December 1, 2019

MORE DEBUNKING BY ANOTHER PROMINENT HISTORIAN: An interview with historian James Oakes on the New York Times’ 1619 Project. “Identity is very much the ideology of the professional-managerial class.”

Plus: “This is one of the things I find so disturbing about the argument that slavery is the basis of capitalism. Slavery made the slaveholders rich. But it made the South poor. And it didn’t make the North rich. The wealth of the North was based on the emerging, capitalist internal market that allowed the North to win the Civil War. It’s true that cotton dominated the export market. But it’s only something like 5 percent of GDP. It’s really the wealth of the internal northern market that’s decisive. That depends on a fairly widespread distribution of wealth, and that doesn’t exist in the South. There’s a lot of evidence from western Virginia, for example, that non-slaveholders were angry at the slaveholders for blocking the railroads and things like that that would allow them to take advantage of the internal market. So the legacy of slavery is poverty, not wealth.” This is really worth reading, and it’s astounding that you have to go to the World Socialist Website to find such comprehensive debunking of the NYT’s twaddle.

Related: “Interesting fact about Gerald Horne, the historian whose work is most commonly cited as basis for the ‘1619 Project’ (or at least the claim that the ‘real’ goal of the American Revolution was to preserve slavery): he’s an actual, pro-Soviet Communist.”

Also, Gordon Wood weighs in. “I was surprised, as many other people were, by the scope of this thing, especially since it’s going to become the basis for high school education and has the authority of the New York Times behind it, and yet it is so wrong in so many ways. . . . I think the important point to make about slavery is that it had existed for thousands of years without substantial criticism, and it existed all over the New World. It also existed elsewhere in the world. Western Europe had already more or less done away with slavery. Perhaps there was nothing elsewhere comparable to the plantation slavery that existed in the New World, but slavery was widely prevalent in Africa and Asia. There is still slavery today in the world. And it existed in all of these places without substantial criticism. Then suddenly in the middle of the 18th century you begin to get some isolated Quakers coming out against it. But it’s the American Revolution that makes it a problem for the world. And the first real anti-slave movement takes place in North America. So this is what’s missed by these essays in the 1619 Project.”

More: Prominent historians criticize the NY Times’ 1619 Project as ‘biased,’ ‘anti-historical.’

Plus: Americans Have Almost Entirely Forgotten Their History. This is not by accident, but by design.

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