RES: a trip to North Korea

Jim heartfield jim at
Sun Apr 23 16:01:00 PDT 2000

In message <p04310119b52920e40436@[]>, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> writes
>JKSCHW at wrote:
>>It's debased to admire Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Adams,
>Slaveowners, several of them, all of them apologists for the
>propertied, architects of a regime designed to defend the rich
>against democratic expropriation... So, yes, debased.

Debased then to admire the beneficiaries of the slave-owning democracy of Athens, Socrates, Aristotle and Plato, too, I guess. Or for that matter the peasant-exploiting champions of the USSR's New Economic Policy, Lenin, Trotsky and Preobrazhensky.

Charles and Mary Beard's Economic Analysis of the Constitution sounds kind of Marxist for its reduction of the colonist's new republic to its defence of the monopoly of private property. But was there a non- capitalist alternative that one could have supported? I think not.

Engels wrote (in the notebooks published as Dialectic of Nature) that slavery was itself once a progressive advance over the alternative - making the point that it is redundant to criticise figures from the past for not sharing the values of the present. One only has to ask whether Washington, Jefferson and Franklin were taking society forwards or backwards to decide that they were not a debasement, but an elevation of the human spirit. Madison is more difficult, as the right wing of the revolution, but even conservatives have something to offer, as Marx understood when he so heavily plagiarised Carlyle.

Didn't Hal Draper write an article comparing Lenin and Washington?

-- Jim heartfield

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