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

From: Paul Zarembka <>
Date: Fri Feb 04 2011 - 12:28:54 EST


I'll respond to the salient portion of your reply vis-a-vis Marx.

On 2/3/2011 9:29 AM, GERALD LEVY wrote:
> So, the question then becomes: could the CSA have survived for an
> extended period as a sovereign nation?
> For Marx, the answer seems to have been 'no' - unless they were
> successful in eventually expanding geographically. I suggested
> another possibility - even if it became apparent to the slaveocracy
> that their long-term survival as a class depended on expansion
> (i.e. even if we grant Marx's argument) other outcomes were possible.
> For instance, if slavery was becoming increasingly inefficient,
> slave owners could gradually move their money into non-slave
> production.

I already addressed the above when I wrote that master-slave relation is
quite distinct from the capitalist--wage labor relation. To suggest
your simple transition erases, or greatly calls into question, this
distinction, and becomes consistent with a reformist view of historical
change (as in 'anything is possible'). You are entitled to such a view,
but it is not Marx's, nor have I seen evidence that Engels disagreed
with Marx, once Marx sent his private comment to Engels not to emphasis
too much purely military questions.

> It's also possible that - even if we accept the claim that
> there would be a hindering of the productive forces - the CSA could
> exist and be reproduced with a relatively stagnant economy (i.e. with
> just enough surplus for the slave owners to maintain their customary
> standard of living).

This is an income/surplus appropriation view of the interests of the
dominant classes in history. Again, it amounts reformism ('anything is
possible' as long as we in the dominant class, under any name, get our
luxury goods).

Paul Z.
ope mailing list
Received on Fri Feb 4 12:31:52 2011

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