Stuff to Read About the Civil War

The New York Times has been running a series called “Disunion,” focusing on the news of 150 years ago. In today’s contribution, someone applied a data mining technique to Confederate news stories to gauge how propaganda was used to whip up enthusiasm for the war. I found the results horrifying and fascinating.

Follow that up with “Forgetting Why We Remember.”

16 thoughts on “Stuff to Read About the Civil War

  1. About our new civil war (the one I see coming)…James Kunstler’s post today is something you all ought to read. It’s about Sarah Palin, but I won’t bother to quote it here, just please read it when you get a chance…

    I know that lately it’s been a theme on this blog to note the collection of genuine idiots who are possible Republican president contenders for 2012, and how these people don’t stand a chance against Obama. But Palin doesn’t get mentioned, the assumption being that A)The half-term governor-quitter soccer mom from Wasilla won’t run for president, she’s just plugging her ghost-written books for cash C)In a debate or an interview with an intelligent reporter (ie Katie Couric) she’ll be exposed as the dimwit she is, and C)She doesn’t have a chance of being elected – Americans aren’t THAT dumb.

    My recollections of history lead me to the opposite conclusion. Sarah won’t hold a debate or allow herself to be interviewed again by an intelligent reporter, but she’ll campaign nonetheless. I won’t quote Mr Kunstler, but I will quote one of his commenters on today’s blog:

    We saw a half-educated, unfit for high office candidate elected in 1980, again in 1984, and yet another of that ilk in 2000 and 2004. It has happened before, and given the state of things today, I definitely see it happening again in 2012 with likely far more disastrous results than our last two experiences.

    Civil War indeed.

  2. Fascinating content analysis of Confederate newspapers. And of course it is mirrored by the contemporary media with regard to the long war on Islam. Muslims are routinely demonised as less than human, meaning it’s morally OK to kill them or harm them in other ways, while conservatives simultaneously prattle about the glorious duty to risk lives defending American exceptionalism (other people’s lives of course, not their own).

    The propaganda strategies of warmongers trying to sustain support for their endeavours are tiresomely predictable and it is sad that generation after generation falls for them.

  3. Candide ….Americans might be THAT dumb, but Palin will never get elected. You need big, big, big, money and powerful political sponsors…and neither one of those will be available for Palin…My bet says she’ll be nothing more than entertainment value as she tries to capitalize on her brand name.

  4. @candide – I do think about a 2nd civil war, and believe the probability for this will increase by the latter half of this decade, as it becomes widely apparent that 1) this is no ordinary recession, 2) the government runs out of economic magic tricks, and 3) the amount of corruption at the highest levels in every institution can no longer be denied.

    I’ve mentioned The Fourth Turning a few times on this blog, it’s a study of cycles in history. American and British history can be seen as a repeating cycle of four seasons: winter, spring, summer, autumn – each with its own distinct set of characteristics. The depth of winter is not hit until there is a widespread, impossible to deny recognition that the old ways will not work.

    Just as the country was increasingly polarized in the lead-up to the 1st civil war, with the “compromises” coming out of government satisfying fewer and fewer people, culminating in secession and warfare, so I believe we are heading toward some kind of confrontation and resolution. I don’t know what form it will take, a civil war is one possibility, but this confrontation is coming.

    I’ve been following James Kunstler for quite awhile, and really admire his writing ability, his foresight, but not so much his timing. For a long time, Disaster was always six months ahead – he became like the boy who cries wolf. I think Queen Sarah is probably out of the picture for 2012, as are most of the Republican team, but it’s 2016 that I fear. A lot is going to happen in the next four years that will make divining the future in any detail an impossible task, IMO.

  5. So why don’t they apply that data mining technique to Fox propaganda?

    Because it’s all propaganda and there is nothing mine out of it. If they tried truth mining from Fox news they might have a more interesting challenge.

  6. Candide, everyone I know on both sides of politics agree that Palin is just a pesky imp, but I agree that her message and delivery system are frightening. She pushes that exceptionalism and militarism to the limit, and those two things in particular have always brought grief.
    Last week, the spokesperson from “Rolling Thunder” stated that Palin was not invited to their event, and was not going to speak. Sarah has a habit of just barging in and doing what she wants.
    I have a crazy neighbor just like her who managed to get elected to tha school board (ran unopposed), who became the chair person, and is now so hated that it really would no suprise me if someone were to assault her. Politics has really changed, although we should never forget how bad things were in the 60’s with the killings og the Kennedys and MLK. I believe we were much closer to civil war then.

    • I’m not worried about Sarah Palin ever being elected POTUS, for these reasons:

      First, the GOP establishment is openly trying to undermine her. Just last week she was publicly trashed by both Karl Rove and George Will, for example. They aren’t even being politely noncommittal in case she ends up with the nomination.

      Second, and related to the above — as Swami says, the money people aren’t backing her. I suspect they partly blame her influence in last year’s primaries for keeping the Senate majority out of Republican reach. If she manages to get on the ballots in the Iowa caucuses, expect the powers that be to be sure she doesn’t win so they can force her out of the running as early as possible. (By comparison, the well-connected George W. Bush had the solid support of the establishment, which picked him out as their favorite for the nomination and began laying the media groundwork for his candidacy as early as 1998.)

      Third, although she has a devoted base of loyal followers, her “negatives” are huge. In polls, a respectable majority of Americans say they would never vote for her. People either adore Palin or think she is a joke, and the “joke” side leads the “adore” side by about 2 to 1, from what I see.

      Fourth, she can’t organize herself out of a wet paper bag. Last week she put out all kinds of publicity about her nationwide bus tour, but on the day the bus tour was supposed to start, reporters couldn’t find the bus. Now that she’s got a bus and is traveling, her travel itinerary appears to be a mystery.

      So, while there are many things that ought to be worrying us, a potential Palin presidency is not among them.

  7. Though there was a lot of social upheaval in the ’60’s, the economy for white males was humming along pretty good. And there was a mini civil war, but it was fought and won relatively peacefully – thanks to MLK and LBJ.

    Now, the economy sucks for white males and pretty much everyone else except for the have’s. The financial system and people that got us into this mess were left pretty much untouched, jobs are an afterthought, and Wall Street is again doing what caused the economy to tank in the first place, and soon, the other shoe’s going to drop – another, potentially even bigger, depression, because we apparently learned nothing from what happened just a few years ago.

    If we had intelligent leaders in the House and Senate, they would try to do some things abut jobs first, regulating Wall Street second, and then the inequitable distribution of wealth. But they are all bought and paid for by the corporate and individual ‘have’s.’ So, no help there. And if there’s no help there, that’s when trouble starts.

    If that second depression does happen, what will happen then is anyone’s guess. There are a hell of a lot more have-not’s than have’s. But of course, the have’s will have their gated communities, and US military and Xe trained security forces. And some of them will have the option of getting out of Dodge when trouble starts. And I do see trouble coming. Don’t know where, don’t know when. But it’s coming.

    The wealthy in this country may yet come to rue the day that they decided that a small tax increase was not worth the price of civiliaton, because mobs are notoriously uncivilized.

  8. Candide – SP is dangerous in her own way, because she’s a religious zealot in political sheep’s clothing. Most politicians are the reverse – secular willing to appear Christian as a political necessity. Her base of support is evagelicals, just as there is for Ron Paul from libertarians. Both have no chance at the nomination, but they will draw support away from the eventual primary winner.

    For those who can’t vote for Obama in the general election, this will be an election by Hobson’s choice. Their choice will be to vote for the GOP candidate with zero appeal in the evangelical or libertarian campss who together comprise a significant chunk of the GOP.

    Who does that leave among GOP loyalists? Seniors. And that group by 2012 MAY be less than thrilled by proposed policies that will make full access to health care expensive or unaffordable for future seniors. The political calculation was that if the current crop of seniors was not screwed out of Medicare, they wouldn’t care. That’s proving wrong and indefensible for candidates.

    Ordinarily, in this economy and in a political climate where incumbents are at a disadvantage, Obama should be in trouble. But the GOP is comprised of factions which none of the Republican candidates (so far) can unite. My prediction for 2012 is that a lot of republicans will not vote.

    The goal has to be not only winning the election, but crafting a popular message for policy over the next 4 years that addresses the real problems.

  9. I think people misunderstand Sarah.
    They’re assuming she’s saying “for” when she says she might make a run ‘faux’ the Presidency.
    Those ‘faux’ runs every ‘four’ years, will keep her bank account full ‘for’ the rest of her life.
    And you can take THAT to the bank!

  10. Most of the time I think a “skin of our teeth” scenario is about the best we can hope for. I think it was Paxton, who spoke of the KKK as the first truly fascist organization. (I got it second hand via David Niewart) But, there are unsettling echoes from both the days before the Civil War and the rise of, (dare I say it?) well the guy with the little mustache.

    One echo is the growing income disparity. In the antebellum US, wealth was probably less evenly distributed than it is today. The South was less developed than the North and wealth was concentrated in the hands of a few. Cotton was a valuable commodity with a world wide market and a significant portion of “wealth” was comprised of slaves. The “southern aristocracy” wasn’t about to lose that much wealth without a good fight.

    The Randoid Libertarians with their extreme notion of property rights recall the mindset that allows poor people to become property. I think we should start calling them propertarians, because, “liberty” for them is just another commodity and not everyone can afford it.

    The rise of Hitler, of course was born out of an economic depression. It was bankrolled by industrialists who wanted a disciplined and obedient work force. The had a well functioning propaganda mechanism, not as hi-tech as our Fox News, but they controlled the narrative. The crisis was huge, the government was dysfunctional and economic recovery just wasn’t happening. Democracy itself seemed to be failing, so better to do what the wise and wealthy dictated, after all they obviously knew what they were doing, right?

    So, let’s see, are there entities here that seem to be working to prevent economic recovery, make government increasingly dysfunctional and hand power over to a industrial oligarchy? Gosh, the names are right on the tip of my tongue.

    I might be getting too old to handle the stress, but, bugging out on this whole mess seems increasingly prudent, but virtually impossible. Life gets too complicated with property and work to pull up stakes over night. It’s not a good time for a “fire sale” . But, with the militia movement crazies and Xe in the mix, its pretty easy to have the occasional paranoid thought. Things could get pretty ugly.

    But, let’s hope for the best, life is short.

  11. ..she can’t organize herself out of a wet paper bag.

    I read somewhere that she has had several people who’ve attempted to schedule her life, and all of them quit within 3 months, because she constantly changes her mind, and the schedulers are left to constantly apologize or make excuses for her running away from commitments. Sound familiar?

    Thank God this woman is so unfocused.

  12. ..But, there are unsettling echoes from both the days before the Civil War and the rise of, (dare I say it?) well the guy with the little mustache.

    Noam Chomsky said something a few months which I probably quoted here. He said that during Weimar Germany, the establishment parties in Germany lost credibility with the people – they had no solutions for the Depression. I think that could eventually happen here. The difference, Chomsky said, is that Germany had a Hitler – a crazy, Sarah Palin-like bumpkin who was able to connect with enough people and who had enough organized followers to fill the void left by the discredited establishment parties. There isn’t anyone on the right just yet who fills those shoes here, but it could happen.

  13. The depth of winter is not hit until there is a widespread, impossible to deny recognition that the old ways will not work.

    Then the cycle starts all over again. LOL.

    Shouldn’t the the memorial should be for those who managed to cool heads rather than inflame them? Wouldn’t that better capture the original intent? But I suppose I’m no fun.

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