Talk to Me Like I'm Stupid: Agrarianism, Marxism, and Slavery

Fair warning--this is a post for history nerds and wannabe history nerds. It's only a hair less obscure than my Warcraft post. 

Now then, I just put I'll Take My Stand on my Amazon wish list, mostly because I'm interested in Southern critiques of the industrial North. I recall some commenters noting a kind of Marxist critique that expressed some degree of sympathy for the antebellum South. As far as I can tell, the notion being that the South was "pre-capitalist." I don't know if that's an accurate assessment, and perhaps I'm paraphrasing the critique wrong. But either way, I'm interested to hear the thoughts of any historians, doctoral students, or just well-read human beings who can speak on quasi-Marxist sympathies for the antebellum South and even the pre-Civil Rights Movement South.

I tried Eugene Genovese's Roll Jordan, Roll but couldn't finish. I guess I'll have to go back to it. (Maybe I'll take it with me into the Woods.) I found its methodology rather frustrating. Drew Gilpin Faust admires the book quite a bit, but I found her style to be much more convincing. Genovese's hops around a lot--you get a three or four sentences about a slaveholder who may not even be named and without much context. Whereas Faust will draw out a study on five or six people, and contextualize their lives. In all honesty, this may just be the writer in me. I tend to like to think about individual characters. Moreover, I gather that some of the answers to the questions I pose above are covered in Genovese's work. 

For now, let's hear the wisdom of the crowd.

UPDATE: I'm going to clean the thread below up some. To be clear, we're not asking whether Marx defended the Confederacy or slavery, so much as we're asking about sympathies for the South among thinkers tracing their lineage to him. 

It also should go without saying that no one here is literally defending the antebellum or Jim Crow South. Comments outlining why such a defense is wrong, will be deleted. Again, I'm seeking something more than the kind of correctives we can all agree with.
Jump to comments

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The US is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe


A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.


I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."


Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion



From This Author