The150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln and the end of hostilities in the American Civil War, has seen a new focus on the continuing – if marginalised – controversy over what they both represent. Was the Civil War a heroic intervention to end oppression and slavery, or the first modern US war of imperialism masquerading as ethics? Was Lincoln a hero, an emancipator, or a racist hypocrite? Did he save the union? or force it upon a people who had chose secession?
We can’t can’t claim to have any final answers, but the debate itself – and even more so the fact of its almost total suppression in the mainstream – is important for what it can tell us about our own present day and the formulation of memes, myths and received truths. The rawness and brutality of what was done to the South in the name of justice an unity still lives in the the collective unconscious of the Southern people – and perhaps also in the North – with an intensity few openly acknowledge. In these senses the debate is not historical at all. It’s entirely about the now. We’ll probably be coming back to it few time, but for now here is Southern gentleman Paul Craig Roberts’ view the on the truth behind the Lincoln legacy. Is he biased? Perhaps. But so are all of us in our own ways, and it’s our own officially sanctioned societal prejudices that we are always least aware of, and which always need to be most rigorously challenged.
The Power of Lies
Paul Craig Roberts
It is one of history’s ironies that the Lincoln Memorial is a sacred space for the Civil Rights Movement and the site of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
Lincoln did not think blacks were the equals of whites. Lincoln’s plan was to send the blacks in America back to Africa, and if he had not been assassinated, returning blacks to Africa would likely have been his post-war policy.
As Thomas DiLorenzo and a number of non-court historians have conclusively established, Lincoln did not invade the Confederacy in order to free the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation did not occur until 1863 when opposition in the North to the war was rising despite Lincoln’s police state measures to silence opponents and newspapers. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war measure issued under Lincoln’s war powers. The proclamation provided for the emancipated slaves to be enrolled in the Union army replenishing its losses. It was also hoped that the proclamation would spread slave revolts in the South while southern white men were away at war and draw soldiers away from the fronts in order to protect their women and children. The intent was to hasten the defeat of the South before political opposition to Lincoln in the North grew stronger.
The Lincoln Memorial was built not because Lincoln “freed the slaves,” but because Lincoln saved the empire. As the Savior of the Empire, had Lincoln not been assassinated, he could have become emperor for life.
As Professor Thomas DiLorenzo writes: “Lincoln spent his entire political career attempting to use the powers of the state for the benefit of the moneyed corporate elite (the ‘one-percenters’ of his day), first in Illinois, and then in the North in general, through protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare for road, canal, and railroad corporations, and a national bank controlled by politicians like himself to fund it all.”
Lincoln was a man of empire. As soon as the South was conquered, ravaged, and looted, his collection of war criminal generals, such as Sherman and Sheridan, set about exterminating the Plains Indians in one of the worst acts of genocide in human history. Even today Israeli Zionists point to Washington’s extermination of the Plains Indians as the model for Israel’s theft of Palestine.
The War of Northern Aggression was about tariffs and northern economic imperialism. The North was protectionist. The South was free trade. The North wanted to finance its economic development by forcing the South to pay higher prices for manufactured goods. The North passed the Morrill Tariff which more than doubled the tariff rate to 32.6% and provided for a further hike to 47%. The tariff diverted the South’s profits on its agricultural exports to the coffers of Northern industrialists and manufacturers. The tariff was designed to redirect the South’s expenditures on manufactured goods from England to the higher cost goods produced in the North.
This is why the South left the union, a right of self-determination under the Constitution.
The purpose of Lincoln’s war was to save the empire, not to abolish slavery. In his first inaugural address Lincoln “made an ironclad defense of slavery.” His purpose was to keep the South in the Empire despite the Morrill Tariff. As for slavery, Lincoln said: “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” This position, Lincoln reminded his audience, was part of the 1860 Republican Party platform. Lincoln also offered his support for the strong enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, which required Northerners to hunt down and return runaway slaves, and he gave his support to the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, already passed by Northern votes in the House and Senate, that prohibited any federal interference with slavery. For Lincoln and his allies, the empire was far more important than slaves.
DiLorenzo explains what the deal was that Lincoln offered to the South. However, just as empire was more important to the North than slavery, for the South avoiding large taxes on manufactured goods, in effect a tax on Southern agricultural profits, was more important than northern guarantees for slavery.
The so-called Civil War was not a civil war. In a civil war, both sides are fighting for control of the government. The South was not fighting for control of the federal government. The South seceded and the North refused to let the South go.
The reason I am writing about this is to illustrate how history is falsified in behalf of agendas. I am all for civil rights and participated in the movement while a college student. What makes me uncomfortable is the transformation of Lincoln, a tyrant who was an agent for the One Percent and was willing to destroy any and every thing in behalf of empire, into a civil rights hero. Who will be next? Hitler? Stalin? Mao? George W. Bush? Obama? John Yoo? If Lincoln can be a civil rights hero, so can be torturers. Those who murder in Washington’s wars women and children can be turned into defenders of women’s rights and child advocates. And probably they will be.
This is the twisted perverted world in which we live. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia, is confronted with Washington’s overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine, a Russian ally and for centuries a part of Russia itself, while Putin is falsely accused of invading Ukraine. China is accused by Washington as a violator of human rights while Washington murders more civilians in the 21st century than every other country combined.
Everywhere in the West monstrous lies stand unchallenged. The lies are institutionalized in history books, course curriculums, policy statements, movements and causes, and in historical memory.
America will be hard pressed to survive the lies that it lives.