Sunday, October 02, 2016

Re-writing history

Remember the Alamo? 

Children are taught never to forget the Alamo and can readily account for the bold deeds of its champions, most notably Jim Bowie, Davey Crocket and Colonel Travis who defiantly defended the Alamo, actually a church, against the uncivilised Mexicans. Just who these gallant defenders really were and what was at stake is something Texan kids will never have the fortune to find out from their brow-beating school masters.

Davy Crockett, ethnic cleanser and slave owner. Jim Bowie, land speculator, slave owner and slave trader.  And what were our heroes doing in the Alamo mission in the first place?

In 1835, there were about twenty thousand Americans and four thousand slaves living in the Mexican state of Texas, most of the slaves engaged in making their owners wealthier by the cultivation of cotton. In December of 1835, the Mexican government effectively banned slavery in Texas. Always keen to defend freedom and liberty, the American settlers attempted to secede and steal Texas from Mexico in order to maintain slavery and the wealth and power they derived from it. Mexican Santa Anna arrived with troops and laid siege to the Alamo, which the slave-owners had seized. At the end of a thirteen day siege, all the inhabitants of the Alamo, with the exception of women, children, and slaves, were dead.

The siege of the Alamo is then re-invented, the truth turned upside down, becoming yet another of the great lies of American “history”, spread through a host of movies, television programs, books and articles.”

What is then hidden from Texas history is the extermination of the Lipan Apaches, Aranamas, Karankawas, Tonkawas, Kohanis, Cocos, Bidais, Nacisis, Koasatis, Eyeishes, Nabedachies, Nacogdoches, Kichais, Hainais, Anadarkos, Yowanes, Tawakonis, Wacos, Caddos, Kickapoos, Kiowas, Kiowa Apaches, Tawehashes, Comanches, and more. All these Indian peoples were wiped from the face of the earth forever after Texas won its ”freedom”.

Lincoln revisited

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.” so said Abraham Lincoln

The real reasons for the slaughter of more than six hundred thousand ordinary Americans on both sides were, in fact, just the same two old reasons for each and every war from the dawn of time until today: the insatiable greed of the ruling class for ever more wealth and power. The northern ruling class, represented by Lincoln, drooling at the prospect of the cash to be made in the kind of large-scale industrialization occurring in Britain, wanted economic expansion, free land, free labour, a "free" market surrounded by high tariffs to protect their own operations and a central bank which would operate strictly in their interests: a nineteenth century New World Order, in fact. The southern ruling class, sitting on their porches sipping their mint juleps as generations of slaves toiled and died to make them ever richer, simply wanted to maintain the status quo.

The "emancipation" of the slaves was a tactic which had the effect of destroying the power base which the southern ruling class derived from slavery and "freeing" millions of slaves who then became available as a cheap labour for northern factories and mills.

Just as George “all men are created equal” Washington owned slave plantations and didn’t give a give a bollocks for the true conception of freedom, and just like Davey Crocket and Jim Bowie, the legends of the Alamo, who profited from slavery and in fact died defending their right to continue profiting from that noxious trade, so too with Abe Lincoln:
 He opposed integration and intermarriage, did not think that freed slaves should be given full legal and voting rights, and forcefully advocated both before and during the Civil War that all blacks should be deported to Africa or the West Indies.

Lincoln’s armies committed countless war crimes and atrocities, burning and looting civilian property, destroying entire cities and laying waste vast areas of countryside. Lincoln imposed a fascist regime within the Union States, making a farce of the Constitution. His regime arrested thousands of critics of his war policies, including dozens of newspaper editors and publishers. Under Lincoln, the writ of habeas corpus, a fundamental characteristic of a democratic society, was revoked, and mail and press censorship was imposed.

Only after the Confederate states refused Lincoln’s offer to leave the slaves in chains if they stopped fighting did he issue the Emancipation Proclamation which purported to free slaves in states not under Union control. Slaves in states controlled by Lincoln remained in slavery.”’

'I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favour of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races - that I am not nor ever have been in favour of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. 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 favour of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.' Lincoln said in the fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois, September 18, 1858 

'My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to 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 save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the coloured race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.' from a letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862. Also readable here.

Within one month of writing this letter, Lincoln issued his first Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that at the beginning of 1863 he would use his war powers to free all slaves in states still in rebellion (as they came under Union control). 

Significantly, one year later, in a letter  to James C. Conkling of August 26, 1863, Lincoln would write:
'I know, as fully as one can know the opinions of others, that some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important successes believe the emancipation policy and the use of the colored troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the Rebellion, and that at least one of these important successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers….I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union.
 I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive—even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept.'

With emancipation, the lot of the freed slave did not fair much better. They became not only cannon fodder for the warring capitalists the moment their chains were removed and lowest of the wage slaves in the American industrial proletariat and to an extent still are, often to be used as a bargaining chip by employers during industrial unrest to keep wages low and still denied many of the rights enjoyed by whites and which sparked the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s.

In April, 1865, during his second term as president, Lincoln gave a speech supporting a form of limited suffrage, for those he described as the more "intelligent" blacks and those blacks who had rendered special services to the nation. One hundred and forty years later that same limited suffrage could be found in the US elections where tens of thousands of black voters in Florida were disenfranchised in the presidential elections that brought George W Bush to power. Federal hearings would later investigate allegations of widespread voting irregularities, with many witnesses described being intimidated by police roadblocks near polling stations and being asked to produce several identity documents before being allowed to vote. Others spoke of being wrongly listed as convicted criminals and thus being barred from voting Moreover, an estimated one million black voters allegedly cast votes that were never even counted.

The Alamo was part and parcel of a battle in reality fought so that Black people could be legally bought and sold as pieces of property! Celebrating the Alamo means glorifying the arrest of over 100 enslaved Black people in 1835 - when many were murdered for planning a slave uprising - Just as these Texan slave owners were planning their uprising against Mexico. It means glorifying the Jim Crow system, the terror of the Ku Klux Klan, and the lynching of countless Black people in Texas history.

If you’re studying history, there’s one thing you have to be always cautious of - it’s the victors that get to write the damned history. It is the duty, therefore, of every revolutionary to tell it like it was, and is, at every opportunity.

As Orwell said: “He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future” 

In the battle of ideas, the real war we wage against the master class, we must not concede them one inch in interpreting the past – they have so much to lose and we have so much to gain.

Can you imagine any school teacher imparting these facts to kids and keeping their jobs?

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