[Marxism] Andrew Jackson

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Oct 13 12:10:53 MDT 2005


(A pretty good review debunking Andrew Jackson, but not nearly as good as 
the job that Harry Braverman did at: 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/braverman/1946/12/jackson.htm.)

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051031/lieven
Frontier Injustice

by ANATOL LIEVEN

[from the October 31, 2005 issue]

Think of Andrew Jackson as your grandfather who spent his life in the 
military (old style). Many of his attitudes are absolutely abominable, 
especially when it comes to race. He believes passionately in democracy and 
freedom, but his views of who is entitled to those blessings appear to 
leave out the vast majority of humanity. His wartime anecdotes and views 
about war and other nations make you shudder. Whenever he fiercely 
disagrees with a person or a country, he threatens to shoot them down like 
a dog, and since he spent much of his life shooting people and is a leading 
member of the NRA this doesn't seem an empty threat. All your educated 
acquaintances sneer at him. He can't spell. He talks as if he comes from 
the backwoods of the Carolinas, which happens to be the truth. You don't 
even share his taste in music.

And yet while you detest his service in Vietnam, you are very grateful that 
he fought against the Germans and the Japanese. You remember his flashes of 
great kindness and generosity. He is pathologically loyal to his friends. 
Though he became a famous man, he retained a touching affection for and 
loyalty to your grandmother, despite her homeliness and country ways, 
including smoking a pipe at official dinners. Even at your most pacific, 
you feel a sneaking admiration for a man who has lead poisoning from the 
fragments of three separate bullets wandering round his body and yet works 
harder than most people a third of his age. He is, as they say, as tough as 
hickory. He carved his way upward--almost literally--from an impoverished, 
orphaned and desperate youth. He committed his murders face to face, not by 
giving orders to others from the safety of a Washington desk. Above all, as 
you grow older and wiser, you understand more that he is part of you, flesh 
of your flesh. If he hadn't existed, neither would you in any form be 
recognizable to yourself. You may hate him, but you can't cut him out of you.

Nobody today can claim Jackson as a grandfather, but some readers of The 
Nation may perhaps have Southern Scots-Irish grandfathers with the above 
traits (full disclosure: I'm mostly German-Irish, and my grandmother was 
Scottish, though her family was in the British service).

Jackson was not only an immense personality and historical force. He was 
also one of the supreme historical representatives of the Scots-Irish 
frontier and military tradition in America, with its cult of "toughness, 
maleness and whiteness," in the words of Michael Kazin. In this tradition 
the admirable and the detestable are inextricably mixed, and without it 
America would not be what it is today, geographically or culturally.

(clip)

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