[Marxism] The disservice done by Lincoln

Mark Lause markalause at gmail.com
Tue Jan 8 09:02:15 MST 2013


I agree (not surprisingly) with all of the points Charlie makes,
differing perhaps only in emphasis.

Nobody should ever take a politician's statements on face value, but
Lincoln, as a political leader, had an unusually keen ability to
recognize the distinctions between his own views and what he thought
would take was much greater than most.  This is why he left a trail of
such often contradictory evidence.  Whatever the former was--and they
were always in flux--these two converged in the crucial period from
mid-1862 to the end of his life.  I don't dismiss the idea that his
private views always included a strong antislavery element--as they
did also a woman suffrage element--on which he felt no compulsion to
act, because he thought it would do nothing.

You might compare it to people who have a kind of ethical dislike of
capitalism, but feel no compulsion to change anything they do or how
they vote..

I would take respectful issue with one point and clarify another.
Charlie writes, "Before his decision to issue the Emancipation
Proclamation, Lincoln promoted, unsuccessfully, various schemes for
graduate emancipation, with the compensation of masters (especially
those in the 'border' states) and the colonization of African
Americans to Central America, the Caribbean or Africa."  The latter
merits a clarification of we are not discussing colonization in the
sense of the old Colonization Society that wanted to deport blacks,
but an entirely volunary process that mostly reflected the downside of
Lincoln's pragmatism.  Lincoln shared none of the Christian
perfectionist and millenarian aspirations of many of the
abolitionists.

Lincoln saw the colonization schemes--which did crop up periodically
after 1862--as a means of getting the troublesome issue of race off
his plate and putting the controversy among whites over it to rest.
It did so with little initial regard for the matter of justice to the
slaves or freed blacks, though he rationalized that that enough whites
would never accept African-Americans living alongisde them--and that
enough more whites would defer to the intransigents on the subject.
This last consideration moved some of the best and brightest
antebellum African-American leaders to advocate colonizaiton out of
the U.S. as their best option--this without the government funding
Lincoln proposed.  The subsequent 150 years have hardly vindicated the
optimistic view that white America would collectively share power with
blacks.

The compensation of slavemasters was similarly pragmatic and aimed at
placating white Unionists in the border.  Once engaged in the Unionist
war effort, many of these found it had a dynamic that reshaped their
ideas of slavery and race as well.  Still, there is nothing in
abolitionism--or socialism--that require expropriation to take place
along a particular textbook lines.  Nothing particularly precludes
compensation all or part of the people being expropriated if it gets
you where you need to go in a faster and ultimately less costly
fashion.

Solidarity!
Mark L.




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