Constitutional Longevity. Was Religiosity...

Dhlazare at Dhlazare at
Mon Jun 15 03:28:28 PDT 1998

The Constitution changed as a consequence of the Civil War, yet didn't change. The slave system was eradicated, the untrammeled sweep of big capital was assured, and national unity was guaranteed. Otherwise, once Reconstruction was jettisoned, the postwar period very much represented a reversion to the status quo ante. States' rights were once more in the ascendant, checks and balances and separation of powers etc. were once more the national religion. No const'l amendments were adopted between 1870 and 1913, and the Supreme Court assumed its historic role as guardian of the most outmoded constitutional values. The Civil War amendments were meanwhile gutted. Despite the 13th amendment abolishing slavery, blacks were thrust back into a state of slave-like peonage. The civil rights protected by the 14th amendment were whittled down to next to nothing. Despite the 15th amendment guaranteeing the right to vote, blacks were disenfranchised en masse. Rather than discontinuity, this suggests a massive effort at putting continuity back together. The effort was so successful that most people forgot that any break occurred.

As for the question of whehter the US is fascist, don't be silly -- it's not. To insist otherwise is to alibi bourgeois liberalism, as if to say that because US capitalism is so massively destructive, it must be fascist because bourgeois liberalism could never be so nasty. But of course it can. BTW, where does Cockburn say the US is fascist. As a big believer in US-style constitutionalism, I'd assume he says the opposite -- that the Bill of Rights is the only thing preventing the fascist takeover.

Dan Lazare


The United States as it exists now is little over a century old. The first

U.S. nation barely outlasted the FSU. It lasted less than half as long as

the ancient Athenian Democracy.

Recognition of the actual state of the U.S. today is also confused by the

common practice of seeing Hitler's Germany as the generic manifestation of

repressive states. Cockburn's claim that the U.S. is a fascist state

invites (because of the lack of a clear term for the repressive capitalist

state) mockery through comparisons with Hitler's germany but is

essentially correct. (I agree with Wojtek's commentary here.)

Carrol >>

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list