An American Libertarian is nothing more than an anarcho-capitalist without the courage of his convictions.
And I use "his" advisedly.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
Sunday, September 23, 2018
The American Civil War never really ended, did it? The South was destroyed, the spoils parceled out not to the victims of the South's tyranny, but to the victors and their carpetbagging capitalist brethren . . . but then, such is often the lot of war.
The losers, meanwhile, held on best they could: many of the rich who ran the South were allowed to remain in place at a somewhat diminished status, though with much of their "heritage" (riches, land) intact. As long as they behaved and played along with their new masters, they by and large maintained the lifestyle accorded them by their class affiliation. Those who did not have the privilege of class, whatever their racial affiliation, ended up in a tougher spot: many African ex-slaves traded the legal oppression of slavery for the capitalist oppression of sharecropping . . . and, in fact, it wasn't only black folk who "owed [their] soul to the company store". For those of the proletariat who lost their taste for scratching a living from the worn clay of the South - be they white or black - there was the migratory path to the factories of the North, where a somewhat more sophisticated model of oppression was practiced.
And here we are, over 150 years later, still in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The political geography is a little bit diluted - pockets of white working class in the rural North can trace roots to the south, thanks to the working class northern migration - but the outlines remain. And, beyond any political geography, there is still persists the shadow of unfinished business, as if the South were going to rise again, as popular imagination among many white Americans would have it.
The shadow of unfinished business exists because there was indeed unfinished business after the war, and it remains unfinished to this day. The proponents of the Union cause will tell you that the Civil War was about slavery, and they are correct. The proponents of the Confederacy will tell you that it was about States' rights, and they are correct. The American Civil War was, like most wars, a war about economic determinism. The Union opposed slavery: they wanted the rule of federal law to set a uniform code of labor that would eliminate the advantages that Confederate farming and small manufacturing enjoyed from the (virtually) free labor that they got from slaves. The Confederacy, of course, didn't want to give up this source of free labor, so they advocated self-determination. While there certainly were United States citizens of the time who did care about the racial oppression of slavery, the average white American cared about slavery only insofar as it affected their personal fortune. The Union victory did solve a problem, but not the problem the history books teach us (i.e., the battle to "free the negro"): slavery was done, but white supremacy remained unaddressed. The Civil War was about slavery, but it was not about racism.
Still we cling to this ideal of the virtuous North fighting the racist South, as if settling the economic question of slavery had anything to do with racism and white supremacy. This sort of deluded abstract binary thinking underpins virtually the entire American political landscape, starting with the largely fictitious philosophical opposition between Republicans and Democrats. All these years later, the Civil War remains unfinished business, because the mainstream of the United States refuses to stand up to white supremacy and white supremacists.