Force of history demands re-evaluation of colonial statues and street names
The BLM has stolen a march on the left and shows the way that the trend of marxist oriented ‘lefts’ tend to become focused in ways that are too limited. One might insist by the same token that the focus on race needs a larger context but the older left despite many efforts of correction has never done the job that the BLM movement has generated, and that globally.
To a student of history this can generate a sense of deja vu in the sense that the original focus on the working class in the wake of the French revolution with its flaws in relation to class, a focus taken up powerfully by Marx/Engels, was just such a correction to the radicalism of liberals at the period of the ‘bourgeois’ revolutions with their blindness to the proletariat even as they staged revolutionary firsts in world history. The emphasis on the working class is now joined by the new emphasis on the issue of race in the activisms of social change, no doubt with similar thinking with respect to feminism and other movements.
It is a reminder that revolutionary/evolutionary change is more than just its classic issues: it is the demand/need to recreate a social totality in a huge spectrum of issues and problems, and the problems get harder, not easier. Part of the problem with bolshevism was the way marxist tenets barely applied to the situation of Tzarist Russia, where industrializtion was at a threshold, issues of peasantry nearly nullified the whole corpus of marxist shibboleths and left the whole situation to a kind of imaginary fantasy of the world they faced in fact, derailing the revolutionary project altogether. We should anticipate the limits of each left platform to failsafe against what history shows, the wrong revolution at the right time (?), or something to that effect.
The obvious connecting link is the issue and history of slavery.
The issue of slavery has almost derailed world history and the new version in modern times as racism (said to be absent in the civilizations of antiquity???, one wonders) has nearly derailed modernity.
One fears to say it, but it would seem increasingly obvious now that american civilization is a botch altogether, and that racism is a part of the hopeless confusion. Even given the legacy of the Civil War, the last ditch effort to end slavery once and for all as it threatened the whole industrial revolution with its passable tragic flaw as capitalist racism, still the issue persists.
Quite obviously a new left, just as the liberal revolutionary (cf. the logo above to this blog?) of the 1830’s began to sense and include the issue of the proletariat, so now a new left moves to correct focus to the issues of race. To be sure, the left has always included this issue, in a way: the rise of abolition was already the exemplar of an independent radicalism and the racial bias of the French bourgeois revolutionaries with respect to Haiti reminds us of this.
The issue of slavery in world history begins in the wake of Sumer and is not a product of higher civilization but one of its diseases. It is a notable fact, often missed by cynics who see the injustice of civilization as intrinsic and slavery in particular its necessary sacrifice to social labor. That’s nonsense, and dangerous nonsense. The Sumerians created higher civilization without slavery, and yet within a millennium the disease was endemic and even the Greeks creating a first democracy could no longer shake off the curse. That’s a full three quarters percentage of the history of man lost to failed civilization. All those roman monuments built with slaves don’t count therefore.
By the time of the middle third millennium BCE it was already becoming a social construct that would by the time of the Roman world was a hopeless pathology of pseudo-civilization. Civilization couldn’t proceed without the abolition of slavery and its near disappearance was a fact until the capitalist brand of the modern era reinvented it in the process nearly destroying the modern project altogether.
We can see that still, after so much, the issues persist and threaten to engulf the whole human experiment if, as here, we see that after the era of abolition and the bloodshed of the Civil War, the problem still at this time, seems still unsolved.
The problem is creeping up on the issue of capitalism, as such. And we are left to wonder if the ‘once and greater Civil War’ of the future in the passage beyond capitalism remains the creeping subtext of the current outbreak of a civilizational disease.