[Marxism] White supremacy and Scots, Jews, San Patricios

Calvin Broadbent calvinbroadbent at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 12 07:35:29 MDT 2005

Many poor white southerners were more than reticent to provide military 
support to the Southern slaveocracy in the American civil war. Thousands 
deserted rather than fight for a system which had eventually relegated them 
to the level of 'white trash'. Desertion from the Confederate army had 
reached such high proportions, I think, that the South began offering 
freedom for slaves (the North, on the other hand, threatened to arm slaves, 
thus effectively ending the civil war). By no means did this entail 
extensive white solidarity with blacks, who had been historically oppressed 
on the ideological, legal and political basis of white supremacy. In any 
case, part of the North's avowed program was to expand the country's labor 
force by providing employment for white European immigrants (as opposed to 
forcibly imported blacks), thus providing opportuinites for disaffected and 
disadvantaged southern whites. Upon arrival to the United States after the 
civil war, many of these immigrants were quite aware of their position 
within America's racial order. Noel Ignatiev points out that as Irish 
immigrants arrived in America, many complained that 'negroes did not 
properly know their place'.

In my view, the US was always imperialist in one way or another. Richard Van 
Alstyne writes that from the beginning America was founded upon the idea of 
'an *imperium*- a dominion, state or sovereignty that would expand in 
population and territory, and increase in strength and power'. Disputes 
amongst America's ruling class have always been about the means by which 
their imperial ends could be acieved, not he ends themselves. However 
idealistic their work, I think that this idea is well articulated in Hardt 
and Negri's *Empire*.

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