[lbo-talk] Platypus: what we are, what we do, and why

Joseph Catron jncatron at gmail.com
Fri Apr 9 15:08:16 PDT 2010

On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM, Bhaskar Sunkara <bhaskar.sunkara at gmail.com>wrote:

I was just commenting on the those who were looking at the Civil War through
> the same paradigm as the post-World War II period (use of the word
> "imperialism" to describe "Northern aggression", etc).

You're begging my question: what is the difference between these two paradigms?

> I think the Union's
> triumph and radical reconstruction was the most revolutionary period in
> American history.

Whether that's true or not, it certainly wasn't as revolutionary in the scope of our national history as 1945–1952 was for Japan.

> Why denounce it through the lens of the 21st century?

I try to understand history, not denounce it. If moralistic finger-wagging has ever helped someone develop a useful analysis, I have yet to hear of it.

> Hopefully that's marginaly more coherent and
> someone can explain to me the objections to radical reconstruction and the
> use of "imperialism" to describe Northern motives in the Civil War.

It is, but I may not be the best one to offer the explanation you seek, simply because it seems so bloody obvious to me.

Let me ask a slightly different question than before: assuming your answer to my first question above (which I'd still like to see) is a valid one, what essential differences do you discern between US involvement in the Civil War and the Mexican-American War? When a country fights two wars in rapid succession over the same piece of land, its position and motives in each case are likely to be similar, no?

On Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 5:39 PM, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote:

There was a process of admission to the union. The Southern states joined
> freely by ratifying the constitution and signing on the dotted line. They
> even supplied quite a few of our first presidents. (Of the 15 presidents
> before Lincoln, 7 were born in Virginia, 1 in North Carolina, and 1 in South
> Carolina.) That has nothing at all in common with a Nazi Anschluss.

Doug, that's just silly. The Southern states willingly joined the Union, and willingly seceded from it (as many, including Virginia, had expressly conditioned their ratification of the Constitution on their right to do).

-- "Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað."

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