Recently I read Andrew Schmookler’s article entitled, “The Spirit That Drove Us to Civil War Is Back” in the Huffington Post. It is both compelling and disturbing, both inpinpointing similarities between the cultural and political divides that existed then and still persist today and in the intimation that darker days may come. It is also partisan in its own right. Therein lies why it falls short to me.
What I found wanting in his analysis is searching for and finding something deeper – a recognition that the timeless clash of partisan party (a political structure the Founding Fathers abhorred) is the sideshow away from a larger and more profound clash. If you look at what today’s Republican Party stands for, you will find it called the Democratic Party in the decades before the War. Similarly today’s Democratic Party mirrors positions and policies of the Whig and subsequent Republican Party of antebellum America. Why are these labels interchangeable? Because they mask the deeper conflict between those who maintain a monopoly of resources across the most important sectors of the economy – financial, commercial, distributive, communication…and everyone else. The 1% agenda does not recognize social conscience, moral rectitude, even national interest. It marches to one drum –increasing ownership of everything through the establishment and preservation of monopoly. This is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue. It is the issue that forces us to ask what kind of country are we supposed to be and want to be, and what kind of country we really are.
We have all been taught what we were founded on and fought for in our two most critical wars, Revolutionary and Civil – democracy, equality before the law, equal opportunity. What I don’t believe we have absorbed nearly as completely is that we have always been a country controlled by a 1%. Not recognizing this central fact is the essential ingredient that accomplishes precisely what the 1% always needs to do – to create, preserve and protect monopoly by pitting various sectors of society against one another through the legislative agendas of the two parties.
In my next post on this subject, I will attempt to ‘follow the money” of the slave system to show how that system was the founding bedrock upon which the 1% controlled and steered the course of the American economy. Its legacy remains at the root of income inequality in our country today.
END OF PART ONE