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The US Civil War as a battle in a longer struggle

This is the place to discuss the past, its study, and those who study it. Discussion about events that happened less than twenty years ago should go go in Politics instead.
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The US Civil War as a battle in a longer struggle

Post by lpetrich » Wed May 17, 2017 3:32 pm

CONTRARY BRIN: Phases of the American Civil War by science-fiction writer David Brin. What we usually call that war he interprets as a battle in a broader struggle that extended over most of the US's history.

Phase 1 happened during the American Revolution, when Loyalist/Tory militias in the Carolinas and Georgia sided with Britain. It was Scots-Irish settlers in the hills who tipped the balance toward independence. In Colin Woodard's terms, the Deep South was pro-British and they were opposed by some of Greater Appalachia.

Phase 2 was in the early 19th cy., when slaveowners got more and more power in the national government. They did have some setbacks, however, like Andrew Jackson opposing South Carolina's tariff nullification and John Calhoun's secessionism.

By 1860, 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices were slaveowners.

Phase 3 started in 1852 with the Fugitive Slave Act. Southern militias went northward, capturing anyone that they considered an escaped slave. Northerners revived their militias to confront them, and the Southerners sometimes called in Federal troops to help them.

DB: the Confederacy Society (CS), as he calls it, lost phase 1, had a draw in phase 2, and won phase 3.

Phase 4 started in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln. The CS refused to deal with him and unilaterally seceded. This led to the Civil War, and then to Reconstruction.

Phase 5 started in the 1870's and it was essentially a CS counterrevolution. It undid Reconstruction with "Redemption", and it forced black people into second-class citizenship with Jim Crow laws.
The real losers, though? Not just minorities, but in every pragmatic sense the entire South, which thereupon slumped into a backwater of economic retardation and romantic, old-timey hatred of progress.
Phase 6, the 1880's. The Great Plains edged toward an alliance with the ex-Confederacy.
Northern oligarchs won phase six… unfortunately, in this case! (The one time the confederacy wing of our ongoing civil war had some real, moral justification on their side.)
The Progressive movement emerged a few decades later, and a few decades after that was the New Deal. Both movements curbed some of American capitalism's excesses, thus saving it from itself.

Phase 7 was from the 1940's to the 1970's.
… the civil rights movement, started with Harry Truman’s bold desegregation of the military, then Dwight Eisenhower’s firm support of school desegregation. The essential and too-long delayed resumption of Reconstruction… which also included Lyndon Johnson’s effort to re-industrialize and re-invigorate the South. This phase was clearly won by Blue America (though the South benefited prodigiously, economically), but at a cost — which was….
Phase 8,
…the Nixonian, southern-strategy “flip" leads ultimately to today's full scale New Confederacy effort to finally destroy the United States of America.
With the Republican Party becoming the party of Jefferson Davis.
Not by force of arms, but by ending the effectiveness of politics as a pragmatic, open-minded process by which undogmatic citizens negotiate a mix of experiments and find out what works -- the methodology behind all of our successes. Replacing all of that with dogma more intense than communism ever was.
Not just that, just plain assholishness that turns a lot of people off. Also gerrymandering and vote suppression.

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Post by Sey » Thu May 18, 2017 2:11 am


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Post by lpetrich » Thu May 18, 2017 2:51 am

That's a major theme of Colin Woodard's book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. He proposes that two of them, Yankeedom and the Deep South, have been at loggerheads over the nation's history, with each one trying to get whatever allies it can.

He also addresses this a bit in his book American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good.

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Post by davidm » Fri May 26, 2017 5:02 pm

Highly recommended: David Blight’s Yale lectures on this topic.

The Civil War and the Reconstruction Era, 1845-1877

My own view is that the United States is, and always has been, two incompatible nations awkwardly welded together as one. I personally believe that the Blue States should secede from the union.

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Post by Politesse » Sun May 28, 2017 11:08 pm

Having traveled in both the "North" and "South", as well as my native mountain west, I feel that this is not painting a clear portrait of things. The "United States" was always a thin veneer of a state painted over a complicated reality, but I don't see "Union" and "Confederacy" as any less fictitious; they aren't countries in the sense of feeling a strong cultural and political affinity across their whole span, and if they were, most federally controlled states, colonies, reservations and territories wouldn't belong to either.

"Not by force of arms, but by ending the effectiveness of politics as a pragmatic, open-minded process by which undogmatic citizens negotiate a mix of experiments and find out what works." This bit is ludicrous. There is no branch of United States politics which is free of dogma, and projects that could really qualify as pragamatic are generally bipartisan. You can't be pragmatic and ignore conflicting interests at the same time. The funny thing, is that just about every American would agree with pragmatism, open-mindedness, and democracy. They just have different blind spots about where their principles slip into dogma, different biases about what kinds of thought constitute being too open-minded, and highly variable notions about what form of democracy best safeguards individual liberties.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Samnell » Sun May 28, 2017 11:41 pm

Brin can't even get the year of the Fugitive Slave Act right. I checked and he's written 1852 at least twice in posts substantively referencing it. Maybe he's read Fall of the House of Dixie (I haven't.) but even a quick skim of this turns up lots of errors that a decent antebellum survey would correct. And then you get into the not even wrong and I could probably be here for hours.

He's a physicist. I'm sure my opining on his subject would not impress Brin much. Were I the sort to opine on physics as though I possessed a deep understanding.
I have a blog about nineteenth century America. It's theoretically educational!

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