Re: [OPE] Marx on the U.S. Civil War

Date: Wed Feb 02 2011 - 09:49:32 EST

Hi Paul Z:
My brief comment was not simply a response to this particular letter,
but was rather directed at the whole of Marx's writings on the Civil
But, let us consider the section of the letter you cite as providing
a materialist analysis:

> "The South would or could conclude peace only on condition that it
> gained possession of the border slave states. In that case, California
> would also fall to it, the North-West would follow suit and the entire
> Federation, with the exception, perhaps, of the New England states,
> would again form one country, this time under the acknowledged
> supremacy of the slaveholders. It would be the reconstruction of the
> United States on the basis demanded by the South. But that is
> impossible and won’t happen.
Is it true that the South would or could 'only' conclude a peace on that
basis? i doubt it. By that time of the war don't you think they would
have agreed to an armistice on the basis of recognition of the Confederate
States of America as a sovereign nation? I suspect they would have -
and let the border states (from their perspective) be damned. It's true
that the border states were key to the beginning of the war and
its historical context, but this - after years of fighting - was a new situation

> "The North, for its part, can conclude peace only if the Confederacy is
> restricted to the old slave states, and then only to those bounded by
> the Mississippi River and the Atlantic. In which case the Confederacy
> would soon come to a happy end. In the intervening period, ceasefires,
> etc., on the basis of a status quo could at most occasion pauses in the
> course of the war."

Why would it 'only' mean that the CSA would come to a 'happy end'.
Had the War been concluded on the basis of the above, then the CSA
would be recognized by most nations, would have a very strong
military ally in the UK and could commence trade again both with the UK
and most other nations. At some point in the future, of course, the
slaves could revolt but in the interim the CSA could have existed as
an independent nation.
All of Marx's writings on the Civil War are laced with comments about how
the Union would - eventually - succeed. I think this was tied to a
particular historical perspective of his that it would represent progress
and was basically something which could only be slowed but not stopped.
In this, there was a whiff of a conception of inevitable victory which
was common among revolutionaries before his time, during his time, and since.
In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Wed Feb 2 09:52:33 2011

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