[Marxism] David Roediger on slavery

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 25 08:42:44 MST 2005

Seth: The effects of the American Civil War spurred a major "moral impetus" 
for the U.S. working class, you write, citing Marx. Which writings of his 
have been most useful in your research and teaching, and why?

David: My use of particular parts of Marx's work very much depends on what 
I am working on. For example, my first book was (with the late Philip 
Foner) a history of movements for a shorter working day in the United 
States and it sent me continually back to Capital and especially to Marx's 
incomparable sections on the hours of labor. In my undergraduate classes I 
am most apt to assign Marx's very early manuscripts on alienation, often 
alongside Herman Melville's short stories on labor, and for graduate 
students I frequently suggest Marx's later writings on ethnology, so 
brilliantly evoked in Franklin Rosemont's "Karl Marx & the Iroquois." Both 
of these choices show how passionately Marx hoped for alternatives to the 
misery of the capitalist order, for new worlds. I'm also very much a 
partisan of Marx's writings on slavery and the Civil War, especially those 
on U.S. slavery in relation to both capitalism and misery. Unfortunately, 
the work of Eugene Genovese, who for a time advertised himself as a 
Marxist, spread the notion among many U.S. historians that Marxism places 
slavery outside of the capitalist world and even as an honorable 
alternative to it. Reading Marx on the U.S. quickly dispels such a view.

full: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/sandronsky231105.html

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