Debating slavery: Marx's discussion

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sun Oct 22 11:26:02 MDT 2000

Jim Farmelant wrote:

>I find it amazing how both Lou & Andy have managed from a Marxist
>standpoint come to conclusions concerning the American Revolution,
>the French Revolution, and the American Civil War, that are strikingly
>reminiscent of those championed by conservative historians.
>In Britain there has long
>existed a school of historians that have argued that the English Civil
>Wars were not revolutionary in nature.  Conservative historians have
>long defended the notion that there were no bourgeois revolutions
>and they have done so because this fits in well their view that there
>are no objectively real clashes between the interests of different
>social classes.
>I suppose one should not be so surprised though.  Eugene Genovese
>whose work was discussed recently on LBO-Talk, developed a
>view of slavery as having constituted a non-capitalist mode of production
>whose stability rested on the ability of slaveholders (by virtue of
>their paternalism) being able to win the consent of their slaves.
>Genovese developed this analysis of slavery on the basis of his extension
>of Gramsci's conception of consensus to the social relations of the
>antebellum South.  It was perhaps only inevitable that given such a
>viewpoint that Genovese's politics have over the years shifted
>from the Marxian left (Genovese was a member of the CPUSA in
>his youth and later was a member of the Progressive Labor Party)
>to a neo-confederate politics which makes explicit the glorification
>of the antebellum South that was implicit in his historiographical
>work.   In Europe too the work of Gramsci has been taken up
>by intellectuals of the New Right.  I suppose that this becomes
>possible providing that one strips Gramsci of his Marxism.

A timely note, Jim.  On the question of history, we might have to
organize the Cox-Farmelant-Furuhashi tendency, fighting against
empiricism, an inability to see the forest (revolutions &
counter-revolutions) for the trees (who's the leader of the club?;
etc.), conservative misappropriations of Gramsci, etc.  :)


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