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The Confederate States of America

I watched this movie last night on DVD. An interesting premise that I have seen explored in novels, primarily Harry Turtledove, that is--what if the South won the Civil War? The movie was presented as a BBS (British Broadcasting Service) documentary on the history of the CSA up to some point in the 1990s. The doc is framed as a TV show including commercials that reflect a society that hates Africans and still practices the enslavement of them with the benefit of a mass media.

Again, interesting, but some flawed premises, I believe. First off, speakers in CSA admit that chattel slavery had become uneconomic by the 20th century. Well, the point of slavery in America in the first place was based on economic reasons. If money couldn't be made from it, then it would have died out on its own, or been practiced by only the very richest of society, excluding many of the planter class who owned 20 or less slaves.

Another misconstrued point by the filmakers was the idea that the CSA annexed the USA shortly after the war. The CSA was very insular, they wanted to be left alone to practice their "peculiar institution." I don't believe if they had won the war that they would have moved to annexation, at least not the U.S. Latin America, perhaps, the idea of which was floated around in the 1850s, and at least one recorded attempt at a coup by the slaveocracy, but nothing north of the Mason-Dixon. Lest we forget, the South was severly outnumbered too, during the course of the war.

Lastly, some 20 years after the war (it ended in 1864 in the movie), Southerners decided to open up slavery to the entire country, which, seems to have been successful. The idea was that every American should have at least one "darky." The reality is while America of the 1860s was racist, the majority were against slavery. I don't think that forcibly promoting slavery would have worked for the vast number of Americans.

As a thougt experiment, the movie succeeds; as a piece of drama--ehhh, it was so-so.

And yes, I relish the period of American history from 1830-1877 (the rise of Abolitionism to the end of Reconstruction).


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