Monday, November 15, 2010

Class, Manifest Destiny and the American Worker

The doctrine of Manifest Destiny came about about the same time of the American Revolution, with the Colonies. In 1776, Adam Smith had written "Wealth of Nations", the first complete description of a new economic system called capitalism. Smith had called for the freedom of capitalists to operate their businesses as they saw fit with little interference from government, and that it was a Divine right ordained by God.

The American Revolution happened, the colonies became States and Federalism began. But it was inspired by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny and capitalism.

It was not until the mid 1800's when Karl Marx bean shaping a new economic theory and of revolution. Both his writings on the Paris Commune and Das Kapital began to challenge Adam Smith which at the time was the total 'science' of economics, Capitalism could not fail, because it was God given.

Before Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, and Mao, there was Karl Marx writing directly to the American Working Class in the 1840's. Socialism was emerging, although not fully elucidated until later in the 1890's. Frederich Engels was also writng to the American Workers, warning the working clas not to take Das Kapital and the Comunist Manifesto as 'Gospel' or a divinely inspired work, but to use it to assist in understanding the mechanisms of capitalism and oppression. After all, this theory of socialism was a science not a religion, class struggle was a theory, not a doctrine. For both, the International, class struggle and revolution challenged capitalism, and the doctrine of manifest destiny as claimed by the doctrines of Adam Smith.

So we today should not look at the class struggle and the workers struggle as some sort of gateway to heaven, The hiostory of U.S. labor is unique and has had to deal with specific aspects of culture which cannot be found in Russia, China or Cuba. Solidarity is certain, but the American worker has and will continue to reject the imposition of 'doctrine' and is more concerned with the issues and concerns which effect the American worker. Lenin's amd Mao's peasent revolution does not concern the American worker (which is not to say, they did not contributed to the advancement of their countries and to advance industrialization) . The American worker does not want to stand under the banner of Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky or Mao.

"You have wide field in America for work along the same lines. A coalition of the German workers with the Irish workers (and of course also with the English and American workers who are prepared to accede to it) is the greatest achievement you could bring about now. This must be done in the name of the International. -- Greetings and fraternity!Karl Marx"

"We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority.If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant warcry of your re-election is, Death to Slavery....When an oligarchy of 300,000 slave-holders dared to inscribe, for the first time in the annals of the world, “slavery” on the banner of Armed Revolt; when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the 18th century; when on those very spots counter-revolution, with systematic thoroughness, gloried in rescinding “the [...] ideas entertained [...] at the time of the formation of the old Constitution,” and maintained “slavery to be a beneficent institution,” indeed the only solution of the great problem of “the relation of labour to capital,” and cynically proclaimed property in man “the corner-stone of the new edifice,” then the working classes of Europe understood at once, even before the fanatic partisanship of the upper classes for the Confederate gentry had given its dismal warning, that the slave-holders’ rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy crusade of property against labour, and that for the men of labour, with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic. Everywhere they bore therefore patiently the hardships imposed upon them by the cotton crisis, opposed enthusiastically the pro-slavery intervention, importunities of their betters—and, from most parts of Europe, contributed their quota of blood to the good cause.While the working men, the true political power of the North, allowed slavery to defile their own republic; while before the Negro, mastered and sold without his concurrence, they boasted it the highest prerogative of the white-skinned labourer to sell himself and choose his own master; they were unable to attain the true freedom of labour or to support their European brethren in their struggle for emancipation, but this barrier to progress has been swept off by the red sea of civil war.The working men of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Anti-Slavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world."

—Karl Marx, “To Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America” (November 1864) [brackets in original]

Also see,

Robert Mills
November 7 at 10:45am

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