[Marxism] White supremacy and slavery: Gerald Horne on the real story of American independence - Salon.com

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Sun Jun 1 20:51:03 MDT 2014


"In Europe, including England, there was a strong working class movement
opposed to slavery, and that precluded the institution of US styled
slavery there.
In the US, African slavery was institutionalized precisely to break up
the working class movement."

The historical timeline is factually incorrect.  White supremacy was
instituted towards the end of the 17th century after the so-called "Bacon's
Rebellion", long before the emergence of a mass wage-worker class.  It was
the post-slavery reproduction of White supremacy, that of Jim Crow and KKK
terror - thanks to the treachery of Liberal Republicans such Horace
Greeley, who generally opposed land reform in the South as a barrier to the
rapid internal colonization of the region by Northern capital - that was
used against the new industrial working class post-Civil War, particularly
thru its extension to other "non-white" groups, in particular the Chinese
and Mexicans.  It was also apparently given a new twist in the emphasis on
"Protestantism" vs. the Catholic and Jewish immigrants of the late 19th
century.  This was actually not anything new to the institution, as the
Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland is arguably a "non-racial" - before the
invention of the concept of "whiteness" - template for what was imposed
beginning in Virginia, see Theodore W. Allen, "The Invention of the White
Race", Vol I.

Also, I see the American merchant-slave planters as colonial/semi-colonial
capitalists thoroughly integrated into the commodity capital circuits of
the emergent early English/British capitalist empire, the first modern
world capitalist system.  See Marx Vol II Part One. Slavery was reduced
from an "articulated" mode of production to an alternative type of "labor
regime" within the same English imperialist regime of accumulation/social
formation. This was even truer after independence, with the giant expansion
of cotton slavery that fed right into the industrialization of English
textile manufactures and the appearance of the first modern mass working
class.  This is both for and against the Political Marxist positions of
Brenner/Post: Yes, the modern capitalist mode of production and world
system (not the "neo-Smithian" world system of Wallerstein and Arrighi)
first emerged on the basis of English capitalist landlord-tenant
agriculture (making heavy use of 'service in husbandry', indentured
servitude restricted to youths, alongside gang wage labor, so this
capitalism was hardly 'pure' either), no, slavery or settler-farmer
household production did not constitute a separate mode of production
articulated to capitalism.

"Free wage labor" functions as a Weberian "ideal type" in the analytical
dogma of the Political Marxists.  The reality is that wage labor itself
exists on a relative sliding scale of freedom/unfreedom, from legal
privilege (White supremacy) to legal unfreedom, for which slavery simply
marked the extreme limiting case withing early Anglo-American capitalism.

-Matt



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