How Oligarchs Hung On after the Civil War: Controlling Free Commoners

Although Lincoln defeated the Southern oligarchy in the Civil War, after the Compromise of 1877, which settled the disputed 1876 Hayes-Tilden presidential election, led to the end of Reconstruction, the oligarchy in the South refused to die, persisting to this day.

When modern Southern oligarchs could no longer use slavery and slave patrols to enforce their social order, they simply turned to debt and the Ku Klux Klan, with a heavy dose of brutal racialized policing thrown in. In the years since the Reagan Revolution, the process has gone nationwide.

First, they constructed an intellectual framework, starting in 1951 with the work of Russell Kirk, to justify ...

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