Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Before the Civil War

I was reading Foxessa's blog and found this:
I cannot express how much everything that we've been experiencing in the last ten years looks so much like 1850 -- the year the elected politicians gridlocked for good, the constant rhetoric -- and even actions -- of violence employed on constant basis by the southerners against what they saw as trespasses against their rights -- which was the right to trample on everyone else, and curtail everyone's freedom for the sake of them keeping their slaves and spreading slavery everywhere, and what follows. With the Fugitive Slave Act in action, people in the free states were not only digusted by what they were seeing, but by what they were told they, by law, had to do to aid the slave owners. Their inevitable conclusion, based on this, and what the slave owners actually said, was that ultimately even white men could be enslaved by the same slave owners who were forcing them to recover slaves.
This is what I have been thinking, though I haven't done Foxessa's research on the 1850s. Our current political gridlock, the violent rhetoric and the actual violence all seem like the period before the Civil War.

The argument then was between slavery and freedom. I guess the question is, what is our current argument about? We know that hugely rich people are backing the Tea Party and the Republicans; and we know that the right wing in this country is deeply offended by the idea that people of color, immigrants, GLBT people, women and ordinary working people should have equal rights and decent lives.

So maybe, on one side, we have a belief that society should limit and regiment and diminish people, that all humans are not equal, that the power of the rich is legitimate, and that white men with lots of money really ought to run the world.

On the other side, we have a vision -- granted, not entirely clear -- of a society where all people are equal and free.

Slavery and freedom.


Blogger Foxessa said...

That does sum up well, alas, what it is 1-2-3-4 what it is we are fighting for. Or, maybe we could even put it in other terms too -- it seems one side is fighting for something, as confused as we may be, while the other side is fighting against something.

The leaders of the party of 'no' know just what they're about and against. We haven't articulated nearly so well for ourselves and each other what we're for. Not yet. But I think we're getting there.

At the beginning of the Civi War it was clear to many peole that the north was fighting for the Union, and that helped immensely with the earlier efforts in the war in the North. The later revisionism of history was that nobody in the Union actually cared about the Union, any more than anyone in the free soil states actually cared about abolition. Both of those accusations are lies, as one sees very quickly reading the letters, newspapers and speeches of the time.

This isn't to say that abolitionists and unionists were also automatically non-racists -- for that wouldn't be true. They could and usually did believe that the enslaved were 'lesser,' 'inferior,' and were comfortable with that thinking -- yet they were not comfortable with slavery and the buying, selling and treating as commodity human beings.

We all have to start somewhere.

Love, C.

5:34 PM  
Blogger jmtdegginger said...

Yes, it is probably best we adopt and evolve the old 60s notion of "civil rights" into the more appropriate modern day notion of "equal rights" for everybody. If you can get a job but not get paid the same amount as an Anglo-Saxon white male, then the rights are civil, you can get a job, but you are inherently told your right to the pay isn't equal.

4:57 PM  

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