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Tag Archives: American Civil War

Abraham Lincoln

AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION: KARL MARX AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN

NEW TITLE:
AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION: KARL MARX AND ABRAHAM LINCOLN

BY ROBIN BLACKBURN
OUT NOW
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EVENT:
October 12, 2011
Bishopsgate Institute
Empire and Resistance: A special meeting with two leading socialist historians of imperialism, Robin Blackburn & Richard Gott

Socialist History Society Public Meeting, supported by the London Socialist Historians Group

For more information and to book: http://www.versobooks.com/events/201-empire-and-resistance-a-special-meeting-with-two-leading-socialist-historians-of-imperialism-robin-blackburn-amp-richard-gott
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“A meditation on a world that could have been.”—GREG GRANDIN, GUARDIAN,http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jul/08/american-crucible-robin-blackburn-review
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Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln exchanged letters at the end of the Civil War. Although they were divided by far more than the Atlantic Ocean, they agreed on the cause of “free labor” and the urgent need to end slavery. In his introduction, Robin Blackburn argues that Lincoln’s response signaled the importance of the German American community and the role of the international communists in opposing European recognition of the Confederacy.

The ideals of communism, voiced through the International Working Men’s Association, attracted many thousands of supporters throughout the US, and helped spread the demand for an eight-hour day. Blackburn shows how the IWA in America—born out of the Civil War—sought to radicalize Lincoln’s unfinished revolution and to advance the rights of labor, uniting black and white, men and women, native and foreign-born. The International contributed to a profound critique of the capitalist robber barons who enriched themselves during and after the war, and it inspired an extraordinary series of strikes and class struggles in the postwar decades.

In addition to a range of key texts and letters by both Lincoln and Marx, this book includes articles from the radical New York-based journal WOODHULL AND CLAFLIN’S WEEKLY, an extract from Thomas Fortune’s classic work on racism BLACK AND WHITE, Frederick Engels on the progress of US labor in the 1880s, and Lucy Parson’s speech at the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World.
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ALSO OUT NOW, a landmark history of the rise, abolition, and legacy of slavery in the New World:

THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE: SLAVERY, EMANCIPATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS

This book furnishes a panoramic view of slavery and emancipation in the Americas from the conquests and colonization of the sixteenth century to the ‘century of abolition’ that stretched from 1780 to 1888. Tracing the diverse responses of African captives, THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE argues that while slave rebels and abolitionists made real gains, they also suffered cruel setbacks and disappointments, leading to a momentous radicalization of the discourse of human rights.   In it, Robin Blackburn explains the emergence of ferocious systems of racial exploitation while rejecting the comforting myths that portray emancipation as somehow already inscribed in the institutions and ideas that allowed for, or even fostered, racial slavery in the first place, whether the logic of the market, the teachings of religion, or the spirit of nationalism. Rather, Blackburn stresses, American slavery was novel—and so too were the originality and achievement of the anti-slavery alliances which eventually destroyed it.

The Americas became the crucible for a succession of fateful experiments in colonization, silver mining, plantation agriculture, racial enslavement and emancipation. The exotic commodities produced by the slave plantations helped to transform Europe and North America, raising up empires and stimulating industrial revolution and ‘market revolution’ to bring about the pervasive commodification of polite society, work and everyday life in parts of Europe and North America. Fees, salaries and wages fostered consuming habits so that capitalism, based on free wage labor in the metropolis, became intimately dependent on racial slavery in the New World.

But by the late eighteenth century the Atlantic boom had sown far and wide the seeds of subversion, provoking colonial rebellion, slave conspiracy and popular revolt, the aspirations of a new black peasantry and ‘picaresque proletariat’, and the emergence of a revolutionary doctrine: the ‘rights of man’. The result was a radicalization of the principles of the Enlightenment, with the Haitian Revolution rescuing and reshaping the ideals memorably proclaimed by the American and French revolutions.

Blackburn charts the gradual emergence of an ability and willingness to see the human cost of the heedless consumerism and to challenge it. The anti-slavery idea, he argues, brought together diverse impulses—the ‘free air’ doctrine maintained by the common people of Europe, the critique of the philosophes and the urgency of slave resistance and black witness. The anti-slavery idea made gains thanks to a succession of historic upheavals. But the remaining slave systems—in the US South, Cuba and Brazil—were in many ways as strong as ever.
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AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION

ISBN: 978 1 84467 722 1 / $19.95 / £12.99 / $25.00CAN / Paperback / 272 pages

For more information about AN UNFINISHED REVOLUTION or to buy the book visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/954-an-unfinished-revolution
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THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE:

ISBN: 978 1 84467 569 2 / $34.95 / £20.00/ Hardcover / 512 pages

For more information about THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE or to buy the book visit: http://www.versobooks.com/books/126-the-american-crucible
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Praise for THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE:

“It leaves a string of other academics licking their scholarly wounds.”—JAMES WALVIN

“The American Crucible poses a challenge for the political future as well as a bold reappraisal of the historical past.”—STEPHEN HOWE, INDEPENDENT:
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-american-crucible-slavery-emancipation-and-human-rights-by-robin-blackburn-2301659.html

Praise for THE MAKING OF NEW WORLD SLAVERY:

“A magnificent work of contemporary scholarship.”—ERIC FONER, NATION

“Blackburn’s book has finally drawn the veil which concealed or made mysterious the history and development of modern society.” —DARCUS HOWE, GUARDIAN

“Sombre, dark and masterly.” —LINDA COLLEY, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

“An exhaustive, powerfully written and compelling book.” —ANTHONY PAGDEN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“Fascinating … Blackburn has brought together diverse strands of historical research and woven them into a compelling story.” —LOS ANGELES TIMES

Praise for THE OVERTHROW OF COLONIAL SLAVERY:

“An incisive synthesis of developments in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America. Blackburn’s book is bold and original.” —RICHARD DUNN, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT

“A challenge to those who fondly suppose that slavery declined as ideas of Western ‘enlightenment’ spread. Blackburn deserves praise for undermining complacency about the past — and the present.” —CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, NEW YORK NEWSDAY

“The first historian since Eric Williams to present a comprehensive interpretation.” —NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS

“One of the finest studies of slavery and abolition.” —ERIC FONER, DISSENT

“Blackburn’s highly intelligent and well-written book is a substantial contribution.” —VICTOR KIERNEN, LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS

Praise for AGE SHOCK

“Blackburn’s book is a serious and finely argued attack on contemporary market fundamentalism in a vivid phrasemaking style.” STEVEN POOLE, GUARDIAN

Praise for BANKING ON DEATH

“One of the best books I have read on pension funds.” INDEPENDENT

“Blackburn is particularly good at disentangling the different dynamics that make the pension’s problem so intractable for mature, ageing economies.” SIR HOWARD DAVIS, DIRECTOR, FSA, GUARDIAN

“Blackburn’s views seem to me refreshing … [He] acknowledges that there are real strains on the old welfare state and proposes interesting ways to handle them that do not resort to simplistic formulas of privatization.” JEFF MADRICK, NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS
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ROBIN BLACKBURN teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including THE MAKING OF NEW WORLD SLAVERY, THE OVERTHROW OF COLONIAL SLAVERY, AGE SHOCK, BANKING ON DEATH, and THE AMERICAN CRUCIBLE.
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The Black Rock

THE AMERICAN ROAD TO CAPITALISM

The American Road to Capitalism: Studies in Class-Structure, Economic Development and Political Conflict, 1620–1877

By Charles Post
Publication year: 2011
See: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=210&pid=44822

Series:
Historical Materialism Book Series, 28
ISBN-13 (i):
978 90 04 20104 0
ISBN-10:
90 04 20104 1
Hardback
Number of pages:
xvii, 300 pp.
List price: € 99.00 / US$ 141.00

Most US historians assume that capitalism either “came in the first ships” or was the inevitable result of the expansion of the market. Unable to analyze the dynamics of specific forms of social labour in the antebellum US, most historians of the US Civil War have privileged autonomous political and ideological factors, ignoring the deep social roots of the conflict. This book applies theoretical insights derived from the debates on the transition to capitalism in Europe to the historical literature on the US to produce a new analysis of the origins of capitalism in the US, and the social roots of the Civil War.

Charles Post, Ph. D. (1983) in Sociology, SUNY-Binghamton, is Associate Professor of Sociology at Borough of Manhattan Community College-CUNY. He has published in New Left Review, Journal of Peasant Studies, Journal of Agrarian Change, Against the Current and Historical Materialism.

“Explaining the origin and early development of American capitalism is a particularly challenging task. It is in some ways even more difficult than in other cases to strike the right historical balance, capturing the systemic imperatives of capitalism, and explaining how they emerged, while doing justice to historical particularities… To confront these historical complexities requires both a command of historical detail and a clear theoretical grasp of capitalism’s systemic imperatives, a combination that is all too rare. Charles Post succeeds in striking that difficult balance, which makes his book a major contribution to truly historical scholarship.” — Ellen Meiksins-Wood, York University, author of The Origins of Capitalism: A Long View.

“In The American Road to Capitalism, Charles Post offers a brilliant reinterpretation of the origins and diverging paths of economic evolution in the American north and south. The first systematic historical materialist account of US development from the colonial period through the civil war in a very long time, it is sure to be received as a landmark contribution.” — Robert P. Brenner, University of California-Los Angeles, author of Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Early Modern Europe and Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550-1653.

“Charles Post has written an excellent book on the origins of American capitalism in the antebellum North, on plantation slavery in the Old South and on the cataclysmic conflict between them. His interpretation is bold and controversial; it will have to be considered by all scholars in the field.” — John Ashworth, University of Nottingham, author of Slavery, Capitalism and the Antebellum Republic

“This is the most original and provocative materialist interpretation of the origins and dynamics of US capitalism for a long time. Post combines impressive command of the historical sources with a sharp analytical understanding, not least of the centrality of agrarian questions to the development of capitalism.” — Henry Bernstein, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies and China Agricultural University, Beijing, emeritus editor Journal of Agrarian Change.

“Over the past three decades, Charles Post has been developing an original and powerful interpretation of the American road to capitalism. This volume brings together his most important essays in what is sure to be a landmark volume. Post brilliantly analyzes the structural basis of economic development in both the North and the South, culminating in a powerful interpretation of the social basis of the Civil War. The book is one of the best examples of historical sociology that I have seen in recent years, effortlessly melding theory and historical research. This is engaged scholarship of the highest order.” — Vivek Chibber, New York University, author of Locked In Place: State Building and Late Industrialization in India.

Table of contents:

Foreword by Ellen Meiksins Wood
Introduction

1. The American Road to Capitalism
i. Plantation-slavery
ii. Agrarian petty-commodity production
iii. Capitalist manufacture and industry
iv. Conclusion: the Civil War

2. The Agrarian Origins of US Capitalism: The Transformation of the Northern Countryside before the Civil War
i. Rural class-structure in the North before the Civil War
ii. Debating the transformation of northern agriculture
iii. The transformation of the northern countryside, c. 1776–1861

3. Plantation-Slavery and Economic Development in the Antebellum Southern United States
i. The ‘planter-capitalism’ model
ii. The ‘non-bourgeois civilisation’ model
iii. Class-structure and economic development in the antebellum-South

4. Agrarian Class-Structure and Economic Development in Colonial British North America: The Place of the American Revolution in the Origins of US Capitalism
i. The commercialisation-staples model
ii. The demographic-frontier model
iii. Agrarian social-property relations in colonial British North America
iv. Colonial economic development, the American Revolution, and the development of capitalism in the US, 1776–1861

5. Social-Property Relations, Class-Conflict and the Origins of the US Civil War: Toward a New Social Interpretation
i. Ashworth’s social interpretation of the US Civil War
ii. A critique of slavery, capitalism and politics in the antebellum-republic
iii. Toward a new social interpretation of the US Civil War

Conclusion: Democracy against Capitalism in the Post-Civil-War United States
i. Democracy against capitalism in the North: radicalism, class-struggle and the rise of liberal democracy, 1863–77
ii. Democracy against capitalism in the South: the rise and fall of peasant-citizenship, 1865–77
iii. The defeat of populism, ‘Jim Crow’ and the establishment of capitalist plantation-agriculture in the South, 1877–1900

References
Index

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BROWN-HARVARD CONFERENCE ON SLAVERY AND CAPITALISM

Brown-Harvard Conference on Slavery and Capitalism, April 7-9, 2011

This conference is intended to explore the centrality of slavery to national economic development in the decades between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Presentations will explore New England investment in the plantation economies of the Caribbean; the technological and managerial innovations in plantation management that coincided with northern industrialization; and the origins of modern finance and credit in the buying and selling of enslaved men and women and the crops they produced.

This new research suggests that the hotbeds of American entrepreneurship, speculation, and innovation might as readily be found in Mississippi or Virginia as in New York or Massachusetts. The issue is not whether slavery was or was not capitalist (an older debate), but rather the impossibility of understanding the nation’s spectacular pattern of economic development without situating slavery front and center.

The conference begins on Thursday, April 7th, with a keynote address by President Ruth Simmons of Brown University. Paper presentations will follow on Friday the 8th at Brown University. The conference then moves to Harvard for additional papers on Saturday, April 9th. This event is free and open to the public.

All the information (including the program and registration form) is here: http://brown.edu/web/slaveryconf/

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