By Trudy Martinez
According to The American College Dictionary to reconstruct means to construct again; to rebuild; make over. What happens in the South following the Civil War does not meet the definition of reconstruction. It is only a means of pacifying the guilt of those who originally profit from the slave trade. The actions they take are calculative, necessary moves that prove profitable, once again, for the North, the rich, and the rising upper-middle-class, the bourgeoisie, allowing their entrance into the Industrial Revolution. It is a means of gain from the misfortune of the southerners, the poor whites, and the blacks; a means of appeasement; an influx of Hope; a road block to revolution.
History dictates, as long as there is Hope for a better future, the common people will accept the hard times and the struggle to obtain and improve their status. How else can the government justify its action of freeing the salves, while at the same time, breaking the promise of 40 acres and a mule? The blacks are left with nothing more than the Hope of achieving a better tomorrow at the mercy of their previous owners, the Southern Elite.
The Freedman Bureau, a token agency (backed by the government, influenced by the rich, but yet, limited), was expected to achieve the impossible. From the beginning, the bureau has three strikes against it; it offers only hope and token justice by controlling the impersonal forces that determine history. One can only wonder if this is why President Lincoln, the role model for the common man, lost his life. Was the President’s death also determined by of one of those impersonal forces upon history? Did Lincoln make his strategy for reconstruction of our torn country known to the wrong people? These are questions for which we may never find the answers? Violence and a strong middle-class objection always pave the way for change in America, that is, when the change does not benefit the rich and the upper-middle-class.
In America (the land of the free, the government of the people), freedom is never a problem, or is it? Does a government of the people mean all the people: the common people, the blacks too? In 1865, is freedom a myth?
Guilt and restitution for the sins of the past alone does not free the slaves; it is a combination of greed and the desire to follow the footsteps of our mother county, England, into the Industrial Revolution. The slave trade is not just a source of guilt, but also a hindrance to progress placed on society by the greed of the past Northern Elite. The slaves only need to be free, no longer owned like cattle or a piece of property. What happens to the slaves after they are free is of no real concern to the Northern elite. True freedom is a luxury of the rich; one can only acquire freedom through status, prestige, or money; it is not a common man’s commodity.
Look at our past, the evidence is there. Our government is not a government of the people, at least not the common people, as the government wants us to believe; instead we are a government of the rich, the prestigious, the corrupt, the greedy, and the bourgeoisie. Our government is governed by the desires and whims of the rich. The common people are not a concern of the government until their Hope begins to fade; threats of revolution are in evidence by violence, loss of lives, and the voice of the middle-class objections are heard loud and clear.
Our sense of Nationalistic thinking begins with the birth of our flag, the red, white, and blue, signifying the blood, sweat, and tears of our fore fathers who win freedom from our mother country, England; they establish our Constitutional government, our Republic, by which the freedom of all the people are insured and protected. With this Nationalistic thinking, the common people are programed to think we are unique, free, equal, and that truth and justice prevail; we are one nation, with a common goal. That thinking remains true until the north desires to enter the industrial revolution. Then our common goal is obliterated.
The South didn’t cooperate. The South didn’t want to progress; it was enjoying all the advantages of slavery; it didn’t want to change; its goals differ. The violence of the Civil War is necessary before change can occur to achieve the desires of the Northern rich, to progress, to go forward, and to increase their wealth. The rich control the government; they want change only if it is beneficial to them, not when they pay a cost. The Civil War is a disagreement between the Southern rich and the Northern rich. In America, the rich grow richer at the expense of the poor, the working class, the common man, and the ethnic groups. The more blood, sweat, and tears the common man sheds, the wealthier the rich become. With the emancipation of the slaves, the Northern rich can induce the government into establishing a (forced) public education system. This education of the masses is a necessity for progress (if the Industrial Revolution is to be entered) and for the rich to prosper from it.
When it becomes evident the common people are more than eager to learn, not only does education need controls, but also limits to and for those segments of society that are to become the working class of the Industrial Revolution. The schools brain-wash the minds of the people by increasing the Nationalistic theme, i.e., to become one, together, with one goal, to increase the wealth of the nation, to build on the American Dream (the programed dream: as long as we try, work hard; we will get ahead), a new article of faith, a myth. The owners of the means of production and progress keep it that way (a myth) by resisting payment of the true value of labor and by not sharing the wealth with those who make it possible for them to obtain it.
The Industrial revolution is a boom for the rich. They justify their mistreatment of the working class, depriving them of the fruits of their labor, through the practice and acceptance of Social Darwinism (survival of the fittest).
The American government, the government of the people, during times of trouble, during hard times, turns its back on the needs of the common people, the working classes, i.e., the poor whites, the blacks, the Hispanics, the women, and the children. While simultaneously denying the acceptance and practice of the theories of Darwinism, the government allows the unjust practices of industry whose roots are in the theories of Social Darwinism. Why? Because, the theories and practice of “Social Darwinism” allow for a natural selection of the fittest, justifying the actions of the rich by allowing them to capitalize at the expense of the working class, the common people. Masses of wealth accumulate, as a result. So much wealth accumulates that the rich find it necessary to plan their next greedy step into what they refer to as progress, Imperialism.
In conclusion and in my opinion, to reconstitute the government would have been better solutions in 1865, i.e., reconstruct the government, not just the South, but the North as well. The radicals could have gotten the backing of the masses, but fear stood in their way. Fear of another revolution like the one unleashed in France in the year 1797. The radicals chose compromise at the expense and suffering of all future generations instead of facing the enviable, the necessity of change, i.e., of defining “freedom”, of defining “the government of the people” and achieving a real government of the people, the common people, all the people. Through the ending of injustice, invoking controls on the greedy, forcing “the owners of the means of production” to pay the true value of the labor and thereby, alleviating the unnecessary blood, sweat, and tears of the working classes, the aim of a government for all the people may achieve. One can only envision the outcome of what such a change might mean to America, i.e., utopia, little or no unemployment, rapid growth, and increased stability, a sense of pride surpassing the Nationalistic theme that gives a sense of false pride and of false reality.
Regardless, America achieves what no other country has ever accomplished: We remain strong and resolute irrespective of our faults. And we will continue to do so as long as we have Hope.