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How Slavery Built America

Saw this one on my Amazon Reading List, downloaded it – and have been reading through it the last week or so on my way to work on the subway.  Historian Edward Baptist’s treatise on how slavery made America has been greeted with both strong objection from the usual suspects as well as hailed for it’s detailed treatment of a complex historical subject, the ramifications of which still impact American Society today. What Baptist documents is what us students of American History have suspected for a very long time, but until this book – no one really documented it and brought it out front.

What Baptist succinctly points our and documents is the “capitalism” which grew this country from it’s founding in the early 1600’s to an industrial powerhouse owes it roots, and its foundation to slavery. Far from the oft repeated “land of economic opportunity”, slavery generated over half of this country’s economic might, and the worth  of slaves alone constituted over 1/6th of the total wealth of the nation prior to 1860. This one smacks the”Southern Myth” regurgitated by conservative right wingers dead between the eyes.

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism

 

Part of a book review by the NY Times. Follow the link for the whole article.

A Brutal Process

‘The Half Has Never Been Told,’ by Edward E. Baptist

For residents of the world’s pre-­eminent capitalist nation, American historians have produced remarkably few studies of capitalism in the United States. This situation was exacerbated in the 1970s, when economic history began to migrate from history to economics departments, where it too often became an exercise in scouring the past for numerical data to plug into computerized models of the economy. Recently, however, the history of American capitalism has emerged as a thriving cottage industry. This new work portrays capitalism not as a given (something that “came in the first ships,” as the historian Carl Degler once wrote) but as a system that developed over time, has been constantly evolving and penetrates all aspects of society.

Slavery plays a crucial role in this literature. For decades, historians depicted the institution as unprofitable and on its way to extinction before the Civil War (a conflict that was therefore unnecessary). Recently, historians like Sven Beckert, Robin Blackburn and Walter Johnson have emphasized that cotton, the raw material of the early Industrial Revolution, was by far the most important commodity in 19th-century international trade and that capital accumulated through slave labor flowed into the coffers of Northern and British bankers, merchants and manufacturers. And far from being economically backward, slave owners pioneered advances in modern accounting and finance.

Edward E. Baptist situates “The Half Has Never Been Told” squarely within this context. Baptist, who teaches at Cornell University, is the author of a well-­regarded study of slavery in Florida. Now he expands his purview to the entire cotton kingdom, the heartland of 19th-­century American slavery. (Unfortunately, slavery in the Upper South, where cotton was not an economic staple, is barely discussed, even though as late as 1860 more slaves lived in Virginia than any other state.) In keeping with the approach of the new historians of capitalism, the book covers a great deal of ground — not only economic enterprise but religion, ideas of masculinity and gender, and national and Southern politics. Baptist’s work is a valuable addition to the growing literature on slavery and American development.

Where Baptist breaks new ground is in his emphasis on the centrality of the interstate trade in slaves to the regional and national economies and his treatment of the role of extreme violence in the workings of the slave system. After the legal importation of slaves from outside the country ended in 1808, the spread of slavery into the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico would not have been possible without the enormous uprooting of people from Maryland and Virginia. Almost one million slaves, Baptist estimates, were transported to the cotton fields from the Upper South in the decades before the Civil War.

The domestic slave trade was highly organized and economically efficient, relying on such modern technologies as the steamboat, railroad and telegraph. For African-Americans, its results were devastating. Since buyers preferred young workers “with no attachments,” the separation of husbands from wives and parents from children was intrinsic to its operation, not, as many historians have claimed, a regrettable side effect. Baptist shows how slaves struggled to recreate a sense of community in the face of this disaster.

The sellers of slaves, Baptist insists, were not generally paternalistic owners who fell on hard times and parted reluctantly with members of their metaphorical plantation “families,” but entrepreneurs who knew an opportunity for gain when they saw one. As for the slave traders — the middlemen — they excelled at maximizing profits. They not only emphasized the labor abilities of those for sale (reinforced by humiliating public inspections of their bodies), but appealed to buyers’ salacious fantasies. In the 1830s, the term “fancy girl” began to appear in slave-trade notices to describe young women who fetched high prices because of their physical attractiveness. “Slavery’s frontier,” Baptist writes, “was a white man’s sexual playground.”

The cotton kingdom that arose in the Deep South was incredibly brutal. Violence against Native Americans who originally owned the land, competing imperial powers like Spain and Britain and slave rebels solidified American control of the Gulf states. Violence, Baptist contends, explains the remarkable increase of labor productivity on cotton plantations. Without any technological innovations in cotton picking, output per hand rose dramatically between 1800 and 1860. Some economic historians have attributed this to incentives like money payments for good work and the opportunity to rise to skilled positions. Baptist rejects this explanation.

Planters called their method of labor control the “pushing system.” Each slave was assigned a daily picking quota, which increased steadily over time. Baptist, who feels that historians too often employ circumlocutions that obscure the horrors of slavery, prefers to call it “the ‘whipping-machine’ system.” In fact, the word we should really use, he insists, is “torture.” To make slaves work harder and harder, planters utilized not only incessant beating but forms of discipline familiar in our own time — sexual humiliation, bodily mutilation, even waterboarding. In the cotton kingdom, “white people inflicted torture far more often than in almost any human society that ever existed.” When Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans in his Second Inaugural Address of the 250 years of “blood drawn with the lash” that preceded the Civil War, he was making a similar point: Violence did not begin in the United States with the firing on Fort Sumter.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2014 in American Greed, Black History

 

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Tea Party Southern Myth vs 12 Years a Slave

Like the Holocaust Deniers scattered around the world in anti-Semitic clusters, America has its own peculiar breed of Denier of the unconscionable – The advocates of the Southern Myth.

Recognizing what they were doing as slavers was morally unconscionable from a Judeo Christian basis, the slavers sought absolution through first, perverting their religion to justify slavery, and second by attaching themselves to Chivalrous traditions creating a “Genteel” societal veneer. Indeed, in my State of Virginia Thomas Jefferson’s University, UVa – adopted the Cavalier as the school symbol. That wasn’t just because most slaveholders were Crown Loyalists during the Revolutionary War. Attaching themselves to the English Cavaliers was an attempt to gloss over, and add class to an evil society. No different than the Drug Lords of recent vintage using their ill gotten gains to project an image of respectability.

Post Civil War, this shifted into manufacturing a society’s existence under slavery which never existed. The brutality visited upon the slaves to force them to obey, which included torture, systematic rape of women and children, and murder became the “Good Old Days” of a slightly decadent but otherwise genteel society. The Civil War became the “War of the States” supporting the fiction that each and every Southern State’s Secession Articles didn’t list slavery as the “States Right” they were fighting for. These same stawarts brought America Segregation and Jim Crow.

The modern incarnation of this “Southern psychosis” is the Tea Party, the grandchild of the Second Klan of the 20’s, American Nazi Party of the 40’s, and Dixiecrats  of the 50’s and 60’s. Absorbing the Republican matra of blaming the victim. Like their poor, landless ancestors who marched off to be maimed and killed to [protect the rights of wealthy slave owners, today’s conservative confederate malcontents support the rights of the elite right who have eviscerated the American Dream, sold their jobs overseas,  and near destroyed the American Middle Class since Raygun. All under the banner of maintaining their fictitious racial superiority. It is OK with the modern Tea Bagger to take Food Stamps away from the poor, using much the same justification of the rapist that the “bitch deserved it”. It is OK to harass the poor, even though the economic condition of many Tea Parties would place them among the “white trash” – because in a country which has legislatively discriminated, at the Tea Bagger’s ancestors demand,  against minorities for generation – a higher percentage of minorities are poor. Despite class mythology, the only reason many of these white Tea Baggers aren’t scions of society has nothing to do with discrimination – and everything to do with their own personal, generational failures. no one has held them back, except their own ignorance and racism.

In front of the White House after disgracing th WII Memorial

Tea Party and ’12 Years a Slave’

“Twelve Years a Slave,” a movie based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped into slavery in 1841, is a powerful antidote to the Tea Party’s poisonous nostalgia for the era of “states’ rights” and “nullificationism,” which became code words for protecting the “liberty” of Southern whites to own African-Americans.

The movie, directed by Steve McQueen and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, reveals how lofty phrases about “freedom” often meant their opposite as Southern politicians developed an Orwellian skill for weaving noble-sounding “principles” into a cloak for covering up the unjustifiable.

And, for too many generations, it worked. Americans have romanticized the antebellum South, seeing it through the rosy haze of “Gone with the Wind” or learning from school history books that most slave-owners were kindly and paternalistic masters. Even today many Americans tell themselves that slavery wasn’t all that bad. To burnish their pride in the never-to-be-criticized USA, they whitewash one of the nation’s greatest crimes, the enslavement of millions of people based on the color of their skin. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Tea Party Social Cancelled Due to Shutdown

A Tea Party Social was cancelled as an unintended consequence of shutting the government down… One only wonders how long it will be before Republican Tea Baggers rush to Gettysburg to defend their “patriotic” kin…

KKK Rally At Gettysburg Canceled Because Of Government Shutdown

A Ku Klux Klan rally planned for Saturday, Oct. 5 has been canceled because of thegovernment shutdown.

On Sept. 26, officials at Gettysburg National Military Park granted a special-use permit for a rally to a Maryland-based KKK group. According to NBC 10 Philadelphia, the event was canceled when park officials rescinded all permits for special events because of the shutdown, which began 12 a.m. ET on Tuesday.

“Tourists will find every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday. “And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.”

But not everyone took the closing of national parks and monuments sitting down. A group of World War II veterans visiting the National Mall on Tuesday stormed the WWII Memorial — which is now technically closed to the public — to pay their respects.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in Stupid Tea Bagger Tricks

 

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The Second American Civil War

Fascinating how the more things change – the more how some things never change.

If Mitt Romney gets elected President this election, and the Republican Party makes inroads into the Congress it will be almost all due to the politics of polarization of race in America by the Republican Party.

“Polarization”?

 “You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognises that while not appearing to.”

Richard M. Nixon as recorded in Richard Nixon’s chief-of-staff, Bob Haldeman’s diary

Since Obama won the Presidency in 2008, we have seen a steady drumbeat of racism from the GOP, which apparently, if poll numbers are to believed has borne significant fruit in terms of elevating Mitt Romney. As most minorities in America are well cognizant of – if you can hoist enough racism into the mix, you can convince a significant segment of the white population in America to go so far as to even cheer the sacrifice of their own children, in a war they were lied into, for objectives which, if achieved – will do absolutely nothing to improve their lives or the country they live in. Big difference between Heroes and Cannon Fodder…

They accomplished it during the Civil War where they convinced over a million Southerners to don the Grey and 250,000 to die – despite the fact that the vast majority neither owned slaves or profited directly from slavery. They ass reamed the same group again during and after WWI to disguise the fact of the massive wealth inequality which lead to the Stock Market crash, while hiding the fact by convincing the same victims that black folks were stealing their jobs and livelihoods…

Sound familiar? You bet…Welcome to 2012.

AP poll: U.S. majority have prejudice against blacks

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51% of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48% in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56%, up from 49% during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

“As much as we’d hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too. In an AP survey done in 2011, 52% of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57% in the implicit test. The survey on Hispanics had no past data for comparison…

The result this time around?

The GOP’s Geography And The Confederacy

Screen shot 2012-10-28 at 3.36.50 PM

Current Electoral Projection

 

US_Secession_map_1861

Map of the Confederacy in 1861

Are you not struck by the similarities? (The yellow states were not part of the Confederacy but backed slavery. Kansas is an exception, and Maryland and Delaware along the border too). I am not saying (and in the conversation it’s a little garbled and I can see why Heroge might have interpreted me as saying) that that the only states that will switch from Obama to Romney this year were Confederate states. Indiana is the exception. I was saying that if Obama loses North Carolina, Virginia and Florida – which I suspect he will – then the 2012 map will more closely resemble the civil war map than 2008, when the same pattern was striking.

I think America is currently in a Cold Civil War. The parties, of course, have switched sides since the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The party of the Union and Lincoln is now the Democratic party. The party of the Confederacy is now the GOP. And racial polarization is at record levels, with whites entirely responsible for reversing Obama’s 2008 inroads into the old Confederacy in three Southern states. You only have to look at the electoral map in 1992 and 1996, when Clinton won, to see how the consolidation of a Confederacy-based GOP and a Union-based Democratic party has intensified – and now even more under a black president from, ahem, Illinois.

 

The Second Civil War… Indeed.

Let’s hope this one ends the way the one against the communists did…

 

 

 

 

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Another Rat Goes Down – Ghadaffi Reportedly Killed

This one from the Tripoli Post. There are unconfirmed reports that Muhhhamar Ghadaffi was killed  when NATO planes struck a convoy in which he was travelling trying to escape.

Russia TV is broadcasting a photo, claiming is it Ghadaffi (warning – graphic!)

Breaking News: Unconfirmed Reports That Al Qathafi Captured, Killed

Unconfirmed reports from Libya indicate that the former Libyan dictator Muammar Al Qathafi has been captured and killed. This comes after the revolutionaries took Al Qathafi’s hometown of Sirte, and the final stronghold of his loyalists.

A senior NTC official has said that Muammar Al Qathafi has died of his wounds after being captured near Sirte and that the head of his armed forces, Abu Bakr Younis Jabr has also been killed.

At first, the National Transitional Council’s field commander, Jamal abu-Shaalah, reportedly said that Al Qathafi had been seized, but it was not clear whether he was dead or alive. Another NTC official, Abdel Majid, was quoted saying: “Al Qathafi is captured and is wounded.”

First reports stated that Al Qathafi was wounded in both legs and that he had been carried in an ambulance towards hospital

But then Abdel Majid was reported saying that Al Qathafi was trying to flee in a convoy that had been attacked by NATO warplanes, and that Abu Bakr Younus Jabr had been killed during Al Qathafi’s capture.

Majid said NATO warplanes struck the convoy and hit four cars as it headed west. Ahmed Ibrahim, a cousin and adviser of Ql Qathafi, was also captured.

He went on to say: “He’s captured. He’s wounded in both legs … He’s been taken away by ambulance.” He added that Younis Jabr, the head of Al Qathafi’s armed forces, was killed during the capture of the former leader.

The news came shortly after NTC claimed capturing Sirte after weeks of fighting.

The NTC top officials have not yet confirmed Al Qathafi’s capture. Neither NATO nor the US state department could confirm the reports of the capture of Al Qathafi who has not been seen since NTC fighters seized Tripoli, the Libyan capital two months ago.

Sources have told tripolipost.com that Al Qathafi’s body is being taken to a hospital in Misurata so that the medics could confirm or not that the dead body belongs to the former Libyan leader.

Meanwhile in Benghazi, crowds gathered in the streets have started to celebrate the reports of Al Qathafi’s capture.

Sources to the NTC were said to be very cautious and must make doubly sure that A Qathafi has been captured. The suggestion should, at present, be taken with a substantial pinch of salt after earlier question marks over the “capture” of Al Qathafi’s son Seif.

The first hints that Al Qathafi could have been captured was given by National Transitional Council’s information minister, Mahmoud Shammam, when he appeared on Al Jazeera and stopped short of confirming the claim, which is being widely reported on Libyan TV…

Now – if we could only follow suit and put a few of our own war criminals in jail (preferably without the bloodshed) who lied us into an illegal invasion of Iraq.

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in News

 

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Civil War…Part Deux?

Glad someone else sees this…

Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War) dali painting

Salvador Dali - "Premonition of Civil War"

Apocalyptic GOP Is Dragging Us Into a Civil War

Had a friend send me this article by former Republican staffer Mike Lofgren under the subject line, “Informative reading for tonight’s Republican showcase.” I’m probably late in seeing it, but Lofgren’s piece raises fascinating and terrifying questions about the future of our political system and the increasing possibility that we are headed toward something like a civil war, or a constitutional crisis.

Lofgren, in describing the reasons for his defection from the Republican party, describes a Republican camp that increasingly acts not like a traditional peacetime political organization, but more like an apocalyptic cult or one of the authoritarian movements from early 20th century European history.

In particular, the insane decision to turn the once-routine procedure of raising the debt ceiling (Lofgren notes it was done 87 times since WWII) into a political crisis revealed that the GOP party mainstream had sunk to the level of terrorism – holding our economic system hostage in exchange for political concessions.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Domestic terrorism, Stupid Tea Bagger Tricks

 

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Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) Tells Congress to STFU on Libya

Damn – Nice to see there is still ONE sane Republican left in the Party! Graham understands what is at stake, and why the US is peripherally involved.

 

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