Re: The Guardian on a New US Civil War


On Mon, Jun 27, 2022 at 04:25 PM, Bradley Mayer wrote:
The social revolutionary element of the civil war - the abolition of slavery - was accomplished by Blacks themselves, against the wishes of the political regime governed by the Lincoln Republicans, who after all emerged out of the Jacksonian system as very much a "Jacksonian-style party".  The Lincoln government, confronted with a fait accompli, opportunistically adapted themselves to the independent self-determination of Black people breaking the chains of bondage.  They worked to channel and coopt the social revolutionary movement of Black people, and to subordinate the Black social revolution to (a still) Jacksonian political regime.  

Hence the Black social revolution was eventually halted and politically (not socially) reversed after 1876.
The history is a bit more complicated than the above description admits.  The revolutionary element of the war, the breaking up of the slave system was accomplished in the physical destruction of the plantation economy, and this was in every case the result of the actions, or proximity of, the Union Army, causing the plantation owners to flee. This allowed those enslaved to seek sanctuary within the Union Army lines. 

No doubt the Lincoln Administration was initially ensnarled in its own racism and fidelity to property rights to take immediate advantage of this and arm the ex-slaves and incorporate them into the Union forces, so for example we get the Fremont's removal in the west for declaring a general emancipation in the territory, but you also get Butler using the argument for confiscating the seditionists' property to "justify" the refusal to return escaped slaves and to access their labor.

Eighteen months or so into the war, the need to recruit train and arm black troops for combat on the Union side broke through some of the racism of the administration.  This "elevation" of African-Americans to combat status electrified the struggle, but it is significantly different than the slaves accomplishing their own liberation.  The African-American troops were under the command of white officers and did not function autonomously.

Post-civil war and post Lincoln, the hostility of Johnson to African-American equality led to his defeat in 1868, the ascension of Grant, and the full force of Congressional Radical Reconstruction under the protection of the Union Army.  This protection was eroded by the 1) inability of the Grant Administration to enforce an expropriation of the former slaveholders' landed property 2) the re-formation of the confederate power through terrorist attacks on African-American political individuals  and social organizations. 

The revolutionary struggle was circumscribed within the confines of private property, and the emancipation of black labor was sacrificed to these terrorist attacks and activities beginning even before Grant's second term in 1872, to the disgust of active Union Generals, like Phillip Sheridan, who wanted to use the full force of the Union Army against the terrorists, imposing military justice.

1876 was the moment of encapsulation, where the very same bourgeoisie that had been so critical in the mobilization to defeat the Confederacy, having already supported and accommodated Redemptionist governments in the South withdrew its army and abandoned the field to the very forces defeated a decade earlier?  Why?  Not because there was a African-American social revolution threatening.... but because there was money to be made.  For example, Tom Scott, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, so fundamental to the successful movement of the Army of the Potomac to Tennessee to relieve Rosencrans "delivered"-- was able to seal the deal delivering the electoral votes for Hayes in exchange for the troop removals  AND US government guarantees for $30 million in Texas and Pacific RR bonds, a railroad owned by the same Tom Scott, the president of the PRR.  Neat, sweet, and complete.

Scott makes another appearance in 1877 during the railway strikes, when in response to the workers complaining about hunger, gives a uniquely American twist to Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake," by urging Rutherford B. Hayes to use the army to "feed the workers a lead diet."

The point of all this being there really wasn't a black social revolution  that in and of itself realized itself in the victory over the Confederacy.

There was a bourgeois social revolution that displaced the political power of the South that had interfered with the bourgeoisie's westward expansion.

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