Debating slavery: Marx's discussion

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Sun Oct 22 12:54:34 MDT 2000

>>> austina at 10/22/00 02:40PM >>>

James writes: "This fails to engage with Charles's point that before the
Civil War the Southern planter class constructed not only a regional ruling
class but was THE ruling class for the US as a whole." This fact only
supports my claim that the emergence of industrialism and the US civil war
constituted a shift in ruling class fractions, not a fundamental
transformation in the mode of production or property relations.


CB: As I said, it was an abolition of one of the main private property forms in the
U.S. system, private property in human beings. This is what gives it, in Marxist
terms, a revolutionary character. It was a fundamental change in the property


reshuffling of power among capitalist class fractions does not constitute a
social revolution. James seems to note this when he writes: "However, that
ignores the fact that there was a very significant shift if power between
two different and antagonistic fractions of the capitalit class in the US."
What I have argued not only does not ignore this important fact but makes it
central to my argument. Since when do intraclass antagonisms constitute
social revolutions? What definition of social revolution is being used here?
James sums up my argument well when he writes, "The Civil War did, however,
establish the hegemony of one fraction of the capitalist class over
another." however, I cannot agree with his conclusion that the civil war
represented a social revolution, even a partial one.

Andrew Austin,
Green Bay, WI

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