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Home > Politics or: the art of looking for trouble, Social commentary > Abraham Lincoln’s Strangely Socialist State of the Union Speech

Abraham Lincoln’s Strangely Socialist State of the Union Speech

Happy Labor Day!

It’s not really socialist. There is just no way a modern president could make these sort of remarks in a modern SOTU address.

Abraham Lincoln, Dec. 13, 1861 excerpt:

It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions, but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.

The last sentence in the speech is, “With a reliance on Providence all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.” That’s how Abraham Lincoln said, “God Bless America.” Compare that shit to Obama’s 2012 SOTU style. Oh, how times have changed.

 

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