A people’s history of the United States (Howard Zinn) 
Jag får än idag – 3e december 2013 – inte rätsida på denna recension, som är min längsta – kanske den längsta i världshistorien. Den här boken är den bästa historiebok som har skrivits. En juvel, att läsas, läsas om, delas, diskuteras, undervisas, avnjutas, hänföras av, inspireras av – det är Howard Zinns bultande livspuls man håller i handen när man öppnar denna bok – jag är överväldigad av detta mästerverk. Någon dag ska jag putsa till recensionen – någon dag.
– Lyfter klassfrågan (även i feminism, eko, etc..). Om hur gång på gång i historien ”ben” kastats till de rasande massorna för att förhindra att de går samman och välter hela jävla världsordningen över ända (exempel: skaffa buffrande medelklasser, så splittring) och hur gång på gång människors radikalism och energi kanaliserats och tillintetgjorts i kontrollerade återvändsgränder (exempel: rösträtt var fjärde år).
– Ger insikt i hur många teman som återkommer och används än idag: t.ex. den late ”bidragsfuskaren”/arbetaren som vägrar acceptera de skäliga löner (läs svältlön) som samhället erbjuder…
– Hur varje gång någon slags förbättring för den vanliga människan inträffat, har det kommit nerifrån, medan historieskrivningen alltid beskriver den uppifrån (trickle-down-myten)
fantastiska övergångar mellan kapitlen; helhet
– samhällets grundpelare/institutioners historiska roll i att förtrycka arbetaren: polis, militär, kyrka/politiker (som tillhört eliten själva)
rasfrågan, som socialister och unions varit dåliga på att lyfta och använda.
det mest brutala våld mot indianerna. övergick i sofistikerade lagar o byråkrati, lika brutalt… miserabla utdrivningar och marscher (obs olagligt) där tusentals dog
Cp1: views on history, honesty, sacrificing 50 milj for ‘development’ ok? then it must be discussed penly
Cp 2 : Indians on home soil, whites within their culture ie: slaves must be black, from communal tribes (a separated from their own, b) mixed with unknown tribes)
differences, African slavery: no capitalist agriculture, no culture of private property => slaves had more rights, etc.
advanced cultures completely wiped out – what do we mean by progress?
frontier land (west: close to indian land) was cheaper = poor people moved there, became a buffer for ‘the indian trouble’. elites waged war on indians to distract the buffer (‘common enemy’) and to spread adversity between poor/<blacks to indians & vice versa,
This was crucial as whites were outnumbered
Cp4 propaganda byggs up inför separering från GRB bl.a. genom poltiska pamfletter (Tom Paines Declaration of Independence) July 4 1776 (Wealth of Nations)
Jefferson – slavägare, Washington landägare, etc.
Locke – slavägare, silke/transaktioner/barnarbete (s 73)
Cp5 Franklin – FRA-allians, Yorktown 1781 (sista slaget)
slavar 25-50%, nekades i frihetsarmén
Indianer slogs på ‘fransmännens sida’
kustområden för rika, ‘West’ buffert som fattiga tog
tusentals svarta på bägge sidor, många smet (USA/GRB)
Södern fortsatte > självständighet
55 män skrev Constitution 1781 (philadephia) majoritet rikemän
Shays rebellion: veteran, småbonde, blockerade domstolar inför arrenderingsbeslut. slogs ner med armén.
Jefferson: positivt (????)
propaganda: folket nyckfullt, behöver konstant politisk elit.
Bill of Rights = tillägg > kritik, right to speech? Act of sedition (seditious libel)
Cp 15: svarta som strejkbrytare
mmigration: 30x britter vs östeuropéer
KKK 4 milj medlemmar
generellt reallöneökning, men ojämlikt (trots tal om ‘roaring 20’s’). Top 5% = bottom 42%
1920 kvinnors rösträtt, 1938 minimum wage.
börskrasch 29 (spekulation) –> 5000 banker stängde, 1/3 av arbetarna utan jobb, produktion halverad + förbjudet barnarbete ==> spontana radikala arbetarrörelser, sit-downs = under tak, förhindrar scabs, direkt lokal kontrool, ofta radikalare än fackledarna –> oro –> F D Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ 1933 = ny attityd till arbetarna. Regeringen började tala med facken, rörelsens energi kanaliseras i val, kontrakt, processer, etc.
strejkerna hade utbildning, ‘domstolar’, seminarier
efter WW1: kommunister stora, aktiva för svarta. ‘Self-help in hard times’ FARLIGT
Importance of unions illustrated by how many settlements that required workers to leave the unions.
Lincoln during civil war: consiliatory to South, not anti-slavery by principle (own words). Post-civil war: post-apartheid-like ‘equality’.
Columbus, the Indians, and Guman Progress
In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicde, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.
“[Las Casas says that] from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it…”
Las Casas var en samtida historiker (?)
Drawing the Color Line
African slavery lacked two elements that made American slavery the most cruel form of slavery in history: the frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture; the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, black was slave.
(om slavtransport, samtida dokument)
“The height, sometimes, between decks, was only eighteen inches; so that the unfortunate human beings could not turn around, or even on their sides, the elevation being less than the breadth of their shoulders…”
Only one fear was greater than the fear of black rebellion in the new American colonies. That was the fear that discontented whites would join black slaves to overthrow the existing order.
“It was common, for example, for servants [whites] and slaves to run away together, steal hogs together, get drunk together. It was not uncommon for them to make love together.”
Dvs rashat är något onaturligt, inventerat och propagerat.
”Virginia’s ruling class, having proclaimed that all white men were superior to black, went on to offer their social (but white) inferiors a number of benefits previously denied them.”
Persons of Mean and Vile Condition
Bacon’s rebellion; stort missnöje i Virginia den tiden pga torka och dåliga skördar, ilskan riktades mot indianerna på västfronten:
In 1676, seventy years after Virginia was founded, a hundred years before it supplied leadership for the American Revolution, that colony faced a rebellion of white frontiersmen, joined by slaves and servants, a rebellion so threatening that the governor had to flee the burning capital of Jamestown, and England decided to send a thousand soldiers across the Atlantic…
Bacon himself came from this [upper] class, had a good bit of land, and was probably more enthusiastic about killing Indians than about redressing the grievances of the poor. But he became a symbol of mass resentment against the Virginia establishment… [Bacon] gathered his militia, and began raiding the Indians.
It was a complex chain of oppression in Virginia. The Indians were plundered by white frontiersmen, who were taxed and controlled by the Jamestown elite. And the whole colony was being exploited by England.
Tyranny Is Tyranny
Om brytningen med moderlandet:
Patrick Henry’s oratory in Virginia pointed a way to relieve class tension between upper and lower classes and form a bond against the British. This was to find language inspiring to all classes, specific enough in its listing of grievances to charge people with anger against the British, vague enough to avoid class conflict among the rebels, and stirring enough to build patriotic feeling for the resistance movement.
Tom Paine’s Common Sense, which appeared in early 1776 and became the most popular pamphlet in the American colonies, did this.
”The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART.
[…] in 1774, the setting up of a Continental Congress – an illegal body, forerunner of a future independent government. It was after the military clash at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, between colonial Minutemen and British troops, that the Continental Congress decided on separation. They organized a small committee to draw up the Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson wrote. It was adopted by the Congress on July 2, and officially proclaimed July 4, 1776.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…
[…] (Jefferson’s personal distaste for slavery must be put alongside that he owned hundreds of slaves to the day he died).
Locke himself was a wealthy man, with investmens in the silk trade and slave trade…
At the very time the American scene was becoming tense, in 1768, England was racked by riots and strikes – of coal heavers, saw mill workers, hatters, weavers, sailors – because of the high price of bread and the miserable wages.
Four days after the reading [of the Declaration of Independence], the Boston Committee of Correspondence ordered the townsmen to show up on the Common for a military draft. The rich, it turned out, could avoid the draft by paying for substitutes; the poor had to serve. This led to rioting, and shouting: ”Tyranny is Tyranny let it come from whom it may.”
A Kind of Revolution
Benjamin Franklin negotiated an alliance with the French monarchy, which was anxious for revenge on England. The war turned to the South, where the British won victory after victory, until the Americans, aided by a large French army, with the French navy blocking off the British from supplies and reinforcements, won the final victory of the war at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.
With black slaves 25 percent of the population (and in some counties 50 percent), fear of slave revolts grew. George Washington had turned down the requests of blacks, seeking freedom, to fight in the Revolutionary army. So, when the British military commander in Virginia, Lord Dunmore, promised freedom to Virginia slaves who joined his forced, this created consternation.
When the British fought the French for North America in the Seven Year’s War, the Indians fought on the side of the French. The French were traders but not occupiers of Indian lands, while the British clearly coveted their hunting grounds and living space.
Under orders from British General Jeffrey Amherst, the commander of Fort Pitts gave attacking Indian chiefs, with whom he was negotiating, blankets from the smallpox hospital. It was a pioneering effort at what is now called biological warfare.
A peace was made, with the British agreeing to establish a line at the Appalachians, beyond which settlements would not encroach on Indian territory. This was the Royal Proclamation of 1763, and it angered Americans (the original Virginia charter said its land went westward to the ocean). It helps to explain why most of the Indians fought for England during the Revolution. With their French allies, then their English allies, gone, the Indians faced a new land-coveting nation – alone.
With the eastern elite controlling the lands on the seaboard, the poor, seeking land, were forced to go West, there becoming a useful bulwark for the rich because, as Jennings says, ”the first target of the Indian’s hatchet was the frontierman’s skull.”
The situation of black slaves as a result of the American Revolution was more complex. Thousands of blacks fought with the British. Five thousand were with the Revolutionaries, most of them from the North… Amid the urgency and chaos of war, thousands took their freedom…
In the northern states, the combination of blacks in the military, the lack of powerful economic need for slaves, and the rhetoric of the Revolution led to the end of slavery – but very slowly. As late as 1810, thirty thousand blacks, one-fourth of the black population of the North, remained slaves. […] In the lower South, slavery expanded with the growth of rice and cotton plantations.
[Historian Charles] Beard applied this general idea to the Constitution, by studying the economic backgrounds and political ideas of the fifty-five men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 to draw up the Constitution. He found that a majority of them were lawyers by profession, that most of them were men of wealth, in land, slaves, manufacturing, or shipping, that half of them had money loaned out at interest…
By 1787 there was not only a positive need for strong central government to protect the large economic interests, but also immediate fear of rebellion by discontented farmers. The chief even causing this fear was an uprising in the summer of 1786 in western Massachusetts, known as Shay’s Rebellion.
The new Constitution of 1780 had raised the property qualifications for voting. No one could hold state office without being quite wealthy. Furthermore, the legislature was refusing to issue paper money, as had been done in some other states, like Rhode Island, to make it easier for debt-ridden farmers to pay off their creditors.
(Därefter beskrivs hur myndigheterna konfiskerade boskap och land från de som inte kunde betala, och hur bönder och veteraner från ”frihetskriget” gjorde fysiskt motstånd, blockerade myndighetsbyggnader, etc.)
Sam Adams helped draw up a Riot Act, and a resolution suspending habeas corpus, to allow the authorities to keep people in jail without trial. At the same time, the legislature moved to make some concessions to the angry farmers, saying certain old taxes could now be paid in goods instead of money.
It was Thomas Jefferson, in France as ambassador at the time of Shay’s Rebellion, who spoke of such uprisings as health for society. In a letter to a friend he wrote: ”I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing… It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government… God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion… The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
(Alexander Hamilton, medhjälpare till Washington under kriget):
The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right… Nothing but a permanent body can check the imprudence of democracy.
[…] James Madison argued that representative government was needed to maintain peace in a society ridden by factional disputes. These disputes came from ”the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society.” The problem, he said, was how to control the factional struggles that came from inequalities in wealth… So the real problem, according to Madison, was a majority faction, and here the solution was offered by the Constitution, to have ”an extensive republic,” that is, a large nation ranging over thirteen states, for then ”it will be more difficult for all who feel it to discover their own strength, and to act in unison with each other… The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.”
(Underförstått är att regeringen förfogar över alla staters polis, militär, etc – som en kartell).
The Constitution, then, illustrates the complexity of the American system: that it serves the interests of a wealthy elite, but also does enough for small property owners, for middle-income mechanics and farmers, to build a broad base of support. The slightly prosperous people who make up this base of support are buffers against the blacks, the Indians, the very poor whites… [It] became even more acceptable to the public at large after the first Congress, responding to criticism, passed a series of amendments known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments seemed to make the new government a guardian of people’s liberties: to speak, to publish, to worship, to petition, to assemble, to be tried fairly, to be secure at home against official intrusion.
(Därefter berättar Zinn hur regeringen, sju år efter ‘The First Amendment’ (”Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”) driver igenom följande:)
[…] the Sedition Act of 1798, passed under John Adam’s administration, at a time when Irishmen and Frenchmen in the United States were looked on as dangerous revolutionaries because of the recent French Revolution and the Irish rebellions. The Sedition Act made it a crime to say or write anything ”false, scandalous and malicious” against the government, congress, or the President…
The Intimately Oppressed
Societies based on private property and competition, in which monogamous families became practical units for work and socialization, found it especially useful to establish this special status of women, something akin to a house slave in the matter of intimacy and oppression…
A best-selling ”pocket book,” published in London, was widely read in the American colonies in the 1700s. It was called Advice to a Daughter:
[…] Your Sex wanteth our Reason for your Conduct, and our Strength for your Protection: Ours wanteth your Gentleness to soften, and to entertain us…
Now, women were being pulled out of the house and into industrial life, while at the same time there was pressure for women to stay home where they were more easily controlled.
Clothing styles developed – for the rich and middle class of course, but, as always, there was the imitation of style even for the poor – in which the weight of women’s clothes, corsets and petticoats, emphasized female separation from the world of activity.
A sermon preached in 1808 in New York:
[…] like a guardian angel, watches over his interests, warns him against dangers, comforts him under trials; and by her pious, assiduous and attractive deportment, constantly endeavors to render him more virtuous, more useful, more honourable, and more happy.
Middle-class women, barred from higher education, began to monopolize the profession of primary-school teaching. As teachers, they read more, communicated more, and education itself became subversive… They began to write for magazines and newspapers, and started some ladies’ publications. Literacy among women doubled between 1780 and 1840.
Sarah Grimké, syster till Angelika Grimké (döttrar till en rik ranchägare i södern som senare blev ledare i anti-slaverirörelsen såväl som feminismen):
I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright on the ground which God has designed us to occupy…
As Long as Grass Grows or Water Runs
[George Washington’s] Secretary of War, Henry Knox, said: ”The Indians being the prior occupants, possess the right of the soil.” His Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, said in 1791 that where Indians lived within state boundaries they should not be interfered with, and that the government should remove white settlers who tried to encroach on them.
But as whites continued to move westward, the pressure on the national government increased. By the time Jefferson became President, in 1800, there were 700,000 white settles west of the mountains.
[Jefferson] proposed to Congress that Indians should be encouraged to settle down on smaller tracts and do farming; also, they should be encouraged to trade with whites, to incur debts, and then to pay off these debts with tracts of land. ”…Two measures are deemed expedient. First to encourage them to abandon hunting… Secondly, To Multiply trading houses among them… leadin them thus to agriculture, to manifactures, and civilization…”
In North Carolina, rich tracts of land belonging to the Chickasaw Indians were put on sale, although the Chickasaws were among the few Indian tribes fighting on the side of the Revolution, and a treaty had been signed with them guaranteeing their land.
[Andrew] Jackson became a national hero when in 1814 he fought the Battle of Horseshoe Bend against a thousand Creeks and killed eight hundred of them, with few casualties on his side. His white troops had failed in a frontal attack on Creeks, but the Cherokees with them, promised governmental friendship if they joined the war, swam the river, came up behind the Creeks, and won the battle for Jackson.
[Jackson] dictated a treaty which took away half the land of the Creek nation. Rogin says it was ”the largest single Indian cession of southern American land.” It took land from Creeks who had fought with Jackson as well as those who had fought against him…
[…] these land grabs, laid the basis for the cotton kingdom, the slave plantations. Every time a treaty was signed, pushing the Creeks from one area to the next, promising them security there, whites would move into the new area and the Creeks would feel compelled to sign another treaty, giving up more land in return for security elsewhere.
Jackson began raids into Florida, arguing it was a sanctuary for escaped slaves and for marauding Indians… Thus began the Seminole War of 1818, leading to the American acquisition of Florida. It appears on classroom maps politely as ”Florida Purchase, 1819” – but it came from Andrew Jackson’s military campaign across the Florida border, burning Seminole villages, seizing Spanish forts, until Spain was ”persuaded” to sell.
The leading books on the Jacksonian period, written by respected historians (The Age of Jackson by Arthur Schlesinger; The Jacksonian Persuasion by Marvin Meyers), do not mention Jackson’s Indian policy, but there is much talk in them of tariffs, banking, political parties, political rhetoric.
Chief Black Hawk, after his defeat and capture in 1832:
The white men are bad schoolmasters; they carry false books, and deal in false actions; they smile in the face of the poor Indian to cheat him; they shake them by the hand to gain their confidence, to make them drunk, to deceive them, and ruin our wives. We told them to leave us alone, and keep away from us; they followed on, and beset our paths, and they coiled themselves among us, like the snake. They poisoned us by their touch. We were not safe. We lived in danger. We were becoming like them, hypocrites and liars, adulterous lazy drones, all talkers and no workers…
The white men do not scalp the head; but they do worse – they poison the heart… Farewell, my nation! … Farewell to Black Hawk.
As Secretary of War John Eaton explained to the Creeks of Alabama (Alabama itself was an Indian name, meaning ”Here may we rest”): ”It is not your Great Father who does this; but the laws of the Country, which he and every one of his people is bound to regard.”
The proper tactic had now been found. The Indians would not be ”forced” to go West. But if they chose to stay they would have to abide by state laws, which destroyed their tribal and personal rights and made them subject to endless harassment and invasion by white settlers coveting their land. If they left, however, the federal government would give them financial support and promise them lands beyond the Mississippi. Jackson’s instructions to an army major sent to talk to the Choctaws and Cherokees put it this way:
[…] Say to the chiefs and warriors that I am their friend, that I wish to act as their friend but they must, by removing from the limits of the State of Mississippi and Alabama and by being settled on the lands I offer them, put it in my power to be such…
Theodore Frelinghuysen, senator, som försvarade indianerna i en debatt:
We have crowded the tribes upon a few miserable acres on our southern frontier, it is all that is left to them of their once boundless forest: and still, like the horse-leech, our insatiated cupidity cries, give! give! … Sir… Do the obligations of justice change with the color of the skin?
Georgia drev igenom lagar mot Cherokee-indianerna:
Cherokees advising others not to migrate were to be imprisoned. Cherokees could not testify in court against any white. Cherokees could not dig for the gold recently discovered on their land.
‘Cherokee nation’, i ett utlåtande till nationen:
[…] We pray to them to remember that, for the sake of principle, their forefathers were compelled to leave, therefore driven from the old world, and that the winds of persecution wafted them over the great waters and landed them on the shores of the new world, when the Indian was the sole lord and proprietor of these extensive domains – Let them remember in what way they were received by the savage of America, when power was in his hand, and his ferocity could not be restrained by any human arm.
An army colonel, dubious that [a treaty providing for emigration west] would work, wrote:
[…] You cannot have an idea of the deterioration which these Indians have undergone during the last two or three years, from a general state of comparative plenty to that of unqualified wretchedness and want.
Creek-indianerna stod emot, men tvingades till slut västerut 1836 när militären ingrep (med 11 000 (!!) man) och eskorterade dem bort från sitt land, bl.a. med legosoldater. Det ironiska var att creek-indianerna hade slagits på de vitas sida, mot seminole-indianerna, och utdrivningen skedde till stor del när männen var borta och slogs.
When the warriors returned from the Seminole War, they and their families were hustled west. Moving through New Orleans, they encountered a yellow fever plague. They crossed the Mississippi – 611 Indians croded onto the aged steamer Monmouth. It went down in the Mississippi River and 311 people died…
The Choctaws and Chickasaws had quickly agreed to migrate. The Creeks were stubborn and had to be forced. The Cherokees were practicing a nonviolent resistance. One tribe – the Seminoles – decided to fight.
Seminole-indianerna slogs ett gerillakrig i Floridas träskmarker under åtta år. Till slut tröttnade soldaterna, men blev gång på gång förrådda när de sökte förhandla om fred.
We Take Nothing by Conquest, Thank God
[…] Mexico, which had won its independence in a revolutionary war against Spain in 1821 – a large country which included Texas and what are now New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California and part of Colorado.
[…] Colonel Hitchcock, who wrote in his diary, even before those first incidents [mexikaner sköt ihjäl 16 amerikaner som patrullerade gränsen]:
I have said from the first that the United States are the aggressors… We have not one particle of right to be here… It looks as if the government sent a small force on purpose to bring on a war, so as to have a pretext for taking California and as much of this country as it chooses…
Abraham Lincoln of Illinois was not yet in Congress when the war began, but after his election in 1846 he had occasion to vote and speak on the war. His ”spot resolutions” became famous – he challenged Polk to specify the exact spot where American blood was shed ”on the American soil.” But he would not try to end the war by stopping funds for men and supplies. Speaking in the House on July 27, 1848, in support of the candidacy of General Zachary Taylor for President, he said:
But, as General Taylor is, par excellence, the hero of the Mexican War, and as you Democrats say we Whigs have always opposed the war, you think it must be very awkward and embarrassing for us to go for General Taylor. The declaration that we have always opposed the war is true or false, according as one may understand the term ”oppose the war.” If to say ”the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President” be opposing the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it… The marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops and other property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us… But if, when the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the giving of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies…
Horace Greeley wrote in the New York Tribune, May 12, 1846:
[…] Who believes that a score of victories over Mexico, the ”annexation” of half her provinces, will give us more Liberty, a purer Morality, a more prosperous Industry, than we now have? … Is not Life miserable enough, comes not Death soon enough, without resort to the hideous enginery of War?
We know much more about the American army [than the opposing Indians] – volunteers, not conscripts, lured by money and opportunity for social advancement via promotion in the armed forces. Half of General Taylor’s army were recent immigrants – Irish and German mostly. Whereas in 1830, 1 percent of the population of the United States was foreign-born, by the Mexican war the number was reaching 10 percent.
In Los Angeles, too, there was a revolt. Mexicans forced the American garrison there to surrender in September 1846. The United States did not retake January until January, after a bloody battle.
I många f.d. mexikanska städer slogs ett regelrätt krig (bl.a. med urskiljningslös bombning av Vera Cruz) där många tusentals mexikaner och amerikaner dog – till skillnad från den officiella historien som lyder att USA ”köpte” sina södra stater.
An infantry lieutenant wrote to his parents [about Huamantla]:
Old women and girls were stripped of their clothing – and many suffered still greater outrages. Men were shot by dozens… their property, churches, stores and dwelling houses ransacked… Dead horses and men lay about pretty thick, while drunken soldiers, yelling and screeching, were breaking open houses or chasing some poor Mexicans who had abandoned their houses and fled for life… It gave me a lamentable view of human nature… and made me for the first time ashamed of my country.
Mexico surrendered. There were calls among Americans to take all of Mexico. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed February 1848, just took half. The Texas boundary was set at the Rio Grande; New Mexico and california were ceded. The United States paid Mexico $15 million, which led the Whig Intelligencer to conclude that ”we take nothing by conquest… Thank God.”
Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom
The plantation system, based on tobacco growing in Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky, and rice in South Carolina, expanded into lush new cotton lands in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi – and needed more slaves. But slave importation became illegal in 1808. Therefore, ”from the beginning, the law went unenforced,” says John Hope Franklin (From Slavery to Freedom). ”The long, unprotected coast, the certain markets, and the prospects of huge profits were too much for the American merchants and they yielded to the temptation…” He estimates that perhaps 250,000 slaves were imported illegally before the Civil War.
Probably the largest slave revolt in the United States took place near New Orleans in 1811. Four to five hundred slaves gathered after a rising at the plantation of a Major Andry… They were attacked by U.S. army and militia forces; sixty-six were killed on the spot, and sixteen were tried and shot by a firing squad.
The slaveowner understood this [that the abolitionism movement would include violent tendency], and prepared. Henry Tragle (The Southampton Slave Revolt of 1831), says:
[…] With a total population of 1,211,405, the State of Virginia was able to field a militia force of 101,488 men, including cavalry, artillery, grenadiers, riflemen, and light infantry! … an astonishing commentary on the state of the public mind at the time. During a period when neither the State nor the nation faced any sort of exterior threat, we find that Virginia felt the need to maintain a security force roughly ten percent of the total number of its inhabitants: black and white, male and female, slave and free!
The need for slave control led to an ingenious device, paying poor whites – themselves so troublesome for two hundred years of southern history – to be overseers of black labor and therefore buffers for black hatred.
In 1829, David Walker, son of a slave, but born free in North Carolina… [said ”…show me a page of history, either sacred or profane, on which a verse can be found, which maintains, that the Egyptians heaped the insupportable insult upon the children of Israel, by telling them that they were not of the human family.”
The Fugitive Slave Act passed in 1850 was a concession to the southern states in return of the admission of the Mexican war territories (California, especially) into the Union as nonslave states.
Slaves being transported on a ship, the Creole, overpowered the crew, killed one of them, and sailed into the British West Indies (where slavery had been abolished in 1833). England refused to return the slaves (there was much agitation in England against American slavery), and this led to angry talk in Congress of war with England, encouraged by Secretary of State Daniel Webster.
[…] Frederick Douglass, spoke in 1857:
[…] The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle… Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will…
It was such a person, a white man of ferocious courage and determination, John Brown, whose wild scheme it was to seize the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, and then set off a revolt of slaves through the South. […] Although his men were dead or captured, John Brown refused to surrender: he barricaded himself in a small brick building near the gate of the armory. The troops battered down a door; a marine lieutenant moved in and struck Brown with his sword.
John Brown was executed by the state of Virginia with the approval of the national government. It was the national government which, while weakly enforcing the law ending the slave trade, sternly enforced the laws providing for the return of fugitives to slavery. It was the national that, in Andrew Jackson’s administration, collaborated with the South to keep abolitionist literature out of the mails in the southern states. It was the Supreme Court of the United States that declared in 1857 that the slave Dred Scott could not sue for his freedom because he was not a person, but property.
Such a national government would never accept an end to slavery by rebellion. It would end slavery only under conditions controlled by whites, and only when required by the political and economic needs of the business elite of the North.
Om Lincoln (tiden innan han blev vald till republikanernas presidentkandidat hösten 1860).
Lincoln could skillfully blend the interests of the very rich and the interests of the black at a moment in history when these interests met.
In his 1858 campaign in Illionois […] Lincoln spoke differently depending on the views of his listeners (and also perhaps depending on how close it was to the election). Speaking in northern Illinois in July (in Chicago), he said:
Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.
Two months later in Charleston, in southern Illinois, Lincoln told his audience:
I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races (applause); that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people…
And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.
The clash was not over slavery as a moral institution – most northerners did not care enough about slavery to make sacrifices for it, certainly not the sacrifice of war. It was not a clash of peoples (most northern whites were not economically favored, not politically powerful; most southern whites were poor farmers, not decisionmakers) but of elites. The northern elite wanted economic expansion – free land, free labor, a free market, a high protective tariff for manufacturers, a bank of the United States. The slave interests oppposed all that… So, when Lincoln was elected, seven southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln initiated hostilities by trying to repossess the federal base at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and four more states seceded. The Confederacy was formed; the Civil War was on.
An exchange of letters between Lincoln and Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, in August of 1862, gave Lincoln a chance to express his views. Greeley wrote:
Dear Sir. I do not intrude to tell – a for you must know already – that a great proportion of those who triumphed in your election… are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of rebels… We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE LAWS… We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss… with regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act…
Lincoln had already shown his attitude by his failure to countermand an order of one of his commanders, General Henry Halleck, who forbade fugitive Negroes to enter his army’s lines. Now he replied to Greeley:
Dear Sir: … I have not meant to leave any one in doubt… My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union… I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free. Yours. A. Lincoln.
When, in September 1862, Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, it was a military move, giving the South four months to stop rebelling, threatening to emancipate their slaves if they continues to fight, promising to leave slavery untouched in states that came over to the North […] Thus, when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863, it declared slaves free in those areas still fighting against the Union (which it listed very carefully), and said nothing about slaves behind Union lines.
With the Proclamation, the Union army was open to blacks. And the more blacks entered the war, the more it appeared a war for their liberation. The more whites had to sacrifice, the more resentment there was.
The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in human history up to that time: 600,000 dead on both sides, in a population of 30 million…
Du Bois, in Black Reconstruction, pointed this [that the presence of blacks in the South was a hindrance for them, and an opportunity for the North] out:
[…] It was this plain alternative that brought Lee’s sudden surrender. Either the South must make terms with its slaves, free them, use them to fight the North, and thereafter no longer treat them as bondsmen; or they could surrender to the North with the assumption that the North after the war must help them to defend slavery, as it had before.
By early 1865, the pressure had mounted, and in March President Davis of the Confederacy signed a ”Negro Soldier Law” authorizing the enlistment of slaves as soldiers, to be freed by consent of their owners and their state governments. But before it had any significant effect, the war was over.
Om oro direkt efter inbördeskriget (krig är som bekant bra för ekonomin):
Northern political and economic interests needed powerful allies and stability in the face of national crisis. The country had been in economic depression since 1873, and by 1877 farmers and workers were beginning to rebel. As C. Vann Woodward puts it in his history of the 1877 Compromise, Reunion and Reaction:
It was a depression year, the worst year of the severest depression yet experienced. In the East labor and the unemployed were in a bitter and violent temper… Out West a tide of agrarian radicalism was rising… From both East and West came threats against the elaborate structure of protective tariffs, national banks, railroad subsidies and monetary arrangements upon which the new economic order was founded.
[…] as the first act of the new North-South capitalist cooperation, the Southern Homestead Act, which had reserved all federal lands – one third of the area of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi – for farmers who would work the land, was repealed. This enabled absentee speculators and lumbermen to move in and buy up much of this land.
The North, it must be recalled, did not have to undergo a revolution in its thinking to accept the subordination of the Negro. When the Civil War ended, nineteen of the twenty-four northern states did not allow blacks to vote.
The Other Civil War
Jackson was the first President to master the liberal rhetoric – to speak for the common man. […] Robert Remini (The Age of Jackson), says, after studying electoral figures for 1828 and 1832:
Jackson himself enjoyed widespread support that ranged across all classes… all this without Jackson being clearly pro- or antilabor, pro- or antibusiness, pro- or antilower, middle or upper class.
In the East, mill owners had become powerful, and organized. By 1850, fifteen Boston families called the ”Associates” controlled 20 percent of the cotton spindleage in the United States, 39% of insurance capital in Massachusetts, 40 percent of banking resources in Boston.
In the schoolbooks, those years are filled with the controversy over slavery, but on the eve of the Civil War it was money and profit, not the movement against slavery, that was uppermost in the priorities of the men who ran the country.
The full extent of the working-class consciousness of those years – as of any years – is lost in history, but fragments remain… In 1827 an ”Address… before the Mechanics and Working Classes… of Philadelphia” […]:
We find ourselves oppressed on every hand – we labor hard in producing all the comforts of life for the enjoyment of others, while we ourselves obtain but a scanty portion, and even that in the present state of society depends on the will of employers.
Frances Wright of Scotland, an early feminist and utopian socialist, was invited by Philadelphia workingmen to speak on the Fourth of July 1829… She wondered if the new technology was not lowering the value of human labor, making people appendages to machines, crippling the minds and bodies of child laborers.
Hur många tendenser från det här stycket kan man återfinna i dagens USA?
During those years, trade unions were forming. (Philip Foner’s History of the Labor Movement in the U.S. tells the story in rich detail.) The courts called them conspiracies to restrain trade and therefore illegal, as when in New York twenty-five members of the Union Society of Journeyman Tailors were found guilty of ”conspiracy to injure trade, riot, assault, battery.” The judge, levying fines, said: ”In this favored land of law and liberty, the road to advancement is open to all… Every American knows that or ought to know that he has no better friend than the law and that he needs no artificial combination for his protection. They are of foreign origin and I am led to believe mainly upheld by foreigners.”
This was the Fluor Riot of 1837. During the crisis of that year, 50,000 persons (one-third of the working class) were without work in New York City alone…
Middle-class politicians soon led each group into a different political party (the nativists into the American Republican party, the Irish into the Democratic party), party politics and religion now substituting for class conflict.
Amerikaner emigrerade till(-baka) till Europa:
Another economic crisis came in 1857. The boom in railroads and manufacturing, the surge of immigration, the increased speculation in stocks and bonds, the stealing, corruption, manipulation, led to wild expansion and then crash. […] The New York Times reported: ”Every ship for Liverpool now has all the passengers she can carry, and multitudes are applying to work their passage if they have no money to pay for it.”
En stor del av detta kapitel behandlar organiserade arbetares kamp:
In 1835, twenty mills went on strike to reduce the workday from thirteen and a half hours to eleven hours, to get cash wages instead of company scrip…
Company towns now grew up around mills… [The immigrant workers] lived in slum tenements owned by the company, were paid in scrip, which they could use only at company stores, and were evicted if their work was unsatisfactory.
One thousand women and five thousand men marched through the streets of Lynn in a blizzard, carrying banners and American flags.
Ekonomisk och inrikespolitisk turbulens har ofta tämjts med krig:
Even this [political democracy] might not have stopped labor militancy and the rise of class consciousness, [Alan] Dawley says, if not for the fact that ”an entire generation was sidetracked in the 1860’s because of the Civil War.”
Union troops were used to break strikes. […] In Tennessee, a Union general arrested and sent out of the state two hundred striking mechanics.
When recruiting for the army began in July 1863, a mob in New York wrecked the main recruiting station. Then, for three days, crowds of white workers marched through the city, destroying buildings, factories, streetcar lines, homes. The draft riots were complex – antiblack, antirich, anti-Republican. […] [The rioters] shot, burned, and hanged blacks they found in the streets. Many people were thrown into the rivers to drown.
On the fourth day, Union troops returning from the Battle of Gettysburg came into the city and stopped the rioting. Perhaps four hundred people were killed. No exact figures have ever been given, but the number of lives lost was greater than in any other incident of domestic violence in American history.
The Federal Census of 1850 showed that a thousand southern families at the top of the economy received about $50 million a year income, while all the other families, about 660,000 received about $60 million a year.
With strikes spreading, employers pressed Congress for help. The Contract Labor Law of 1864 made it possible for companies to sign contracts with foreign workers whenever the workers pledged to give twelve months of their wages to pay the cost of emigration. This gave the employers during the Civil war not only very cheap labor, but strikebreakers.
Gustavus Myers, in his History of the Great American Fortunes […]:
Is it not murder when, compelled by want, people are forced to fester in squalid, germ-filled tenements, where the sunlight never enters and where disease finds a prolific breeding-place? Untold thousands went to their deaths in these unspeakable places. Yet, so far as the Law was concerned, the rents collected by the Astors, as well as by other landlords, were honestly made. The whole institution of Law saw nothing out of the way in these conditions, and very significantly so, because, to repeat over and over again, Law did not represent the ethics or ideals of advanced humanity; it exactly reflected, as a pool reflects the sky, the demands and self interest of the growing propertied classes…
The cities to which the soldiers returned [from the Civil War] were death traps of typhus, tuberculosis, hunger and fire.
A three-month strike of 100,000 workers in New York won the eight-hour day, and at a victory celebration in June 1872, 150,000 workers paraded through the city.
Många fackföreningar höll fortfarande såväl kvinnor som svarta (dvs majoriteten av befolkningen…) utanför sina led. Vissa uppror (t.ex. järnvägsarbetarnas 1877) gick över yrkesgränserna, en del blev nationella (vilket som tidigare nämnts var en av regeringens värsta mardrömmar och en av anledningar till att man federaliserade styret till delstater).
The crisis [economic crisis of 1873] was built into a system which was chaotic in its nature, in which only the very rich were secure. It was a system of periodic crisis – 1837, 1857, 1873 (and later: 1893, 1907, 1919, 1929) – that wiped out small businesses and brought cold, hunger, and death to working people while the fortunes of the Astors, Vanderbilts, Rockefellers, Morgans, kept growing through war and peace, crisis and recovery. During the 1873 crisis, Carnegie was capturing the steel market, Rockefeller was wiping out his competitors in oil.
During the first three months of 1874, ninety thousand workers, almost half of them women, had to sleep in police stations in New York. They were known as ”revolvers” because they were limited to one or two days a month in any one police station, and so had to keep moving.
David Burbank, in his book on the St. Louis events, Reign of the Rabble, writes:
Only around St. Louis did the original strike on the railroads expand into such a systematically organized and complete shut-down of all industry that the term general strike is fully justified. And only there did the socialists assume undisputed leadership… no American city has come so close to being ruled by a workers’ soviet, as we would now call it, as St. Louis, Missouri, in the year 1877.
Robber Barons and Rebels
[…] the industrial and political elites of North and South would take hold of the country and organize the greatest march of economic growth in human history. They would do it with the aid of, and at the expense of, black labor, white labor, Chinese labor, European immigrant labor, female labor, rewarding them differently by race, sex, national origin, and social class, in such a way as to create separate levels of oppression – a skillful terracing to stabilize the pyramid of wealth.
Farmers unable to buy the new machinery [min anm: obs industrialisering; ångmaskiner ersatte mänsklig arbetskraft, stål istället för trä, etc.] or pay the new railroad rates would move to the cities. Between 1860 and 1914, New York grew from 850,000 to 4 million…
Andrew Carnegie […] agreed to sell his steel company to J.P. Morgan. He scribbled the price on a note: $492,000,000. Morgan then formed the U.S. Steel Corporation, combining Carnegie’s corporation with others. […] making sure Congress passed tariffs keeping out foreign steel; by closing off competition and maintaining the price at $28 a ton; and by working 200,000 men twelve hours a day for wages that barely kept their families alive. And so it went, in industry after industry […] American Telephone and Telegraph had a monopoly of the nation’s telephone system, International Harvester made 85 percent of all farm machinery, and in every other industry resources became concentrated, controlled.
Henry Adams, an astute literary commentator on that era, wrote to a friend about the election:
Very great issues are involved… But the amusing thing is that no one talks about real interests. By common consent they agree to let these alone. We are afraid to discuss them. Instead of this the press is engaged in a most amusing dispute whether Mr. Cleveland had an illegitimate child and did or did not live with more than one mistress.
By this time the Supreme Court had accepted the argument that corporations were ”persons” and their money was property protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [min anm: ”[…] nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”]. Supposedly, the Amendment had been passed to protect Negro rights, but of the Fourteenth Amendment cases brought before the Supreme Court between 1890 and 1910, nineteen dealt with the Negro, 288 dealt with corporations.
In the 1880s and 1890s, immigrants were pouring in from Europe at a faster rate than before. They all went through the harrowing ocean voyage of the poor. Now there were not so many Irish and German immigrants as Italians, Russians, Jews, Greeks – people from Southern and Eastern Europe, even more alien to native-born Anglo-Saxons than the earlier newcomers.
By 1880, Chinese immigrants, brought in by the railroads to do the backbreaking labor at pitiful wages, numbered 75,000 in California, almost one-tenth of the population. They became the objects of continuous violence.
Haymarket Square massacre, där anarkisterna organiserade ett möte som 3000 anslöt till (4:e maj 1886):
A detachment of 180 policemen showed up, advanced on the speakers’ platform, ordered the crowd to disperse. The speaker said the meeting was almost over. A bomb then exploded in the midst of the police, wounding sixty-six policemen, of whom seven later died. The police fired into the crowd, killing several people, wounding two hundred. […] The evidence against the eight anarchists [min anm: sk ‘Chicago eight’] was their ideas, their literature; none had been at Haymarket that day except Fielden, who was speaking when the bomb exploded. A jury found them guilty, and they were sentenced to death. Their appeals were denied; the Supreme Court said it had no jurisdiction. [min anm: fyra hängdes, en begick självmord, tre ”benådades”. Senare uppdagades tecken på att en provokatör jobbat inom anarkiströrelsen för polisens räkning, men det är inte klart vem som kastade bomben]
There were eruptions against the convict labor system in the South, in which prisoners were leased in slave labor to corporations, used thus to depress the general level of wages and also to break strikes.
Land cost money, and machines cost money – so farmers had to borrow, hoping that the prices of their harvests would stay high, so they could pay the bank for the loan, the railroad for transportation, the grain merchant for handling their grain, the storage elevator for storing it. But they found the prices for their produce going down, and the prices of transportation and loans going up, because the individual farmer could not control the price of his grain, while the monopolist railroad and the monopolist banker could charge what they liked.
The government played its part in helping the bankers and hurting the farmers; it kept the amount of money – based on the gold supply – steady, while the population rose, so there was less and less money in circulation. […] The bankers […] were getting dollars worth more than when they loaned them out – a kind of interest on top of interest. That is why so much of the talk of farmers’ movements in those days had to do with putting more money in circulation – by printing greenbacks (paper money for which there was no gold in the treasury) or by making silver a basis for issuing money.
Blacks had tied themselves to the Republican party, the party of Lincoln and civil rights laws. The Democrats were the party of slavery and segregation.
According to Lawrence Goodwyn [journalist, historian], if the labor movement had been able to do in the cities what the Populists did in the rural areas, ”to create among urban workers a culture of cooperation, self-respect, and economic analysis,” there might have been a great movement for change in the United States. There were only fitful, occasional connections between the farmer and labor movements. Neither spoke eloquently enough to the other’s needs. […] Once allied with the Democratic party in supporting William Jennings Bryan for President in 1896, Populism would drown in a sea of Democratic politics… Electoral politics brought into the top leadership the political brokers instead of the agrarian radicals.
The Indian was being driven off the western plains for good; on a cold winter day in 1890, U.S. army soldiers attacked Indians camped at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, and killed three hundred men, women, and children. It was the climax to four hundred years of violence that began with Columbus…
The Empire and the People
The Monroe Doctrine:
Issued in 1823 when the countries of Latin America were winning independence from Spanish control, it made plain to European nations that the United States considered Latin America its sphere of influence.
A State Department list, ”Instances of the Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad 1798-1945” (presented by Secretary of State Dean Rusk to a Senate committee in 1962 to cite precedents for the use of armed force against Cuba), shows 103 interventions in the affairs of other countries between 1798 and 1895. [Innehåller bl.a. angrepp med flottan mot japanska hamnar 1853-54 för att öppna upp dem för handel; anfall på Nicaragua, Uruguay, Hawaii, m.m.]
Walter Lafeber writes (The New Empire): ”By 1893, American trade exceeded that of every country in the world except England. Farm products, of course, especially in the key tobacco, cotton, and wheat areas, had long depended heavily on international markets for their prosperity.”
Oil became a big export in the 1880s and 1890s: by 1891, the Rockefeller family’s Standard Oil Company accounted for 90 percent of American exports of kerosene and controlled 70 percent of the world market. Oil was now second to cotton as the leading product sent overseas.
For instance, in late 1897 and early 1898, with Chine weakened by a recent war with Japan, German military forces occupied the Chinese port of Tsingtao at the mouth of Kiaochow Bay and demanded a naval station there, with rights to railways and coal mines on the nearby peninsula of Shantung. Within the next few months, other European powers moved in on China, […] with the United States left behind.
At this point, The New York Journal of Commerce, which had advocated peaceful development of free trade, now urged old-fashioned military colonialism […]:
Declaring that free access to the markets of China, with its 400,000,000 people, would largely solve the problem of the disposal of our surplus manufactures…
The Cleveland administration said a Cuban victory [over the Spanish occupiers] might lead to ”the establishment of a white and a black republic,” since Cuba had a mixture of the two races. And the black republic might be dominant. This idea was expressed in 1896 in an article in The Saturday Review by a young and eloquent imperialist, whose mother was American and whose father was English – Winston Churchill. He wrote that while Spanish rule was bad and the rebels had the support of the people, it would be better for Spain to keep control:
A grave danger represents itself. Two-fifths of the insurgents in the field are negroes. These men . . . would, in the event of success, demand a predominant share in the government of the country . . . the result being, after years of fighting, another black republic.
The reference to ”another” black republic meant Haiti, whose revolution against France in 1803 had led to the first nation run by blacks in the New World.
In February 1898, the U.S. battleship Maine, in Havana harbor as a symbol of American interest in the Cuban events, was destroyed by a mysterious explosion and sank, with the loss of 268 men. There was no evidence ever produced on the cause of the explosion, but excitement grew swiftly in the United States, and McKinley began to move in the direction of war.
The Appeal to Reason, another Socialist newspaper, said the movement for war [against Cuba] was ”a favorite method of rulers for keeping the people from redressing domestic wrongs.”
American historians have generally ignored the role of the Cuban rebels in the war; Philip Foner, in his history, was the first to print García’s [general of the rebels] letter of protest to General Shafter:
I have not been honored with a single word from yourself informing me about the negotiations for peace or the terms of the capitulation by the Spaniards.
[…] the Platt Amendment, passed by Congress in February 1901, was incorporated into the new Cuban Constitution. This Amendment gave the United States ”the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for the protection of life, property, and individual liberty…”
Puerto Rico, a neighbor of Cuba in the Caribbean, belonging to Spain, was taken over by U.S. military forces. The Hawaiian Islands, one-third of the way across the Pacific, which had already been penetrated by American missionaries and pineapple plantation owners, and had been described by American officials as ”a ripe pear ready to be plucked,” was annexed… In December 1898, the peace treaty was signed with Spain, officially turning over to the United States Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, for a payment of $20 million. [Filippinerna diskuterades öppet som ingångsport till den asiatiska marknaden.]
The mixed reactions of labor to the war – lured by economic advantage, yet repelled by capitalist expansion and violence – ensured that labor could not unite either to stop the war or to conduct class war against the system at home.
The Socialist Challenge
The AFL [American Federation of Labor] was an exclusive union – almost all male, almost all white, almost all skilled workers. […] Racism was practical for AFL. The exclusion of women and foreigners was also practical. These were mostly unskilled workers, and the AFL, confined mostly to skilled workers, was based on the philosophy of ”business unionism”… AFL officials drew large salaries, hobnobbed with employers, even moved in high society. [Delvis som reaktion på denna exklusion bildades i början av 1900-talet IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) i Chicago.]
One of the IWW pamphlets explained why it broke with the AFL idea of craft unions:
The directory of unions of Chicago shows in 1903 a total of 56 different unions in the packing houses, divided up still more in 14 different trades unions of the American Federation of Labor.
What a horrible example of an army divided against itself in the face of a strong combination of employers…
The IWW saw beyond strikes:
Strikes are mere incidents in the class war; they are tests of strength, periodical drills in the course of which the workers train themselves for concerted action. This training is most necessary to prepare the masses for the final ”catastrophe,” the general strike which will complete the expropriation of the employers.
The idea of anarcho-syndicalism was developing strongly in Spain and Italy and France at this time – that the workers would take power, not by seizing the state machinery in an armed rebellion, but by bringing the economic system to a halt in a general strike, then taking it over to use for the good of all.
His [Joe Hill, an IWW organizer] song, ”The Preacher and the Slave” had a favorite IWW target, the church:
Long-haired preachers come out every night,
Try to tell you what’s wrong and what’s right;
But when asked how about something to eat
They will answer with voices so sweet:
You will eat, bye and bye,
In that glorious land above the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.
In 1915, Joe Hill was accused of killing a grocer in Salt Lake City… The case became known throughout the world, and ten thousand letters went to the governor in protest, but with machine guns guarding the entrance to the prison, Joe Hill was executed by a firing squad. He had written Bill Haywood just before this: ”Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.”
That same year, children working sixty hours a week in textile mills in Philadelphia went on strike, carrying signs: ”WE WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!” ”55 HOURS OR NOTHING!”
This was the Colorado coal strike that began in September 1913 and culminated in the ”Ludlow Massacre” of April 1914. Eleven thousand miners in southern Colorado, mostly foreign-born- Greeks, Italians, Serbs-worked for the Colorado Fuel & Iron Corporation, which was owned by the Rockefeller family. Aroused by the murder of one of their organizers, they went on strike against low pay, dangerous conditions, and feudal domination of their lives in towns completely controlled by the mining companies. Mother Jones, at this time an organizer for the United Mine Workers, came into the area, fired up the miners with her oratory, and helped them in those critical first months of the strike, until she was arrested, kept in a dungeon like cell, and then forcibly expelled from the state.
When the strike began, the miners were immediately evicted from their shacks in the mining towns. Aided by the United Mine Workers Union, they set up tents in the nearby hills and carried on the strike, the picketing, from these tent colonies. The gunmen hired by the Rockefeller interests-the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency-using Gatling guns and rifles, raided the tent colonies. The death list of miners grew, but they hung on, drove back an armored train in a gun battle, fought to keep out strikebreakers. With the miners resisting, refusing to give in, the mines not able to operate, the Colorado governor (referred to by a Rockefeller mine manager as ”our little cowboy governor”) called out the National Guard, with the Rockefellers supplying the Guard’s wages.
The miners at first thought the Guard was sent to protect them, and greeted its arrivals with flags and cheers. They soon found out the Guard was there to destroy the strike. The Guard brought strikebreakers in under cover of night, not telling them there was a strike. Guardsmen beat miners, arrested them by the hundreds, rode down with their horses parades of women in the streets of Trinidad, the central town in the area. And still the miners refused to give in. When they lasted through the cold winter of 1913-1914, it became clear that extraordinary measures would be needed to break the strike.
In April 1914, two National Guard companies were stationed in the hills overlooking the largest tent colony of strikers, the one at Ludlow, housing a thousand men, women, children. On the morning of April 20, a machine gun attack began on the tents. The miners fired back. Their leader, a Greek named Lou Tikas, was lured up into the hills to discuss a truce, then shot to death by a company of National Guardsmen. The women and children dug pits beneath the tents to escape the gunfire. At dusk, the Guard moved down from the hills with torches, set fire to the tents, and the families fled into the hills; thirteen people were killed by gunfire.
The following day, a telephone linesman going through the ruins of the Ludlow tent colony lifted an iron cot covering a pit in one of the tents and found the charred, twisted bodies of eleven children and two women. This became known as the Ludlow Massacre.
The news spread quickly over the country. In Denver, the United Mine Workers issued a ”Call to Arms”-”Gather together for defensive purposes all arms and ammunition legally available.” Three hundred armed strikers marched from other tent colonies into the Ludlow area, cut telephone and telegraph wires, and prepared for battle. Railroad workers refused to take soldiers from Trinidad to Ludlow. At Colorado Springs, three hundred union miners walked off their jobs and headed for the Trinidad district, carrying revolvers, rifles, shotguns.
In Trinidad itself, miners attended a funeral service for the twenty-six dead at Ludlow, then walked from the funeral to a nearby building, where arms were stacked for them. They picked up rifles and moved into the hills, destroying mines, killing mine guards, exploding mine shafts. The press reported that ”the hills in every direction seem suddenly to be alive with men.”
In Denver, eighty-two soldiers in a company on a troop train headed for Trinidad refused to go. The press reported: ”The men declared they would not engage in the shooting of women and children. They hissed the 350 men who did start and shouted imprecations at them.”
Five thousand people demonstrated in the rain on the lawn in front of the state capital at Denver asking that the National Guard officers at Ludlow be tried for murder, denouncing the governor as an accessory. The Denver Cigar Makers Union voted to send five hundred armed men to Ludlow and Trinidad. Women in the United Garment Workers Union in Denver announced four hundred of their members had volunteered as nurses to help the strikers.
All over the country there were meetings, demonstrations. Pickets marched in front of the Rockefeller office at 26 Broadway, New York City. A minister protested in front of the church where Rockefeller sometimes gave sermons, and was clubbed by the police.
The New York Times carried an editorial on the events in Colorado, which were now attracting international attention. The Times emphasis was not on the atrocity that had occurred, but on the mistake in tactics that had been made. Its editorial on the Ludlow Massacre began: ”Somebody blundered….” Two days later, with the miners armed and in the hills of the mine district, the Times wrote: ”With the deadliest weapons of civilization in the hands of savage-minded men, there can be no telling to what lengths the war in Colorado will go unless it is quelled by force.. -. The President should turn his attention from Mexico long enough to take stern measures in Colorado.”
The governor of Colorado asked for federal troops to restore order, and Woodrow Wilson complied. This accomplished, the strike petered out. Congressional committees came in and took thousands of pages of testimony. The union had not won recognition. Sixty-six men, women, and children had been killed. Not one militiaman or mine guard had been indicted for crime.
Still, Colorado had been a scene of ferocious class conflict, whose emotional repercussions had rolled through the entire country. The threat of class rebellion was clearly still there in the industrial conditions of the United States, in the undeterred spirit of rebellion among working people- whatever legislation had been passed, whatever liberal reforms were on the books, whatever investigations were undertaken and words of regret and conciliation uttered.
The Times had referred to Mexico. On the morning that the bodies were discovered in the tent pit at Ludlow, American warships were attacking Vera Cruz, a city on the coast of Mexico-bombarding it, occupying it, leaving a hundred Mexicans dead-because Mexico had arrested American sailors and refused to apologize to the United States with a twenty-one-gun salute. Could patriotic fervor and the military spirit cover up class struggle? Unemployment, hard times, were growing in 1914. Could guns divert attention and create some national consensus against an external enemy? [min markering] It surely was a coincidence-the bombardment of Vera Cruz, the attack on the Ludlow colony. Or perhaps it was, as someone once described human history, ”the natural selection of accidents.” Perhaps the affair in Mexico was an instinctual response of the system for its own survival, to create a unity of fighting purpose among a people torn by internal conflict.
The bombardment of Vera Cruz was a small incident. But in four months the First World War would begin in Europe.
War Is the Health of the State
But in April of 1917, the Germans had announced they would have their submarines sink any ship bringing supplies to their enemies; and they had sunk a number of merchant vessels. Wilson now said he must stand by the right of Americans to travel on merchant ships in the war zone.
In early 1915, the British liner Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine. She sank in eighteen minutes, and 1,198 people died, including 124 Americans. The United States claimed the Lusitania carried an innocent cargo, and therefore the torpedoing was a monstrous German atrocity. Actually, the Lusitania was heavily armed: it carried 1,248 cases of 3-inch shells, 4,927 boxes of cartridges (1,000 rounds in each box), and 2,000 more cases of small-arms ammunition. Her manifests were falsified to hide this fact, and the British and American governments lied about the cargo.
Business throughout the country was depressed, farm prices were deflated, unemployment was serious, the heavy industries were working far below capacity and bank clearings were off.” But by 1915, war orders for the Allies (mostly England) had stimulated the economy, and by April 1917 more than $2 billion worth of goods had been sold to the Allies. As Hofstadter says: ”America became bound up with the Allies in a fateful union of war and prosperity.”
Du Bois saw more than that. He was writing several years before Lenin’s Imperialism, which noted the new possibility of giving the working class of the imperial country a share of the loot. He pointed to the paradox of greater ”democracy” in America alongside ”increased aristocracy and hatred toward darker races.” He explained the paradox by the fact that ”the white workingman has been asked to share the spoil by exploiting ‘chinks and niggers.”‘ Yes, the average citizen of England, France, Germany, the United States, had a higher standard of living than before. But: ”Whence comes this new wealth? … It comes primarily from the darker nations of the world-Asia and Africa, South and Central America, the West Indies, and the islands of the South Seas.”
Du Bois saw the ingenuity of capitalism in uniting exploiter and exploited-creating a safety valve for explosive class conflict. ”It is no longer simply the merchant prince, or the aristocratic monopoly, or even the employing class, that is exploiting the world: it is the nation, a new democratic nation composed of united capital and labor.”
Despite the rousing words of Wilson about a war ”to end all wars” and ”to make the world safe for democracy,” Americans did not rush to enlist. A million men were needed, hut in the first six weeks after the declaration of war only 73,000 volunteered. Congress voted overwhelmingly for a draft.
In the municipal elections of 1917, against the tide of propaganda and patriotism, the Socialists made remarkable gains. Their candidate for mayor of New York. Morris Hillquit, got 22 percent of the vote, five times the normal Socialist vote there. Ten Socialists were elected to the New York State legislature. In Chicago, the party vote went from 3.6 percent in 1915 to 34.7 percent in 1917. In Buffalo, it went from 2.6 percent to 30.2 percent.
The Espionage Act [making it illegal to cause or attempt to cause ”insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny or refusal of duty in the military”, etc.], thus approved by the Supreme Court, has remained on the books all these years since World War I, and although it is supposed to apply only in wartime, it has been constantly in force since 1950, because the United States has legally been in a ”state of emergency” since the Korean war.
[The IWW was raided; 165 leaders were arrested:]
The jury found them all guilty. The judge sentenced Haywood and fourteen others to twenty years in prison; thirty-three were given ten years, the rest shorter sentences. They were fined a total of $2,500,000. The IWW was shattered. Haywood jumped bail and fled to revolutionary Russia, where he remained until his death ten years later
That summer of 1919, Wilson’s adviser Joseph Tumulty reminded him that the conflict between the Republicans and Democrats was unimportant compared with that which threatened them both:
[…] In this era of industrial and social unrest both parties are in disrepute with the average man.. . .
Self-help in Hard Times
More than thirty thousand black workers were brought into the area as strikebreakers-they had been excluded from AFL unions and so felt no loyalty to unionism.
There was some truth to the standard picture of the twenties as a time of prosperity and fun-the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties. Unemployment was down, from 4,270,000 in 1921 to a little over 2 million in 1927. The general level of wages for workers rose. […] But prosperity was concentrated at the top.
After the [1929 stock market] crash… [industrial] production fell by 50 percent, and by 1933 perhaps 15 million (no one knew exactly) – one-fourth or one-third of the labor force – were out of work. […] There were millions of tons of food around, but it was not profitable to transport it, to sell it. Warehouses were full of clothing, but people could not afford it. There were lots of houses, but they stayed empty because people couldn’t pay the rent, had been evicted, and now lived in shacks in quickly formed ”Hoovervilles” built on garbage dumps.
Democratic party candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated Herbert Hoover overwhelmingly, took office in the spring of 1933, and began a program of reform legislation which became famous as the ”New Deal.” When a small veterans’ march on Washington took place early in his administration, he greeted them and provided coffee; they met with one of his aides and went home. It was a sign of Roosevelt’s approach.
The Roosevelt reforms went far beyond previous legislation. They had to meet two pressing needs: to reorganize capitalism in such a way to overcome the crisis and stabilize the system; also, to head off the alarming growth of spontaneous rebellion in the early years of the Roosevelt administration…
A new kind of tactic began among rubber workers in Akron, Ohio, in the early thirties – the sit-down strike. The workers stayed in the plant instead of walking out, and this had clear advantages: they were directly blocking the use of strikebreakers; they did not have to act through union officials but were in direct control of the situation themselves; they did not have to walk outside in the cold and rain, but had shelter; they were not isolated, as in their work, or on the picket line; they were thousands under one roof, free to talk to one another, to form a community of struggle. […] Courts were set up to deal with those who didn’t take their turn washing dishes or who threw rubbish or smoked where it was prohibited or brought in liquor. The ”punishment” consisted of extra duties; the ultimate punishment was expulsion from the plant. A restaurant owner across the street prepared three meals a day for two thousand strikers. There were classes in parliamentary procedure, public speaking, history of the labor movement. Graduate students at the University of Michigan gave courses in journalism and creative writing.
A People’s War?
Two years later, Germany invaded Soviet Russia, and the American Communist party, which had repeatedly described the war between the Axis Powers and the Allied Powers as an imperialist war, now called it a ”people’s war” against Fascism. Indeed almost all Americans were now in agreement-capitalists, Communists, Democrats, Republicans, poor, rich, and middle class-that this was indeed a people’s war.
When Mussolini’s Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935, the U.S. declared an embargo on munitions but let American businesses send oil to Italy in huge quantities, which was essential to Italy’s carrying on the war. When a Fascist rebellion took place in Spain in 1936 against the elected socialist-liberal government, the Roosevelt administration sponsored a neutrality act that had the effect of shutting off help to the Spanish government while Hitler and Mussolini gave critical aid to Franco.
[USA provocerade Japan genom ett embargo av olja och järn, vilket enligt en av domarna i Tokyo War Crimes Trial efter WWII, var ett hot mot Japans existens.] A State Department memorandum on Japanese expansion, a year before Pearl Harbor, did not talk of the independence of China or the principle of self-determination. It said:
. . . our general diplomatic and strategic position would be considerably weakened-by our loss of Chinese, Indian and South Seas markets (and by our loss of much of the Japanese market for our goods, as Japan would become more and more self-sufficient) as well as by insurmountable restrictions upon our access to the rubber, tin, jute, and other vital materials of the Asian and Oceanic regions.
During the war, England and the United States set up the International Monetary Fund to regulate international exchanges of currency; voting would be proportional to capital contributed, so American dominance would be assured. […] Averell Harriman, ambassador to Russia, said in early 1944: ”Economic assistance is one of the most effective weapons at our disposal to influence European political events in the direction we desire…”
The United States’ armed forces were segregated by race. When troops were jammed onto the Queen Mary in early 1945 to go to combat duty in the European theater, the blacks were stowed down in the depths of the ship near the engine room, as far as possible from the fresh air of the deck, in a bizarre reminder of the slave voyages of old.
The Red Cross, with government approval, separated the blood donations of black and white. It was, ironically, a black physician named Charles Drew who developed the blood bank system. He was put in charge of the wartime donations, and then fired when he tried to end blood segregation.
Franklin D. Roosevelt did not share this frenzy, but he calmly signed Executive Order 9066, in February 1942, giving the army the power, without warrants or indictments or hearings, to arrest every Japanese-American on the West Coast-110,000 men, women, and children-to take them from their homes, transport them to camps far into the interior, and keep them there under prison conditions. Three-fourths of these were Nisei-children born in the United States of Japanese parents and therefore American citizens. The other fourth-the Issei, born in Japan-were barred by law from becoming citizens. In 1944 the Supreme Court upheld the forced evacuation on the grounds of military necessity. The Japanese remained in those camps for over three years.
During the war, there were fourteen thousand strikes, involving 6,770,000 workers, more than in any comparable period in American history.
But there was no organized Negro opposition to the war. In fact, there was little organized opposition from any source. The Communist party was enthusiastically in support.
The United States Strategic Bombing Survey, set up by the War Department in 1944 to study the results of aerial attacks in the war, interviewed hundreds of Japanese civilian and military leaders after Japan surrendered, and reported just after the war:
Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.
But could American leaders have known this in August 1945? The answer is, clearly, yes. The Japanese code had been broken, and Japan’s messages were being intercepted. It was known the Japanese had instructed their ambassador in Moscow to work on peace negotiations with the Allies.
The Russians had secretly agreed (they were officially not at war with Japan) they would come into the war ninety days after the end of the European war. That turned out to be May 8, and so, on August 8, the Russians were due to declare war on Japan, But by then the big bomb had been dropped, and the next day a second one would be dropped on Nagasaki; the Japanese would surrender to the United States, not the Russians, and the United States would be the occupier of postwar Japan. In other words, Blackett says, the dropping of the bomb was ”the first major operation of the cold diplomatic war with Russia.. ..” Blackett is supported by American historian Gar Alperovitz (Atomic Diplomacy), who notes a diary entry for July 28, 1945, by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, describing Secretary of State James F. Byrnes as ”most anxious to get the Japanese affair over with before the Russians got in.”
Truman had said, ”The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.” It was a preposterous statement. Those 100,000 killed in Hiroshima were almost all civilians. The U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey said in its official report: ”Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as targets because of their concentration of activities and population.”
The dropping of the second bomb on Nagasaki seems to have been scheduled in advance, and no one has ever been able to explain why it was dropped. Was it because this was a plutonium bomb whereas the Hiroshima bomb was a uranium bomb? Were the dead and irradiated of Nagasaki victims of a scientific experiment?
Germany had recently surrendered, crushed primarily by the armies of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, aided by the Allied armies on the West. Now Japan surrendered. The Fascist powers were destroyed.
But what about fascism – as idea, as reality? Were its essential elements – militarism, racism, imperialism – now gone? Or were they absorbed into the already poisoned bones of the victors?
In Greece, which had been a right-wing monarchy and dictatorship before the war, a popular left-wing National Liberation Front (the EAM) was put down by a British army of intervention immediately after the war. A right-wing dictatorship was restored. […] The Greek rebels were getting some aid from Yugoslavia, but no aid from the Soviet Union, which during the war had promised Churchill a free hand in Greece if he would give the Soviet Union its way in Rumania, Poland, Bulgaria. The Soviet Union, like the United States, did not seem to be willing to help revolutions it could not control.
In the last five months of 1947, 74,000 tons of military equipment were sent by the United States to the right-wing government in Athens, including artillery, dive bombers, and stocks of napalm. Two hundred and fifty army officers, headed by General James Van Fleet, advised the Greek army in the field. Van Fleet started a policy—standard in dealing with popular insurrections of forcibly removing thousands of Greeks from their homes in the countryside, to try to isolate the guerrillas, to remove the source of their support.
With that aid, the rebellion was defeated by 1949. United States economic and military aid continued to the Greek government. Investment capital from Fsso, Uow Chemical, Chrysler, and other U.S. corporations flowed into Greece. But illiteracy, poverty, and starvation remained widespread there…
In 1950, there came an event that speeded the formation of the liberal-conservative consensus—Truman’s undeclared war in Korea.
Korea, occupied by Japan for thirty-five years, was liberated from Japan after World War II and divided into North Korea, a socialist dictatorship, part of the Soviet sphere of influence, and South Korea, a right-wing dictatorship, in the American sphere. There had been threats back and forth between the two Koreas, and when on June 25, 1950, North Korean armies moved southward across the 38th parallel in an invasion of South Korea, the United Nations, dominated by the United States, asked its members to help ”repel the armed attack.”
But the American, armies, after pushing the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel, advanced all the way up through North Korea to the Yalu River, on the border of China-which provoked the Chinese into entering the war. The Chinese then swept southward and the war was stalemated at the 38th parallel until peace negotiations restored, in 1953, the old boundary between North and South.
Two weeks after presenting to the country the Truman Doctrine for Greece and Turkey, Truman issued, on March 22, 1947, Executive Order 9835, initiating a program to search out any ”infiltration of disloyal persons” in the U.S. government. In their book The Fifties, Douglas Miller and Marion Nowack comment:
[…] 6.6 million persons were investigated. Not a single case of espionage was uncovered, though about 500 persons were dismissed in dubious cases of ”questionable loyalty.”
World events right after the war made it easier to build up public support for the anti-Communist crusade at home. In 1948, the Communist party in Czechoslovakia ousted non-Communists from the government and established their own rule. The Soviet Union that year blockaded Berlin, which was a jointly occupied city isolated inside the Soviet sphere of East Germany, forcing the United States to airlift supplies into Berlin. In 1949, there was the Communist victory in China, and in that year also, the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. In 1950 the Korean war began. These were all portrayed to the public as signs of a world Communist conspiracy.
Not as publicized as the Communist victories, but just as disturbing to the American government, was the upsurge all over the world of colonial peoples demanding independence.
McCarthy became bolder. In the spring of 1954 he began hearings to investigate supposed subversives in the military. When he began attacking generals for not being hard enough on suspected Communists, he antagonized Republicans as well as Democrats, and in December 1954, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to censure him for ”conduct . . .unbecoming a Member of the United States Senate.” […] McCarthy had gone too far, attacking not only Communists but liberals, endangering that broad liberal-conservative coalition…
The system, so shaken in the thirties, had learned that war production could bring stability and high profits. […] At the start of 1950, the total U.S. budget was about $40 billion, and the military part of it was about $12 billion. But by 1955, the military part alone was $40 billion out of a total of $62 billion.
George Marshall (a general, then Secretary of State) was quoted in an early 1948 State Department bulletin: ”It is idle to think that a Europe left to its own efforts… would remain open to American business…” […] Truman’s Secretary of State Dean Acheson said: ”These measures of relief and reconstruction have been only in part suggested by humanitarianism. Your Congress has authorized and your Government is carrying out, a policy of relief and reconstruction today chiefly as a matter of national self-interest.”
Four days before the invasion [Bay of Pigs] – because there had been press reports of secret bases and CIA training for invaders – President Kennedy told a press conference: ”… there will not be, under any condition, any intervention in Cuba by United States armed forces.” True, the landing force was Cuban, but it was all organized by the United States, and American war planes, including American pilots, were involved; Kennedy had approved the use of unmarked navy jets in the invasion.
[Om Kennedy, och hur han gick balansgång för att inte störa några stora intressen; avslutande raderna i kapitlet:]
On this middle ground, all seemed secure. Nothing had to be done for blacks. Nothing had to be done to change the economic structure. An aggressive foreign policy could continue. The country seemed under control. And then, in the 1960s, came a series of explosive rebellions in every area of American life, which showed that all the system’s estimates of security and success were wrong.
”Or Does It Explode?”
The federal government was trying—without making fundamental changes—to control an explosive situation, to channel anger into the traditional cooling mechanism of the ballot box, the polite petition, the officially endorsed quiet gathering. When black civil rights leaders planned a huge march on Washington in the summer of 1963 to protest the failure of the nation to solve the race problem, it was quickly embraced by President Kennedy and other national leaders, and turned into a friendly assemblage.
Eighteen days after the Washington gathering, almost as if in deliberate contempt for its moderation, a bomb exploded in the basement of a black church in Birmingham and four girls attending a Sunday school class were killed. President Kennedy had praised the ”deep fervor and quiet dignity” of the march, but the black militant Malcolm X was probably closer to the mood of the black community. Speaking in Detroit two months after the march on Washington and the Birmingham bombing, Malcolm X said, in his powerful, icy-clear, rhythmic style:
When they found out that this black steamroller was going to come down on the capital, they called in … these national Negro leaders that you respect and told them, ”Call it off,” Kennedy said. ”Look you all are letting this thing go too far.” And Old Tom said, ”Boss, I can’t stop it because I didn’t start it.” I’m telling you what they said. They said, ”I’m not even in it, much less at the head of it.” They said, ”These Negroes are doing things on their own. They’re running ahead of us.” And that old shrewd fox, he said, ”If you all aren’t in it, I’ll put you in it. I’ll put you at the head of it. I’ll endorse it. I’ll welcome it. I’ll help it. I’ll join it.”
This is what they did with the march on Washington. They joined it… became part of it, took it over. And as they took it over, it lost its militancy. It ceased to he angry, it ceased to be hot, it ceased to be uncompromising. Why, it even ceased to be a march. It became a picnic, a circus. Nothing but a circus, with clowns and all. . .
No, it was a sellout. It was a takeover. … They controlled it so tight, they told those Negroes what time to hit town, where to stop, what signs to carry, what song to sing, what speech they could make, and what speech they couldn’t make, and then told them to get out of town by sundown….
[About the 1967 riots in the black ghettos throughout the US:]
The ”typical rioter,” according to the Commission [National Advisory Committee on Urban Disorders], was a young, high school dropout but ”nevertheless, somewhat better educated than his non-rioting Negro neighbor” and ”usually underemployed or employed in a menial job.” He was ”proud of his race, extremely hostile to both whites and middle-class Negroes and, although informed about politics, highly distrustful of the political system.”
Martin Luther King himself became more and more concerned about problems untouched by civil rights laws-problems coming out of poverty. In the spring of 1968, he began speaking out, against the advice of some Negro leaders who feared losing friends in Washington, against the war in Vietnam.
He planned a ”Poor People’s Encampment” in Washington, this time not with the paternal approval of the President. And he went to Memphis, Tennessee, to support a strike of garbage workers in that city. There, standing on a balcony outside his hotel room, he was shot to death by an unseen marksman. The Poor People’s Encampment went on, and then it was broken up by police action, just as the World War I veterans’ Bonus Army of 1932 was dispersed.
[Endast ett exempel på de helt overkligt barbariska polis- och militärattackerna på studenter:]
In Jackson, Mississippi, in the spring of 1970, on the campus of Jackson State College, a Negro college, police laid down a 28-second barrage of gunfire, using shotguns, rifles, and a submachine gun. Four hundred bullets or pieces of buckshot struck the girls’ dormitory and two black students were killed. A local grand jury found the attack ”justified” and U.S. District Court Judge Harold Cox (a Kennedy appointee) declared that students who engage in civil disorders ”must expect to he injured or killed.”
The new emphasis was more dangerous than civil rights, because it created the possibility of blacks and whites uniting on the issue of class exploitation. […] Attempts began to do with blacks what had been done historically with whites-to lure a small number into the system with economic enticements. There was talk of ”black capitalism.”
The Impossible Victory: Vietnam
The U.S. Defense Department study of the Vietnam war, intended to be ”top secret” but released to the public by Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo in the famous Pentagon Papers case, described Ho Chi Minh’s work:
For a few weeks in September, 1945, Vietnam was—for the first and only time in its modern history—free of foreign domination, and united from north to south under Ho Chi Minh…
The Western powers were already at work to change this. England occupied the southern part of Indochina and then turned it back to the French. Nationalist China (this was under Chiang Kai- shek, before the Communist revolution) occupied the northern part of Indochina, and the United States persuaded it to turn that back to the French. As Ho Chi Minh told an American journalist: ”We apparently stand quite alone.. .. We shall Have to depend on ourselves.”
Between October 1945 and February 1946, Ho Chi Minh wrote eight letters to President Truman, reminding him of the self-determination promises of the Atlantic Charter. One of the letters was sent both to Truman and to the United Nations:
I wish to invite attention of your Excellency for strictly humanitarian reasons to following matter. Two million Vietnamese died of starvation during winter of 1944 and spring 1945 because of starvation policy of French who seized and stored until it controlled all available rice. … Three- fourths of cultivated land was flooded in summer 1945, which was followed by a severe drought; of normal harvest five-sixths was lost. … Many people are starving. .. . Unless great world powers and international relief organizations bring us immediate assistance we face imminent catastrophe…
It was also noted [besides the rubber, tin, oil resources] that Japan depended on the rice of Southeast Asia, and Communist victory there would ”make it extremely difficult to prevent Japan’s eventual accommodation to communism.”
Under the Geneva Accords, the United States was permitted to have 685 military advisers in southern Vietnam. Eisenhower secretly sent several thousand. Under Kennedy, the figure rose to sixteen thousand, and some of them began to take part in combat operations. Diem was losing. Most of the South Vietnam countryside was now controlled by local villagers organized by the NLF.
Diem was becoming an embarrassment, an obstacle to effective control over Vietnam. [Diem avrättades tre veckor innan Kennedy själv blev skjuten. Diems palats blev anfallet av generaler, varpå han ringde ambassadören Lodge, som gav honom kalla handen.]
Again and again, American leaders expressed their bewilderment at the popularity of the NLF, at the high morale of its soldiers. […] General Maxwell Taylor reported in late 1964:
[…] Only in rare cases have we found evidences of bad morale among Viet-Cong prisoners or recorded in captured Viet-Cong documents.
”While on routine patrol in international waters,” McNamara said, ”the U.S. destroyer Maddox underwent an unprovoked attack.” It later turned out that the Gulf of Tonkin episode was a fake, that the highest American officials had lied to the public-just as they had in the invasion of Cuba under Kennedy. In fact, the CIA had engaged in a secret operation attacking North Vietnamese coastal installations—so if there had been an attack it would not have been ”unprovoked.” It was not a ”routine patrol,” because the Maddox was on a special electronic spying mission. And it was not in international waters but in Vietnamese territorial waters. It turned out that no torpedoes were fired at the Maddox, as McNamara said. Another reported attack on another destroyer, two nights later, which Johnson called ”open aggression on the high seas,” seems also to have been an invention.
By the end of the Vietnam war, 7 million tons of bombs had been dropped on Vietnam… almost one 500-pound bomb for every human being in Vietnam.
[…] Norman Morrison, a thirty-two-year-old pacifist, father of three, stood below the third-floor windows of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, doused himself with kerosene, and set himself afire, giving up his life in protest against the war. Also that year, in Detroit, an eighty-two-year-old woman named Alice Herz burned herself to death to make a statement against the horror of Indochina.
Dan Berrigan wrote a ”Meditation” at the time of the Catonsville incident:
Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children…
At the Brown University commencement in 1969, two-thirds of the graduating class turned their backs when Henry Kissinger stood up to address them.
The climax of protest came in the spring of 1970 when President Nixon ordered the invasion of Cambodia. At Kent State University in Ohio, on May 4, when students gathered to demonstrate against the war, National Guardsmen fired into the crowd. Four students were killed. One was paralyzed for life. Students at four hundred colleges and universities went on strike in protest. It was the first general student strike in the history of the United States.
But the most surprising data were in a survey made by the University of Michigan. This showed that, throughout the Vietnam war, Americans with only a grade school education were much stronger for withdrawal from the war than Americans with a college education. In June 1966, of people with a college education, 27 percent were for immediate withdrawal from Vietnam; of people with only a grade school education, 41 percent were for immediate withdrawal.
Traditional history portrays the end of wars as coming from the initiatives of leaders-negotiations in Paris or Brussels or Geneva or Versailles—just as it often finds the coming of war a response to the demand of ”the people.” The Vietnam war gave clear evidence that at least for that war (making one wonder about the others) the political leaders were the last to take steps to end the war-”the people ” were far ahead. The President was always far behind. The Supreme Court silently turned away from cases challenging the Constitutionality of the war. Congress was years behind public opinion.
Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton’s memo […]:
There may be a limit beyond which many Americans and much of the world will not permit the United States to go. The picture of the world’s greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1000 non-combatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission, on an issue whose merits are hotly disputed, is not a pretty one.
The fight began, many women were saying, with the body, which seemed to be the beginning of the exploitation of women-as sex plaything (weak and incompetent), as pregnant woman (helpless), as middle-aged woman (no longer considered beautiful), as older woman (to be ignored, set aside). A biological prison had been created by men and society.
In the problem of women was the germ of a solution, not only for their oppression, but for everybody’s. The control of women in society was ingeniously effective. It was not done directly by the state. Instead, the family was used-men to control women, women to control children, all to be preoccupied with one another, to turn to one another for help, to blame one another for trouble, to do violence to one another when tidings weren’t going right. Why could this not be turned around? Could women liberating themselves, children freeing themselves, men and women beginning to understand one another, find the source of their common oppression outside rather than in one another? Perhaps then they could create nuggets of strength in their own relationships, millions of pockets of insurrection. They could revolutionize thought and behavior in exactly that seclusion of family privacy which the system had counted on to do its work of control and indoctrination.
Around the same time, in November 1970, in Folsom prison in California, a work stoppage began which became the longest prison strike in the history of the United States. Most of the 2,400 prisoners held out in their cells for nineteen days, without food, in the face of threats and intimidation. The strike was broken with a combination of force and deception, and four of the prisoners were sent on a fourteen-hour ride to another prison, shackled and naked on the floor of a van. One of the rebels wrote: ”. . . the spirit of awareness has grown. … The seed has been planted. . . .”
The prisons in the United States had long been an extreme reflection of the American system itself: the stark life differences between rich and poor, the racism, the use of victims against one another, the lack of resources of the underclass to speak out, the endless ”reforms” that changed little. Dostoevski once said: ”The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
The Seventies: Under Control?
The Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan had been posing the question: ”Is the government run by a few big interests looking out for themselves?” The answer in 1964 had been ”yes” from 26 percent of those polled; by 1972 the answer was ”yes” from 53 percent of those polled.
It began during the presidential campaign in June of 1972, when five burglars, carrying wiretapping and photo equipment, were caught in the act of breaking into the offices of the Democratic National Committee, in the Watergate apartment complex of Washington, D.C. One of the five, James McCord, Jr., worked for the Nixon campaign; he was ”security” officer for the Committee to Re- elect the President (CREEP).-
Both McCord and Hunt had worked for many years for the CTA. Hunt had been the CIA man in charge of the invasion of Cuba in 1961, and three of the Watergate burglars were veterans of the invasion. McCord, as CREEP security man, worked for the chief of CREEP, John Mitchell, the Attorney General of the United States.
Thus, due to an unforeseen arrest by police unaware of the high-level connections of the burglars, information was out to the public before anyone could stop it…
[Saker som framträdde under de därefter följande rättegångarna:]
- Attorney General John Mitchell controlled a secret fund of $350,000 to $700,000—to be used against the Democratic party—for forging letters, leaking false news items to the press, stealing campaign files.
- Gulf Oil Corporation, ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph), American Airlines, and other huge American corporations had made illegal contributions, running into millions of dollars, to the Nixon campaign.
- In September of 1971, shortly after the New York Times printed Daniel Ellsberg’s copies of the top-secret Pentagon Papers, the administration planned and carried out—Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy themselves doing it—the burglary of the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, looking for Ellsberg’s records.
- After the Watergate burglars were caught, Nixon secretly pledged to give them executive clemency if they were imprisoned, and suggested that up to a million dollars be given them to keep them quiet. In fact, $450,000 was given to them, on Erlichman’s orders.
- Nixon’s nominee for head of the FBI (J. Edgar Hoover had recently died), L. Patrick Gray, revealed that he had turned over the FBI records on its investigation of the Watergate burglary to Nixon’s legal assistant, John Dean, and that Attorney General Richard Kleindienst (Mitchell had just resigned, saying he wanted to pursue his private life) had ordered him not to discuss Watergate with the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Two former members of Nixon’s cabinet—John Mitchell and Maurice Stans—were charged with taking $250,000 from a financier named Robert Vesco in return for their help with a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of Vesco’s activities.
- It turned out that certain material had disappeared from FBI files—material from a series of illegal wiretaps ordered by Henry Kissinger, placed on the telephones of four journalists and thirteen government officials—and was in the White House safe of Nixon’s adviser John Erlichman.
- One of the Watergate burglars, Bernard Barker, told the Senate committee that he had also been involved in a plan to physically attack Daniel Ellsberg while Ellsberg spoke at an antiwar rally in Washington.
- A deputy director of the CIA testified that Haldeman and Ehrlichman told him it was Nixon’s wish that the CIA tell the FBI not to pursue its investigation beyond the Watergate burglary.
- Almost by accident, a witness told the Senate committee that President Nixon had tapes of all personal conversations and phone conversations at the White House. Nixon at first refused to turn over the tapes, and when he finally did, they had been tampered with: eighteen and a half minutes of one tape had been erased.
- In the midst of all this, Nixon’s Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, was indicted in Maryland for receiving bribes from Maryland contractors in return for political favors, and resigned from the vice-presidency in October 1973. Nixon appointed Congressman Gerald Ford to take Agnew’s place.
- Over $10 million in government money had been used by Nixon on his private homes in San Clemente and Key Biscayne on grounds of ”security,” and he had illegally taken-with the aid of a bit of forgery-a $576,000 tax deduction for some of his papers.
- It was disclosed that for over a year in 1969-1970 the U.S. had engaged in a secret, massive bombing of Cambodia, which it kept from the American public and even from Congress.
No respectable American newspaper said what was said by Claude Julien, editor of the Monde Diplomatique in September 1974. ”The elimination of Mr. Richard Nixon leaves intact all the mechanisms and all the false values which permitted the Watergate scandal.” Julien noted that Nixon’s Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, would remain at his post- in other words, that Nixon’s foreign policy would continue.
In the charges brought by the House Committee on Impeachment against Nixon, it seemed clear that the committee did not want to emphasize those elements in his behavior which were found in other Presidents and which might be repeated in the future. It stayed clear of Nixon’s dealings with powerful corporations; it did not mention the bombing of Cambodia. It concentrated on things peculiar to Nixon, not on fundamental policies continuous among American Presidents, at home and abroad. […] One of Ford’s first acts was to pardon Nixon, thus saving him from possible criminal proceedings and allowing him to retire with a huge pension in California.
Vietnam was ”lost” (the very word supposed it was ours to lose). Kissinger was quoted that April (by Washington Post columnist Tom Braden): ”The U.S. must carry out some act somewhere in the world which shows its determination to continue to be a world power.”[…] The following month came the Mayaguez affair. The Mayaguez was an American cargo ship sailing from South Vietnam to Thailand in mid-May 1975, just three weeks after the victory of the revolutionary forces in Vietnam. When it came close to an island in Cambodia, where a revolutionary regime had just taken power, the ship was stopped by the Cambodians, taken to a port at a nearby island, and the crew removed to the mainland.
President Ford sent a message to the Cambodian government to release the ship and crew, and when thirty-six hours had elapsed and there was no response (the message had been given to the Chinese liaison mission in Washington, but was returned the next day, ”ostensibly undelivered,” one press account said), he began military operations—U.S. planes bombed Cambodian ships. […] It was necessary to show the world that giant America, defeated by tiny Vietnam, was still powerful and resolute.
Valuable information came out of the investigations [congressional committees in the House and Senate were formed in 1975 for investigating both FBI and CIA], but it was just enough, and in just the right way—moderate press coverage, little television coverage, thick books of reports with limited readership—to give the impression of an honest society correcting itself.
That July the Lou Harris poll, looking at the public’s confidence in the government from 1966 to 1975, reported that confidence in the military during that period had dropped from 62 percent to 29 percent, in business from 55 percent to 18 percent, in both President and Congress from 42 percent to 13 percent. Shortly after that, another Harris poll reported ”65% of Americans oppose military aid abroad because they feel it allows dictatorships to maintain control over their population.”
As the United States prepared in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence, a group of intellectuals and political leaders from Japan, me United States, and Western Europe, organized into ”The Trilateral Commission,” issued a report [it was organized amongst others by David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski]. It was entitled ”The Governability of Democracies.” Samuel Huntington, a political science professor at Harvard University and long-time consultant to the White House on the war in Vietnam… All this, [Huntington] said, ”produced problems for the governability of democracy in the 1970’s…” […]
To the extent that the United States was governed by anyone during the decades after World War II, it was governed by the President acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the executive office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private sector’s ”Establishment.”
[…] need for greater unity among Japan, Western Europe, and the United States in the face of a much more complicated threat to tri-continental capitalism than a monolithic Communism: revolutionary movements in the Third World.
In 1960 there were eight United States banks with foreign branches; in 1974 there were 129. The assets of these overseas branches amounted to $3.5 billion in 1960, $155 billion in 1974.
Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus
Carter’s job as President, from the point of view of the Establishment, was to halt the rushing disappointment of the American people with the government, with the economic system, with disastrous military ventures abroad. […] Although he himself was a millionaire peanut grower, he presented himself as an ordinary American farmer. Although he had been a supporter of the Vietnam war until its end, he presented himself as a sympathizer with those who had been against the war… Under Carter, the United States continued to support, all over the world, regimes that engaged in imprisonment of dissenters, torture, and mass murder: in the Philippines, in Iran, in Nicaragua, and in Indonesia, where the inhabitants of East Timor were being annihilated in a campaign bordering [sic] on genocide. […] Once elected, Carter declined to give aid to Vietnam for reconstruction, despite the fact that the land had been devastated by American bombing. Asked about this at a press conference, Carter replied that there was no special obligation on the United States to do this because ”the destruction was mutual.”
Despite the tax cuts and the military appropriations, Reagan insisted he would still balance the budget because the tax cuts would so stimulate the economy as to generate new revenue. Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontief remarked dryly: ”This is not likely to happen. In fact, I personally guarantee that it will not happen.”
Indeed, Department of Commerce figures showed that periods of lowered corporate taxes (1973- 1975, 1979-1982) did not at all show higher capital investment, but a steep drop.
A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in early 1992 showed that public opinion on welfare changed depending on how the question was worded. If the word ”welfare” was used, 44 percent of those questioned said too much was being spent on welfare (while 50 percent said either that the right amount was being spent, or that too little was being spent. But when the question was about ”assistance to the poor,” only 13 percent thought too much was being spent, and 64 percent thought too little was being spent.
In the dozen years from 1977 to 1989, the before-tax income of the richest 1 percent rose 77 percent; meanwhile, for the poorest two-fifths of the population, there was no gain at all, indeed a small decline.
The whole Iran-contra affair became a perfect example of the double line of defense of the American Establishment. The first defense is to deny the truth. If exposed, the second defense is to investigate, but not too much; the press will publicize, but they will not get to the heart of the matter. […] Although Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas introduced a resolution for the impeachment of Reagan, it was quickly suppressed in Congress.
Congress was sufficiently embarrassed by the killings in El Salvador to require that before any more aid was given the President must certify that progress in human rights was taking place. […] When, at the end of 1983, Congress passed a law to continue the requirement of certification, Reagan vetoed it.
But the continued hard line of the United States became an obstacle to further liberalization, according to former ambassador to the Soviet Union George Kennan, who wrote that ”the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union by the end of the 1980s […]:
We paid with forty years of enormous and otherwise unnecessary military expenditures. We paid through the cultivation of nuclear weaponry to the point where the vast and useless nuclear arsenal had become (and remains today) a danger to the very environment of the planet…
[…] the United States invaded Panama in December 1989, with 26,000 troops. It was a quick victory. Noriega was captured and brought to Florida to stand trial (where he was subsequently found guilty and sent to prison).
This confidence in ”smart bombs” sparing civilians may have contributed to a shift in public opinion, from being equally divided on going to war, to perhaps 85 percent support for the invasion. […] In mid-February, U.S. planes dropped bombs on an air raid shelter in Baghdad at four in the morning, killing 400 to 500 people.
President George Bush was satisfied. As the war ended, he declared on a radio broadcast: ”The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.”
The Unreported Resistance
In less than three years, there had come about a remarkable change in public opinion. At the time of Reagan’s election, nationalist feeling—drummed up by the recent hostage crisis in Iran and by the Russian invasion of Afghanistan—was strong; the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center found that only 12 percent of those it polled thought too much was being spent on arms. But when it took another poll in the spring of 1982, that figure rose to 32 percent. And in the spring of 1983, a New York Time/CBS News poll found that the figure had risen again, to 48 percent.
Once he was in office, Ronald Reagan hesitated to renew draft registration, because, as his Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, explained, ”President Reagan believes that resuming the draft to meet manpower problems would lead to public unrest comparable to that in the sixties and seventies.”
Public opinion was strong enough to cause Congress to legislate economic sanctions against the South African Government in 1986, overriding Reagan’s veto.
Only 54 percent of the voting-age population voted, so that—of the total eligible to vote—27 percent voted for Reagan. […] Because our peculiar voting arrangements allow a small margin of popular votes to become a huge majority of electoral votes, the media can talk about ”overwhelming victory,” thus deceiving their readers and disheartening those who don’t look closely at the statistics. Could one say from these figures that ”the American people” wanted Reagan, or Bush, as President?
A Harris/Harvard School of Public Health poll of 1989 showed that most Americans (61 percent) favored a Canadian-type health system, in which the government was the single payer to doctors and hospitals, bypassing the insurance companies, and offering universal medical coverage to everyone. Neither the Democratic nor the Republican party adopted that as its program, although both insisted they wanted to ”reform” the health system.
A survey by the Gordon Black Corporation for the National Press Club in 1992 found that 59 percent of all voters wanted a 50 percent cut in defense spending in five years. Neither of the major parties was willing to make major cuts in the military budget.
The labor movement in the eighties and nineties was considerably weakened by the decline of manufacturing, by the flight of factories to other countries, by the hostility of the Reagan administration and its appointees on the National Labor Relations Board.
The Coming Revolt of the Guards
How skillful to tax the middle class to pay for the relief of the poor, building resentment on top of humiliation! How adroit to bus poor black youngsters into poor white neighborhoods, in a violent exchange of impoverished schools, while the schools of the rich remain untouched and the wealth of the nation, doled out carefully where children need free milk, is drained for billion-dollar aircraft carriers. How ingenious to meet the demands of blacks and women for equality by giving them small special benefits, and setting them in competition with everyone else for jobs made scarce by an irrational, wasteful system. How wise to turn the fear and anger of the majority toward a class of criminals bred-by economic inequity-faster than they can be put away, deflecting attention from the huge thefts of national resources carried out within the law by men in executive offices.
In the twenties there was a similar estrangement in the middle classes, which could have gone in various directions-the Ku Klux Klan had millions of members at that time-but in the thirties the work of an organized left wing mobilized much of this feeling into trade unions, farmers’ unions, socialist movements. We may, in the coming years, be in a race for the mobilization of middle- class discontent.
The fact of that discontent is clear. The surveys since the early seventies show 70 to 80 percent of Americans distrustful of government, business, the military. This means the distrust goes beyond blacks, the poor, the radicals. It has spread among skilled workers, white-collar workers, professionals; for the first time in the nation’s history, perhaps, both the lower classes and the middle classes, the prisoners and the guards, were disillusioned with the system. […] Capitalism has always been a failure for the lower classes. It is now beginning to fail for the middle classes.
In the early nineties, the false socialism of the Soviet system had failed. And the American system seemed out of control-a runaway capitalism, a runaway technology, a runaway militarism, a running away of government from the people it claimed to represent. Crime was out of control, cancer and AIDS were out of control. Prices and taxes and unemployment were out of control. The decay of cities and the breakdown of families were out of control. And people seemed to sense all this.
In the sixties and seventies, for the first time, the Establishment failed to produce national unity and patriotic fervor in a war. There was a flood of cultural changes such as the country had never seen-in sex, family, personal relations-exactly those situations most difficult to control from the ordinary centers of power.
The Clinton Presidency
Running for president in 1992 while still governor of Arkansas, he flew back to Arkansas to oversee the execution of a mentally retarded man on death row. And early in his administration, he and Attorney General Janet Reno approved an FBI attack on a group of religious zealots who were armed and ensconced in a building complex in Waco, Texas. The attack resulted in a fire that swept through the compound, killing at least 86 men, women, and children.
One of the people sentenced by the judge [for the Waco massacre, min anm.] was Renos Avraam, who commented: ”This nation is supposed to run under laws, not personal feelings. When you ignore the law you sow the seeds of terrorism.”
This turned out to be a prophetic statement. Timothy McVeigh, who some years after the Waco tragedy was convicted of bombing the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which cost 168 lives, had visited the Waco site twice. Later, according to an FBI affidavit, McVeigh was ”extremely agitated” about the government’s assault on Waco.
There was a simple but overwhelming problem with cutting off benefits to the poor to force them to find jobs. There were not jobs available for all those who would lose their benefits. In New York City in 1990, when 2000 jobs were advertised in the Sanitation Department at $23,000 a year, 100,000 people applied.
It was only in the twentieth century, especially in the thirties and sixties, when the government, besieged by protests and fearful of the stability of the system, passed social legislation for the poor that political leaders and business executives complained about ”big government.”
President Clinton reappointed Alan Greenspan as head of the Federal Reserve System, which regulated interest rates. Greenspan’s chief concern was to avoid ”inflation,” which bondholders did not want because it would reduce their profits. His financial constituency saw higher wages for workers as producing inflation and worried that if there was not enough unemployment, wages might rise.
From the Boston Globe, May 22, 1997: ”After White House intervention, the Senate yesterday … rejected a proposal … to extend health insurance to the nation’s 10.5 million uninsured children … Seven law makers switched their votes … after senior White House officials .. . called and said the amendment would imperil the delicate budget agreement.
The concern about balancing the budget did not extend to military spending. Immediately after he was elected for the first time, Clinton had said: ”I want to reaffirm the essential continuity in American foreign policy.”
General Colin Powell spoke similarly (reported in Defense News, April 8, 1991): ”I’m running out of demons. I’m running out of villains. I’m down to Castro and Kim Il Sung.”
The Baltimore Sun reported (May 30, 1994):
Next year; for the first time, The United States will produce more combat planes for foreign air forces than for the Pentagon, highlighting America’s replacement of the Soviet Union as the world’s main arms supplier. Encouraged by the Clinton administration, the defense industry last year had its best export year ever, having sold $32 billion worth of weapons overseas, more than twice the 1992 total of $15 billion.
One of the parts of the former Yugoslavia was Bosnia-Herzegovina, with Croats massacring Serbs, and Serbs massacring Croats and Moslems. After a vicious Serb attack on the city of Srebrenica, the United States bombed Serb positions, and then negotiations in Dayton, Ohio, in 1995 stopped the fighting, dividing Bosnia-Herzegovina into Croat and Serbian entities.
But the Dayton accord had failed to deal with the problem of another part of the old Yugoslavia, the province of Kosovo, which, with a majority of its population Albanian and a minority being Serbian, was demanding independence from Serbia. The Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic had shown his ruthlessness earlier in Bosnia, and now, facing armed attack from Kosovo nationalists, attacked Kosovo, killing perhaps 2,000 people and causing several hundred thousand to become refugees.
The 2000 Election and the ”War on Terrorism”
Al Gore received hundreds of thousands of votes more than Bush, but the Constitution required that the victor be determined by the electors of each state. The electoral vote was so close that the outcome was going to be determined by the electors of the state of Florida. [Floridas ‘secretary of state’, republikanska Katherine Harris, hade makten att avgöra vinnaren där. Med tusentals röster fortfarande disputerade (enl Zinn) slog hon fast att Bush hade vunnit med 537 (!) röster.]
Supreme Court Justice Stevens:
”Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.”
The head of the television network CNN, Walter Isaacson, sent a memo to his staff saying that images of civilian casualties [från Afghanistan] should be accompanied with an explanation that this was retaliation for the harboring of terrorists. ”It seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardships in Afghanistan,” he said. The television anchorman Dan Rather declared: ”George Bush is the President… Wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where.”