ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Marx and the Politics of Emancipation

In the first part of the 1860s, Karl Marx’s journalistic and scholarly interest in diplomacy and international politics drove him to focus his attention towards two prominent historical events. The first was the outbreak of the American Civil War, when seven slaveholding states declared their secession from the United States. The second was the uprising of the ­Polish people against Russian occupation. Marx’s analysis of these historic episodes also influenced his political efforts through the International Working Men’s Association. How Marx’s studies of both these events were relevant for his theoretical development and his political engagement is examined.

In the spring of 1861, world politics was shaken by the outbreak of the American Civil War. It began shortly after Abraham Lincoln’s election as President, when seven slaveholding states declared their secession from the United States (US): South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. They were joined by Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and, later on, Missouri and Kentucky (although the latter two did not officially proclaim their separation). The ensuing bloody conflict claimed approximately 7,50,000 lives among the Confederacy (which favoured maintaining and extending slavery) and the Union (the states loyal to Lincoln, though in some cases considering slavery legal).

Karl Marx immediately set about studying the situation and, at the beginning of July, wrote to Friedrich Engels:

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Updated On : 17th Jun, 2019


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