This is a bit of a mess, because Louis is angry about something that
gets in the way of his thinking, but here goes:
In message <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>, Louis
Proyect <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes
>Or was "ennobling" American Indians just a convenient fiction?
Isn't that what I said? Fictitious. Property in land was an institution
that was alien to native Americans.
>The notion that there was any sort of class ties between the colonizers and
>the Calibans of the New World is actually an obscene lie.
Indeed it is is! Who is the dastardly character who dared say such a
thing. I'll have him!
>The early Colonists lived in peculiar subservience, often as indentured
>servants to their English masters. The monopoly over the land held by a
>handful of English lords guaranteed their servitude and their masters power.
>So the early Colonists lived in subservience? This is a novel view, I must
>say, in light of all the Marxist research into American society of the
>1600-1800 period. What history book did you consult to come up with this
>startling statement? I was under the impression that there was a landed
>aristocracy in colonial America. How did they disappear in your account?
Again, where is the controversy. The the estates were held by landlords
of English Origin like William Penn (the name of a nearby School when I
was a boy, we called them 'Billy Biro'.) These men were naturally closer
to England than America in the emerging conflict, as English ships were
the garantor of their power. They were also hostile to expansion
Westwards because that undermined the monopoly power over the means of
subsistence that their land ownership represented.
>Again, with the absence of an American landed aristocracy, LM's history
>makes perfect sense.
Whoever said it. The expansion westwards was driven by a desire to
escape the social domination of landlords.
> Marxists prefer to include
>all major classes, however, when we evaluate history and not leave a single
>one out. On the question of the tensions between Indians and frontiersmen,
>it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL to factor in the landed aristocracy, the class
>LM relegates to Derridean "erasure."
Bizarre. It was me who introduced the discussion of the monopoly over
land into the equation.
> It was not an "English governor" that
>the poor whites were in struggle with, but the emerging American
>bourgeoisie who were wealthy tobacco, cotton and livestock farmers.
Of course there was that small matter of a War of Inependence, and
indeed of Nathaniel Bacon's revolt. But why let historical facts
interfere with myth-making. And now suddenly the landlords have
transformed themselves into a bourgeoisie! Where was the struggle that
facilitated that change?
>In the Bacon Rebellion of 1676 in Virginia, poor whites drifted westward
>when they were left out of huge land grants awarded to plantation-owners.
>On the frontier they collided with Indian tribes. Wealthy Virginians
>playing Indians against poor whites is a familiar pattern in American
>history. The goal was to punish Bacon's rebels and prevent the Indians from
>uniting against them.
I'm not sure that this accounts for Bacon's bloodcurdling demands for an
aggressive Indian policy. If it was a matter of playing Indians of
againsst poor whites in classical divide and rule mode, it didn't
exactly work, issuing in the overthrow of the governor on that very
issue. The point was that the frontiersmen were constantly tempted to
press West to escape the heavy hand of the East coast ruling class.
>After some skirmishes between frontiersmen and
>Indians, the ruling class in Virginia DECLARED WAR on the Indians. Why do
>you leave out this fact, Heartfield?
Well, it was only a sketch. As to the declaration of war, I would see it
as the attempt by the Virginia gentry to get back in the saddle and take
hold of a situation that was running out of their control.
>Isn't it of interest to note that such
>an event took place? Doesn't the truth matter to you?
Now you're just being rude.
>The fundamental class struggle in the New World was not between
>"revolutionary" capitalists and precapitalist social formations in alliance
>with the French or British Crown. It was rather between the emerging
>American ruling class and an array of subclasses: landless whites, Indians,
>and African slaves.
This all seems a bit formulaic to me. Your 'emerging American ruling
class' is a broad abstraction that ignores real historical developments.
The conflict between the British and the French, between colonists and
the British, between the East coast elites and the West, and between
North and South in the Civil war are all subsumed into a ready-made
moral schema of rich v poor. That might make you feel good, but it
hardly describes the real conditions when the 'landless whites' were at
the forefront of the seizure of Indian lands, or that the Northern
Industrialists finally abolished slavery, (while the Southern poor
fought to defend that peculiar insitution). Were the Colonists wrong to
seek their independence? Was Marx wrong to side with Lincoln?
Lenin, citing James Connoly poured scorn on those revolutionary purists
who will not endorse a struggle unless the two classes line up in
perfect formation against each other, like two armies on a battle-field.
As he said anyone who expects the class struggle to take such a pure
form will never live to see it. Real history is a lot messier than that.
>Marxists in 1998 should identify with these subordinate
>classes and not try to create artificial identities between the oppressor
>and the oppressed as LM does.
This is just rhetoric.
> By the way, my source on Bacon's Rebellion is
>Howard Zinn's "People's History of the US". What is your source, Heartfield?
Funnily enough, Howard Zinn.
>And what was the war of 1812 all about?
Are you proposing a new topic? Are you supporting George IV? Are you
proposing a withdrawal from Florida? Anyway. wasn't I the one who said
that the colonists were predisposed to see the Indians as their enemies?
> Furthermore, aren't you
>aware that not all Indians were in favor of war with Washington? The Creeks
>were divided, some just wanted to live in peace.
Oh yes the pro-US Indians, I had forgotten their great contribution to
>What garbage. "Colonists" is a term that has no class meaning. It is like
>saying that the Indians were an obstacle to the eastward expansion of
By 'class meaning' you mean lifeless formula, by virtue of which all
history can be subsumed under the one universal truism:
>The real story of this continent--as it is in Europe and
>elsewhere--is a story of the ruling classes versus the underclasses.
There is an English song 'it's the rich what gets the pleasure, it's the
poor what gets the blame, its the same the whole world over, ain't that
a bleeding' shame'. Compared to Louis' tract, that is a triumph of
>get into my re-examination of American history, Native Americans and the
>Marxist outlook, I will argue that any attempt to identify the bourgeoisie
>with progress in its attacks on Indian land claims is deeply inimical to
>genuine progress, in other words, socialism.
And good luck to you, because I never sought to identify the bourgeois
with progress in its attacks on Indian land claims (as though such
claims were ever the product of native American society), only to
understand the forces at work in the American history.
But then that is your problem. You always want to rush to a position, or
moral stance. Real facts are just raw material to reproduce the timeless
story of the underdog. Too much meditation on historical change
threatens to overturn your little moral universe of good and evil and
most be short-circuited as quickly as possible. Real social classes, and
the different social relations that sustain them are quickly merged into
a caricature of 'rich and poor'.