of slavery, even though it didn’t take long for racist oppression to become as bad as it was before, with the implicit approval of the victors of the war. I understand the argument that, historically, the window of opportunity for proletarian revolution had not opened yet, so the working class might as well embrace the state,when the latter’s goals overlap with its own interests; that the war accelerated the development of capitalism and thereby improved future conditions for revolution. It’s a reasonable position and I will not attack it with scorn and contempt, Artesian-style. But I disagree with it, as it is based on productivist, determinist assumptions.

Yeah, unlike me you don't sneer. And unlike me, you are dishonest. I did not inflate the war's positive results. I quite frankly pointed out how the bourgeoisie failed to follow through on the military victory and pursue the social revolution required to prevent the return of the Confederates in different garb.

I did not say that the working class might as well embrace the state. I said the proletariat was in no way shape or form capable of presenting any program that could both speak to the emancipation of black labor from slavery and establish an opposition to the bourgeoisie's program for that emancipation.

Sander, in his obfuscations, offers nothing that could amount to an independent working class program that opposed the bourgeoisie's timid, halting, reluctant engagement when confronting the slaveholders. He cannot. His argument becomes, whether he admits it or not, that because the war was being prosecuted by the Northern capitalists against the Southern slaveholders, the abolition of slavery was of no material interest, no practical interest, to the working class.

Well, fortunately, Marx disagreed. The IMWA disagreed. And the British workers disagreed.

Sander wrote:
It is true that proletarian revolution was not on the historical agenda anywhere in the 1860’s. But that doesn’t mean that the proletarian struggle was not on the agenda, or that there was no contradiction between its autonomizing tendency and making common cause with the class enemy. Only 7 years after the civil war, the proletarians of Paris (and yes, Astarian, they were not all proletarians) took over the French capital (this followed a war in which Marx also picked a side to support, although he switched sides over the course of the war!). The Commune was defeated of course. But it was a very important moment of autonomization, the only process that can lead to revolution, while the civil war was not.

Note: Sander here explicitly states that supporting the North in its battle against the expansion of slavery, supporting the North in its abolition of slavery is making common cause with a class enemy. Doing nothing, of course, not organizing demonstrations of workers in Manchester, not having the IMWA agitate against England and France providing any support to the slaveholders-- of course, that's not siding with the class enemy, even if it does mean that the slaveholders will be able to maintain their system. That's not siding with the class enemy,even if it means the slaveholders will get to work to death the closest things to proletarians in the whole South--- the slaves themselves.

Shame on Marx and the IMWA for allying with the class enemy and not doing nothing-- because, see, then the bourgeoisie in England and France could ally with the enemy of the workers' class enemy and aid the little old South.

Abstentionism-- the slaveholders' best friend.

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Before I get dizzy,

Way too late for that.

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James MacBryde
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Feb 11 2016 10:49
Quote:
Quote:
Marx expected the victory of the North to speed up the development of capitalism, and therefore also of the working class.

Marx also demonstrated how the British working class backed up his assessment with industrial action [not only 'declarations'] in support of the North.

Quote:
The Catholic emancipation, the Reform Bill, the abolition of the Corn Laws, the Ten Hours Bill..., all were the fruit of stormy extra-parliamentary demonstrations, in which the working class, sometimes artificially incited, sometimes acting spontaneously, played the principle part only as a persona dramatis, only as the chorus or, according to circumstances, performed the noisy part. So much more striking is the attitude of the English working class in regard to the American Civil War.

From an article by Karl Marx ('A London Worker's Meeting', first published in Die Presse, 2nd February, 1862.

https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/subject/newspapers/die-press... (now deleted at request of copyright holders)

Yet still, I accept Soapy's argument. And Alf, please don't fall into the trap of The Do Gooder's Newspaper and attribute the actions of our class to a moral attitude ('proletarian morality'). Although, the material interests of the English working class were detrimentally affected in the short term, it was conscious that in the long-term it would benefit by the defeat of the South.

S. Artesian
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Feb 11 2016 14:15
MacBryde wrote:
Yet still, I accept Soapy's argument.

What argument is that? That slavery was "suspended" before being reimposed with an even greater zeal?

petey
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Feb 11 2016 14:52
Hieronymous wrote:
And since you simply regurgitated the party line like a faithful cadre, you never said anything showing the slightest amount of original thought -- and nothing that would be worthy of debating. So I guess I'm saying you won't be missed.

this seems to confirm Sander's point

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James MacBryde
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Feb 11 2016 16:01

Duplicate post removed by user

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James MacBryde
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Feb 11 2016 15:30
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What argument is that? That slavery was "suspended" before being reimposed with an even greater zeal?

No, that life as a prole is even more impoverished than as a slave.

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laborbund
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Feb 11 2016 16:03

Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier when you responded to my first point Soapy.

Soapy wrote:
You wrote

Quote:
So the abolition of slavery is not to the benefit of the material interests of the slaves? I'm sorry, what? Were they better off as slaves?

Forty acres and a mule and still having to face institutional racism and racist segregation was certainly crap, but it was unimaginably better than brutal forced labor, continuious rape and torture.

I am saying that slavery was not abolished, it was put on hold for 15 or so years and then re implemented with a fervor few could have imagined.

I was pointing this out because I think it weighs heavily upon any notion that the Civil War accomplished anything other than bloodshed and misery.

There's no doubt that Jim Crow and the practice of convict lease in particular severely rolled back the emancipatory gains of the Civil War. Nevertheless, could John Brown's raiders, the abolitionists, the majority of Northern white soldiers who weren't abolitionists but just 'anti-slavery,' the US Colored Troops have looked forward into the future and see that US institutional racism would be recreated in new form at the end of the struggle? For that matter, could SNCC et al. have looked into the future and seen how US institutional racism would be recreated after the 1970s? Does the fact that new forms of institutional racism have replaced old ones totally invalidate the struggles that did away with the old ones?

The racist division of labor remains with us to this day, and it remains probably the single most difficult barrier to class unity that we face, but I think it is absurd to argue that nothing has been gained from past struggles.

I regret the tone that some of this thread has taken and I appreciate that your argument, at least, is based on actual historical specifics. But I also think the tone is very understandable given the original premise of the thread.

Spikymike
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Feb 11 2016 17:12

Some unnecessary aggression and sarcasm aside I have still found this discussion useful so far. I'm struggling a bit to express myself effectively but here goes anyway....

I don't have any problem with Sander's concept of 'autonomization' and his distinguishing that process in terms of the Paris Commune from the earlier class processes in the American Civil War but only in so far as the slave rebellion and slave support for the Union side in that war was not a working class or proletarian rebellion ... but that is surely to both concede the original contesting of the IP reference to proletarian losses in the civil war and to diminish the historical and human significance of the slave rebellion (and potentially all other preceding non working class struggle). In the wider world real working class opposition to slavery and support for slave rebellions in a period which Sander says ' proletarian revolution was not on the agenda' was still progressive in it's own right quite apart from any assumptions made at the time as to whether or not the result of the Civil War would ensure the further development of capitalism and the international expansion of working class struggle. Slaves made their choices in the civil war circumstances of the time and in the absence of proletarian revolution.

I would still appreciate Sanders and IP's continued contributions to the themes of the other related discussion thread.

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Feb 11 2016 17:11

And Alf, please don't fall into the trap of The Do Gooder's Newspaper and attribute the actions of our class to a moral attitude ('proletarian morality'). Although, the material interests of the English working class were detrimentally affected in the short term, it was conscious that in the long-term it would benefit by the defeat of the South.

James, I don't think that referring to an article in the Guardian invalidates the concept of proletarian morality, which Marx certainly defended, even seeing a moral element in the determination of the value of labour power.

“If the owner of labour-power works to-day, to-morrow he must again be able to repeat the same process in the same conditions as regards health and strength. His means of subsistence must therefore be sufficient to maintain him in his normal state as a labouring individual. His natural wants, such as food, clothing, fuel, and housing, vary according to the climatic and other physical conditions of his country. On the other hand, the number and extent of his so-called necessary wants, as also the modes of satisfying them, are themselves the product of historical development, and depend therefore to a great extent on the degree of civilisation of a country, more particularly on the conditions under which, and consequently on the habits and degree of comfort in which, the class of free labourers has been formed. In contradistinction therefore to the case of other commodities, there enters into the determination of the value of labour-power a historical and moral element”
(Marx, Capital vol 1 chapter 6).

S. Artesian
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Feb 11 2016 17:34
James MacBryde wrote:
Quote:
What argument is that? That slavery was "suspended" before being reimposed with an even greater zeal?

No, that life as a prole is even more impoverished than as a slave.

Really? Do you have any idea of the life expectancy of male slave on a plantation in Brazil?

How many workers were tossed overboard, quite literally, in the transit from Europe to the US?

Exactly where were conditions of industrial workers as a class more impoverished than those of the slaves as a class?

S. Artesian
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Feb 11 2016 17:58

Here's an exercise, for Sander and anyone else who is so inclined:

In 1863, in New York City, after the second "drawing" of the draft for Union Army troops, thousands of white, many Irish, mostly poor, or at least poorer, or at least "not of the possessing class" rioted, initially out of outrage that wealthier men could pay a $300 bounty and avoid the draft.

Things being what they were, and are, in the US, anti-black racism soon became the motivation of the rioters, who attacked and lynched numerous black artisans, laborers, shopkeepers, and in the full demonstration of their class solidarity with the victims of the common class enemy of blacks and whites-- burned down the children's Colored Orphans Asylum.

Troops from the Union Army were diverted to NYC to suppress the rioters, but by that time 120 black people had been killed.

OK here's your mission, should you choose to accept.

1. You are the head of a workers group in NYC.

--Write an address, and appeal, an agitational leaflet to the rioters. Tell us what you tell the rioters... about the Civil War, about the draft, about slavery, about those black people being attacked in the city.

2. The Union Army arrives in NYC. You are head of both a local workers group, and a member of an international association. Write the following leaflets, appeals.

--a. An appeal to the Union troops, some of whom have been in combat against the slaveholders rebellion, describing the conditions in NYC, and what should be done by the troops--including "turn the guns around" if that's what you think.

--b. An appeal to your International, to support the demands/actions/program you developed in (a).

--c. An appeal to the rioters, regarding how they should handle the presence of the Union troops marching behind the flag of the "class enemy."

I am absolutely serious about this. I intend to do it myself at some point. I doubt Sander or Soapy or RC or Letters Journal would dare to attempt this-- because not a one has anything to say to the real twists and turns that the struggle for emancipation does take.

I dare Sander or Soapy or RC or anybody who thinks Marx was wrong in his support of Lincoln's reelection to actually sort out. this situation.

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James MacBryde
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Feb 11 2016 18:11

Alf, I have to admit that with the exception of chapter 33 of Capital I really have not been able to get my head round it. I am not negating what you say, I am honestly too stupid (or stupified) to understand it. My attitude to Capital is that he did the spade work, so I don't have to. I have given you an up vote because you're not being nasty to me (or anyone else), which is a rare experience for me in these forums.

Artesian, I anticipated your question and came up with this feeble reply. In terms of exposure to natural light, the average slave was better off than the average prole. If I may make one criticism of your last post. Why the use of past tense in this sentence:

Quote:
Exactly where were conditions of industrial workers as a class more impoverished than those of the slaves as a class?

S. Artesian
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Feb 11 2016 18:22
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Artesian, I anticipated your question and came up with this feeble reply. In terms of exposure to natural light, the average slave was better off than the average prole.

Worse than feeble, it's a disgrace. And this time I make no apology for my inflammatory language.

You've got the class consciousness of a toad, and that's insulting to the class of toads.

Exposure to natural light? You arrogant, privileged wanker Wrap your head around that.

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James MacBryde
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Feb 11 2016 22:39

comment removed for plagiarism

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 11 2016 21:13

Ok this thread's a clusterfuck, but it's probably useful to distinguish between social form and 'labour conditions' (for want of a better term). Chattel slavery, peonage, sharecropping, and wage labour are distinct (if potentially overlapping) social forms. So the shift from pre-war chattel slavery to post-reconstruction peonage/convict leasing is a shift in social form, even if the conditions of labour - and indeed places of work, and identity of the employers - were in many cases identical to under chattel slavery (or even vengefully worse).

As I understand the 'slavery by another name' thesis (I've watched the film, but not read the book), it's arguing more about the continuity of labour conditions and economic role (i.e. harsh unremunerated labour). I don't think that's mutually exclusive with a shift in social form (though arguably convict labour is a form of slavery - as the 13th Amendment seems to acknowledge - albeit not chattel slavery). That then also answers the 'when was (chattel) slavery abolished?' question; with the defeat of the South, but the 'slave-like' conditions re-imposed after 1876 persisted well into the 20th century, offset by migration to the north, and the eventual decline of Southern cotton as a key commodity.

S. Artesian
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Feb 11 2016 21:58

OK Joseph, but Union struggle against the Confederate slaveholders' rebellion, progressive or an intra-capitalist bloodbath in which Marxists should take no side?

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 11 2016 22:24

I've barely read anything on the civil war itself, only bits from reconstruction onwards mostly from reading up on civil rights (not a cop out, my knowledge of US history is patchy, hence following this thread hoping to learn something). It seems anachronistic to see it in terms of 'imperialist war', and abolition seems obviously a Good Thing (despite post-'96 developments), independent of the North's motives (to which abolition seems instrumental at best).

I know marginally more about Haiti. You can make a pretty good case that the Haitian Revolution was bourgeois, and the war of independence was thus bourgeois vs bourgeois. But insurgent slaves fighting to abolish slavery still seems a Good Thing even if the result was a bourgeois republic (and 200 years of punitive underdevelopment). In that instance I'm not even sure what abstention would mean - even if they'd refused to fight for their generals, the slaves would have had to fight Napoleon et al anyway.