Marx and the American Civil War (was Re: Realism in Eastern Europe)

Jim heartfield jim at
Sun Apr 18 16:33:24 PDT 1999

In message <19990418.062731.3486.1.farmelantj at>, James Farmelant <farmelantj at> writes

>Karl Marx was a stauch supporter of the Union or Federal side in
>the American Civil War.

Agreed, and rightly so. But this premise does not support this conclusion:

>This should BTW call into question Chris' contention that Marxism
>invariably defends the right to national self-determination. The
>Confederates invoked consitutional arguments in favor of the right
>to succession.

The Civil War was not a war of national independence on the part of the South. It was a struggle to define what kind of nation the United States would be. Clearly the Confederacy did not intend to live peaceably side- by-side with the Union, but to strangle it at birth. The invocation of 'States' Rights' was tactical, not a principled demand for independence, and so not to be taken seriously as a claim to national self- determination. To put the simple question here, what nation was it exactly that demanded self-determination?

As to Angela's feigned surprise that I think that nations should determine their own futures, I think that she loads too much on the word 'coherence' I used. Of course a nation has to have some economic, cultural and linguistic coherence to be viable as a nation - these are not things that are plucked out of the air. But does that imply an absolutely regimented uniformity. No. Whoever said that it did? Does a coherent economy imply economic autarky? No. Whoever said that it did?

But clearly Scots make the judgement at every election that Scotland's economy is unsustainable in isolation from the rest of the United Kingdom, and that is a realistic assessment of the coherence of the British economy. -- Jim heartfield

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