Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Confederate and US Memorial Days

If you were in Raleigh on May 10th, Confederate Memorial Day, you
might have seen a Confederate flag, the Stars and Bars (an early
Confederate flag with a circle of white stars on a blue jack and two
red stripes and a white stripe) flying over the State Capitol. The
News & Observer covered it at

I think it also flies on
January 19th for Robert E. Lee's birthday, January 19th. Several
states mark a Confederate Memorial Day, and it is May 10th only here
and in South Carolina, which is when Confederate President Jefferson
Davis was captured by Federal forces in 1865.

I don't think it is wrong to memorialize those who died for
reactionary causes, which unfortunately is largely what the
Confederates fought for. The Civil War was partly over a different
view of the Constitution and states' rights, but it came about because
the Southern planter capitalists depended on slavery and the Northern
industrial capitalists did not and wanted to end it in the USA. In a
way the Confederates were defending themselves from Northern
aggression, and the Union did use brutal tactics at times,
foreshadowing the total wars of the 20th century. But the
Confederates were fighting for the right to oppress blacks and so once
the Union decided to end slavery in the Confederate states it gained
the moral high ground and undercut the Southern economy at its base.
Marx and Engels opposed the CSA over slavery and I think also because
they thought a Southern victory would set the entire world back by
weakening the US economy. I think the Constitution allows secession
(though I could be wrong) and it is a natural right people should have
in any country (and it was a right in the Soviet constitution). On
the other hand, I'm not sure that the vote was very democratic among
the citizens in the states that joined the CSA, and of course it
excluded blacks, other minorities, and women (probably also poor

It would be more accurate, but also probably more offensive, for NC to
fly the Third National, or last Confederate flag over the Capitol.
That flag is white with the Battle Flag (the familiar red, white, and
blue St. Andrew's cross) in the upper right and a red stripe at the
trailing edge). One article I saw said the Stars and Bars is used
because of a decision by Governor Jim Hunt, I think ending use of the
Confederate Battle Flag or Naval Ensign. I don't feel strongly about
having the flag over the Capitol, though it is strange to imagine a
progressive government continuing the practice and the comments at the
memorial ceremony were probably reactionary and said by conservatives,
judging by what the N&O quotes. I sympathize with the defiance of the
US government by flying the Confederate flag, even if it is defying it
over a war that was for slavery and using symbols that have been
appropriated by white supremacists.

We in the South need to end our shame over slavery, our part in the
wars against the native peoples, and our current status as being among
the poorest, most backward, and most anti-worker part of the Union by
being the place where the second American revolution begins. That is
progressive Southern nationalism. More short term, instead of just
apologizing for the wrongs of the past, the South and the entire
country needs to give reparations by bringing minority communities up
to the standard of living and democracy of the rest of the USA. Full
equality will probably not be possible under capitalism though, and
possibly any oppressed nations in the USA will want to exercise their
right to independence.

One final thing on memorial days - it is a lie to pretend that US
Memorial Day is not about legitimizing every war the USA has fought,
whether it was just or not. Just listen to all the talk of fighting
those "terrorists" trying to liberate their country in Iraq and how
the US military makes possible our freedom (when it really is for
doing whatever the capitalists want and for oppressing the freedom of
people in other countries, like in the Vietnam War). The US has been
on the side of justice in some wars and modern soldiers are competent,
brave, and making sacrifices, but their great sacrifices today are for
injustice and the majority of Americans want them to be withdrawn out
of Iraq.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Alliance ML social networking

Around May Day, Alliance Marxist-Leninist ( set up group pages on Facebook and MySpace, two popular online social networking sites.  The MySpace site is available to anyone at, and the Facebook site is only available to registered users of  The sites still need pictures (any suggestions?), etc., but they are basically done.  The Facebook group already has some members, which was quicker than I expected and shows how well that site can bring people together.  
Facebook has some liabilities as an organizing tool, but there are a lot of political groups there, and many communist groups, unfortunately I think mostly revisionist.  I'm not sure how things stand on MySpace, but Alliance isn't the first red group there either.   
The Triangle Socialist Forum is also on Facebook, but that page is pretty bare right now.