Saturday, April 18, 2020

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
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Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1862

The Secessionists’ Friends in the Lower House. — Recognition of the American Blockade

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Source: MECW Volume 19, p. 182;
Written: on March 8, 1862;
First published: in Die Presse, March 12, 1862.


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London, March 8
Parturiunt monies! Since the opening of Parliament the English friends of Secessia had threatened a “motion” on the American blockade. The resolution has at length been introduced in the Lower House in the very modest form of a motion in which the government is urged “to submit further documents on the state of the blockade” — and even this insignificant motion was rejected without the formality of a division.

Mr. Gregory, the member for Galway, who moved the resolution, had in the parliamentary session of last year, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War, already introduced a motion for recognition of the Southern Confederacy. To his speech of this year a certain sophistical adroitness is not to be denied. The speech merely suffers from the unfortunate circumstance that it falls into two parts, of which the one cancels the other. One part describes the disastrous effects of the blockade on the English cotton industry and therefore demands removal of the blockade. The other part proves from the papers submitted by the ministry, two memorials by Messrs. Yancey and Mann and by Mr. Mason among them, that the blockade does not exist at all, except on paper, and therefore should no longer be recognised. Mr. Gregory spiced his argument with successive citations from The Times. The Times, for whom a reminder of its oracular pronouncements is at this moment thoroughly inconvenient, thanks Mr. Gregory with a leader in which it holds him up to public ridicule.

Mr. Gregory’s motion was supported by Mr. Bentinch, an ultra-Tory who for two years has laboured in vain to bring about a secession from Mr. Disraeli in the Conservative camp.

It was a ludicrous spectacle in and by itself to see the alleged interests of English industry represented by Gregory, the representative of Galway, an unimportant seaport in the West of Ireland, and by Bentinck, the representative of Norfolk, a purely agricultural district.

Mr. Forster, the representative of Bradford, a centre of English industry, rose to oppose them both. Forster’s speech deserves closer examination, since it strikingly proves the vacuity of the phrases concerning the character of the American blockade given currency in Europe by the friends of secession. In the first place, he said, the United States have observed all formalities required by international law. They have declared no port in a state of blockade without previous proclamation, without special notice of the moment of its commencement or without fixing the fifteen days after the expiration of which entrance and departure shall be forbidden to foreign neutral ships.

The talk of the legal “inefficacy” of the blockade rests, therefore, merely on the allegedly frequent cases in which it has been broken through. Before the opening of Parliament it was said that 600 ships had broken through it. Mr. Gregory now reduces the number to 400. His evidence rests on two lists handed the government, the one on November 30 by the Southern commissioners Yancey and Mann, the other, the supplementary list, by Mason. According to Yancey and Mann, more than 400 ships broke through between the proclamation of the blockade and August 20, running the blockade either inwards or outwards. According to official customs-house reports, however, the total number of the incoming and outgoing ships amounts to only 322. Of this number, 119 departed before the declaration of the blockade, 56 before the expiration of the time allowance of fifteen days. There remain 147 ships. Of these 147 ships, 25 were river boats that sailed from inland to New Orleans, where they lie idle; 106 were coasters; with the exception of three ships, all were, in the words of Mr. Mason himself, “quasi — inland” vessels. Of these 106. 66 sailed between Mobile and New Orleans. Anyone who knows this coast is aware how absurd it is to call the sailing of a vessel behind lagoons, so that it hardly touches the open sea and merely creeps along the coast, a breach of the blockade. The same holds of the vessels between Savannah and Charleston, where they sneak between islands and narrow tongues of land. According to the testimony of the English consul, Bunch, these flat — bottomed boats only appeared for a few days on the open sea. After deducting 106 coasters, there remain 16 departures for foreign ports; of these, 15 were for American ports, mainly Cuba, and one for Liverpool. The “ship” that berthed in Liverpool was a schooner, and so were all the rest of the “ships”, with the exception of a sloop. There has been much talk, exclaimed Mr. Forster, of sham blockades. Is this list of Messrs. Yancey and Mann not a sham list? He subjected the supplementary list of Mr. Mason to a similar analysis, and showed further that the number of cruisers that slipped out only amounted to three or four, whereas in the last Anglo — American war no less than 516 American cruisers broke through the English blockade and harried the English seaboard.

“The blockade, on the contrary, has been wonderfully effective from its commencement.”

Further proof is provided by the reports of the English consuls; above all, however, by the Southern price lists. On January 11 the price of cotton in New Orleans offered a premium of 100 per cent for export to England; the profit on import of salt amounted to 1500 per cent and the profit on contraband of war was incomparably higher. Despite this alluring prospect of profit, it was just as impossible to ship cotton to England as salt to New Orleans or Charleston. In fact, however, Mr. Gregory does not complain that the blockade is inefficacious, but that it is too efficacious. He urges us to put an end to it and with it to the crippling of industry and commerce. One answer suffices:

“Who urges this House to break the blockade? The representatives of the suffering districts? Does this cry resound from Manchester, where the factories have to close, or from Liverpool, where from lack of freight the ships lie idle in the docks? On the contrary. It resounds from Galway and is supported by Norfolk.”

On the side of the friends of secession Mr. Lindsay, a large shipbuilder of North Shields, made himself conspicuous. Lindsay had offered his shipyards to the Union, and, for this purpose, had travelled to Washington, where he experienced the vexation of seeing his business propositions rejected. Since that time he has turned his sympathies to the land of Secessia.

The debate was concluded with a circumstantial speech by Sir R. Palmer, the Solicitor — General, who spoke in the name of the government. He furnished well grounded juridical proof of the validity of the blockade in international law and of its sufficiency. On this occasion he in fact tore to pieces — and was taxed with so doing by Lord Cecil — the “new principles” proclaimed at the Paris Convention of 1856. Among other things, he expressed his astonishment that in a British Parliament Gregory and his associates ventured to appeal to the authority of Monsieur de Hautefeuille. The latter, to be sure, is a brand — new “authority” discovered in the Bonapartist camp. Hautefeuille’s compositions in the Revue contemporaine on the maritime rights of neutrals prove the completest ignorance or mauvaise foi at higher command.

With the complete fiasco of the parliamentary friends of secession in the blockade question, all prospect of a breach between Britain and the United States is eliminated.

Friday, April 17, 2020

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
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Articles by Karl Marx in the New York Tribune 1862

English Public Opinion

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Source: MECW Volume 19, p. 137;
Written: on January 11, 1862;
First published: in the New-York Daily Tribune, February 1, 1862.


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London, Jan. 11, 1862
The news of the pacific solution of the Trent conflict was, by the bulk of the English people, saluted with an exultation proving unmistakably the unpopularity of the apprehended war and the dread of its consequences. It ought never to be forgotten in the United States that at least the working classes of England, from the commencement to the termination of the difficulty, have never forsaken them. To them it was due that, despite the poisonous stimulants daily administered by a venal and reckless press, not one single public war meeting could be held in the United Kingdom during all the period that peace trembled in the balance. The only war meeting convened on the arrival of the La Plata, in the cotton salesroom of the Liverpool Stock Exchange, was a corner meeting where the cotton jobbers had it all to themselves. Even at Manchester, the temper of the working classes was so well understood that an insulated attempt at the convocation of a war meeting was almost as soon abandoned as thought of.

Wherever public meetings took place in England, Scotland, or Ireland, they protested against the rabid war — cries of the press, against the sinister designs of the Government, and declared for a pacific settlement of the pending question. In this regard, the two last meetings held, the one at Paddington, London, the other at N ewcastle — u pon — Tyne, are characteristic. The former meeting applauded Mr. Washington Wilkes’s argumentation that England was not warranted in finding fault with the seizure of the Southern Commissioners'; while the Newcastle meeting almost unanimously carried the resolution — firstly, that the Americans had only made themselves guilty of a lawful exercise of the right of search and seizure; secondly, that the captain of the Trent ought to be punished for his violation of English neutrality, as proclaimed by the Queen. In ordinary circumstances, the conduct of the British workingmen might have been anticipated from the natural sympathy the popular classes all over the world ought to feel for the only popular Government in the world.

Under the present circumstances, however, when a great portion of the British working classes directly and severely suffers under the consequences of the Southern blockade; when another part is indirectly smitten by the curtailment of the American commerce, owing, as they are told, to the selfish “protective policy” of the Republicans; when the only remaining democratic weekly, Reynolds’s paper, has sold itself to Messrs. Yancey and Mann, and week after week exhausts its horse-powers of foul language in appeals to the working classes to urge the Government, for their own interests, to war with the Union — under such circumstances, simple justice requires to pay a tribute to the sound attitude of the British working classes, the more so when contrasted with the hypocritical, bullying, cowardly, and stupid conduct of the official and well-to-do John Bull.

What a difference in this attitude of the people from what it had assumed at the time of the Russian complication! Then The Times, The Post, and the other Yellowplushes of the London press, whined for peace, to be rebuked by tremendous war meetings all over the country. Now they have howled for war, to be answered by peace meetings denouncing the liberticide schemes and the Pro-Slavery sympathy of the Government. The grimaces cut by the augurs of public opinion at the news of the pacific solution of the Trent case are really amusing.

In the first place, they must needs congratulate themselves upon the dignity, common sense, good will, and moderation, daily displayed by them for the whole interval of a month. They were moderate for the first two days after the arrival of the La Plata, when Palmerston felt uneasy whether any legal pretext for a quarrel was to be picked. But hardly had the crown lawyers bit upon a legal quibble, when they opened a charivari unheard of since the anti-Jacobin war. The dispatches of the English Government left Queenstown in the beginning of December. No official answer from Washington could possibly be looked for before the commencement of January. The new incidents arising in the interval told all in favor of the Americans. The tone of the Transatlantic Press, although the Nashville affair might have roused its passions, was calm. All facts ascertained concurred to show that Capt. Wilkes had acted on his own hook. The position of the Washington Government was delicate. If it resisted the English demands, it would complicate the civil war by a foreign war. If it gave way, it might damage its popularity at home, and appear to cede to pressure from abroad. And the Government thus placed, carried, at the same time, a war which must enlist the warmest sympathies of every man, not a confessed ruffian, on its side.

Common prudence, conventional decency, ought, therefore, to have dictated to the London press, at least for the time separating the English demand from the American reply, to anxiously abstain from every word calculated to heat passion, breed ill-will, complicate the difficulty. But no! That “inexpressibly mean and groveling” press, as William Cobbett, and he was a connoisseur, calls it, really boasted of having, when in fear of the compact power of the United States, humbly submitted to the accumulated slights and insults of Pro-Slavery Administrations for almost half a century, while now, with the savage exultation of cowards, they panted for taking their revenge on the Republican Administration, distracted by a civil war. The record of mankind chronicles no self-avowed infamy like this.

One of the yellow-plushes, Palmerston’s private Moniteur — The Morning Post — finds itself arraigned on a most ugly charge from the American papers. John Bull has never been informed — on information carefully withheld from him by the oligarchs that lord it over him — that Mr. Seward, without awaiting Russell’s dispatch, had disavowed any participation of the Washington Cabinet in the act of Capt. Wilkes. Mr. Seward’s dispatch arrived at London on December 19. On the 20th December, the rumor of this “secret” spread on the Stock Exchange. On the 21st, the yellow-plush of The Morning Post stepped forward to gravely herald that “the dispatch in question does not in any way whatever refer to the outrage on our mail packet.”

In The Daily News, The Morning Star, and other London journals, you will find yellow-plush pretty sharply handled, but you will not learn from them what people out of doors say. They say that The Morning Post and The Times, like the Patrie and the Pays, duped the public not only to politically mislead them, but to fleece them in the monetary line on the Stock Exchange, in the interest of their patrons.

The brazen Times, fully aware that during the whole crisis it had compromised nobody but itself, and given another proof of the hollowness of its pretensions of influencing the real people of England, plays to-day a trick which here, at London, only works upon the laughing muscles, but on the other side of the Atlantic, might be misinterpreted. The “popular classes” of London, the “mob”, as the yellow-plush call them, have given unmistakable signs-have even hinted in newspapers-that they should consider it an exceedingly seasonable joke to treat Mason (by the by, a distant relative of Palmerston, since the original Mason had married a daughter of Sir W. Temple), Slidell & Co. with the same demonstrations Haynau received on his visit at Barclay’s brewery.” The Times stands aghast at the mere idea of such a shocking incident, and how does it try to parry it? It admonishes the people of England not to overwhelm Mason, Slidell & Co. with any, sort of public ovation! The Times knows that its to-day’s article will form the laughing-stock of all the tap-rooms of London. But never mind! People on the other side of the Atlantic may, perhaps, fancy that the magnanimity of The Times has saved them from the affront of public ovations to Mason, Slidell & Co., while, in point of fact, The Times only intends saving those gentlemen from public insult!

So long as the Trent affair was undecided, The Times, The Post, The Herald, The Economist, The Saturday Review, in fact the whole of the fashionable, hireling press of London, had tried its utmost to persuade John Bull that the Washington Government, even if it willed, would prove unable to keep the peace, because the Yankee mob would not allow it, and because the Federal Government was a mob Government. Facts have now given them the lie direct. Do they now atone for their malignant slanders against the American people? Do they at least confess the errors which yellow-plush in presuming to judge of the acts of a free people, could not but commit? By no means. They now unanimously discover that the American Government, in not anticipating England’s demands, and not surrendering the Southern traitors as soon as they were caught, missed a great occasion, and deprived its present concession of all merit. Indeed, yellow plush! Mr. Seward disavowed the act of Wilkes before the arrival of the English demands, and at once declared himself willing to enter upon a conciliatory course a ; and what did you do on similar occasions? When, on the pretext of impressing English sailors on board American ships — a pretext not at all connected with maritime belligerent rights, but a downright, monstrous usurpation against all international law-the Leopard fired its broadside at the Chesapeake, killed six, wounded twenty-one of her sailors, and seized the pretended Englishmen on board the Chesapeake, what did the English Government do? That outrage was perpetrated on the 20th of June, 1807. The real satisfaction, the surrender of the sailors, &C., was only offered on November 8, 1812, five years later. The British Government, it is true, disavowed at once the act of Admiral Berkeley, as Mr. Seward did in regard to Capt. Wilkes; but, to punish the Admiral, it removed him from an inferior to a superior rank. England, in proclaiming her Orders in Council,” distinctly confessed that they were outrages on the rights of neutrals in general, and of the United States in particular; that they were forced upon her as measures of retaliation against Napoleon, and that she would feel but too glad to revoke them whenever Napoleon should revoke his encroachments on neutral rights. Napoleon did revoke them, as far as the United States were concerned, in the Spring of 1810. England persisted in her avowed outrage on the maritime rights of America. Her resistance lasted from 1806 to 23d of June, 1812 — after, on the 18th of June, 1812, the United States had declared war against England. England abstained, consequently, in this case for six years, not from atoning for a confessed outrage, but from discontinuing it. And this people talk of the magnificent occasion missed by the American Government! Whether in the wrong or in the right, it was a cowardly act on the part of the British Government to back a complaint grounded on pretended technical blunder, and a mere error of procedure, by an ultimatum, by a demand for the surrender of the prisoners. The American Government might have reasons to accede to that demand; it could have none to anticipate it.

By the present settlement of the Trent collision, the question underlying the whole dispute, and likely to again occur — the belligerent rights of a maritime power against neutrals — has not been settled. I shall, with your permission, try to survey the whole question in a subsequent letter. For the present, allow me to add that, in my opinion, Messrs. Mason and Slidell have done great service to the Federal Government. There was an influential war party in England, which, what for commercial, what for political reasons, showed eager for a fray with the United States. The Trent affair put that party to the test. It has failed. The war passion has been discounted on a minor issue, the steam has been let off, the vociferous fury of the oligarchy has raised the suspicions of English democracy, the large British interests connected with the United States have made a stand, the true character of the civil war has been brought home to the working classes, and last, not least, the dangerous period when Palmerston rules single-headed without being checked by Parliament, is rapidly drawing to an end. That was the only time in which an English war for the slaveocrats might have been hazarded. It is now out of question.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

On The 150th Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
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Articles by Marx in the New York Tribune 1861

Progress of Feelings in England

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Written: December, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: New-York Daily Tribune No. 6467, December 25, 1861;
Online Version: Marxists.org 1999;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: Tim Delaney.


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London, Dec.7, 1861
The friends of the United States on this side of the Atlantic anxiously hope that conciliatory steps will be taken by the Federal Government. They do so not from a concurrence in the frantic crowing of the British press over a war incident, which, according to the English Crown lawyers themselves, resolves itself into a mere error of procedure, and may be summed up in the words that there has been a breach of international law, because Capt. Wilkes, instead of taking the Trent, her cargo, her passengers, and the Commissioners, did only take the Commissioners. Nor springs the anxiety of the well-wishers of the Great Republic from an apprehension lest, in the long run, it should not prove able to cope with England, although backed by the civil war; and, least of all, do they expect the United States to abdicate, even for a moment, and in a dark hour of trial, the proud position held by them in the council of nations. The motives that prompt them are of quite a different nature.

In the first instance, the business next in hand for the United States is to crush the rebellion and to restore the Union. The wish uppermost in the minds of the Slaveocracy and their Northern tools was always to plunge the United States into a war with England. The first step of England as soon as hostilities broke out would be to recognise the Southern Confederacy, and the second to terminate the blockade. Secondly, no general, if not forced, will accept battle at the time and under the conditions chosen by his enemy.

"A war with America," says The Economist, a paper deeply in Palmerston's confidence, "must always be one of the most lamentable incidents in the history of England; but if it is to happen, the present is certainly the period at which it will do us the minimum of harm, and the only moment in our joint annals at which it would confer on us an incidental and partial compensation."

The very reasons accounting for the eagerness of England to seize upon any decent pretext for war at this 'only moment' ought to withhold the United States from forwarding such a pretext at this 'only moment.' You go not to war with the aim to do your enemy 'the minimum of harm,' and, even to confer upon him by the war, 'an incidental and partial compensation.' The opportunity of the moment would all be on one side, on the side of your foe. Is there any great strain of reasoning wanted to prove that an internal war raging in a State is the least opportune time for entering upon a foreign war? At every other moment the mercantile classes of Great Britain would have looked upon a war against the United States with the utmost horror. Now, on the contrary, a large and influential party of the mercantile community has for months been urging on the Government to violently break the blockade, and thus provide the main branch of British industry with its raw material. The fear of a curtailment of the English export trade to the United States has lost its sting by the curtailment of that trade having already actually occurred. "They" (the Northern States), says The Economist, "are wretched customers, instead of good ones." The vast credit usually given by English commerce to the United States, principally by the acceptance of bills drawn from China and India, has been already reduced to scarcely a fifth of what it was in 1857. Last, not least, Decembrist France, bankrupt, paralyzed at home, beset with difficulty abroad, pounces upon an Anglo-American war as a real godsend, and, in order to buy English support in Europe, will strain all her power to support "Perfidious Albion" on the other side of the Atlantic. Read only the French newspapers. The pitch of indignation to which they have wrought themselves in their tender care for the "honor of England," their fierce diatribes as to the necessity on the part of England to revenge the outrage on the Union Jack, their vile denunciations of everything American, would be truly appalling, if they were not ridiculous and disgusting at the same time. Lastly, if the United States give way in this instance, they will not derogate one iota of their dignity. England has reduced her complaint to a mere error of procedure, a technical blunder of which she had made herself systematically guilty in all her maritime wars, but against which the United States have never ceased to protest, and which President Madison, in his message inaugurating the war of 1812, expatiated upon as one of the most shocking breaches of international law. If the United States may be defended in paying England with her own coin, will they be accused for magnanimously disavowing, on the part of a single American captain, acting on his own responsibility, what they always denounced as a systematic usurpation on the part of the British Navy!

In point of fact, the gain of such a procedure would be all on the American side. England, on the one hand, would have acknowledged the right of the United States to capture and bring to adjudication before an American prize court every English ship employed in the service of the Confederation. On the other hand, she would, once for all, before the eyes of the whole world, have practically resigned a claim which she was not brought to desist from either in the peace of Ghent, in 1814, or the transactions carried on between Lord Ashburton and Secretary Webster in 1842.The question then comes to this: Do you prefer to turn the "untoward event" to your own account, or, blinded by the passions of the moment, turn it to the account of your foes at home and abroad?

Since this day week, when I sent you my last letter, British consols have again lowered, the decline, compared with last Friday, amounting to 2 per cent, the present prices being 89 3/4 to 7/8 for money and 90 to 1/8 for the new account on the 9th of January. This quotation corresponds to the quotation of the British consols during the first two years of the Anglo-Russian war. This decline is altogether due to the warlike interpretation put upon the American papers conveyed by the last mail, to the exacerbating tone of the London press, whose moderation of two days' standing was but a feint, ordered by Palmerston, to the dispatch of troops for Canada, to the proclamation forbidding the export of arms and materials for gunpowder, and lastly, to the daily ostentatious statements concerning the formidable preparations for war in the docks and maritime arsenals.

Of one thing you may be sure, Palmerston wants a legal pretext for a war with the United States, but meets in the Cabinet councils with a most determinate opposition on the part of Messrs. Gladstone and Milner Gibson, and, to a less degree, of Sir Cornewall Lewis. "The noble viscount" is backed by Russell, an abject tool in his hands, and the whole Whig Coterie. If the Washington Cabinet should furnish the desired pretext, the present Cabinet will be sprung, to be supplanted by a Tory Administration. The preliminary steps for such a change of scenery have been already settled between Palmerston and Disraeli. Hence the furious war-cry of The Morning Herald and The Standard, those hungry wolves howling at the prospect of the long-missed crumbs from the public almoner.

Palmerston's designs may be shown up by calling into memory a few facts. It was he who insisted upon the proclamation, acknowledging the Secessionists as belligerents, on the morning of the 14th of May, after he had been informed by telegraph from Liverpool that Mr. Adams would arrive at London on the night of the 13th May. He, after a severe struggle with his colleagues, dispatched 3,000 men to Canada, an army ridiculous, if intended to cover a frontier of 1,500 miles, but a clever sleight-of-hand if the rebellion was to be cheered, and the Union to be irritated. He, many weeks ago, urged Bonaparte to propose a joint armed intervention "in the internecine struggle," supported that project in the Cabinet council, and failed only in carrying it by the resistance of his colleagues. He and Bonaparte then resorted to the Mexican intervention as a pis aller. That operation served two purposes, by provoking just resentment on the part of the Americans, and by simultaneously furnishing a pretext for the dispatch of a squadron, ready, as The Morning Post has it, "to perform whatever duty the hostile conduct of the Government of Washington may require us to perform in the waters of the Northern Atlantic." At the time when that expedition was started, The Morning Post, together with The Times and the smaller fry of Palmerston's press slaves, said that it was a very fine thing, and a philanthropic thing into the bargain, because it would expose the slave- holding Confederation to two fires -- the Anti-Slavery North and the Anti-Slavery force of England and France. And what says the very same Morning Post, this curious compound of Jenkins and Rhodomonte, of plush and swash, in its to-day's issue, on occasion of Jefferson Davis's address? Hearken to the Palmerston oracle:

"We must look to this intervention as one that may be inoperative during a considerable period of time; and while the Northern Government is too distant to admit of its attitude entering materially into this question, the Southern Confederation, on the other hand, stretches for a great distance along the frontier of Mexico, so as to render its friendly disposition to the authors of the insurrection of no slight consequence. The Northern Government has invariably railed at our neutrality, but the Southern with statesmanship and moderation has recognized in it all that we could do for either party; and whether with a view to our transactions in Mexico, or to our relations with the Cabinet at Washington, the friendly forbearance of the Southern Confederacy is an important point in our favor."

I may remark that the Nord of December 3 -- a Russian paper, and consequently a paper initiated into Palmerstons designs -- insinuates that the Mexican expedition was from the first set on foot, not for its ostensible purpose, but for a war against the United States.

Gen. Scott's letter had produced such a beneficent reaction in public opinion, and even on the London Stock Exchange, that the conspirators of Downing Street and the Tuileries found it necessary to let loose the Patrie, stating with all the airs of knowledge derived from official sources that the seizure of the Southern Commissioners from the Trent was directly authorized by the Washington Cabinet.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

On The Anniversary Of The Beginning Of The American Civil War – Karl Marx On The American Civil War-In Honor Of The Union Side

Markin comment:

I am always amazed when I run into some younger leftists, or even older radicals who may have not read much Marx and Engels, and find that they are surprised, very surprised to see that Marx and Engels were avid partisans of the Abraham Lincoln-led Union side in the American Civil War. In the age of advanced imperialism, of which the United States is currently the prime example, and villain, we are almost always negative about capitalism’s role in world politics. And are always harping on the need to overthrow the system in order to bring forth a new socialist reconstruction of society. Thus one could be excused for forgetting that at earlier points in history capitalism played a progressive role. A role that Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and other leading Marxists, if not applauded, then at least understood represented human progress. Of course, one does not expect everyone to be a historical materialist and therefore know that in the Marxist scheme of things both the struggle to bring America under a unitary state that would create a national capitalist market by virtue of a Union victory and the historically more important struggle to abolish slavery that turned out to a necessary outcome of that Union struggle were progressive in our eyes. Read on.
*******
Articles by Karl Marx in Die Presse 1861

Controversy Over the Trent Case


Written: December, 1861;
Source: Marx/Engels Collected Works, Volume 19;
Publisher: Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1964;
First Published: Die Presse No. 340, December 11, 1861;
Online Version: Marxists.org 1999;
Transcribed: S. Ryan;
HTML Markup: Tim Delaney.


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London, December 7, 1861
The Palmerston press (and on another occasion I will show that in foreign affairs Palmerston's control over nine-tenths of the English press is just as absolute as Louis Bonaparte's over nine-tenths of the French press) -- the Palmerston press fells that it works among "pleasing hindrances". On the one hand, it admits that the law officers of the Crown have reduced the accusation against the United States to a mere mistake in procedure, to a technical error. On the other hand, it boasts that on the basis of such a legal quibble a haughty ultimatum has been presented to the United States such as can only be justified by a gross violation of law, but not by a formal error in the exercise of a recognised right. Accordingly, the Palmerston press now pleads the material legal question again. The great importance of the case appears to demand a brief examination of the material legal question.

By way of introduction, it may be observed that not a single English paper ventures to reproach the San Jacinto for the visitation and search of the Trent. This point, therefore, falls outside the controversy. First, we again call to mind the relevant passage in Victoria's proclamation of neutrality of May 13, 1861. The passage reads:

"Victoria R."


Whereas we are at peace with the United States ... we do hereby strictly charge ... all our loving subjects ... to abstain from contravening ... our Royal Proclamation ... by breaking ... any blockade lawfully ... established ... or by carrying officers ... dispatches ... or any article or articles considered contraband of war.... All persons so offending will be liable ... to the several penalties and penal consequences by the said Statute or by the law of nations in that behalf imposed.... And ... persons who may misconduct themselves ... will do so at their peril ... and ... will ... incur our high displeasure by such misconduct.

This proclamation of Queen Victoria, therefore, in the first place declared dispatches to be contraband and make the ship that carries such contraband liable to the "penalties of the law of the nations". What are these penalties?

Wheaton, an American writer on international law whose authority is recognised on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean alike, says in his Elements of International Law, p. 565

"The fraudulent carrying of dispatches of the enemy will also subject the neutral vessel in which they are transported to capture and confiscation. The consequences of such a service are indefinite, infinitely beyond the effect of any contraband that can be conveyed. 'The carrying of two or three cargoes of military stores,' says Sir W. Scott [the judge], 'is necessarily an assistance of limited nature; but in the transmission of dispatches may be conveyed the entire plan of a campaign, that may defeat all the plans of the other belligerent.... The confiscation of the noxious article, which constitutes the penalty for contraband ... would be ridiculous when applied to dispatches. There would be no freight dependent on their transportation and therefore this penalty could not, in the nature of things, be applied. The vehicle, in which they are carried, must, therefore, be confiscated.."

Walker, in his Introduction to American Law, says:

"...neutrals may not be concerned in bearing hostile dispatches, under the penalty of confiscation of the vehicle, and of the cargo also."

Kent, who is accounted a decisive authority in British courts, states in his Commentaries:

"If, on search of a ship, it is found that she carries enemy dispatches, she incurs the penalty of capture and of confiscation by judgment of a prize court."

Dr. Robert Phillimore, Advocate of Her Majesty in Her Office of Admiralty, says in his latest work on international law, p. 370:

"Official communications from an official person on the public affairs of a belligerent Government are such dispatches as impress an hostile character upon the carriers of them. The mischievous consequences of such a service cannot be estimated, and extend far beyond the effect of any Contraband that can be conveyed, for it is manifest that by the carriage of such dispatches the most important operations of a Belligerent may be forwarded or obstructed.... The penalty is confiscation of the ship which conveys the dispatches and ...of the cargo, if both belong to the same master."

Two points are therefore established. Queen Victoria's proclamation of May 13, 1861, subjects English ships that carry dispatches of the Confederacy to the penalties of international law. International law, according to its English and American commentators, imposes the penalty of capture and confiscation on such ships.

Palmerston's organs consequently lied on orders from above -- and we were naive enough to believe their lie -- in affirming that the captain of the San Jacinto had neglected to seek for dispatches on the Trent and therefore had of course found none; and that the Trent had consequently become shotproof through this oversight. The American journals of November 17 to 20, which could not yet have been aware of the English lie, unanimously state, on the contrary, that the dispatches had been seized and were already in print for submission to Congress in Washington. This changes the whole state of affairs. Because of these dispatches, the San Jacinto had the right to take the Trent in tow and every American prize court had the duty to confiscate her and her cargo. With the Trent, her passengers also naturally came within the pale of American jurisdiction.

Messrs. Mason, Slidell and Co., as soon as the Trent had touched at Monroe, came under American jurisdiction as rebels. If, therefore, instead of towing the Trent herself to an American port, the captain of the San Jacinto contented himself with seizing the dispatches and their bearers, he in no way worsened the position of Mason, Slidell and Co., whilst, on the other hand, his error in procedure benefited the Trent, her cargo and her passengers. And it would be indeed unprecedented if Britain wished to declare war on the United States because Captain Wilkes committed an error in procedure harmful to the United States, but profitable to Britain.

The question whether Mason, Slidell and Co., were themselves contraband, was only raised and could only be raised because the Palmerston journals had broadcast the lie that Captain Wilkes had neither searched for dispatches, nor seized dispatches. For in this case Mason, Slidell and Co. in fact constituted the sole objects on the ship Trent that could possibly fall under the category of contraband. Let us, however, disregard this aspect for the moment. Queen Victoria's proclamation designates "officers" of a belligerent party as contraband. Are "officers" merely military officers? Were Mason, Slidell and Co. "officers" of the Confederacy? "Officers," says Samuel Johnson in his dictionary of the English language, are "men employed by the public", that is, in German: Öffentliche Beamte. Walker gives the same definition. (See his dictionary, 1861 edition.)

According to the usage of the English language, therefore, Mason, Slidell and Co., these emissaries, id est, officials of the Confederacy, come under the category of "officers", whom the royal proclamation declares to be contraband. The captain of the Trent knew them in this capacity and therefore rendered himself, his ship and his passengers confiscable. If, according to Phillimore and all other authorities, a ship becomes confiscable as the carrier of an enemy dispatch because it violates neutrality, in a still higher degree is this true of the person who carries the dispatches. According to Wheaton, even an enemy ambassador, so long as he is in transitu, may be intercepted. In general, however, the basis of all international law is that any member of the belligerent party may be regarded and treated as "belligerent" by the opposing party.

"So long as a man," says Vattel, "continues to be a citizen of his own country, he is enemy of all those with whom his nation is at war."

One sees, therefore, that the law officers of the English Crown reduced the point of contention to a mere error in procedure, not an error in re, but an error in forma, because, actually, no material violation of law is to hand. The Palmerston organs chatter about the material legal question again because a mere error in procedure, in the interest of the Trent at that, gives no plausible pretext for a haughty-toned ultimatum.

Meanwhile, important voices have been raised in this sense from diametrically opposite sides: on the one side, Messrs. Bright and Cobden; on the other, David Urquhart. These men are enemies on grounds of principle and personally: the first two, peaceable cosmopolitans; the third, the "last of the Englishmen"; the former always ready to sacrifice all international law to international trade; the other hesitating not a moment: "Fiat Justitia, pereat mundus", and by "justice" he understands "English" justice. The voices of Bright and Cobden are important, because they represent a powerful section of middle-class interests and are represented in the ministry by Gladstone, Milner Gibson and also, more or less, by Sir Cornewall Lewis. The voice of Urquhart is important because international law is his life-study and everyone recognises him as an incorruptible interpreter of this international law.

The usual newspaper sources will communicate Bright's speech in support of the United States and Cobden's letter, which is conceived in the same sense. Therefore I will not dwell on them.

Urquhart's organ, The Free Press, states in its latest issue, published on December 4:

"'We must bombard New York!' Such were the frantic sounds which met the ears of everyone who traversed the streets of London on the evening of this day week, on the arrival of the intelligence of a trifling warlike incident. The act was one which England has committed as a matter of course [in every war] -- namely the seizure on board of a neutral of the persons and property of her enemies."

The Free Press further argues that, in 1856 at the Congress of Paris, Palmerston, without any authority from the Crown or Parliament sacrificed English maritime law in the interest of Russia, and then says:

"In order to justify this sacrifice, Palmerston's organs stated at that time that if we maintained the right of search, we should assuredly be involved in a war with the United States on the occasion of the first war in Europe. And now he calls on us through the same organs of public opinion to bombard New York because the United States act on those laws which are theirs no less than our own."

With regard to the utterances of the "organs of public opinion", The Free Press remarks:

"The bray of Baron Munchausen's thawing posthorn was nothing to the clangour of the British press on the capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell."

Then humorously, it places side by side, in "strophe" and "antistrophe", the contradictions by which the English press seeks to convict the United States of a "breach of law".

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

* 'A TERRIBLE BEAUTY WAS BORN' -HONOR JAMES CONNOLLY AND THE EASTER RISING, 1916

*** 'A TERRIBLE BEAUTY WAS BORN' -HONOR JAMES CONNOLLY AND THE EASTER RISING, 1916



Click On Title To Link To YouTube's Film Clip Of The Wolftones Performing The Song In Honor Of "James Connolly". There are also some very good photographs of the destruction of Dublin after the British shelled the downtown area of "their province" to kingdom come.

COMMENTARY

ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF JAMES CONNOLLY, COMMANDANT- IRISH CITIZEN ARMY- EXECUTED BY THE BLOODY BRITISH IMPERIALISTS MAY, 1916. ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF BOBBY SANDS, MP AND THE 10 MARTYRED LONG KESH HUNGER STRIKERS. ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF THE 90th ANNIVERSARY OF THE EASTER UPRISING, 1916. BRITISH TROOPS OUT OF IRELAND TODAY (AND WHILE WE ARE AT IT OUT OF IRAQ).


A word. They tell a story about James Connolly that just before the start of action on Easter Monday, 1916 he told the members of the Irish Citizen’s Army (almost exclusively workers, by the way) that if the uprising was successful to keep their guns handy. More work with them might be necessary against the nationalist allies of the moment organized as the Irish Volunteers. The Volunteers were mainly a petty bourgeois formation that had no intention of fighting for Connolly's vision of a Socialist Republic. True story or not, I think that gives a pretty good example of the strategy and tactics to be used in colonial and third world struggles by the working class. Would that the Chinese Communists in the 1920’s and other colonial and third world liberation fighters since then have paid heed to that strategic concept.

James Connolly, June 5, 1868-May 12, 1916, was of Scottish Irish stock. He was born in Edinburgh of immigrant parents. The explicit English colonial policy of trying to drive the Irish out of Ireland and thus created the Irish diaspora produced many such immigrants from benighted Ireland to England, America, Australia and the far flung parts of the world. Many of these immigrants left Ireland under compulsion of banishment. Deportation and executions were the standard English response in the history of the various “Troubles" from Cromwell’s time on.

Connolly, like many another Irish lad left school for a working life at age 11. The international working class has produced many such self-taught and motivated leaders. Despite the lack of formal education he became one of the preeminent left-wing theorists of his day in the pre- World War I international labor movement. In the class struggle we do not ask for diplomas, although they help, but commitment to the cause of the laboring masses. Again, like many an Irish lad Connolly joined the British Army, at the age of 14. In those days the British Army provided one of the few ways of advancement for an Irishman who had some abilities. As fate would have it Connolly was stationed in Dublin. I believe the English must rue the day they let Brother Connolly near weapons and near Dublin. As a line in an old Irish song goes- ‘ Won’t Old Mother England be Surprised’.

By 1892 Connolly was an important figure in the Scottish Socialist Federation which, by the way, tended to be more militant and more Celtic and less enamored of parliamentarianism than its English counterpart. Later, the failure to gather in the radical Celtic elements was a contributing factor in the early British Communist Party’s failure to break the working class from the Labor Party. Most of the great labor struggles of the period cam from the leadership in Scotland and Ireland. Connolly became the secretary of the Federation in 1895. In 1896 he left the army and established the Irish Socialist Republican Party. The name itself tells the program. Ireland at that time was essentially a classic English colony so to take the honored name Republican was to spit in the eye of the English. Even today the English have not been able to rise to the political level of a republic. Despite Cromwell’s valiant attempt in the 1600's and no thanks to today's British Labor Party’s policies this is still sadly the case. All militants, of whatever nation, can and must support this call- Abolish the British monarchy, House of Lords and the state Church of England.

In England Connolly was active in the Socialist Labor Party that split from the moribund, above-mentioned Social Democratic Federation in 1903. During the period before the Easter uprising he was heavily involved in the Irish labor movement and acted essentially as the right hand man to James Larkin in the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. In 1913 when Larkin led a huge strike in Dublin but was forced to leave due to English reprisals Connolly took over. It was at that time that Connolly founded the Irish Citizens Army as a defense organization of armed and trained laboring men against the brutality of the dreaded Dublin Metropolitan Police. Although only numbering about 250 men at the time their political goal was to establish an independent and socialist Ireland.

Connolly stood aloof from the leadership of the Irish Volunteers, the nationalist formation based on the middle classes. He considered them too bourgeois and unconcerned with Ireland's economic independence. In 1916 thinking the Volunteers were merely posturing, and unwilling to take decisive action against England, he attempted to goad them into action by threatening to send his Irish Citizens Army against the British Empire alone, if necessary. This alarmed the members of the more militant faction -Irish Republican Brotherhood, who had already infiltrated the Volunteers and had plans for an insurrection as well. In order to talk Connolly out of any such action, the IRB leaders, including Tom Clarke and Patrick Pearse, met with Connolly to see if an agreement could be reached. During the meeting the IRB and the ICA agreed to act together at Easter of that year.

When the Easter Rising occurred on April 24, 1916, Connolly was Commandant of the Dublin Brigade, and as the Dublin brigade had the most substantial role in the rising, he was de facto Commander in Chief. Following the surrender he was executed by the British for his role in the uprising. Although he was so badly injured in the fighting that he was unable to stand for his execution and he was shot sitting in a chair. The Western labor movement, to its detriment, no longer produces enough such militants as Connolly (and Larkin, for that matter). Learn more about this important socialist thinker and fighter. ALL HONOR TO THE MEMORY OF JAMES CONNOLLY.

A word on the Easter Uprising. The easy part of analyzing the Uprising is the knowledge, in retrospect, that it was not widely supported by people in Ireland and militarily defeated by the British forces send in main force to crush it and therefore doomed to failure. Still easier is to criticize the strategy and tactics of the action and of the various actors, particularly in underestimating the British Empire’s frenzy to crush any opposition to its main task of victory in World War I. The hard part is to draw any positive lessons of that national liberation experience for the future. If nothing else remember this though, and unfortunately the Irish national liberation fighters (and other national liberation fighters later, including later Irish revolutionaries) failed to take this into account in their military calculations. The British (or fill in the name of whatever colonial power applies) were entirely committed to defeating the uprising, including burning that colonial country to the ground if need be in order to maintain control. In the final analysis, it was not their metropolitan homeland, so the hell with it. Needless to say, British Labor’s position was almost a carbon copy of His Imperial Majesty’s. Labor leader Arthur Henderson could barely contain himself when informed that James Connolly had been executed. That should, even today, make every British militant blush with shame. Unfortunately, the demand for British militants and all other militants today is the same as back then in 1916- All British Troops Out of Ireland.

In various readings I have come across a theory that the Uprising was the first socialist revolution in Europe, predating the Bolshevik Revolution by over a year. Unfortunately, there is little truth to that idea. Of the Uprising’s leaders, only James Connolly was devoted to the socialist cause. Moreover, while the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army were prototypical models for urban- led national liberation forces such organizations, as we have witnessed in later history, are not inherently socialistic. The dominant mood among the leadership was in favor of political independence and/or fighting for a return to a separate traditional Irish cultural hegemony. Let poets rule the land, an old idea. As outlined in the famous Proclamation of the Republic posted on the General Post Office in Dublin, Easter Monday, 1916 the goal of the leadership appeared to be something on the order of a society like those fought for in the European Revolutions of 1848, a left bourgeois republic. Some formation on the order of the Paris Commune of 1871 or the Soviet Commune of 1917 did not figure in the political calculations at that time.

As noted above, James Connolly clearly was skeptical of his erstwhile comrades on the subject of the nature of the future state and apparently was prepared for an ensuing class struggle following the establishment of a republic. That does not mean that revolutionary socialists could not support such an uprising. On the contrary, Lenin, who was an admirer of Connolly for his anti-war stance in World War I, and Trotsky stoutly defended the uprising against those who derided the Easter Rising for involving bourgeois elements. Participation by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements is in the nature of a national liberation struggle. The key, which must be learned by militants today, is who leads the national liberation struggle and on what program. As both Lenin and Trotsky made clear later in their own revolutionary experiences in Russia revolutionary socialists have to lead other disaffected elements of society to overthrow the existing order. There is no other way in a heterogeneous class-divided society. Moreover, in Ireland, the anti-imperialist nature of the action against British imperialism during wartime merited support. This is based on the old socialist principle that the main enemy is a home. Chocky Ar La.

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN FROM MEMORY AND THUS SOME OF THE DATES AND ORGANIZATIONAL NAMES MAY BE INCORRECT. THE WRITER WOULD APPRECIATE ANY CORRECTIONS. NEEDLESS TO SAY, NOTWITHSTANDING SUCH ERRORS, THE WRITER STANDS BY HIS POLITICAL CONCLUSIONS.