Monday, May 19, 2014

Blame Abraham Lincoln for the Confederate Battle Flag

Photo:  I-95 Memorial Battle Flag, Chester, VA 5-18-2014, Courtesy of Frannie Kellison
There has been some controversy generated about the Confederate Battle Flag that will be hoisted over Interstate 95 near Richmond. The arguments against it are the predictable ones, such as that it is "divisive," it makes Richmond look like a "hick town" full of "ignorant people," that we ought to be "looking ahead" instead of "looking back" at something we have "moved on" from, and that it will hurt "tourism" if we tell the Truth about our grandparents"™ fathers instead of selling them down the river to gawking tourists as scapegoats for all the social ills of this nation. The unspoken assumption is that The War was fought over slavery, and the implications of this assumption is that if anyone disagrees with this point of view, they are either a racist or an ignorant redneck stuck in the past. I thought we were supposed to have "moved on" from such stereotypes.

General Robert E. Lee was the leader, the heart, and the soul of the army that carried that banner, and anyone attempting to characterize him with such a stereotype only belittles himself. It takes men of worth to recognize worth in men. I will not get sucked into the thicket of protesting too much. I will only say that if the North were fighting to free the slaves and the South were fighting to keep them, I find it most ironic that the Commander-in-Chief of the Confederate Armies freed the slaves that came to him by inheritance, while the Commander-in-Chief of the United States"™ Armies kept his throughout the War.

George Orwell, in his dystopian novel 1984, wrote that "Ignorance is strength." Big Brother thrives on it. It is easy to teach ignorance "“ and "The Civil War" - with cue cards:

Card #1: The War was fought over slavery.
Card #2: Lincoln freed the slaves.
Card #3: End of Story - Any Questions?

Well, yes. May we bring up the cue cards for Algebraic Equations and apply them to a comparison between the American War for Independence in 1776 the "Civil War" in 1861?

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Ed. (Springfield, Mass: G & C. Merriam Co., 1943), defines a mercantile system as an economic system designed "to secure a favorable balance of trade, to develop agriculture and manufactures, to create a merchant marine, and establish foreign trading monopolies." Industrializing England had such a system in relation to her agricultural colonies at the time of the War for Independence in 1776. After the war, according to Thomas Prentiss Kettell in his Southern Wealth and Northern Profits, (New York: George W. and John A. Wood, 1860) p. 19, industrializing New England inherited the same relationship to the rest of the newly independent agricultural States that England had enjoyed.

A mercantile nation cannot exist in a vacuum. A nation that employs it must have a source of raw materials to sustain it. The system is thus divided into two parts: the "core" industrial nation, and the agrarian "periphery" that supplies the core with raw materials and a market for the core's manufactured products.

An Argentine Economist named Raul Prebisch developed what is known as the Dependency Theory as a rebuttal to the earlier Modernity Theory that had been posed to explain the stalled development of the "Third World" (see Harry E. Vanden and Gary Prevost, The Politics of Latin America: The Power Game [Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002] pgs. 153-4, 156-60.) Prebisch argues that the concentration of exports in primary commodities has a structural tendency to deteriorate the terms of trade, because the price of the commodities rises more slowly than the cost of the manufactured commodities imported. Thus, over time, the power of the purse and the sword gravitate from the "periphery" towards the "core," and threatens to turn the periphery into an economic colony, much like Massachusetts' Boston-based United Fruit Company turned the Central American States into "Banana Republics" in later times.

This is what happened between England and the American colonies in 1776, and this is what happened between the North and the South in 1861. In both cases the balance of trade became exploitative against the periphery. In both cases it drove the periphery to secession. In both cases it drove the core to launch a war of conquest against the periphery to drive it back under its control. This is what both wars were about.

So, what about slavery? Simple. In both cases, the core (England in1776 and the North in 1861) employed free labor, while the periphery (the Thirteen Colonies in 1776 and the Southern States in 1861) employed a slave-labor system. Put England's War to Prevent Colonial Independence on one side of the Algebraic Equation, and put the North's War to Prevent Southern Independence on the other. Then factor out slavery as a mathematical constant on both sides of the equation. One will see that it makes for a very Politically Incorrect cue card.

H.V. "Bo" Traywick, Jr.

Virginia Flaggers
P.O. Box 547
Sandston VA 23150

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