The Mindset of an Officer of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group

As Michael C. Lucas has reluctantly admitted here, he’s a “staff officer” of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group who’s quite unhappy with certain historical perspectives … namely any that do not extol the Confederacy. That’s his business, but look at what happened when he tried to explain his frustration to Rob Baker:

Setting aside Mr. Lucas’s skill at expressing himself, his query leaves unanswered a critical question: how exactly does he define “Marxist methods of interpretation of history”? How are those methods reflected in my work?

(Mr. Lucas shows no evidence of having read anything I’ve written outside of the blog, but then members of the SHPG are famous for attacking books and articles they have not read, a sign of how they hold themselves above normal methods of learning and understanding.)

I’m waiting, Mr. Lucas. Can you explain what you mean and make your case that I follow “Marxist methods of interpretation of history”?

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54 thoughts on “The Mindset of an Officer of the Southern Heritage Preservation Group

        • Why Brooks, sorry your bored, I miss you too! Its been interesting to observe this post. . . what I like from the start is the clarity of how self absorbed you are in misinterpreting my remarks to Baker. Not to mention evidence of both of your continued obsessions with the SHPG. Let alone Bakers self glorified rant, and lack of reasoning and logic of historical method. He needs to figure out wherein his indoctrination, and use of Marxists historiography and ideology lies. I will give you all a hint, consider the whole basis of your reasoning of what caused the war. Why you think that way, and where it originated for you, and by whom. Wonder how long it will take you two to figure it out? Have fun with that! ;-)

          • The reasoning for the cause of the war is easy to find. Just look in the secession convention notes and their declarations of secession.
            By the way, Marx was not the first to describe class conflict. The Founding Fathers were hinting at for decades before, during, and after the Revolution. Marx just wrote about it extensively and built a theory upon it, but there were many others who understood the role of class in history. The entire concept of aristocracy was built on class.

                • Very true. However since I started this by saying the facts are in the notes of the secession conventions and their declarations, he can try to pick them apart. The ordinances are mere attempts to present a legal secession which of course was illegal as we’ve show in previous discussions although I’m sure the Lost Causers refuse to accept that.

                  • Dick said “the secession convention notes and their declarations of secession.” Inferring reference to the secession ordinances. They were not there just to talk about them! Fact, they were not illegal.

                    Contrary to your thesis, all I have to do is show where you pick them apart. So tell the world where these secession declarations and ordinances state the Civil War was over slavery?

                    • Wrong question. The right question is how did the Civil War come about? The primary issue that led to the Civil War concerned the argument over slavery. Abraham Lincoln was seen as a threat to the continuation of slavery, and as an extra measure he was also seen as a threat to continued white supremacy. That is why the lower south seceded prior to his inauguration. We can quibble over whether or not secession itself was sufficient for a war to break out, but the primary reason the lower south sought to try to break away from the United States and to attempt to form a separate nation was to preserve slavery and white supremacy from the threat to those two things the secessionists perceived was posed by Abraham Lincoln. That is what comes through loud and clear when you read the words of the secessionists in the Declarations of Causes, in the secession debates in the state conventions as well as in the arguments preserved in the Congressional Globe, and in the letters and speeches of the secession commissioners.

                      And yes, take a look at Alabama’s Ordinance of Secession. You asked to pick one and I picked Alabama. I notice you can’t deal with it.

                    • Sorry Michael. I know how this game is played. Your group submits a few feeble cases to support its erroneous conclusions and then demands that we write volumes to justify our conclusions which we have done. Libraries are full of them. Your side does no work in supporting your myths except to challenge our interpretation repeatedly. Then you pick on a few parts of the interpretation and ignore the rest. Not happening today. You want to prove your myth? Then do some work. I can’t help it if your group is lazy and won’t do their own work. If you can’t read the declarations of secession and use a simple search function then you obviously aren’t serious about your myth.

  1. Marxists and the Civil War. That is a new one. The Republican were pro big business, finance, liquidity, the party of Hamilton when it came to things like finance. Hamilton hated slavery too. But then they were also Free Soilers. Hmm. Now how this all leads to interpretation of the causes of the Civil War that is in agreement by the majority of the educated I am not certain. Until I found this site, I thought that Civil War debates were on things like Longstreet’s attack at Gettysburg or Lee attacking Malvern Hill or perhaps why Grant got caught by surprise at Shiloh. Heck, I even thought that most people agreed that Columbia, South Carolina got what they deserved?

  2. I checked Facebook this morning; apparently he deleted me after I posted his message. I don’t know how I will go on without the random messages from one of the SHPG’s finest.

  3. I’ll let Mr. Lucas give his own view, but to me “Marxist Methods” of Historical interpretation means trying to inject issues of “Class, gender, and race” into every historical discussion. I don’t see that with Brooks but do see it in others. Zinn is a good example.

    • To me “Marxist Methods” of Historical interpretation means trying to inject issues of “Class, gender, and race” into every historical discussion.

      Yet those (and many other) issues shape the way people think and act.

      Thought experiment: how would a future historian writing about the American political scene in the past decade not have to deal with those things, and discuss them explicitly?

    • I had to read an enormous amount of Marx-Engels in college. I don’t recall either of them spending a whole lot of time on gender and race issues. Class, yes, when it came to the Proletariat and the Bourgeoisie, but gender and race, not so much. I know they spent lots of time on labor and capital. Marx and Engels were deterministic, in that they believed history was set on a course where eventually the dictatorship of the proletariat would yield to a stateless, classless society, and they were into dialectical materialism where internal conflicts would develop in the economic systems that would tend to undermine them, if memory serves. I don’t know of many historians today who talk about that.

        • I think Eugene Genovese may have been among the last Marxist historians, before his conversion. Today, the folks I see interpreting the Civil War era through the lens of class conflict tend to be neoconfederates who focus on what they see as the poor dirt farmers and their solidarity with their slaves in the confederate states as opposed to the rich industrialists in the free states making wage slaves of their immigrant workers.

          • It is true though. The majority of “neo-confederates” are usually the ones focusing on class conflict. Race is a different issue all together.

  4. Sometimes class, gender, and race are applicable and sometimes they are not. They certainly are in most of American history. Now if including those elements or more accurately exploring those elements in our history is wrong for some people I would say they are not able to deal with the complexity of historical research. To be real blunt about this issue, it is my opinion that a lot of the Lost Causers are similar to many other people in that they have a popular memory of history and don’t want the facts and details to mess up that memory.

    • Jimmy why do you see the Lost Causer perspective solely as a popular memory of history? There are facts to support their position?

      • I don’t see any sustained amount of coherent and cohesive facts to support the Lost Cause myth. In fact, I see more evidence by far which contradicts the Lost Cause myth. We can start with the cause of the war which was over the expansion of slavery. Since the Lost Cause was developed as a defense of the South’s version of the war which denied that slavery was the cause of the war AS the war ended, but not before the war or during the majority of the war the very foundation of the Lost Cause is found to be false.

        • I agree, but I think the question we must ask ourselves is why was it so easily and quickly accepted by those who weren’t politically or culturally aligned with the South. That is the question I’d ask if I were a history teacher. And in my opinion that is the question that we must be able to answer to say we’ve learned much from history.

          • There is an answer to that and one which should be taught because it is integral to American history. Actually, I don’t really see how one can avoid bringing it up as a history teacher if one is actually teaching the WHY model of history. Personally I don’t see how one can explain what happened in the 1890s without exploring how the Lost Cause became the dominant interpretation of the war. David Blight goes into it in some detail in Race and Remembrance.

            • Yes, but in my opinion the answers are far more complex than Blight would suggest. I haven’t actually read Blight yet though I’ve read many reviews and it is time to do so. But I’m at the point where I’ll have to read it myself anyway now that I’ve got some background in the politics of the era. But if the Blight thesis is roughly the Foner view that it was merely northern racism that caused the collapse of Reconstruction, then I’d say that is way simplistic and misguided. It is the simplistic analog to the simplistic Lost Cause. We must do better than that. Now it may be that Blight is simply describing the results of the collapse of Reconstruction, but if not confusing causes and results is always a mistake.

              • Blight doesn’t just say it was racism, but racism does play a large part. It’s also the desire for reconciliation and the weariness with the continued violence. Blight puts them together.

            • That’s a very good point, and one that’s got me questioning whether I emphasize the “Lost Cause” and the complicity of the North in perpetuating that myth as much as I should. Hmmm….

        • Why is it that you suppose you came to that conclusion? What evidence do you consider influenced it? What about all the evidence from Union memoirs, letters, diaries, newspapers etc. . . documenting in their opinions it wasn’t over slavery either?

          • Because, Michael, for most of them it *wasn’t* about slavery. Once again, keep up. The Union did not go to war over slavery; the Confederacy did.

            • The Confederacy did not secede to go to war, let alone secede or fight over slavery. They fought because of the threat to themselves period from the usurpation of Republican Tyranny. The Confederacy did not blockade, invade, or instigate the war, they peacefully seceded and war was declared and made upon them, they defended themselves accordingly, and justifiably.

              • Nice useless rhetoric with no basis in historical fact. Where’s the proof from 1860-61 to support your statements? It is not in the secession declarations or the notes of the secession conventions because those sources flat out state the reason for secession was over slavery.

              • Please show the declaration of war you claim occurred. Please show any declaration of war on the confederacy prior to the confederate firing on Fort Sumter. Please show any “tyranny” prior to the confederate firing on Fort Sumter. (And remember that Fort Sumter was United States property, in an area ceded by South Carolina to the United States forever, and built by the United States on an artificial island constructed by the United States.) If you can’t, then we know you just told a huge fib.

                • Al unlike you I would rather not distort history to suit the status quo hypocrisy. Lincolns concerted and covert authorizations and actions to blockade Southern ports and reinforce Fort Sumter with arms and men was a hostile demonstration and declaration of war. He knew perfectly well his actions were an instigation of hostilities. After forcing the conflict daring South Carolina by espionage. He then publicly declared war, “Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the Militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.” Which manifested further hostility and the secession of other states. It can as easily be defended that if not for the Radical Republicans and Abraham Lincoln war would otherwise have been averted by compromise.

                  • Michael–here’s an instigation of hostilities for you: Georgia militia seized Federal Fort Pulaski on Jan. 3, 1861, while Georgia was still in the Union; before Georgia had even assembled a convention to consider secession. Also prior to Ft. Sumter, Texas seized 23 US forts and captured 815 US Regulars, many of whom weren’t released until 1863. Where does the Constitution allow this, especially the action at Ft. Pulaski?

                  • “I would rather not distort history to suit the status quo hypocrisy.”
                    —————————–

                    And yet, that’s exactly what you do from the very beginning. First of all, you lie abou me, since I don’t distort history. So once again you’ve shown yourself to be a dishonest, untruthful person.

                    “Lincolns concerted and covert authorizations and actions to blockade Southern ports and reinforce Fort Sumter with arms and men was a hostile demonstration and declaration of war.”
                    —————————–

                    So you have no clue when the blockade began, then. Also, Lincoln didn’t take action to reinforce Fort Sumter with arms and men.

                    “After forcing the conflict daring South Carolina by espionage.”
                    ——————————-
                    Your sentence fragment makes no sense. How does one “dare” a state “by espionage?” It was Jefferson Davis who gave the order to fire on Fort Sumter, not Lincoln, so how did Lincoln force Davis to do something?

                    “He then publicly declared war”
                    ——————————
                    Apparently you don’t know that presidents don’t declare war.

                    “It can as easily be defended that if not for the Radical Republicans and Abraham Lincoln war would otherwise have been averted by compromise.”
                    ———————————
                    You really have no idea about what actually happened, do you, Michael?

                    First of all, Lincoln was willing to compromise on anything except for two things: extension of slavery and union. As to other issues, everything was on the table. Secondly, the Radicals were not in control of anything in 1861. Thirdly, had Stephen A. Douglas, the second-place finisher in 1860, been in the White House, the record indicates the outcome would have been quite the same, since Douglas was considered unacceptable to the secessionists due to his no longer being considered reliable on slavery.

                    So, Michael, you’ve just shown that you have no conception of what undistorted history is.

                  • I believe you need to go back to school because you are stating erroneous opinions that are not based on fact. The firing on Ft. Sumter was a decision made by Jefferson Davis. He did not know what the ships had military supplies on them, but made his decision starting the war because he needed something to trigger the border states to join the Confederacy. Sumter was a visible symbol of the Union in the South and he needed to keep the people who were wavering in line. Davis started the war because if he had not done so the situation would have turned against the Confederacy.

          • The ideas supporting the war effort shifted over time, as they quite frequently do in sustained and difficult wars other than independence, which would always overshadow any other lower level ideas that might shift. So there is evidence on either side depending on what period of time you’re examining, and of course the views of the persons whose memoirs and diaries you’re examining. If someone doesn’t acknowledge this truth or at least possibility, getting drawn into a debate on this is a fools errand. How do you explain the variability of views over time?

          • Once again, there is a big difference between the political causes of a war and men’s reasons for marching off to fight it. For example, the letters & diaries of Confederate enlisted men show that the majority of them neither understood nor cared much about the political and Constitutional issues. They believed they were simply defending home and hearth. On the subject of newspapers, are you trying to tell us there were no Union editorials which said that slavery caused the war?

  5. What about all the mountains of overwhelming data that it was over slavery from both North and South? There are over 8000 pages of official state and federal documents that show what the argument was over. It was stated in black and white terms and going through them firmly establishes the fact that it was the expansion of slavery that cause the war. Also, you need to take into consideration when something was written. The Lost Cause myth gets its start in late 1864 as more and more southerners realized they were going to lose the war. That’s when thy started writing that it wasn’t slavery. However, that’s not what was being said prior to that point.

  6. I am sorry but I when read that line “Marxist methods of interpretation of history” I was reminded about the dialogue in the Jim Garner movie, TANK!

    Sheriff Buelton: General, I am the local civilian authority and I am hereby making a formal request of the military to do everything in its power to assist and aid me in apprehending known…
    Maj. Gen. V.E. Hubik: Posse Comitatus, sir.
    Sheriff Buelton: Did you call me a pussy communist?
    Maj. Gen. V.E. Hubik: The U.S. Army is, by an act of congress; Posse Comitatus act, specifically precluded from enforcing civilian law outside the military reservation.
    Sheriff Buelton: Pussy communist?

    or from The Princess Bride

    Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • That’s a very good analogy–I love that movie, and to me this was one of the funniest parts! And it’s true–I don’t think Lucas knows what Marxism means in regard to schools of historical thought.

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