(en) America's Permanent Class War (Part 1)

Ewald (ewald@ctaz.com)
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 06:41:03 -0700

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America's Permanent Class War (Part 1)


Ace R. Hayes [From the Portland Free Press November/December 1996 issue]

The ruling elite has as much reason to fear populism today as it has always had. It was populism that invented the American Revolution and elevated human equality to a supreme value, while dethroning "property" from its traditional superiority. This led to the Counter Revolution of 1789. Only the elite concession of the people's Bill of Rights saved the Counter Revolution from crib death. The class war between the people and the economic Royalists has waxed and waned since our beginning.

Evidence of this history of class war is worth a modest review.

"...Amos Singletary in the Massachusetts ratifying convention express[es] the defiant insecurity of the embattled commoner:

"'These lawyers, and men of learning and moneyed men, that talk so finely, and gloss over matters so smoothly, to make us poor illiterate people swallow down the pill, expect to get into Congress themselves; they expect to be managers of this Constitution, and get all the power and all the money into their own hands, and then they will swallow all us little folks like the great Leviathan; yes, just as the whale swallowed up Jonah!'" (Cited in the Introduction of The Antifederalists, edited by Cecilia M. Kenyon, Smith College, 1996, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, p. 50)

These words were prophetic. This truth has not changed since 1788.

"The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 were evoked by the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Kentucky Resolutions were drafted by Jefferson... . The Virginia Resolutions were drafted by Madison... ; they were drawn up with the primary purpose...of presenting a democratic protest against what was considered a dangerous usurpation of power by the central government...

"1. Kentucky Resolutions, November 16, 1789...

"II. Resolved, that the Constitution of the United States having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason,...and no other crimes whatever, and...[therefore] acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes other than those enumerated in the Constitution, are altogether void and of no force, and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and of right appertains soley and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own Territory." (Documents of American History, 3rd ed., Vol I, Edited by Henry Steele Commager, Columbia University; F.S. Crofts & Co., New York, 1943, pp. 178-179)

Quoting William Lloyd Garrison from "The Liberator," Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan 1, 1831:

"...Assenting to the 'self evident truth' maintained in the American Declaration of Independence, 'that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights--among which are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' I shall strenuously contend for the immediate enfranchisement of our slave population...

"I am aware many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for this severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think or write with moderation. No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen;--but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not retreat a single inch--AND I WILL BE HEARD. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead." (ibid, p.277-278)

Two years later, the American Anti-Slavery Society was founded. This This defiance to those who rejected the values of the American Revolution led directly to "bleeding Kansas," John Brown's Raid and the second American Revolution [Civil War]. This revolution was also negated by the ruling elite with the assassination conspiracy against Lincoln, the end of radical reconstruction and amnesty for treason.

"Woman's Rights: The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions," July 19, 1848

"Though Frances Wright Ernestine Rose, and others had championed the cause of woman's rights early in the century, the immediate origin of the woman's right's movement of the mid-century was in the anti-slavery crusade. When at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London, in 1840, a group of American women delegates found themselves excluded, they determined that the cause of emancipation affected them as well as slaves. The Seneca Falls Convention was the first of its kind ever held. ...

"1. Declaration of Sentiments

"When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that which they have hitherto occupied, but one to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to such a course.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness...

"The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world." (ibid, p.315)

Jefferson provided the blueprint for people's government, human rights, and civil liberty which has always worked against the tyranny of the elites.

"John Brown's Last Speech," November 2, 1859

"...I have another objection; and that is, it is unjust that I should suffer such a penalty. Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case),--had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends... and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.

"This court acknowledges, as I suppose, the validity of the law of God. I see a book kissed here which I suppose to be the Bible, or at least the New Testament. That teaches me that all things whatsoever I would that men do to me, I should do even so to them. It teaches me, further, to 'remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.' I endeavored to act up to that instruction. I say, I am yet too young to understand that God is any respecter of persons." (ibid, p.361)

"Address to President Lincoln by the Working-Men of Manchester, England," December 31,1862

"During the Civil War the English government preserved a cautious neutrality: the opinion of the governing classes was on the whole sympathetic toward the South, that of the working-men sympathetic toward the North. Lincoln's preliminary proclamation of emancipation was a determining influence in holding England to neutrality and cementing the friendship of the liberals and the working classes. The address of the working-men of manchester was subscribed on the eve of the formal proclamation of emancipation. ...

"...if you have any ill-wishers here, be assured they are chiefly those who oppose liberty at home, and that they will be powerless to stir up quarrels between us, from the very day in which your country becomes, undeniably and without exception, the home of the free. Accept our high admiration of your firmness in upholding the proclamation of freedom." (ibid pp.418-419)

"Lincoln's Reply to the Working-Men of Manchester, England," January 19, 1863

"...I know and deeply deplore the sufferings of the working-men at Manchester, and in all Europe, are called to endure in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this government, which was built upon the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the working-men of Europe have been subjected to severe trials, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under the circumstances, I cannot but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or country. It is indeed an energetic and reinspiring assurance of the inherent power of truth and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity, and freedom. I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people." (ibid, pp. 419-420)

The 1870s saw the emergence of several populist movements. The Grangers and the Knights of Labor were agitating for economic justice and government control of "aggregate wealth." The 1880s saw the single-tax movement of Henry George and movements in several states against various elite abuses.

In the 1890s, the first nationally organized populist party was formed, taking the name we now use for people's parties.

"Populist Party Platform," July 4, 1892


"The conditions which surround us best justify our co-operation; we meet in the midst of a nation brought to the verge of moral, political, and material ruin. Corruption dominates the ballot-box, the Legislatures, the Congress, and touches even the ermine of the bench. The people are demoralized; most of the States have been compelled to isolate the voters at the polling places to prevent universal intimidation and bribery. The newspapers are largely subsidized or muzzled, public opinion silenced, business prostrated, homes covered with mortgages, labor impoverished, and the land concentrating in the hands of capitalists. The urban workmen are denied the right to organize for self-protection, imported pauperized labor beats down their wages, a hireling standing army, unrecognized by our laws, is established to shoot them down, and they are rapidly degenerating into European conditions. The fruits of the toil of millions are boldly stolen to build up colossal fortunes for a few, unprecedented in the history of mankind; and the possessors of these, in turn despise the Republic and endanger liberty. From the same prolific womb of governmental injustice we breed the two great classes--tramps and millionaires. ...

"We have witnessed for more than a quarter of a century the struggles of the two great political parties for power and plunder, while grievous wrongs have been inflicted upon the suffering people. We charge that the controlling influences dominating both these parties have permitted the existing dreadful conditions to develop without serious effort to prevent or restrain them. Neither do they now promise us any substantial reform. They have agreed together to ignore, in the comming campaign, every issue but one. They propose to drown the outcries of a plundered people with the uproar of a sham battle over the tariff, so that capitalists, corporations, national banks, rings, trusts, watered stock, the demonetization of silver and the oppressions of the usurers may all be lost sight of. They propose to sacrifice our homes, lives, and children on the altar of mammon; to destroy the multitude in order to secure corruption funds from the millionaires. ...

"We declare that this Republic can only endure as a free government while built upon the love of the people for each other and for the nation; that it cannot be pinned together by bayonets; that the Civil War is over, and that every passion and resentment which grew out of it must die with it, and that we must be in fact, as we are in name, one united brotherhood of free men. ...


"We declare, therefore--...

"Second.--Wealth belongs to him who creates it, and every dollar taken from industry without an equivalent is robbery. 'If any will not work, neither shall he eat.' The interests of rural and civil labor are the same; their enemies are identical.

"Third.--We believe that the time has come when the railroad corporations will either own the people or the people must own the railroads; and should the government enter upon the work of owning and managing all railroads, we should favor an amendment to the constitution by which all persons engaged in the government service shall be placed under a civil-service regulation of the most rigid character, so as to prevent the increase of the power of the national administration by the use of such additional government employees. (ibid, Vol. II, pp. 143-144)

In 1894, "General" Jacob Coxey lead a march on Washington with his "industrial army" to demand reform. Eugene V. Debs was jailed for for leading a strike against the Railway Trust. The Pullman strike of 1894 was bloody and brutal. The courts, the executive, and the army all struck down the people to protect the power of plutocracy. Many of these abuses were addressed by William Jennings Bryan in the Democratic Party platform in 1896. The last year of the 19th Century saw the founding of the American Anti-Imperialist League by such leading populists as Mark Twain.

"Platform of the American Anti-Imperialist League," October 18, 1899

"...We hold that the policy known as imperialism is hostile to liberty and tends toward militarism, an evil from which it has been our glory to be free. We regret that it has become necessary in the land of Washington and Lincoln to reaffirm that all men, of whatever race or color, are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We maintain that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. We insist that the subjugation of any people is 'crimminal aggression' and open disloyalty to the distinctive principles of our government. ...

"We deny that the obligation of all citizens to support their Government in times of grave national peril applies to the present situation. If an Administration may with impunity ignore the issues upon which it was chosen, deliberately create a condition of war anywhere on the face of the globe, debauch the civil service for spoils to promote the adventure, organize a truth-suppressing censorship and demand of all citizens a suspension of judgement and their unanimous support while it chooses to continue the fighting, representative government itself is imperilled. (ibid, pp. 192-193)

[End of Part 1]

(If you want a copy of this article as one document e-mail me at: ewald@ctaz.com)

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