Marx, Tocqueville, And Race In America

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Overview

While Alexis de Tocqueville described America as the 'absolute democracy,' Karl Marx saw the nation as a 'defiled republic' so long as it permitted the enslavement of blacks. In this insightful political history, Nimtz argues that Marx and his partner, Frederick Engels, had a far more acute and insightful reading of American democracy than Tocqueville because they recognized that the overthrow of slavery and the cessation of racial oppression were central to its realization. Nimtz's account contrasts both the writings and the civil action of Tocqueville, Marx and Engels, noting that Marx and Engels actively mobilized the German-American community in opposition to the slavocracy prior to the Civil War, and that Marx heavily supported the Union cause. This potent and insightful investigation into the approaches of two major thinkers provides fresh insight into past and present debates about race and democracy in America.

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Editorial Reviews

Socialist Review
...this is a splendid book which every activist should read and learn from.
Perspectives On Politics
Bringing Marx's critical thoughts on race to bear on Tocqueville's vision of America as the "absolute democracy," this book focuses on the fascinating question of why Tocqueville and Marx saw America in such radically different ways. . . ..The author recounts with grace, passion, and impecable historical detail the unappreciated story of Marx's involvement in the cause of the American Civil War and his efforts in support of slavery. Marx's and Engels's struggle to mobilize German-American workers in support of abolition and the Union cause is a fascinating study in the role of ideas and political agency in history.
John Manley
August Nimtz's scholarship's establishes beyond question that Marx and Engels, not Alexis de Tocqueville, were the most profound students (and proponents) of democracy in 19th century America. Anyone who thinks Marx and Engels were the intellectual fathers of 20th century totalitarianism will be interested to learn that they are more accurately seen as supporters of radical democracy for blacks and all other oppressed people in the world.
David Roediger
This impressive study combines an acute critique of Tocqueville's celebrated writings on the United States with a provocative appreciation of Karl Marx's far less well-known writings on the U.S. In locating the source of Marx's insights in a passionate activist concern with issues of slavery and freedom, Nimtz brilliantly details a living Marxism, committed to democratic change and grounding its theory in engagement with ebbing and flowing social struggles.
Gopal Balakrishnan
August Nimtz's work is a compelling sythesis of political theory and intellectual history. He conclusively demonstates the centrality of the U.S. for the founders of historical materialism. Nimitz rigorously compares the formulations of Marx and Engels to those of Tocqueville and makes a persuasive case for their greater purchase on a society defined by democracy, capitalism and slavery.
CHOICE
This book makes a series of important...claims concerning Marx and Marxism. . . . it is surely one of the most innovative and challenging defenses of Marzist theory in recent decades. Highly recommended.
Bertell Ollman
If Marx is the most influential socialist thinker of the modern era, Toqueville his chief democratic counterpart, and race relations the central defining issue of American politics for over 200 years, why have we had to wait so long for a scholarly comparison of the thinking of these two giants on this question? This book, in short, is long overdue, as evidenced by the insights, many quite profound, that fly like sparks in all directions. Students of Marx, Toqueville, race in America and, perhaps most of all, of democracy (both the theory and the practice) will forever be indebted to August Nimtz for this beautifully written and extraordinarily enlightening study.
Perspectives on Politics
Bringing Marx's critical thoughts on race to bear on Tocqueville's vision of America as the "absolute democracy," this book focuses on the fascinating question of why Tocqueville and Marx saw America in such radically different ways. . . ..The author recounts with grace, passion, and impecable historical detail the unappreciated story of Marx's involvement in the cause of the American Civil War and his efforts in support of slavery. Marx's and Engels's struggle to mobilize German-American workers in support of abolition and the Union cause is a fascinating study in the role of ideas and political agency in history.
Choice
This book makes a series of important...claims concerning Marx and Marxism. . . . it is surely one of the most innovative and challenging defenses of Marzist theory in recent decades. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780739106785
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 0.70 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

August J. Nimtz, Jr. is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota and the author of several books and articles on Marx and Engels.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Democracy in American: Two Perspectives Chapter 2 The Lessons of the "Most Progressive Nation" Chapter 3 Tocqueville's America Chapter 4 The Judgement of Recent Scholarship: A Balance Sheet Part 5 Toward the "General Conflagration": Theory and Practice Chapter 6 The "New World View" Chapter 7 Slavery, Free Soil, and the Workers' Movement Chapter 8 Preparing for a New Revolution Part 9 "A Last Card Up Its Sleeve": The Overthrow of Slavery Chapter 10 Explaining the Civil War Chapter 11 The New "Struggle in the Press" Chapter 12 From a "Constitutional" to a "Revolutionary" War Chapter 13 A Comradely Disagreement Chapter 14 The Judgement of Modern Scholarship Chapter 15 Revolutionary Practice Chapter 16 Marx and Engels's Contribution Part 17 A Dream Deferred: The Failed "Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America" Chapter 18 Reconstruction Chapter 19 Birth of a New Labor Movement Chapter 20 Marx on Race Chapter 21 Overthrow of Reconstruction Chapter 22 Were Marx and Engels Derelict? Chapter 23 When "Conditions" Become "Ripe"

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