Response to Tom Cotton’s Statement That Slavery Was a “Necessary Evil”



From a member of the National Revolution Tour:

Republican Senator from Arkansas Tom Cotton has been attacking the 1619 project from the New York Times, which unearths and exposes a lot of historical truth about this country and its roots in slavery. And now he’s actually trying to pass a law to prevent this history from being taught in the schools.

As part of this, listen to what Tom Cotton just said in an interview: “We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction.”

First of all, slavery was not “on a course to its own extinction.” It was actually expanding, and more profitable than ever in the period leading up to the Civil War. It had to be violently defeated.

And wait a minute, did Tom Cotton really just say that slavery was a NECESSARY EVIL on which the union was built?!

Let’s break this down. Tom Cotton is right that “the union” was built on slavery.

The uniting of the “United States” was accomplished through the “compromise,” written into the founding Constitution, that institutionalized slavery; and for generations slave labor produced a great part of the wealth of this country.

As I said in BAsics 1:1: “There would be no United States as we now know it today without slavery. That is a simple and basic truth.” (Bob Avakian, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution)

But there was nothing “necessary” about it. Bob Avakian spoke to this in his book Breakthroughs:

It is often argued, by way of rationalizing all this, that if such a compromise had not been made, then it would not have been possible to unite the colonies into a single country with a single government. But here the question arises, the mere posing of which should strongly suggest the answer: Why was it necessary, and in what way is it justified, to found a country on the basis of institutionalizing slavery and the attendant atrocities—why would it not have been far better to refuse to found a country on that basis?1

The fact that there are white supremacist fascists like Tom Cotton in key positions of power now who openly justify slavery in this way, and, as Bob Avakian wrote,

[T]he fact is that no major politician and no other significant representative of this ruling class will, or can, denounce this country, since its very founding, and denounce its “founders,” in the terms in which they deserve to be denounced: monstrously criminal... that gets to the very core of what this system is all about and why there is a great need to put an end to this system at the earliest possible time, and replace it with a system that has no need, no place, and no apology for slavery in any form.2


1. Bob Avakian, BREAKTHROUGHS: The Historic Breakthrough by Marx, and the Further Breakthrough with the New Communism. A Basic Summary [back]

2. Bob Avakian, “On ‘Principled Compromises,’ and Other Crimes Against Humanity” [back]

Response to Tom Cotton's comment that slavery was a "necessary evil"



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