In fact the French courts and the English Parliament ennobled Native
American leaders as ‘Chieftans’ or Chiefs of their ‘tribes’ or clans on the
model of the fictitious recognition of the land rights of the Scottish
lairds. Like that artificial nobility, the Native American chiefs were
received in the Court of the Sun King Louis IV, and throughout European
high society.

Louis Proyect:
What is the source for this? This garbled clot of prose conceals much more
than it reveals. Are you stating that the land rights of the Scottish
lairds was "fictitious"? Or are you saying that the American Indian's
claims were fictitious? Or both? Are you saying that the European
aristocracy "ennobled" Indians in the same way that they ennobled
themselves? Does this mean that the Duke of Kent would consider marrying
the daughter of a Seneca chief just as soon as he would a Hapsburg
Princess? Or was "ennobling" American Indians just a convenient fiction?
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. And what
right-wing garbage pail did you pick this stinking 3 day old red herring from?

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.

Louis Proyect:
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?

On the opposite end of the equation, the Colonists had only one outlet for
their aspiration to be free from European domination - to press the
frontier Eastward. In 1676 Nathaniel Bacon led a revolt of black slaves and
white indentured servants against the English governor, imprisoning him.
Bacon’s rallying cry was an aggressive Indian policy, meaning an escape
East - something which England had to send battalions across the Atlantic
to prevent. The association of popular democracy and an aggressive Indian
policy endured through the War of Independence, Jacksonism, right up to the
closing of the frontier at the end of the nineteenth century.

Louis Proyect:
Again, with the absence of an American landed aristocracy, LM's history
makes perfect sense. It is the same thing as writing about American history
and omitting slavery. What's the absence of a social class here or there
when you are trying to score propaganda points. 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." 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.

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. 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? Isn't it of interest to note that such
an event took place? Doesn't the truth matter to you?

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. 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. By the way, my source on Bacon's Rebellion is
Howard Zinn's "People's History of the US". What is your source, Heartfield?

And what was the war of 1812 all about? Aren't you aware that Andrew
Jackson was a land speculator, merchant, slave trader and the most
aggressive enemy of the American Indians in early American history? The war
of 1812 was not just a war of survival for the US against the Crown, it was
also a war of expansion into Florida, Canada and into Indian territory.
What ruling-class history books do you consult for your version of the war
of 1812. Henry Steele Commager? Arthur Schlesinger? 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. This did not prevent
Jackson from murdering Indians wholesale. In the Battle of Horseshoe Bend
in 1814, he killed 800 out of 1000 Creeks while taking just a few
casualties himself. This victory enabled him to secure a "treaty" that
seized half of all Creek land. (Zinn, p.126-127, "People's History Of the US")

In fact these [land] rights were artificially construed to frustrate
Eastward expansion, which meant that they only served to place the Native
Americans directly in the line of fire between the Colonists and the
European powers. They locked Native Americans into a hostile relation with
the Colonists that led to one slaughter after another.

Louis Proyect:
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
"Americans". The real story of this continent--as it is in Europe and
elsewhere--is a story of the ruling classes versus the underclasses. When I
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.

Reply via email to