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The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (Anglais) Relié – 18 avril 2014

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95 internautes sur 107 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Scholarly, Critical Knowledge That Completely Changes Assumptions Regarding Black Americans' History 23 avril 2014
Par SeattleBookMama - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Generally I don't review a book till I have read every last word. I make an exception only when I find work so excellent that I am convinced that if the book ended right where I am, right now (about 75 percent through, and of course I checked the sources), it would still be worth the full cover price. I will read the rest, but you need to know about this book RIGHT NOW.

Reading this galley, courtesy of the publisher, New York University, made me feel as if the American history I studied as an undergraduate and then taught for twenty years in the public school system was so incomplete as to be incorrect. If you care about American history; if you have ever wondered why Black anger still runs so deep, especially in certain parts of the USA; if you scratched your head over parts of American history as it has been presented and the ways it did not make sense, then you must read this book.

The fact is that America's early Black population, as well as that of Blacks in the Caribbean, behaved with much more courage and savvy than they are given credit for in standard history texts. The role of Spain that Horne explains here, as well as that of the Catholic Church, and of the Cherokee people, is startling news.

And the fact is, what I read here makes me ask questions about all sorts of other events, such as the Louisiana Purchase (the significance of having included Florida in the deal is a monster once this new information is merged with what we knew before), to the Trail of Tears and banishment of the Cherokee Nation from Georgia, to the question I was never able to adequately answer for my own bright students: "Where did the free Blacks come from?" It's here. It's all here. America's students have been robbed, up to this point. If you are a teacher, you have to get this book, even if it means buying it out of your own pocket. You can't tell the truth without this book!

In reading this outstanding work, knowledge of basic place-name geography is critical. A lot of people these days have no idea, for example, where the Bahamas stand in relationship to North America, which US states are where, or even which European nations are closest to the Caribbean and the USA, and if you are fuzzy in this regard, you may need to pull out a map or grab a globe so that you can see how much that proximity matters. Those miles are important miles, and this information is massively different from what I was taught, and it is well enough documented that I am convinced it is true. And it makes so much sense.

I can't hold this review until I have finished the book. I want all scholars who have been stuck in the dark through wrongful and errant selection of information in their own educations to know this book is available, and that what it imparts is huge. Black students deserve to know the truth; their history in the US is not one of pure terror and subjugation; their ancestors fought, and they thought, and they behaved politically. This knowledge is a basic right, not only for them, but for anyone who cares about the truth!
58 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 History or polemic? 7 mai 2014
Par FictionFan - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
In a simplified nutshell, Gerald Horne's argument in this book is that the Revolution was in large measure a response to the colonists' fear of London's drive towards abolition of slavery.

Horne argues that slavery underpinned every aspect of the pre-1776 economy and as such was seen as crucial by the colonists, even while slave resistance was growing and slave revolts were becoming more common. The Royal African Company's loss of monopoly over the slave trade in the late 17th century meant that free-traders had entered the slave markets, and the consequent uncontrolled rise in slave numbers led to fears that the slave owners did not have the capacity to stifle such resistance. While London was showing signs of beginning to think that the solution might lie in abolition, (with the added benefit that Africans could then be armed to assist in the ongoing turf wars with Spain and France on the American continent), the colonists feared a situation where Africans could be given some kind of equality or even superiority within the armed forces or, still worse, in civilian life. So, Horne argues, the Revolution was as much about maintaining the institution of the enslavement of Africans as achieving 'liberty' for 'white' colonists.

Horne makes two further assertions, both leading from this central argument. Firstly, he shows that Africans largely sided with Britain or one of the other European powers in the Revolution and prior to that had often looked to both Spain and France as possible liberators. From this, Horne argues that some Africans saw the war as not just a possible route to freedom but hoped that a victory could lead to some kind of league between themselves, the indigenous people of America and one of the European powers to form a government in place of the white colonists. Secondly, and leading on from that, much of the subsequent ill-treatment of Africans, as slaves or free citizens, can be attributed to them having picked the wrong side...

"...the ongoing persecution of descendants of mainland enslaved Africans is - in part - a continuing expression of what tends to befall those who are defeated in bloody warfare: often they are subjected to a heinous collective punishment."

Horne concludes therefore that the general view of the creation of the republic as a great leap forward for humanity is erroneous - an example of history being written by the winners, in this case the white colonists and their descendants.

On the whole, I found Horne's arguments partially but not wholly convincing. The book is a strange mix of history and polemic, written by someone who frequently lets his anger show through in the language he chooses to use - '...profit-hungry settlers were willing to sell the rope that might be used to encircle their pasty necks', 'the supposed trailblazing republic and its allegedly wondrous constitution' etc; while his desire to avoid the use of the words 'slaves' and 'black' leads him at points into rather fanciful terminology, my favourites being 'men of ebony' and 'the melanin rich'.

When reading a history of a period of which one has very little existing knowledge, written by a historian unknown to one, the challenge is to decide how much confidence to have in the author's interpretation of the facts. Really the only way I can ever think to do this is to see what the author says about a subject I do know a little about. Very early on in the book, Horne talks about the influx of Scots to the colonies, and his description of the causes and effects of the Jacobite rebellions was so over-simplified and frankly misleading that it left me gasping and gaping. I was left feeling, therefore, that I would have to take many of Horne's interpretations with a large dose of scepticism. I also felt strongly that, while obviously Horne was speaking specifically about the impact of slavery, he failed to give enough emphasis to the other causes that combined to bring about the Revolution; and I felt this tunnel-vision approach weakened his argument rather than strengthening it.

The style of writing is somewhat clumsy at times and Horne repeats the same information again and again throughout. He constantly jumps backwards and forwards in time rather than taking a linear approach. And he often refers to places or incidents without clarifying them, which can be problematic for a reader without an existing familiarity with the period and locations. All of these factors combined to make this a book that I somewhat struggled through rather than enjoyed.

However, despite all of these problems, I still felt that there was a basic validity in much of what Horne was saying, in particular with regards to his main argument. Certainly worth reading to understand why he has extrapolated the conclusions that he has from that, but should perhaps be treated with the extra caution that applies to polemic rather than history. 3½ stars for me, so rounded up.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, NYU Press.
44 internautes sur 53 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Become Acquainted with Ambivalences 31 mars 2015
Par Richard E. Baldwin - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
Gerald Horne’s basic thesis is implicit in his title: the real revolution of the 1770s was the British turn against slavery represented by the Somerset case of 1772, and the rebellion in the North American colonies was a counter-revolutionary reaction to that revolution.

Like all monocausal theories invoked to explain complex historic events, Horne’s theory does not convince. It does not help his case that he explicitly throws in the towel on page 4 of his “Introduction”:

“Assuredly, as with any epochal event, the ouster of London from a number of its North American colonies was driven by many forces—not just slavery and the slavery trade—a point I well recognize.”

But he doesn’t really mean it. His final chapter is “The Counter-Revolution of 1776.” Evaluating his claim is important because it is the foundation for a subtext that runs through the book denigrating the Declaration of Independence, both the document and the action.

To have a counter-revolution you must first have a revolution.

Horne asserts that the revolution was embodied in the decision rendered in June of 1772 by Lord Mansfield, Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain, in the case of Somerset v Stuart. Somerset was Stuart’s Negro slave, purchased in Virginia and brought to England. Somerset was a troublesome slave, so Stuart planned to sell him in Jamaica, and to that end had him shackled aboard a ship for transportation. Anti-slavery activists obtained a writ of habeas corpus. Somerset was released, and Stuart sought to assert his rights as owner in the English courts.

Lord Mansfield was acutely aware of the significance of any decision he made, and he urged the parties to settle to avoid the consequences. The parties pushed for a decision, and after a month of deliberation Lord Mansfield delivered his decision. The crucial passage is the following:

The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law [statute], which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from the decision, I cannot say this case [Stuart’s claim to Somerset] is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged.

Technically this decision is very narrow, applying only to the case of James Somerset. It does not outlaw or ban slavery in England. It says only that nothing in English law supports slavery.

Does the Somerset decision mark a “revolution”?

As early as 1693 the Quakers of Pennsylvania began to question the morality of slavery. In that year An Exhortation & Caution to Friends Concerning the Buying or Keeping of Negroes was published by the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. In 1702 the Lord Chief Justice of England, Sir John Holt, stated that "as soon as a negro comes to England he is free; one may be a villein in England, but not a slave." (However, slaves continued to be bought and sold at markets in Liverpool and London.)

In 1758 the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting appointed a committee to “visit those Friends still holding slaves.” (, 27 March 2015). 1775 saw the organization of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

In 1778 Virginia outlawed the importation of slaves. In 1790 Vermont organized itself with a constitution prohibiting slavery, and by 1804 every state north of the Mason-Dixon Line (the southern border of Pennsylvania) had decreed the end of slavery, all be it effective at various future dates. In 1807 the United States outlawed the importation of slaves, effective January 1, 1808, the earliest date possible under the Constitution. England moved to abolish the slave trade in 1807, with an effective date in 1814. Slavery itself was not abolished by England until 1833.

Where along this historic continuum did a “revolution” occur?

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Somerset’s case was that it was the first major direct clash between slavers and abolitionists as self-identified interest groups: Somerset was supported by early English abolitionists and Stuart’s action was funded by “West Indian Planters and Merchants.” Both sides were already organized for the fight.

The decision’s great power resides, however, less in the legal pronouncement than in the moral condemnation of slavery on which the decision is based: “It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law [i.e. statute].” And no such positive law existed in England. Somerset was freed.

To reinforce his “counter-revolution” argument, Horne associates it with the proclamation in late 1775 by Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, to free and arm any slave who would join the English in controlling the colonists. That was a disastrous mistake, but in any case the revolution was well advanced by then. As the Declaration of Independence stated in 1776, “These United Colonies ARE [emphasis added], and of right ought to be, free and independent states.” (Horne repeatedly uses as a contemptuous sneer the term “Unilateral Declaration of Independence,” as if any self-respecting declaration of independence could be anything but unilateral.) The Boston Tea Party was held in 1773, and by the time of Lord Dunmore’s edict, the Continental Army (such as it was) was besieging Boston, whose port had been closed by the British Navy since 1774. The battles of Lexington and Concord had occurred in April of 1775. And by January of 1776 not one royal governor was sitting on American soil; several remained nearby aboard British men-of-war (as was true of Lord Dunmore), but none was effectively governing.

And in June 1772 occurred the Gaspee Affair, which Horne discusses briefly but incorrectly. The H.M.S. Gaspee was a British customs schooner (not “a brig arrived from Africa,” as Horne has it, implying that it might have been a slaver) under the command of Lt. William Dudingston. Since early in the year, Dudingston had patrolled the waters of Rhode Island, irritating powerful merchants by seizing their ships and cargos (usually sugar, molasses, or rum) and irritating everyone, from the governor on down, with his arrogant manner and abusive behavior. A series of escalating incidents led, in June of 1772, to a sloop called the Hannah luring the Gaspee into shallow waters, where it ran aground. After midnight, when the moon had set, a well organized force of colonials boarded the vessel, plundered it (even stealing its silver spoons), rowed the crew to shore, then set fire to the ship, which was utterly destroyed.

American colonists were thus well on their way to revolution in June of 1772, the same month as the Somerset decision. The Somerset decision may have been a revolutionary step in the emergence of abolitionism, but the American Revolution was in no meaningful sense a counter-revolution against it. Our Revolution did not occur on July 4, 1776. The cultural revolution that made independence imperative had been under way for a generation or more (see, for example, Gordon Wood, THE RADICALISM OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION). The Declaration’s second paragraph articulated the political philosophy that had emerged from those changes.

The truly fatal flaw in Horne’s argument, however, is this: both the abolition movement and the colonists’ declaration of their independence were integral parts of the long historical process in which monarchy and hereditary hierarchy were giving way to the more fluid, individualized culture of the modern world. That revolution started long before 1776, and it remains an ongoing exploration of the meaning of human political equality. We don’t have it right yet, but the process is still at work.

In dealing with American history it is good to join Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and “become acquainted with ambivalences.”
35 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The "moral equivalence of the Founding Fathers" 23 mai 2014
Par Brother Bede - Publié sur
Format: Relié
The “moral equivalence of the Founding Fathers”

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America
Gerald Horne
New York University Press, 2014

Since 1976, the bicentennial of the unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) that led to the founding of the United States of America from thirteen originally British colonies, Black History Month has been an officially recognised period—in February—when the descendants of the Founding Fathers acknowledge that the descendants of their slaves also have a history. Also in February, Presidents’ Day—initially George Washington’s birthday but now a combined birthday celebration for Washington and Abraham Lincoln: the Father of the Country and the Great Liberator. The year starts with Martin Luther King Day in January, when some whites and Blacks commemorate the man who was the highlight of the Great March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963—assassinated in 1968 for saying in 1967:
I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.

Today the United States is governed with a Black president. And yet as can be seen by the representations of the man occupying the White House, the Black person born in the United States upon whose ancestors—to paraphrase the assassinated Malcolm X—the “rock of Plymouth” fell, still have no history commensurate with the lives taken from them in the establishment of the American Empire.

Maybe this deficit is in someway a blessing. The token historical commemorations dictated by the psychological pacification policies of the US regime are based on the attempt—as in the election campaign of that “son of Africa”—to implicate ordinary Black Americans in the creation of the present regime.

As James Baldwin so forcefully told William Buckley Jr. and the members of the Cambridge Union in 1965— “From a very literal point of view, the harbours and the ports and the railroads of the country--the economy, especially in the South--could not conceivably be what they are if it had not been (and this is still so) for cheap labour. I am speaking very seriously, and this is not an overstatement: I picked cotton, I carried it to the market, I built the railroads under someone else's whip for nothing. For nothing."

There is a significant difference between Baldwin’s claim to have built America and the regime’s rulers’ infamy for founding it. Unfortunately this distinction is not very clear in the popular consciousness because the creation of the USA is always presented as the sum of business transactions performed by the white settler elite. The prevailing historical narrative—across the political spectrum—describes the development (conquest) of the North American continent as one endless series of clever, innovative and even enlightened business deals whose frustration by the archaic practices of the British monarchy were challenged by a declaration adopted and promulgated in 1776.

Gerald Horne’s latest book The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America (NYU Press, 2014) is a continuation of his careful scholarly efforts to correct that historical deficit. Two of his previous books, also reviewed by this author, recover the record of how the United States of America was made by the slave labour of Black Americans and the fanatical determination to preserve this method of enrichment by the white settlers called the Founding Fathers.∗ Professor Horne goes beyond those who have finally acknowledged that slavery was fundamental to the economy of the original colonies. He shows that slave resistance forced the settler elite to declare independence from Britain. In doing so he makes Black Americans the drivers of the revolution and white Americans the motor of counter-revolution. Taking Professor Horne’s thesis seriously not only restores the historical dignity of Blacks—more than a month of history—it shows that Africans throughout the Western hemisphere were joined in a liberation struggle whose defeat in mainland North America relied upon the “isolationism” and “exceptionalism” that continue to govern the US regime even today.

The myth of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving are still the stories that shape the way US history is understood on both sides of the Atlantic. They are central events in the pageantry used to prove that the Founding Fathers were the precursors of the anti-monarchical revolutions in France and elsewhere. Slavery in the US is thus considered to be a minor defect in the long march of whites toward what are today called “human rights”. This massive distortion has done much to confuse people throughout the world as to what the US regime really represents.

It has made more than one revolutionary leader shake his or her head at the curious relationships the regime has maintained with the white regimes in Africa nearly two centuries later. It has kept millions wondering why the US regime has been a consistent supporter of dictators throughout the world. It has kept US citizens frustrated by the highest rate of Black incarceration in the world, despite the recent election of a Black president.

These inconsistencies have always been defended or excused by the claim that complexities and contradictions in history itself have merely diverted Americans—white Americans—from perfecting the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Professor Horne’s work provides the data necessary to show that these defences are simply false. His careful perusal of the contemporary record reveals that the real principles “held to be self-evident” were those that defined Blacks in the original colonies as property and not as people. The Founding Fathers were first and foremost capitalists who like their descendants believed that freedom was inherent in the right to own property and dispose of it as one sees fit.

To understand this argument it is necessary to go back at least to 1688 and the so-called Glorious Revolution in Britain. This change in the relationship between the British mercantile class and the monarchy catalysed the transformation of British possessions in North America and the Caribbean. It was the first step in the development of what was called “free trade”, the central economic doctrine of the US. Free trade in the 17th century meant the ability of merchants, bankers and landowners to engage in unrestricted profit seeking for private as opposed to state benefit. For the British mercantile class it meant expansion of the slave trade to extract as much wealth as possible from colonies with free labour.

However, the expansion of the slave-based economy caused a serious problem. Slaves soon outnumbered Europeans in all of the colonial possessions. Africans soon took notice of this fact and revolted—causing Europeans to invest ever more resources in suppressing the Black labour force. Despite inducements and even impressment, the colonisers failed to lure enough Europeans to the colonies to create a balance of power/ terror sufficient to keep slave populations docile. Here official American history focuses on the failure of revolts in the Caribbean and downplays the impact these revolts had on British colonial policy. In fact, well before 1776, Britain was being forced to consider an end to slavery. At the same time competition among the colonising countries intensified. Wars in Europe arose among the colonisers and these wars became world wars in which colonial possessions changed hands between Spain, France, and Britain. These wars further reduced the profitability of colonial enterprises. By the mid-18th century, every European colonial power was trying to find an accommodation with their Black populations, especially since these wars could not be fought in the colonies without arming them. Black soldiers were not willing to fight for slavery so they had to be freed if they were to bear arms in European wars. As a result Caribbean Blacks were being allowed into the colonial regimes—a process which would transform British possessions forever, except in North America. Colonial rivalry created a class of Blacks who were not only no longer slaves but who were willing to fight in very disciplined regiments against anything resembling slavery—wherever it still prevailed.

As Britain was forced to make concessions in the Caribbean, settlers in North America became increasingly anxious. These concessions induced hard-core slaveholders in colonies like Barbados to abandon their plantations and move to the mainland where British control was beginning to wane. At the same time anti-slavery activism was growing in Britain itself. Professor Horne points to Somersett’s case (Somerset v Lewis of 1772, 98 ER 499), a well-reported British court decision in which the court held that chattel slavery was inconsistent with English common law. The extension of this precedent to the original colonies would have meant the end of slavery and with it the wealth machine driving Yankee merchants and Southern latifundista. Ironically this had followed Britain’s expensive victory in the French and Indian War (Seven Year’s War of 1754 – 63), after which the British government decreed a limit to territorial expansion on the North American mainland. Professor Horne treats the British victory as a catalyst in the process of secession. On the one hand, Britain freed its mainland colonists from the threat of European competition thus allowing the colonies to expand economically. On the other, it frustrated the colonists by limiting their insatiable demand for indigenous lands to work with slave labour. Horne implies that had the settler regime been forced to remain within the confines agreed by treaty, the rate of Black population growth would have created “Caribbean” conditions. In other words, slave-driven growth would have been stymied as the resistance by the Black population increased.

To avert these consequences the North American colonists had to challenge the mother country. They had to circumvent British prohibition of territorial expansion and ultimately end British jurisdiction to prevent impending abolition of slavery by the Crown. There could be no Caribbean solution.

This is where the sympathy among settler regimes of the 20th century originates. While Britain was being forced to modernise its capitalist system in favour of “free labour”, fanatical Protestant extremists—the core of the Northern settler elite—were opportunistically abandoning their institutionalised discrimination against Catholics and lower order Europeans like the Irish and Scots (later also extended to despised Southern Europeans) to compose a race-based regime that could expand to fill the still to be conquered territories and keep the slave population in check. The Somerset case was the 18th century equivalent of Harold Macmillan’s 1960 “Winds of Change” speech. Hendrik Verwoerd’s Afrikaner republic and Ian Smith’s Rhodesian National Front were by no means distortions of the American ideal which both claimed to follow in their attempts to inaugurate explicitly white states based on the exploitation of African labour. Both regimes even made concerted efforts to replicate the US model of privileged immigration for Europeans in the hopes of dominating Black majorities—albeit unsuccessfully.

The obvious objection to Professor Horne’s thesis is that it is anachronistic. By applying current models of historical analysis to 17th and 18th century North America, he could be accused of imputing intentions to the Founding Fathers based on current definitions of human rights. Thomas Jefferson is often held out as a fig leaf. His supposed attitude toward slavery is considered by official American history as an alibi for the “defective” failure to include Blacks in the definition of equality. According to this view—still the mainstream interpretation—the demands of the “revolution” required a compromise between Northern colonies that were willing to abolish the slave trade and powerful Southern slaveholders. In other words, the race-based regime founded in 1776 was merely flawed because it would otherwise have been impossible for the colonists to continue the march toward freedom if they could not unite against Britain. This argument is echoed in later events like the Missouri Compromise.

Another principled objection from official history—again across the political spectrum—is that the final abolition of slavery in 1865 exonerated the American pageant. It is hence impossible to attribute to the Founding Fathers motives which they could not have had at the time—given the prevalence of slavery throughout the Western hemisphere.

The Counter-Revolution of 1776 successfully rebuts both arguments. First, it documents thoroughly that the key players in the 1776 UDI were almost without exception major slaveholders or slave traders. For instance, John Hancock was Boston’s largest slaveholder—perhaps the real reason for his ostentatiously large signature on the Declaration. James Madison was a staunch defender of slavery—going so far as to introduce the 2d amendment to the US Constitution in order to secure the autonomy of state slave patrols. Copious correspondence demonstrates that the Yankee and Southern oligarchs knew that Britain was being forced to abolish slavery. That would have been financial ruin for the merchants and plantation owners. Even more serious was their fear that Blacks would claim their rights with vengeance as they had been doing in the Caribbean and in the border wars between Florida and South Carolina/ Georgia. They made no secret of either.

Moreover, the official history relies on an assumption that Blacks in North America were essentially docile and unaware of either their humanity or the struggle waged among white elites over their status. If Blacks were passive property, then the entire struggle was only between colonists and the mother country. This has never been true. Despite the alienation and deliberate attempts to destroy cultural cohesion among the slave population, there was never a period when Blacks did not organise resistance. That resistance was successful to the extent that it persisted throughout all of Britain’s colonial possessions. Attempts by Caribbean plantation owners to pacify their slaves, by deporting unruly ones to other colonies, only served to expand the consciousness of Blacks as to what was really happening. The recruitment of slaves to fight European wars not only produced cadre of seasoned warriors but discredited efforts by whites to prove their superiority.

Jean-Paul Sartre argued at length that the French Revolution as past is inaccessible. Thus there is no point in writing history “as if”. Gerald Horne does not propose such a history. Instead he is quite consistent with Sartre when he analyses the data available for constructing the past. His is not an appeal for some newfound sense of guilt that white America is based on a lie—even if it is. At the same time his analysis is quite consistent with those traditionalists who constantly rave about strict construction and the intentions of the Founders. The Federalists—then as today—assert unabashedly that they were and are guided by the firm principles and intentions of the Olympian slavocracy that founded the US. If they are right and the US regime is to be judged by the traditions maintained today as the foundation of the republic, then Gerald Horne has merely provided the full brief. If the Founding Fathers intended to create the republic that is today the paragon of capitalism and the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world” (which in terms of weapons exports and military expenditure it still certainly is), then the Founding Fathers certainly intended a counter-revolution.

When the dead US president, now beatified, spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference two hundred ten years later he said:
They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help. I've spoken recently of the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they're fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance. We cannot turn away from them, for the struggle here is not right versus left; it is right versus wrong.

He was criticised severely by liberal and left-liberal opponents of US Latin America policy, supporters of the Sandinista Front government in Managua and aid organisations in the US caring for the refugees who had fled the US-sponsored and managed counter-insurgency and terror wars in the region. (It was estimated that approximately 15-20 per cent of the Salvadoran population was either killed or forced into exile by “freedom fighters”.) Since Ronald Reagan had long been dismissed as senile at best and a lunatic at worst, remarks like these were treated as offensive but more or less right wing boilerplate. Mr Reagan remained objectionable but the outrage over his statement arose from the belief held from centre to left that he had maligned the Founding Fathers and soiled the original ideals of the USA by associating them with CIA-trained and funded terrorist bands.

As Gerald Horne, explains in The Counter – Revolution of 1776, this indignation is seriously misplaced.

In fact, Ronald Reagan should have been taken at his word since what he said was historically accurate. Unfortunately most critics of the Reagan regime, its predecessors and successors either do not know or do not understand the actual historical basis for the war of independence from Great Britain started by the British colonial settler elite in 1776. As Gerald Horne notes:

Ironically, the US in a sense has emulated today's Cuba insofar as the operative slogan seems to be "within the Revolution everything, against the Revolution nothing". In other words, one can quarrel about the destiny of the republic but-- generally-- not the eternal verity it is said to have created. Of course, left-wing republicans tend to emphasize the role of less grand Europeans in 1776 (those not of the left wing tend to stress the role of the Olympian Founding Fathers). Some of these historians tend to see the plight of Africans as the "original sin" of the republic (which begs the question of dispossession of the indigenous). In any case, I suggest in the concluding pages of this book, the left wing's misestimating of the founding is of a piece with their misestimating of the present: this includes a reluctance to theorize or historicize the hegemony of conservatism among the Euro-American majority-- an overestimation of the strength of the left wing among this same majority-- which has meant difficulty in construction of the kind of global movement that has been essential in rescuing Africans particularly from the violent depredations that have inhered in the republic.
24 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Poorly Organized Ground-breaking Material 4 juin 2014
Par William P. Lee - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
When gets the feeling that the author is so enthusiastic to make his argument that he blurts it out in disjointed, factual tirades instead of crafting his thesis.

But I get his point, the War of Independence was a counter-revolution to maintain the economic institution of slavery, notwithstanding the assertion of universal inalienable rights. I will never feel the same way about July 4th.

I hope the author - or another academic - will take on the task of rendering this compelling material into polished form, and dear we hope, a good read, too.
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