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

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Wed Oct 12 08:27:23 MDT 2005


I'll respond more on this later today or this evening, Nestor.  A few
points for now....

Calvin Broadbent wrote, "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."

Calvin's absolutely right on desertions, but his note conflates what
people were doing with what governments were officially doing.  Not a
mistake Marxists should make when discussing revolutionary times.  

As to whether "this entail extensive white solidarity with blacks"--and
what Calvin means "this" (emancipation, arming blacks or whatever) isn't
clear--race relations were never a simple and singular phenomena here.
In general, people were always leagues ahead of their institutions and
governments on this matter, as on others.  So they were in that
period....

Finally, the facts tend to be smudged here by that broad brush of an
assumed universal racism.  The North didn't threaten to arm slaves, but
it did arm them--and very early in the process.  The First Kansas
Colored volunteers began forming in the Spring 1862 and the "South"
(meaning the Confederate government) rejected such proposals repeatedly;
as one Confederate Senator from Texas argued earlier, if blacks were
going to make good soldiers, it would make a mockery of the very
assumptions of slavery.  Only in February 1865 did the Confederacy
sanction black enlistments, and--as they marched towards the trenches
around Richmond--the first blacks officially admitted to the rebel army
were pelted with garbage by the white citizens they were going off to
protect.  

When Lee's army surrendered, sources indicate that there were two
companies of black soldiers with him--maybe 100 men.  The Federal Army
at this point had at least 180,000.

ML







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