[Marxism] Fwd: W. E. B. Du Bois's "Black Reconstruction" and the New (Marxist) Historiography | Society for US Intellectual History

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Nov 7 06:18:20 MST 2017

(So, the Brennerite analysis of slavery as "precapitalist" predated 
Brenner and Post.)

There was some mild criticism of the book here and there but the 
harshest criticism emerged from the left-wing press, which took issue 
with Du Bois’s renegade Marxism. Writing for the New Republic, Marxist 
labor historian Abram L. Harris criticized Du Bois’s general strike idea 
as “fantastic.” Such apostasy was also panned in the Nation and New 
Masses. For most 1930s Marxists, slavery might have played an important 
role in pre-capitalist developments—what Marx termed “primitive 
accumulation”—but capitalism proper was about industrial production. 
Class was a relation between factory owners and factory workers which 
positioned the latter as the eventual revolutionary vanguard. In this 
orthodox Marxist view, slavery was a vestige of feudalism, not part and 
parcel of capitalism. No matter how unjust their situation—no matter how 
dehumanizing slavery was—slaves were not revolutionaries. The Civil War 
and Reconstruction era was not a revolutionary moment but rather a 
period of capitalist consolidation.


More information about the Marxism mailing list