Lessons of the Civil War – Then and Now

By David Sole

While April 15, 1861 is given as the official start of the United States’ Civil War, most historians recognize that the outbreak of military hostilities was preceded by decades of controversy and conflict. Even at the time, the contention between the powerful slave owning ruling-class and the growing capitalist interests (summed up as South and North) was known as the “irrepressible conflict.”

Today another irrepressible conflict is manifesting itself in this country. The January 6, 2021 insurrectionary attack on the U.S. Congress should not be seen as an isolated event. It is becoming clear that this reactionary movement is becoming more and more aggressive. It has the seeds of a nascent civil war.

The struggles leading to the Civil War of 1861 were played out in the halls of Congress over national legislation. Political parties could not avoid the issues. They also were fought out in the courts. And there was much turmoil in the streets of many towns and cities. Things reached their climax in the brutal military conflict of 1861 to 1865….

It should always be remembered that the irrepressible conflict was not settled in the halls of Congress, not won in the courts of the land nor was it resolved even by the election of the new party to the presidency. The resolution only came through a bitter civil war. Such a fight may be in our future. We need a mass political organization to lead us in that struggle.

Black soldiers- civil war
The “irrepressible conflict” could only be settled by a revolutionary Civil War to break the back of the slaveholders’ power. That included over 186,000 African American soldiers. | Photo: ozy.com

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