13 votes On Marx, Lincoln, slavery and socialism in the years following the Civil War Posted December 27, 2020 by Kuromantis Tags: history, karl marx, presidents, abraham lincoln, usa, socialism, slavery, politics, american civil war, author.robin blackburn, source.jacobin https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/08/lincoln-and-marx Link information This data is scraped automatically and may be incorrect. Title Lincoln and Marx Word count 2688 words 2 comments Collapse replies Expand all Comments sorted by most votes newest first order posted relevance OK Kuromantis (OP) December 27, 2020 Link Abraham Lincoln, as president, chose to reply to an “Address” from the London-based International Workingmen’s Association. The “Address,” drafted by Karl Marx, congratulated Lincoln on his reelection for a second term. In some resonant and complex paragraphs, the “Address” heralded the world-historical significance of what had become a war against slavery. The “Address” declared that victory for the North would be a turning point for nineteenth-century politics, an affirmation of free labor, and a defeat for the most reactionary capitalists who depended on slavery and racial oppression. Marx insisted that secession had been prompted by the Southern elite’s political fears. They knew that power within the Union was shifting against them. The South was losing its tight grip on federal institutions because of the dynamism of the Northwest, a destination for many new immigrants. As the Northwest Territory matured into free states, the South found itself outnumbered; the North was loath to recognize any new slave states. The slaveholders had alienated Northerners by requiring them to arrest and return fugitive slaves, yet they knew they needed the wholehearted support of their fellow citizens if they were to defend their “peculiar institution.” Lincoln’s election was seen as a deadly threat because he owed Southerners nothing and had promised to oppose any expansion of slavery. Marx and Lincoln had very divergent opinions on business corporations and wage labor, but from today’s perspective they shared something important: they both loathed exploitation and regarded labor as the ultimate source of value. In his first message to Congress in December 1861, Lincoln criticized the “effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government.” Instead, he insisted, “labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor . . . Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” 4 votes skybrian December 30, 2020 Link Here is a longer quote from Lincoln's 1861 message to Congress: This perhaps sounds Marxist to some, but it is more along the lines of the common American story of the individual working their way... Here is a longer quote from Lincoln's 1861 message to Congress: It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life. Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless. Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class--neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families--wives, sons, and daughters--work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class. Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost. This perhaps sounds Marxist to some, but it is more along the lines of the common American story of the individual working their way out of poverty, and Lincoln himself was an example of that. He asserts that capital is the fruit of labor, but that doesn't seem true of land and more generally the environment, which precedes everything? 4 votes
Here is a longer quote from Lincoln's 1861 message to Congress:
This perhaps sounds Marxist to some, but it is more along the lines of the common American story of the individual working their way out of poverty, and Lincoln himself was an example of that.
He asserts that capital is the fruit of labor, but that doesn't seem true of land and more generally the environment, which precedes everything?