Friday, November 05, 2004

Election, an Angle.

Well, my systematic critique of the election was knocked for six by a resounding and genuine majority of the turnout voting for Bush. An angle, though, does present itself.

Shortly after Bush was elected the first time, I found myself reading Gore Vidal's novelisation of Abraham Lincoln's presidency, Lincoln - not long after I'd read a biography of the same fellow. I was struck then by the sort of similarities between 'the Original Ape' (as Old Abe Lincoln was known) and the the Original Chimp.

Lincoln, a Republican (true to the spirit of that partty's foundation on protectionism and state intervention in the economy, erm....) was derrided as incompetent, nearly politically castrated by his former rival for office and Secretary of State, Seward. A squeeky voiced gangly country lawyer, who'd cut his Washingtonian teeth with a furious attack in the House of Representatives on a President who had used his command of the army to provoke war with Mexico - he became known as 'Spot Lincoln' because he made reference to the blood spilt on that spot that started the war.

He came to office, and waged a war to defend the Union, that resulted in the liberation of the Slaves, a beneficial if (possibly - he was a canny bugger) unintended result. His war was opposed by the, erm, Democrats, who chose a war leader, General McLellan (who Lincoln had dismissed for his failure to prosecute the war against the South with sufficient vigour). He won a resounding victory at that Election, where before he had been a minority President (the first, unless I miss my guess).

Karl Marx drafted a letter to him for the International Working Mens Association (IWMA - the First International), addressing him as "Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, " - perhaps buying into the guy's log-cabin propaganda, when we was a wealthy state bureaucrat and lawyer, hanging on the coattails of railroad capital - that's by-the-by.

He praised Lioncoln for waging the war, in impeccibly class centred terms:
When an oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders dared to inscribe, for the first time in the annals of the world, "slavery" on the banner of Armed Revolt, when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European revolution of the eighteenth century; when on those very spots counterrevolution, with systematic thoroughness, gloried in rescinding "the ideas entertained at the time of the formation of the old constitution", and maintained slavery to be "a beneficent institution", indeed, the old solution of the great problem of "the relation of capital to labor", and cynically proclaimed property in man "the cornerstone of the new edifice" — then the working classes of Europe understood at once, even before the fanatic partisanship of the upper classes for the Confederate gentry had given its dismal warning, that the slaveholders' rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general holy crusade of property against labor, and that for the men of labor, with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic. Everywhere they bore therefore patiently the hardships imposed upon them by the cotton crisis, opposed enthusiastically the proslavery intervention of their betters — and, from most parts of Europe, contributed their quota of blood to the good cause.
Of course, Lincoln had to face draft riots and rampant corruption in his administration (he was also, as a legislator, one of those who wrecked the credit rating of Illinois with his imprudent economics and support for public works).

Luckilly, however, it's all over now, and I can get on to discussiong things that are more important than George W. Bush.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damned buck-toothed limey, why don't you write about the mess in your own god damned country. God bless George Bush

10:43 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Workers have no country, friend. besides, I was being relatively nice to Bush in comparing him with lincoln. I strive always for hisstorical perspective, and the perspective here was the international nature of Lincoln's Presidency and Bush's

11:28 AM  

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