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Marxism and Civil War memory
Matthew E. Stanley

This chapter surveys how the U.S. Civil War was interpreted by Marxists and remembered and utilized by workers’ causes. Beyond an expressed adherence to Marxism, socialism, or revolutionary politics, the red memory of the Civil War possessed certain hallmarks, emphasized by its progenitors in various proportions: materiality, internationalism, futurism, and proletarian agency. According to generations of radical and revolutionary workers and Marxist thinkers, not only had the war been part of a world-historical process that broke the power of landed aristocracy even as it ushered in new forms of capital aggregation and economic dominion, its emancipatory program was the precursor to a broader deliverance from “wage slavery” and therefore heralded a left future. Overall, this synthesis and reinterpretation of Marxist Civil War memory and leftist historiography reveals a variety of radical remembrances and their residual impact on scholarly paradigms, with implications for the significance of class in the study of collective memory.

in Marxism and America