Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Zinn, Chapter 12

Notes on "The Empire and the People"
  • From the beginning of our nation, the U.S. has been very imperialist, and one can argue that many different reasons or factors went into it:
  • 'natural' lust and aggression? Anglo-Saxon barbarism? military expansion?
  • Several years before his election to the presidency, William McKinley said: "We want a foreign market for our surplus products." Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana in early 1897 declared: "American factories are making more than the American people can use; American soil is producing more than they can consume. Fate has written our policy for us; the trade of the world must and shall be ours."
  • (Looks like we've now caught up with that problem of not consuming enough, eh?)
  • Teddy Roosevelt claimed that as a white and masterful race, we pretty much should be controlling more and more of the world, and we expanded into Hawaii, tried to get into Cuba, and much of the Caribbean and Pacific in general.
  • Winston Churchill was also a racist dick in his disapproval and fear of a negro-run Haiti.
  • Several years after the Cuban war, the chief of the Bureau of Foreign Commerce of the Department of Commerce wrote about that period: "The Spanish-American War was but an incident of a general movement of expansion which had its roots in the changed environment of an industrial capacity far beyond our domestic powers of consumption. It was seen to be necessary for us not only to find foreign purchasers for our goods, but to provide the means of making access to foreign markets easy, economical and safe." 
  • Labor unions, on the other hand, were against this. When the Maine exploded and the press went crazy, the unions claimed that many more of their numbers died tragically but that the "carnival of carnage that takes place every day, month and year in the realm of industry, the thousands of useful lives that are annually sacrificed to the Moloch of greed, the blood tribute paid by labor to capitalism, brings forth no shout for vengeance and reparation."
  • In the Spanish American War, we pretty much ignored the independence of Cuba and strong-armed them to sign an agreement saying we could come over and bug them anytime we wanted. 
  • The U.S continued to expand in the Pacific. McKinley said he didn't really want the Philippines at first, but eventually God told him that they couldn't give it back to Europe or leave it to its own barbaric self, so they/we had to take the Philippines to "educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them, and by God's grace do the very best we could by them, as our fellow men for whom Christ also died."
  • Really, though, we needed to take the Philippines to steal their natural resources and to have another port on the way to China, where the hundreds of thousands of people there would be the 'natural' buyers of our surpluses. Not to mention they were just Orientals, a different, lesser caliber of people than Americans or Europeans. Many tens of thousands of Americans and Filipinos died in the ensuing conflicts.
  • Black men in the U.S. were conflicted between fighting for the cause in order to better their shaky station in the States and abstaining from fighting because they could not advance in the military and because they were quite obviously killing brown people abroad. Black soldiers fighting for the interests of white capitalism were denied service at drugstores and other places of business. They were segregated in some ways but expected to fight just like whites in others.
  • Through imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific, the country saw once again that whites with money catered to their own interests and used blacks and poor workingmen white to do their dirty work.

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