[Marxism] Lincoln

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Mon Apr 10 08:38:20 MDT 2006

Before the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War, the Republicans were
not for abolishing slavery, but opposed its expansion to any new
territories. As Marx demonstrated in his economic analysis of slavery,
preventing it from expanding territorially was equivalent to strangling it.
The slavocracy knew this, and attacked Fort Sumter upon the election of
Lincoln because of the inevitable objective impact of the Republican
platform position, regardless of what the Big Man Lincoln said.  History is
a history of class struggles, not big men.


 "Hegel once observed that comedy is in act superior to tragedy and
humourous reasoning superior to grandiloquent reasoning.[Lectures on


"Lincoln's proclamation is even more important than the Maryland campaign.
Lincoln is a sui generis figure in the annals of history. He has no
initiative, no idealistic impetus, cothurnus, no historical trappings. He
gives his most important actions always the most commonplace form. Other
people claim to be "fighting for an idea", when it is for them a matter of
square feet of land. Lincoln, even when he is motivated by, an idea, talks
about "square feet". He sings the bravura aria of his part hesitatively,
reluctantly and unwillingly, as though apologising for being compelled by
circumstances "to act the lion". The most redoubtable decrees - which will
always remain remarkable historical documents-flung by him at the enemy all
look like, and are intended to look like, routine summonses sent by a lawyer
to the lawyer of the opposing party, legal chicaneries, involved, hidebound
actiones juris. His latest proclamation, which is drafted in the same style,
the manifesto abolishing slavery, is the most important document in American
history since the establishment of the Union, tantamount to the tearing up
of the old American Constitution.

Nothing is simpler than to show that Lincoln's principal political actions
contain much that is aesthetically repulsive, logically inadequate, farcical
in form and politically, contradictory, as is done by, the English Pindars
of slavery, The Times, The Saturday Review and tutti quanti. But Lincoln's
place in the history of the United States and of mankind will, nevertheless,
be next to that of Washington! Nowadays, when the insignificant struts about
melodramatically on this side of the Atlantic, is it of no significance at
all that the significant is clothed in everyday dress in the new world?

Lincoln is not the product of a popular revolution. This plebeian, who
worked his way up from stone-breaker to Senator in Illinois, without
intellectual brilliance, without a particularly outstanding character,
without exceptional importance-an average person of good will, was placed at
the top by the interplay of the forces of universal suffrage unaware of the
great issues at stake. The new world has never achieved a greater triumph
than by this demonstration that, given its political and social
organisation, ordinary people of good will can accomplish feats which only
heroes could accomplish in the old world!

Hegel once observed that comedy is in act superior to tragedy and humourous
reasoning superior to grandiloquent reasoning.[Lectures on Aesthetics]
Although Lincoln does riot possess the grandiloquence of historical action,
as an average man of the people he has its humour. When (foes he issue the
proclamation declaring that from January 1, 1863, slavery in the.
Confederacy shall be abolished At the very moment when the Confederacy as an
independent state decided on "peace negotiations- at its Richmond Congress.
At the very, moment when the slave-owners of the border states believed that
the invasion of Kentucky by the armies of the South had made "the peculiar
institution" just as safe as was their domination over their compatriot,
President Abraham Lincoln in Washington."


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