Breaking Brown

November 9, 2011

the inevitability of the Civil War (cont’d)

Yeah, the Civil War conversation from a couple days ago is still going strong. And again, I’m struck by something that I feel is deserving of a blog post; the refusal of Civil War apologists to acknowledge white supremacy as one of the precipitating causes for the war ( it always flummoxes me.) The same folks who envisage white southerners as too stupid to parse through Confederate war rhetoric to willfully decide the issue for themselves  will turn right around and say they don’t know enough about the psychology of supporters of the Confederacy to impugn their motives. In a nutshell, they’re saying that they know enough about white southerners to know what they thought about race, or if they were in fact racist, but they can, and do, know enough to know that they were manipulated into the war by southern slave owning politicians. Get it? It wasn’t their fault. Here’s an example:

We now know that the war was primarily about slavery (at least on some level) but, no doubt, many Southerners thought it was about tyranny. That is, while they didn’t want to give up their slaves — probably even more they didn’t want some busybodies up in Massachusetts or Vermont telling them they couldn’t have them. South Carolinians certainly didn’t tell Quakers in Pennsylvania that they HAD to own slaves.

But when I challenge the above statement by saying this:

Yes, tyranny as it relates to chattel slavery. South Carolina was upset that New York no longer allowed “slavery transit.” In Mississippi’s secession declaration, they wrote “our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery — the greatest material interest of the world.” Southerners, rich and poor, were highly invested in the buying and selling of blacks and knew full well that they wanted to maintain the free labor and superiority that accompanies having absolute power over another human being.
I get this:

Well, I’m not that familiar with any psychological analyses of the antebellum Southern mind. Its not exactly on my priority list of things to study: philosophy, theology, history of Ancient Near East, historical biblical criticism ( southern quasi-feudal mindset, not so much) . 

It’s enough to make you wanna take a drink.

 


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3 thoughts on “the inevitability of the Civil War (cont’d)

  1. Reed says:

    I think the civil war wasn’t inevitable, but it was very likely. It could have been strangled early, of the expansion of slave states to the west could have been prevented. As a Texan I hate to say this, but No Texas=No Civil War, but better yet if Alabama and Mississippi had become free stares, which was the original plan, to be accomplished by outlawing blacks living there, slave power woukd have been strangled in the early Republic.

    The other possibility is that the war could have been postponed so long that scientific racist ideas could have developed enough strength to declare Africans as sub human,unfit for self government, which is pretty much what happened after the civil war. Once the free states accepted these ideas they could create laws that would have imposed Jim Crow on the North and limited what occuppations slaves could have in the South, this would have resulted in no civil war either. Lickily the slave power was too greedy and by the late 1850s they had pushed to Northern public to wage war against slavery for self defence.

    The thing is that Race slavery as it was practiced in the Anglo Saxon world was something new under the sun, it was more than just an economic system, it was by far the most successful attempt to combine the ancient practice of slavery with democratic politics and a scientific, fundamentally liberal world view, and it almost got there. And it served as a poison in the body politic. If it had just been ordinary racism, Jim Crow would have collapsed on itself, instead it became organic to much of modernity..

    A lot of the scientific racism that was used to justify white supremacy was the basis for what the Nazis and all their fellow travellers cooked up in the 20th Century.

    I know this is rambling, but I think by the time slavery became an issue in the 1840s, war was the only solution that wouldn’t have lead to a far more robust slaveocracy.

  2. Yvette says:

    “The thing is that Race slavery as it was practiced in the Anglo Saxon world was something new under the sun, it was more than just an economic system, it was by far the most successful attempt to combine the ancient practice of slavery with democratic politics and a scientific, fundamentally liberal world view, and it almost got there. And it served as a poison in the body politic. If it had just been ordinary racism, Jim Crow would have collapsed on itself, instead it became organic to much of modernity..”

    Good point.

  3. Some really choice blog posts on this internet site , saved to favorites .

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