FLOTSAM & JETSAM: Who really won the Civil War?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Who really won the Civil War?

As long as some have become newly interested in slavery reparations, who Joe Biden's friends were fifty years ago and so forth, this article might be useful. My own view (shared by many psychiatrists) is don't refight the past; take on the present and the future. The former may have deeply impacted the latter, but it's the present and future we can change. For example, as mentioned below,  Lyndon Johnson's past would have in no way predicted what he did for civil rights. 

And incidentally, Biden's former pal Strom Thurmond actually had a black daughter. As someone said at the time - not sure it was about Thurmond: "Oh he's just one of those sun up to sun down segregationists"

Sam Smith, 2011- The 150th anniversary for the Civil War will be heavily commemorated over the next four years, but one question will probably not be seriously asked: who really won?

We tend to view wars in the isolation of their military events. By such a standard, there is no doubt the North won. But what about the social, cultural and economic aftermath?

For example, while the Civil War ended slavery, it would take more than a hundred years to begin enforcing effectively the equality that was presumed to result in its wake.

Right into the present the South enjoys a disproportionate influence on our politics and values. When was the last time you saw a politician afraid of what New England might think?

Further, the increasingly hegemonic structure of our business, political and cultural life has far more in common with the southern past than with that of the anarchistic old west or more democratic early Northeast.

I'm a southerner by birth - yes, Washington was once clearly part of the South while also being a door into the north - and I was long aware of what was at times an almost triumphal southern influence over the capital and, by consequence, the rest of the nation. After all, one key reason DC is still effectively a colony of the U.S. is because powerful southerners long made sure that the city's black population would remain under their control.

I recall, as a young reporter, northern friends coming to work on Capitol Hill and beginning to pick up a southern accent just by being there. It eventually took a southerner - Lyndon Johnson - to substantially change that culture through civil rights and other legislation.

But traditional southern values still strongly affect our economic and military policy. We wouldn't, for example, be anywhere near as warlike were it not for southern culture.

But none of this gets discussed because we judge military triumphs on such a narrow basis, despite there being much more to it all.

Which is why we still negotiating with the North Koreans and why the Germany economy did so well after World War Ii.

If there is any moral that should be drawn from the commemoration of the Civil War - but almost certainly won't be - it is this: just because your troops win doesn't mean that you did.