Can we have a marxist analysis of the American civil war?

In honor of black history month it would be fantastic if you could delve into the underlying economic conflict between northern and southern enterprises before, during and immediately after the civil war. The south embodies a very obvious and deplorable evil in slavery, but history muddies the waters on the exploitative behavior of northern corporations and the economic tension between the industrial north and the agrarian south. Wage-slaves in the north being variable capital and actual slaves in the south representing constant capital offered a unique comparative advantage for the agrarian south. The moral argument against slavery seems to mask an attempt to eliminate this comparative advantage first and to protect the sanctity of "all men are created equal" second. In "Das Kapital" Marx declares that there is a natural tendency of industrialized nations to engage in an Imperialist relationship with agricultural societies in order to sustain themselves. Is this a historic parallel where the south was under socioeconomic pressure to become a satellite rather than an independent economic entity? Was the the Emancipation Proclamation a heartfelt rallying cry? Or was it merely a propaganda piece designed to inspire free African Americans to join the war effort? How did the abolition of slavery effect the labor market? It is well documented that racial tensions increased in cities due the perception that African Americans were taking all the jobs away for less pay(an apparent shift from blaming immigrants). What were the investment opportunities for predatory capitalists following the collapse of the slave market and the economic structure of the south? In short how did the capitalist class benefit from the transfer of African American slave labor to wage-slavery and were any of these outcomes motivators for the war? Additionally can we talk about the feudal relationship of sharecropping that predominated during the reconstruction period? Bonus question, do you think Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s message was restricted to improving race relations? His later speeches speak of equality for all and for a unified labor movement. Was his message simplified after his death by followers with the more immediate vision of the struggle for race equality or is there a more systemic effort to simplify the scope of his efforts?

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  • Nicholas Anderson
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2018-01-16 19:47:36 -0500