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Citation to Collected Works is at bottom of message. Unfortunately, MECW
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On 3/13/2017 10:24 PM, Thomas wrote:
Where can one find the article quoted? MEC appear to be out of action.
From: Ralph Johansen via Marxism <email@example.com>
Sent: Mar 14, 2017 12:14 AM
To: Thomas F Barton <thomasfbar...@earthlink.net>
Subject: [Marxism] Marx on Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation
I just stumbled on this while looking for something else:
Lincoln is a /sui generis/ figure in the annals of history. He has no
initiative, no idealistic impetus, no cothurnis, no historical
trappings. He gives his most important actions always the most
commonplace form. Other people claim to be "fighting for an idea," even
when it is for them a matter of square feet of land. Lincoln, even when
he is motivated by an idea, talks about "square feet." He sings the
bravura aria of his part hesitatively, reluctantly and unwillingly, as
though apologizing for being compelled by circumstances to "act the
lion." The most redoubtable decrees - which will always remain
remarkable historical documents - flung by him at the enemy will look
like, and are intended to look like, routine summonses sent by a lawyer
to the lawyer of the opposing party, legal chicaneries, involved,
hide-bound /actiones juris/. His latest proclamation, which is drafted
in the same style, the manifesto abolishing slavery, is the most
important document in American history since the establishment of the
Union, tantamount to the tearing up of the old American Constitution.
Nothing is simpler than to show that Lincoln's principal political
actions contain much that is aesthetically repulsive, logically
inadequate, farcical in form and politically contradictory. as is done
by the English Pindar of slaves, /The Times/, /The Saturday Review/
and/tutti quanti/. But Lincoln's place in the history of the United
States and of mankind will, nevertheless, be next to that of Washington!
Nowadays, when the insignificant struts about melodramatically on this
side of the Atlantic, is it of no significance at all that the
significant is clothed in everyday dress in the new world?
Lincoln is not the product of a popular revolution. This plebeian, who
worked his way up from stone-breaker to Senator in Illinois, without
intellectual brilliance, without a particularly outstanding character,
without exceptional importance - an average person of good will, was
placed at the top by the interplay of the forces of universal suffrage
unaware of the great issues at stake. The new world has never achieved a
greater triumph than by this demonstration that, given its political and
social organization, ordinary people of good will can accomplish feats
which only heroes could accomplish in the old world!
Hegel once observed that comedy is in fact superior to tragedy and
humourous reasoning superior to grandiloquent reasoning. Although
Lincoln does not possess the grandiloquence of historical action, as an
average man of the people he has its humour. When does he issue the
proclamation declaring that from January 1, 1863, slavery in the
Confederacy shall be abolished? At the very moment when the Confederacy
as an independent state decided on "peace negotiations" at its Richmond
Congress. At the very moment when the slave-owners of the border states
believed that the invasion of Kentucky by the armies of the South had
made the "peculiar institution" just as safe as was their domination
over their compatriot, President Abraham Lincoln in Washington.
- MECW 19:250
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