Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Chilling Trump Civil War Blurt-Blat
  About that cruel slave owner Jackson
  and the genocide of Native Americans

This week's Trumpist is actually President Donald Trump. If he weren't President it would be hard to be critical of him for what he said even though it is easy to criticize what he said. He is just a typical American completely unfamiliar with the facts of American history while repeating the mythology of that history:
    TRUMP: [President Andrew Jackson] was a swashbuckler. But when his wife died, did you know he visited her grave everyday? I visited her grave actually because I was in Tennessee.
    ZITO: That's right. You were in Tennessee.
    TRUMP: And it was amazing. The people of Tennessee are amazing people. They love Andrew Jackson. They love Andrew Jackson in Tennessee.
    ZITO: He's fascinating.
    TRUMP: I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn't have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, “There's no reason for this.” People don't realize, you know, the Civil War — if you think about it, why? People don't ask that question, but why was there a Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?
First of all, Andrew Jackson may be loved by some in Tennessee, but in fact historically he was the Englishic-American who most successfully advocated for the inclusion of the genocide of Native Americans in U.S. policy.

Second, Andrew Jackson died in 1845, 16 years before the Civil War started. It is fair to assume he would not have compromised on slavery as this hero of white supremacy was a rabid, cruel slave owner as indicated in this ad to recover one of his slaves who ran away offering an additional "ten dollars extra for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred dollars":

Of course, context is important. When he became President, four of his six predecessors were slave owners even while in office. In fact, of the first 18 Presidents, 8 (in red) owned slaves during their Presidency, 5 (in green) owned slaves some other time in their lives, 5 (in blue) never owned slaves:
  1. George Washington
  2. John Adams
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. James Madison
  5. James Monroe
  6. John Quincy Adams
  7. Andrew Jackson
  8. Martin Van Buren
  9. William Henry Harrison
  10. John Tyler
  11. James K. Polk
  12. Zachary Taylor
  13. Millard Fillmore
  14. Franklin Pierce
  15. James Buchanan
  16. Abraham Lincoln
  17. Andrew Johnson
  18. Ulysses S. Grant
And if context is important, compared to the generals on the Union side in 1861, Jackson was a pretty competent general. So perhaps had he been alive and well in 1861 today we might be talking about two countries. That really would have made him popular in today's Tennessee.

Trump's belief that Jackson could have negotiated to avoid the war reflects a poor understanding of the difference in the Southern populism that led to Jackson's election and the Northern populism that led to Lincoln's election. In Trump's case the Rust Belt - Deep South populism he rode to victory had much in common with Jackson's victory.

I hope Trump's blurt-blat only reflects a troubling overall American ignorance. But I fear that deep-down it reflects a chilling property-ownership economic slant of Trump which parallels Jackson when it comes to workers. Perhaps it is both.

It is chilling to me as a Californian because the most recent legalized slavery in the United States is deeply embedded in Trumpist anti-Mexican rhetoric. It brings up memories associated with this 1966 Phil Ochs song:


Wade into the river, through the rippling shallow waters
Steal across the thirsty border, bracero
Come bring your hungry body to the golden fields of plenty
From a peso to a penny, bracero

Oh, welcome to California
Where the friendly farmers will take care of you

Come labor for your mother, for your father and your brother
For your sisters and your lover, bracero
Come pick the fruits of yellow, break the flowers from the berries
Purple grapes will fill your bellies, bracero

Oh, welcome to California
Where the friendly farmers will take care of you

And the sun will bite your body, as the dust will draw you thristy
While your muscles beg for mercy, bracero
In the shade of your sombrero, drop your sweat upon the soil
Like the fruit your youth can spoil, bracero

Oh, welcome to California
Where the friendly farmers will take care of you

When the weary night embraces, sleep in shacks that could be cages
They will take it from your wages, bracero
Come sing about tomorrow with a jingle of the dollars
And forget your crooked collar, bracero

Oh, welcome to California
Where the friendly farmers will take care of you

And the local men are lazy, and they make too much of trouble
Besides we'd have to pay them double, bracero
Ah, but if you feel you're fallin', if you find the pace is killing
There are others who are willing, bracero

Oh, welcome to California
Where the friendly farmer will take care of you
The term "slavery" in the 21st Century United States is associated with racism. In fact, in human history while slavery frequently is associated with with some variation on tribalism or extended tribalism. But in U.S. history it is ongoing within the competitive private property economic system embraced by Americans and the United States Constitution. From the Wikipedia entry:
    Slavery is, in the strictest sense of the term, any system in which principles of property law are applied to people, allowing individuals to own, buy and sell other individuals, as a de jure form of property. A slave is unable to withdraw unilaterally from such an arrangement and works without remuneration. Many scholars now use the term chattel slavery to refer to this specific sense of legalised, de jure slavery. In a broader sense, however, the word slavery may also refer to any situation in which an individual is de facto forced to work against his or her will. Scholars also use the more generic terms such as unfree labour or forced labour, to refer to such situations. However – and especially under slavery in broader senses of the word – slaves may have some rights and/or protections, according to laws and/or customs.
    Slavery began to exist before written history, in many cultures. A person could become a slave from the time of their birth, capture, or purchase.
    While slavery was institutionally recognized by most societies, it has now been outlawed in all recognized countries, the last being Mauritania in 2007. Nevertheless, there are still more slaves today than at any previous point in history: an estimated 45 million people remain enslaved worldwide. The most common form of the slave trade is now commonly referred to as human trafficking. Chattel slavery is also still practiced by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. In other areas, slavery (or unfree labour) continues through practices such as debt bondage, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage.
    Evidence of slavery predates written records, and has existed in many cultures. Slavery is rare among hunter-gatherer populations because it requires economic surpluses and a high population density to be viable. This, although it has existed among unusually resource-rich hunter gatherers, such as the American Indian peoples of the salmon-rich rivers of the Pacific Northwest Coast, slavery became widespread only with the invention of agriculture during the Neolithic Revolution about 11,000 years ago.
    Slavery was known in almost every ancient civilization and society.
It is not hard to imagine a modern economic system of several classes which includes a corporate ownership class and a corporate-owned slave class. In such a system if the dominate morality required best-of-care for slaves, the corporations allowed to own slaves would provide adequate housing, food, clothing, transportation, quality health care, entertainment, etc., for every slave from infancy through old-age.

In a different economic system, we now require the ownership class to pay wages to employees only when profitable work is available. As several economists have determined from the economic modeling of slavery, it is cheaper to let the children of the working class go without healthcare. If you owned them as valuable property, you'd have to adequately provide for them.

Economists do not model morality, of course. And most certainly, politicians do not, including the Trumpists.

As I noted in the prior post, Wall Street financiers, commercial shippers, and merchants all had economic interests in the South maintaining its slave-based economy. In the wake of the Compromise of 1850 which resulted in California's admittance to the Union, the Union Safety Committee was created in New York City and pledged “to resist every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest.” As current Wall Street financiers (many of whom are in Trump's cabinet), would say "it's economics, you see...."

It has been said that Churchill's quote near the beginning of this post paraphrased this one...

The difference is that Churchill assumed people might be taught history. Santayana assumed people would notice what's going on around them to learn from the errors of their grandparents' generation, the errors of their parents' generation, and their own accumulating errors.

Neither anticipated 21st Century American Trumpists....