“Out of the death of slavery”: A Return to Marx’s Civil War Writings
Abstract: The goal of this essay is to offer a return to Marx, specifically to Marx’s writings on the US Civil War, in order to consider their role in the development of a Marxian materialist conception of history. To that end, this reading of Marx’s writings on the Civil War elicits a definition of class as 1) an objective, dynamic systemic process of exploitation in global capitalism, 2) defined concretely in a given space and time by the content, shape and limits, and necessities of political-economic struggle, and 3) a contested, fluid ideological and cultural structure rooted in (and without) social institutions contrive to reproduce existing social relations of production. In order to establish this multidimensional definition, I contextualize this reading of Marx’s Civil War writings within his extensive investigations of events in Asia and Africa.
Keywords: Marx, Marxism, US Civil War, class, racism
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Published in March 2020