[Marxism] NEW TITLE: An Unfinished Revolution: Karl Marx & Abraham Lincoln - By Robin Blackburn

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Thu Sep 22 05:54:19 MDT 2011







October 12, 2011

Bishopsgate Institute

Empire and Resistance: A special meeting with two leading socialist historians of imperialism, Robin Blackburn & Richard Gott

Socialist History Society Public Meeting, supported by the London Socialist Historians Group

For more information and to book: http://www.versobooks.com/events/201-empire-and-resistance-a-special-meeting-with-two-leading-socialist-historians-of-imperialism-robin-blackburn-amp-richard-gott


“A meditation on a world that could have been.”—GREG GRANDIN, GUARDIAN, http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/08/american-crucible-robin-blackburn-review


Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln exchanged letters at the end of the Civil War. Although they were divided by far more than the Atlantic Ocean, they agreed on the cause of “free labor” and the urgent need to end slavery. In his introduction, Robin Blackburn argues that Lincoln’s response signaled the importance of the German American community and the role of the international communists in opposing European recognition of the Confederacy.

The ideals of communism, voiced through the International Working Men’s Association, attracted many thousands of supporters throughout the US, and helped spread the demand for an eight-hour day. Blackburn shows how the IWA in America—born out of the Civil War—sought to radicalize Lincoln’s unfinished revolution and to advance the rights of labor, uniting black and white, men and women, native and foreign-born. The International contributed to a profound critique of the capitalist robber barons who enriched themselves during and after the war, and it inspired an extraordinary series of strikes and class struggles in the postwar decades.

In addition to a range of key texts and letters by both Lincoln and Marx, this book includes articles from the radical New York-based journal WOODHULL AND CLAFLIN’S WEEKLY, an extract from Thomas Fortune’s classic work on racism BLACK AND WHITE, Frederick Engels on the progress of US labor in the 1880s, and Lucy Parson’s speech at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.


ALSO OUT NOW, a landmark history of the rise, abolition, and legacy of slavery in the New World:


This book furnishes a panoramic view of slavery and emancipation in the Americas from the conquests and colonization of the sixteenth century to the ‘century of abolition’ that stretched from 1780 to 1888. Tracing the diverse responses of African captives, THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE argues that while slave rebels and abolitionists made real gains, they also suffered cruel setbacks and disappointments, leading to a momentous radicalization of the discourse of human rights.   In it, Robin Blackburn explains the emergence of ferocious systems of racial exploitation while rejecting the comforting myths that portray emancipation as somehow already inscribed in the institutions and ideas that allowed for, or even fostered, racial slavery in the first place, whether the logic of the market, the teachings of religion, or the spirit of nationalism. Rather, Blackburn stresses, American slavery was novel—and so too were the originality and achievement of the anti-slavery alliances which eventually destroyed it.

The Americas became the crucible for a succession of fateful experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement and emancipation. The exotic commodities produced by the slave plantations helped to transform Europe and North America, raising up empires and stimulating industrial revolution and ‘market revolution’ to bring about the pervasive commodification of polite society, work and everyday life in parts of Europe and North America. Fees, salaries and wages fostered consuming habits so that capitalism, based on free wage labor in the metropolis, became intimately dependent on racial slavery in the New World.

But by the late eighteenth century the Atlantic boom had sown far and wide the seeds of subversion, provoking colonial rebellion, slave conspiracy and popular revolt, the aspirations of a new black peasantry and ‘picaresque proletariat’, and the emergence of a revolutionary doctrine: the ‘rights of man’. The result was a radicalization of the principles of the Enlightenment, with the Haitian Revolution rescuing and reshaping the ideals memorably proclaimed by the American and French revolutions.

Blackburn charts the gradual emergence of an ability and willingness to see the human cost of the heedless consumerism and to challenge it. The anti-slavery idea, he argues, brought together diverse impulses—the ‘free air’ doctrine maintained by the common people of Europe, the critique of the philosophes and the urgency of slave resistance and black witness. The anti-slavery idea made gains thanks to a succession of historic upheavals. But the remaining slave systems—in the US South, Cuba and Brazil—were in many ways as strong as ever.



ISBN: 978 1 84467 722 1 / $19.95 / £12.99 / $25.00CAN / Paperback / 272 pages

For more information about AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION or to buy the book visit:




ISBN: 978 1 84467 569 2 / $34.95 / £20.00/ Hardcover / 512 pages

For more information about THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE or to buy the book visit:




“It leaves a string of other academics licking their scholarly wounds.”—JAMES WALVIN

“The American Crucible poses a challenge for the political future as well as a bold reappraisal of the historical past.”—STEPHEN HOWE, INDEPENDENT:


“A magnificent work of contemporary scholarship.”—ERIC FONER, NATION

“Blackburn's book has finally drawn the veil which concealed or made mysterious the history and development of modern society.” —DARCUS HOWE, GUARDIAN

“Sombre, dark and masterly.” —LINDA COLLEY, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

“An exhaustive, powerfully written and compelling book.” —ANTHONY PAGDEN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“Fascinating … Blackburn has brought together diverse strands of historical research and woven them into a compelling story.” —LOS ANGELES TIMES


“An incisive synthesis of developments in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America. Blackburn's book is bold and original.” —RICHARD DUNN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“A challenge to those who fondly suppose that slavery declined as ideas of Western ‘enlightenment’ spread. Blackburn deserves praise for undermining complacency about the past — and the present.” —CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, NEW YORK NEWSDAY

“The first historian since Eric Williams to present a comprehensive interpretation.” —NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

“One of the finest studies of slavery and abolition.” —ERIC FONER, DISSENT

"Blackburn's highly intelligent and well-written book is a substantial contribution." —VICTOR KIERNEN, LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

Praise for AGE SHOCK

“Blackburn’s book is a serious and finely argued attack on contemporary market fundamentalism in a vivid phrasemaking style.” STEVEN POOLE, GUARDIAN


“One of the best books I have read on pension funds.” INDEPENDENT

“Blackburn is particularly good at disentangling the different dynamics that make the pension’s problem so intractable for mature, ageing economies.” SIR HOWARD DAVIS, DIRECTOR, FSA,GUARDIAN

“Blackburn’s views seem to me refreshing ... [He] acknowledges that there are real strains on the old welfare state and proposes interesting ways to handle them that do not resort to simplistic formulas of privatization.” JEFF MADRICK, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS


ROBIN BLACKBURN teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including THE MAKING OF NEW WORLD SLAVERY, THE OVERTHROW OF COLONIAL SLAVERY, AGE SHOCK, BANKING ON DEATH, and THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE.


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