August 5, 2017


What if the South had won the Civil War? 4 sci-fi scenarios for HBO's 'Confederate' (Allen C. Guelzo, July 31, 2017, USA Today)

A successful Confederacy would be an imperial Confederacy. Aggressive Southerners before 1860 made no secret of their ambitions to spread a slave-labor cotton empire into Central and South America. [...]

A successful Confederacy would have found ways for slavery to evolve, from cotton-picking to cotton-manufacturing, and beyond. The Gone With the Wind image of the South as agricultural has become so fixed that it's easy to miss how steadily black slaves were being slipped into the South's industrial workforce in the decade before the Civil War. More than half of the workers in the iron furnaces along the Cumberland River in Tennessee were slaves; most of the ironworkers in the Richmond iron furnaces in Virginia were slaves as well. They are, argued one slave-owner, "cheaper than freemen, who are often refractory and dissipated; who waste much time by frequenting public places ... which the operative slave is not permitted to frequent."

A successful Confederacy would be a zero-sum economy. In the world of Confederate, the economy would be a hierarchy, with no social mobility, since mobility among economic classes would open the door to economic mobility across racial lines. At the top would be the elite slave-owning families, which owned not only assets but labor, and at the bottom, legally-enslaved African Americans, holding down most of the working-class jobs. There would be no middle class, apart from a thin stratum of professionals: doctors, clergy and lawyers. Beyond that would be only a vast reservoir of restless and unemployable whites, free but bribed into cooperation by Confederate government subsidies and racist propaganda.

The South was just one in a series of nations that refused to accept the End of History, so we imposed it on them.

Posted by at August 5, 2017 9:16 AM