The passing scene – August 20, 2015

Struggle and Progress: Eric Foner on the abolitionists, Reconstruction and winning “freedom” from the Right, a conversation with Jacobin magazine writers.

Eric Foner

Eric Foner

Historian Eric Foner pointed out that the abolition of slavery was truly a second American Revolution.  It involved the confiscation without compensation of the most valuable form of property at the time—enslaved African people.

The Civil War is sometimes interpreted as a triumph of industrial capitalism over a backward agrarian economy.  Foner said that, although this is true in a way, the pre-Civil War capitalists got along very well with the slaveowners.

The abolitionists included moderates, radicals, wealthy philanthropists, lawbreakers, politicians, former black slaves and racists who opposed slavery because it was harmful to white people.  Although sometimes working at cross-purposes, Foner said their diverse approaches created a synergy that made the movement stronger.   This has lessons for our own time.

The Last Refuge of the Incompetent by John Michael Greer for The Archdruid Report.

John Michael Greer wrote that a successful revolutionary movement will (1) discredit the existing order through relentless propaganda, (2) seek alliances with all those with grievances against the existing order, (3) create alternative institutions of its own and (4) offer a vision of hope, not despair.

In the USA, this program is being carried out not by what Greer called the “green Left,” but the “populist Right”.

The Coming End of Abortion Rights … and Contraception by Andrew Stewart for Counterpunch.

Public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans favor abortion rights.  But a radical anti-choice movement is in a position to destroy, for all practical purposes, not only access to abortion, but access to family planning.   The bogus charges against Planned Parenthood are only the beginning.

Corn Wars by Ted Genoways for The New Republic.

Chinese agents are attempting to obtain American genetically-modified seed corn in order to increase China’s grain production.   The U.S. government regards this as a national security issue.

Watts: Remember what they built, not what they burned by Robin D.G. Kelley for the Los Angeles Times.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

The melting of Antarctica was already really bad.  It just got worse by Chris Mooney for The Washington Post.

Election 2016: Jeb Bush Got $1.5M Job at Lehman After Florida Shifted Pension Cash to Bank by Matthew Cunningham-Cook for International Business Times.

Chelsea Manning found guilty of violating military prison rules by Victoria Cavaliere for Reuters.


Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack for the following –

A petition to President Peña Nieto: Investigate the Murder of Journalists in Mexico and Establish Mechanisms to Protect Their Lives.

A Gruesome Murder in Mexico’s Last Safe City by Jason McGahan for The Daily Beast.

‘They want to erase journalists in Mexico’ by Ed Vulliamy for The Observer.

‘Journalists are being slaughtered’ – Mexico’s problem with press freedom by Nina Lakham for The Guardian.

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