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"Anonymous" is partially

"Anonymous" is partially correct. Lincoln was a racist (although he advocated "colonization"-- the deportation of freed African-Americans back to Africa--not an apartheid style segregation). The Civil War promoted the development of capitalism through the destruction of slavery and the consolidation of the political power of the manufacturing capitalists on a national scale.

However, "anonymous" also gets a couple of things wrong. First, Marx and Engels' support for the Union in the Civil War was NOT motivated by an abstract belief that capitalism was "more economically progressive" (would develop the productivity of labor through mechanization) than slavery (no one believed feudalism existed in the US), or that the Northern leaders were morally superior to the leaders of the Confederacy. Instead, Marx and Engels believed that the development of a militant and class-conscious workers' movement in the US was impossible as long as "labor with a black skin is branded." Historically, a massive strike wave, agitation for the eight hour day and the emergence of the first national union federation (the bi-racial National Labor Union) confirmed their expectation that the abolition of slavery was the prerequisite for the emergence of a US workers movement.

Anonymous also telescopes the history of African-Americans in the post-Civil War south. The war, abolition of slavery, Federal occupation of the south and Republican hegemony in Congress did not result in a radical-democratic redistribution, which would have created an independent black peasantry in the south. However, the changed relationship of forces, including the self-emancipation of the slaves through what WEB DuBois called "the general strike", allowed the freedpeople to resist successfully attempts to impose wage-labor in southern agriculture and force the planters to lease 60-80 acre plots to the freedpeople, who controlled their own immediate work process. The Fourteenth (citizenship) and Fifteenth (vote) Amendments also created the conditions for a substantive "peasant democracy" in the south, where African-American sharecroppers and tenant farmers were able to control local offices (tax assessors, justices of the peace) to protect themselves from heavy taxation and the demands of their landlords. The period of "Black Reconstruction" in the south saw tremendous advances for African-Americans.

The counter-revolution in the south begins in the mid-1870s, when the planters used racist terrorist organizations like the Klan to over-throw democratically elected Radical Republican governments. The Republicans, deradicalized by the rising tides of workers struggles in the north, acquiesced, withdrawing federal troops from the south in 1877 in exchange for keeping their party in the White House. However, through the mid-1890s, African-Americans continued to vote and helped build the multi-racial Farmers' Alliance (southern populism). The "Jim Crow" system of disenfranchisement and legal segregation of transport, schools and public spaces came in the mid to late 1890s-- defeating the Farmers' Alliance.


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