Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Amiri Baraka on How the Republican Promise of Reparations For Slavery were betrayed shortly after the Civil War

“When chattel slavery was destroyed, the black struggle became a land struggle, in that only a settlement of land, such as every democratic revolution in Europe, Germany and Russia, so that the slaves could become a class of small entrepreneurs, independent to some extent from the old chattel ties to the Planters. But with the betrayal of Reconstruction by the newly imperialist forces of northern corporate industrial power, the land (the vaunted 40 acres and a mule) were seized by Wall Street (by 1873, 80% of southern lands were owned by northern capital), whose southern outpost was Atlanta.

The Mexican war of 1848, the ongoing pacification of the Native peoples, was followed by big capital allying itself temporarily with northern abolitionist democracy, as DuBois called it, and the multinational southern working class, both Black and White, and once the 200,000 Black troops had completely destroyed the Plantation Owners as a class, the superficial move toward full democracy and land settlement, education, equal citizenship rights was tolerated until big capital secured full control of southern land and remaining institutions and the White middle-class, the small businessmen, politicians, overseers, small farmers, professionals, were transformed into a comprador for rising Wall Street-based U.S. imperialism…

It was [Andrew] Johnson who dismantled the Freedman’s Bureau, which in its glorious futility had actually imposed a dictatorship of the working class and small farmers in the South, and had begun to distribute the 40 acres and a mule that the two U.S. Senators who, as Republicans representing the Abolitionist Democratic philosophy, had offered because they understood that without some kind of economic base, and without equal access to the ballot, education and a productive livelihood, Black people could not possibly become “citizens.” It was Johnson, as well, again with Seward’s urging, who immediately allowed the Southern successionists to re-enter the union, thus leaving the ex-slaves at the brutal hands of those who were looking backwards, and those who sought to re-enslave Black people, which they did, as soon as possible.”  (Amiri Baraka Reader, 555-557)