Recently on the social networking websites debate has arisen among north amerikan settler communists, socialists and other assorted “leftists” on the legacy of William Sherman, a leading general of the northern states during the inter-settler civil war in the united states in the 1860s. Those who uphold Sherman’s legacy do so on the basis of his supposedly progressive role in leading the military defeat of the southern planter capitalist states (often misrepresented as a kind of feudalism or other pre-capitalist social formation) by the northern industrial capitalist states. Others needless to say have been critical of it.
Having witnessed this i feel the need to put an indigenist, anti-colonialist spin on this issue. The following are some basic points of discussion about Sherman and his legacy, building up from what has been said previously by comrade editors from Anti-Imperialism.com.
1. First and foremost, however one may try to spin Sherman’s role in the inter-settler civil war, from the perspective of Onkwehón:we he was an implacable enemy. He was responsible for brutal atrocities committed against our peoples and nations as the settler empire turned towards the consolidation of “its” western territories following the defeat of the southern states. For us everything else must be seen through this lens at we dig down to the core of what Sherman was really about.
2. Given the above and the fact the united states is, and the confederates attempted to be, a settler empire built on stolen indigenous land there is no possible way you can weigh his supposed ‘positives’ (supposedly freeing the slaves, defeating the southern slaveocracy etc.) against his negatives. He was a murderer who worked on behalf of the north amerikan settler empire in general and the industrial capitalists of the northern states in particular.
3. The idea that we can raise up Sherman for supposedly “liberating the slaves” is disgusting euro-chauvinist garbage, pure and simple. We should criticize the “great man” theory of history—it was not Sherman who liberated anyone. This only upholds the idea that it was necessary for a beneficent White Savior who came to free all of the backwards and helpless Afrikan peoples. This liquidates the intimate role of the long and heroic history of Afrikan resistance to kidnapping & slavery in A’nó:wara Kawè:note in freeing themselves. This kind of White Savior complex is not only evident in the leftist memory of characters such as Sherman and Lincoln, but even figures like John Brown.
4 . Additionally, it must be made clear that the inter-settler civil war was not about freeing slaves because it was the right thing to do. As radical historians of the north amerikan nation like J. Sakai have shown in detail, it was a contest between two competing capitalist sectors of a growing settler empire on how to best move forward the development of capitalism. In particular it had much to do with disagreements between northern industrial capitalists and southern planter capitalists on how to best handle the large, captive Afrikan slave colony (which was imported to function as a permanent proletariat) in light of the successful revolt by Afrikan slaves in Ayiti—an event which scared the shit out of north amerikans from Boston to Atlanta and everywhere in between.
5. As such, the nominally “positive” role played by Sherman, Lincoln and other arch-north amerikan nationalists and proponents of the settler empire from the industrial capitalist north was entirely a side effect of their successful efforts to force their designs for imperial development on the planter capitalists of the south.
6. Finally, and most importantly, the cheerleading for settler agents of empire like Sherman, Lincoln and others by various north amerikan “leftists” is a sign of the rampant recalcitrant reactionary euro-nationalism on the part of what passes as for “communism”, “socialism”, “marxism” etc in north amerika.
As indigenists, as revolutionaries, as anti-imperialists and internationalists we must stand firm in our rejection of all heroes of empire and the distorted histories around them spun by both the forces of the colonial state and its loyal opposition amongst the so-called left. What use these kinds of discussions do have though is in illuminating part of the answer to the fundamental question “Who are our friends? Who are our enemies?” In this sense we encourage them.
Long Live Tȟašúŋke Witkó!
Long Live Tecumseh!
Long Live Nat Turner!
Long Live all Heroes of Onkwehón:we & Afrikan Reistance to Slavery, Genocide, Ecocide and Colonialism!