Thursday, July 14, 2016

Through European Eyes


This essay was originally published in Southern Partisan Magazine, 1985.

A priceless magazine that is unfortunately, no longer published.  Such a shame.

   Southern Partisan Magazine


Historians have long misinterpreted the responses of Europeans to the events of the American War Between the States. One of the earli­est cases in point was Karl Marx, who considered himself a scientific historian and a knowledgeable commentator on the great American Crisis. Writing on December 12, 1862, about the Emancipation Proclamation, Marx praised Lincoln’s capacity to “accomplish the most significant things in the least conspicuous way possible.” Marx was convinced that Lincoln would win the hearts and minds of the European working class by making a morally compelling case for the Union. However snidely English newspapers treated Lincoln’s rustic manners, Marx was convinced that European workers and progres­sives would rally to support the Great Emancipator.

Marx’s view of Lincoln is puzzling for at least two reasons. One, Marx claimed to be an historical materialist who saw ideas as deriv­ative from economic circumstances. Yet, in the matter of refounding the American regime, he had faith in the power of Lincoln’s hidden moral vision to touch everywhere proletariat souls. This would oc­cur, or so Marx believed, despite the military-strategic purpose of the Proclamation and despite the resentment of millworkers in Lan­cashire and in other English industrial centers left jobless because of the Northern blockade of the cotton-producing South.


  1. Wise words by old Abe. So, what happened. Somebodies decided
    to soar where nobody dared to soar and look at us now.
    “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”