Kalbear

Confederate: bad idea or the WORST idea?

188 posts in this topic

On 7/20/2017 at 9:11 PM, Lord Varys said:

If we take this ridiculous setting at face value - of the Confederacy successfully seceding - then they would have quickly ruined themselves economically simply because they continued to practice slavery and failed to develop a proper modern 19-20th century economics/industrialist society. Slaver societies are not exactly progressive. They don't have to be. The ruling class owns a lot of the workforce as their property and can live off the work with much more impunity than it can in non-slaver societies.

I think you’ve brought up some interesting points about how a modern Confederacy would have ever become a modern industrialized power after the Civil War. I think there were would have been some major headwinds there.

1. Being relatively rich in labor and in land as compared to capital, the South wouldn’t have any sort of comparative advantage in industrial goods. In order to grow such an industrial base, the South would have seemingly had to impose tariffs of some sort. From what I recall the Confederate constitution banned tariffs. And even if it hadn’t, it is hard to imagine the planter class not bitterly resisting said tariffs and prevailing on that issue. 

2. The Confederate constitution severely limited the ability of the centralized government to make internal improvements. Arguably this reflected the the powerful plantation’s class preference for public goods, which wasn’t much. I think that would be southern industrialist would likely have a higher preference publicly provided goods, even if for their own selfish reasons. In my mind, an obvious public good  that industrialist might have favored, that the plantation class, would be some kind of, even if rudimentary, system of public education. For a planter, such a system would have likely been looked as a drain upon their profits. An industrialist might have looked at matters somewhat differently, seeing an education system boosting his profits, while the taxes to pay for it, having a bit of a consumption smoothing effect. Also, it would seem to me, that an industrialist class would favor a higher degree of of internal improvements in order to reduce the transportation cost of selling their wares within the country, as opposed to planters who might, at best, have only wanted those improvements that made moving their goods to the nearest port easier.

3. Realistically, I think  southern industrialist and the planter class having a bit of conflict over matters. I’d expect generally for the planter class to have one that battle. It would certainly have been interesting to see how something like that would have played out. Maybe the power of the planter class would have eventually been broken, but probably not until somewhere in the middle of the 20th Century. And by that time, the Southern states would have been way behind the power curve.

The upshot of all this is that I think it unlikely that the Confederacy would have developed into some kind of modern industrial power. I think the plantation class would have maintained it’s political stranglehold on the South and it would, as a result, have become a fairly backward nation.
 

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Posted (edited)

I'm not American, so please forgive my ignorance, but it is not the case that in OTL the south was much poorer than the north until the middle of the Twentieth-Century anyway? So win or lose the south is going to be behind the north in terms of industry and per capita income. And lots of poorer countries have started to catch up with the developed western nations, in certain respects, over the last thirty years or more, so the south could do the same. 

Actually, is it not possible that the south could have looked similar in terms of wealth sixty years or so after a successful secession, while the north could look worse? The north favoured high tariffs to protect its industries against European competition while the south wanted low tariffs to make its exports of raw materials and imports of manufactures more economic. So freer trade between the south and Europe (especially the UK) might have been the result of a confederate victory, while the union would suffer because the US single market would not be as large as it is in OTL. 

Edited by Chaircat Meow

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16 hours ago, Chaircat Meow said:

I'm not American, so please forgive my ignorance, but it is not the case that in OTL the south was much poorer than the north until the middle of the Twentieth-Century anyway? So win or lose the south is going to be behind the north in terms of industry and per capita income. And lots of poorer countries have started to catch up with the developed western nations, in certain respects, over the last thirty years or more, so the south could do the same. 

Actually, is it not possible that the south could have looked similar in terms of wealth sixty years or so after a successful secession, while the north could look worse? The north favoured high tariffs to protect its industries against European competition while the south wanted low tariffs to make its exports of raw materials and imports of manufactures more economic. So freer trade between the south and Europe (especially the UK) might have been the result of a confederate victory, while the union would suffer because the US single market would not be as large as it is in OTL. 

The income of your average white (or black) southerner was lower than the North, but the South also had a ton of rich people because of plantation agriculture - it was an incredibly unequal society. There's an area in Mississippi state that had the highest concentration of pre-Civil War millionaires in the US. 

It's not a promising climate for industrialization, beyond the typical "pre-industrialization" stuff such as mass manufacturing of arms and infrastructure such as railroads (although the South was well behind the North in railroad lines as well). Now on top of that, include the massive strain on revenue and probable debt that the regime is going to incur defending itself against internal and external threats. 

It reminds me of something I heard about the late 19th century Ottoman Empire: it's hard to industrialize when every bit of trade earnings you can spare beyond basic functions are going into building and maintaining war armaments or paying for fighting in the frequent conflicts you are stuck in over and over again. 

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Im comfortable going with nuetral towards the show till I actually view it.

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5 hours ago, Summer Bass said:

The income of your average white (or black) southerner was lower than the North, but the South also had a ton of rich people because of plantation agriculture - it was an incredibly unequal society. There's an area in Mississippi state that had the highest concentration of pre-Civil War millionaires in the US. 

It's not a promising climate for industrialization, beyond the typical "pre-industrialization" stuff such as mass manufacturing of arms and infrastructure such as railroads (although the South was well behind the North in railroad lines as well). Now on top of that, include the massive strain on revenue and probable debt that the regime is going to incur defending itself against internal and external threats. 

It reminds me of something I heard about the late 19th century Ottoman Empire: it's hard to industrialize when every bit of trade earnings you can spare beyond basic functions are going into building and maintaining war armaments or paying for fighting in the frequent conflicts you are stuck in over and over again. 

Yeah.

Although I wonder what the average income was in the mid-west in the 1860s, and around the lakes? Also, having an unequal distribution of income is, per se, no barrier to industrialisation. 

If the USA did split in two Americans would have to spend more on defence, yes, although they spent very little until WWI anyway (I don't know how much the Great White Fleet cost).

As I understand it, a plantation economy won't find industrialisation easy because such an economy will probably have low rates of urbanisation, and lack a big enough mass consumer base (slaves will be too poor to buy lots of stuff). There is also the issue of allowing slaves to hang around machinery. Population growth might be an issue as well. 

All this being said though, my question is why does the fact an independent south would not industrialise quickly matter? In OTL the south did not turn into an industrial powerhouse quickly either. The industry of the USA in the gilded age and beyond was in the North-East or around the Lakes, right? After the war and reconstruction the south ended up with primitive sharecropping arrangements which led to lower agricultural output. 

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On 7/24/2017 at 9:37 AM, Chaircat Meow said:

I'm not American, so please forgive my ignorance, but it is not the case that in OTL the south was much poorer than the north until the middle of the Twentieth-Century anyway? So win or lose the south is going to be behind the north in terms of industry and per capita income. And lots of poorer countries have started to catch up with the developed western nations, in certain respects, over the last thirty years or more, so the south could do the same. 

Actually, is it not possible that the south could have looked similar in terms of wealth sixty years or so after a successful secession, while the north could look worse? The north favoured high tariffs to protect its industries against European competition while the south wanted low tariffs to make its exports of raw materials and imports of manufactures more economic. So freer trade between the south and Europe (especially the UK) might have been the result of a confederate victory, while the union would suffer because the US single market would not be as large as it is in OTL. 

Adam Smith advised the United States to do unrestricted free trade. If you believed the right road for the US to go down was that of industrialization, then likely Hamilton was right to ignore Smith's advice. It would be hard to imagine American industry taking off, if it had to compete against British or European manufacturers. In short, I believe the infant industry argument does have merit, though longer term I do believe that free trade is likely to have productivity improving enhancements.

And countries like South Korea and China seemed to have borrowed more from Hamilton’s playbook, who might have stole the play from British PM Robert Walpole.

Aside from trade policy,  it would seem,  a key reason, that the South remained behind the North in development was because of the political strangle hold the old planter class exercised over the South, after the Civil War ended. They seemingly were not that into investing in public infrastructure nor making public investments in human capital.  I assume, not unreasonably, I think, had the South won the Civil War, the planter class would have remained dominant in Southern politics at least for a few generations, likely well into the 20th Century.

As for as the South becoming wealthier than or comparable to the North: although in the absence of a transporter malfunction, it's not exactly certain what would have happened in an alternate universe, where Spock might end up sporting a goatee or something,I doubt it. The North had greater industrial capacity, a more diverse and better skilled managerial class, a greater willingness to invest in productivity improving public goods, and a financial system, while not perfect, better geared towards industrial growth.

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5 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Adam Smith advised the United States to do unrestricted free trade. If you believed the right road for the US to go down was that of industrialization, then likely Hamilton was right to ignore Smith's advice. It would be hard to imagine American industry taking off, if it had to compete against British or European manufacturers. In short, I believe the infant industry argument does have merit, though longer term I do believe that free trade is likely to have productivity improving enhancements.

I think that made sense when Hamilton was alive, certainly.   

However, I think once you have railways and begin to open up the west American industrial expansion likely did not depend on sheltering behind tariffs all that much.

Free trade with Europe might have been better for the south. 

11 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

Aside from trade policy,  it would seem,  a key reason, that the South remained behind the North in development was because of the political strangle hold the old planter class exercised over the South, after the Civil War ended. They seemingly were not that into investing in public infrastructure nor making public investments in human capital.  I assume, not unreasonably, I think, had the South won the Civil War, the planter class would have remained dominant in Southern politics at least for a few generations, likely well into the 20th Century.

Didn't they have a lot of success in preserving their position anyway though?

12 minutes ago, OldGimletEye said:

As for as the South becoming wealthier than or comparable to the North: although in the absence of a transporter malfunction, it's not exactly certain what would have happened in an alternate universe, where Spock might end up sporting a goatee or something,I doubt it. The North had greater industrial capacity, a more diverse and better skilled managerial class, a greater willingness to invest in productivity improving public goods, and a financial system, while not perfect, better geared towards industrial growth.

 I didn't mean that: I meant that the north might be poorer in the alternative timeline than it was in ours, not that it would be poorer than the south. 

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On 7/25/2017 at 8:17 AM, Chaircat Meow said:

I think that made sense when Hamilton was alive, certainly.   

However, I think once you have railways and begin to open up the west American industrial expansion likely did not depend on sheltering behind tariffs all that much.

I agree that once the United States established itself as a manufacturing power, tariffs weren’t as nearly important. And that they were  maintained for too long.

But, in the beginning, they were probably certainly needed. I think the South would have needed them for at least a few or couple generations if it ever hoped to develop into an industrial power. And that wouldn’t have likely happened.
 

On 7/25/2017 at 8:17 AM, Chaircat Meow said:

Free trade with Europe might have been better for the south. 

It certainly would have been good for the planters. But, not for a budding Southern industry, I don't think.

On 7/25/2017 at 8:17 AM, Chaircat Meow said:

Didn't they have a lot of success in preserving their position anyway though?

Yes they did to a large extent. To the detriment of the South.

On 7/25/2017 at 8:17 AM, Chaircat Meow said:

I didn't mean that: I meant that the north might be poorer in the alternative timeline than it was in ours, not that it would be poorer than the south. 

The North might have been poorer had the South won. But, the North still would have been a rather large country, with plenty of resources. So I think it is likely it would have developed into a fairly wealthy country.

The South, though, probably would have become a backwater.

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As a reminder another big reason why industrialization was slow to take off in South that should not go unstated was geographic: sweltering summers without air conditioning. The introduction of air conditioning in the South had significant effects. It reduced heat-related deaths in the South, which also enabled greater population growth and sustainability. Air conditiong also triggered the changes in architecture that were more conducive to urbanization, businesses, and industries. You can work in factories in the summer without it turning into an absolute furnace. It contributed to the end of the "front porch" lifestyle of the South.

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Well, this is interesting:

http://deadline.com/2017/08/black-america-amazon-alt-history-drama-will-packer-aaron-mcgruder-envisions-post-reparations-america-1202139504/

The Confederate announcement led Amazon to reveal that a show they've been working on for over a year... is also an alternate history related to the Civil War and its result, but in this case it's one where the North won... and after the Reconstruction, ceded three southern states to the former slaves. 

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

Well, this is interesting:

http://deadline.com/2017/08/black-america-amazon-alt-history-drama-will-packer-aaron-mcgruder-envisions-post-reparations-america-1202139504/

The Confederate announcement led Amazon to reveal that a show they've been working on for over a year... is also an alternate history related to the Civil War and its result, but in this case it's one where the North won... and after the Reconstruction, ceded three southern states to the former slaves. 

Now that sounds fascinating. 

 

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Posted (edited)

 So the North sacrificed hundreds of thousands of men to prevent secession, then ceded 3 states to the freed slaves? That sounds more like Sci-fi than Alt History.

 

 

/That said, the premise does seem more interesting than the HBO thing.

Edited by Manhole Eunuchsbane

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18 minutes ago, Manhole Eunuchsbane said:

 So the North sacrificed hundreds of thousands of men to prevent secession, then ceded 3 states to the freed slaves? That sounds more like Sci-fi than Alt History.

 

 

/That said, the premise does seem more interesting than the HBO thing.

Kinda? Liberia, after all, was a US plan to give the AA population their own homeland, and that happened 40 years before the civil war. 

And if you look at the reconstruction timeline, it's not that weird. You can see it as an answer to not fighting another civil war or having a longer reconstruction. With Lincoln's assassination and the very expensive war and reconstruction, it's not that insane - or at least, it's about as insane as thinking that the South could actually fight the North to enough of a standstill and keep their government. 

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Why don't they just do a series on modern day slavery without creating an alternate reality? There's possibly up to 46 million people living in slavery today. By some estimates there are still 60,000 people in the USA living in slavery, thousands in the UK and Canada and across Europe.

Why not tell that story?

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Posted (edited)

I'd definitely check out Black America.  Already sounds super intriguing.  

Wonder if D&D are shitting their pants.

4 minutes ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Why don't they just do a series on modern day slavery without creating an alternate reality? There's possibly up to 46 million people living in slavery today. By some estimates there are still 60,000 people in the USA living in slavery, thousands in the UK and Canada and across Europe.

Why not tell that story?

I'd really like to see this story as well.  I imagine reality would probably be too hard to watch for most viewers, though.

Edited by Dr. Pepper

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1 hour ago, The Anti-Targ said:

Why don't they just do a series on modern day slavery without creating an alternate reality? There's possibly up to 46 million people living in slavery today. By some estimates there are still 60,000 people in the USA living in slavery, thousands in the UK and Canada and across Europe.

Why not tell that story?

Cause the viewers just wanna see Amurica.

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1 hour ago, Kalbear said:

Kinda? Liberia, after all, was a US plan to give the AA population their own homeland, and that happened 40 years before the civil war. 

And if you look at the reconstruction timeline, it's not that weird. You can see it as an answer to not fighting another civil war or having a longer reconstruction. With Lincoln's assassination and the very expensive war and reconstruction, it's not that insane - or at least, it's about as insane as thinking that the South could actually fight the North to enough of a standstill and keep their government. 

Yeah I suppose the premise could be made plausible with the right angle. It's a more interesting one than Confederacy in any case.

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Every time Star Trek gets a series, which is frequently, their future spaceships find a way back to the Nazis, which is incredibly unlikely to even happen twice let alone 5 times.   Because they liked asking What If on those shows.  Primarily, "What If Nazis?"   

Well i hope this helped.   Also, I noticed the Dreamwalker youth fiction series by C.S. Friedman recently featured a strange alternate reality South like this.  And that included the even dicier magical uplifting of Lucy type missing link primates to serve as a sentient underclass too, and their mistreatment.   In hindsight, yikes, that was taking some chances, but mostly when you read a book you just think of it as another wacky universe and if it's weird and uncomfortable with thought provoking tension that means the author did their job?   She explored the horror of the situation through the eyes of a multi ethnic group of teens from Earth who were wondering why this other world had tried to assassinate them in ours .   Didn't ever feel like that world was being glorified or recommended.

I guess there's only a few really big impact events in history to easily focus your alternate reality TV show on, and one is the civil war.   Sometimes I wonder what the USA might have been today if the drug culture never caught on in the 60's and the counter- culture didn't become a tradition of reduced effectiveness that's leaning heavily toward socialism and away from....being better than socialism.  Or lately, I wonder what Turkey would have been today if all the non- Muslim residents were still alive to be part of it.  That might be a fun alternate reality to foist upon that coup- surviving president of theirs.   Or what if the big hair of the 80s had never gone out of style on Earth 2?   

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13 hours ago, Dr. Pepper said:

I'd definitely check out Black America.  Already sounds super intriguing.  

Wonder if D&D are shitting their pants.

Considering the usual cultural impact (and presumed viewership) of flagship HBO shows vs. flagship Amazon TV shows; if anything I think Amazon is the one "shitting their pants." 

And this unexpected announcement is likely far ahead of schedule and in response to HBO already starting to suck up all the oxygen for this kind of show.

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19 hours ago, Ran said:

Well, this is interesting:

http://deadline.com/2017/08/black-america-amazon-alt-history-drama-will-packer-aaron-mcgruder-envisions-post-reparations-america-1202139504/

The Confederate announcement led Amazon to reveal that a show they've been working on for over a year... is also an alternate history related to the Civil War and its result, but in this case it's one where the North won... and after the Reconstruction, ceded three southern states to the former slaves. 

I can see why they've decided to bring it up. Nothing like cashing in on some negative publicity from another show.

It does seem to at least offer a less predictable path than "confederate" and at least doesn't have to focus on slavery. If anything the scenario in the amazon show would be really interesting to see how such a country would work alongside the remainder of the US.

To be honest if no-one has snapped up the rights to the "East of West" comic, they're missing a trick. The comic is essentially about North America split into several nations; native american, african american, chinese american. What's so cool about this premise is that it recognizes that the USA is a melting point of several cultures not just one - that and no given nation is superior to the other. The other advantage is that it focuses more on an apocalypse with weird SF/magic and political intrigue. For networks wanting to capture a GOT audience with some alt history they really need look no further than this comic series.

here's a synopsis from wiki

"East of West is set in a dystopian future of the present-day United States. In this timeline, the Civil War never ended and there was almost eternal strife between the Union, the Confederacy, an African American kingdom, a Native American technocracy, Chinese exiles, and Texan separatists. This strife comes to a sudden halt when a comet hits present-day Kansas on November 9, 1908. The six warring parties meet at Armistice- the location of the comet's impact- and make a truce, thereby forming "the Seven Nations of America": Armistice, The Union, The Confederacy, the Kingdom, the Endless Nation, the Republic of Texas, and the PRA of Mao"

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