Walt Whitman: America's Rudyard Kipling?

Carrol Cox: I think I have mentioned Sartre's "On Genocide" in other posts. His core argument was that the Vietnam War was fought not primarily over Viet Nam but over Latin America, which is and always has been the very core and foundation of U.S. Imperialism. Could it be that [...] wherever U.S. bombers or infantry or CIA spooks go, it is really Latin America which is at stake?

In the sense that when retreat is necessary, the Leviathan will further suck our blood, yes. Latin America has become the mainstay of American imperialism long ago.

It is the prime source of strength for American global domination, the almost uncontestedly American colony.

This became clearly so when by the mid 1960s Britain left the River Plate for good, though it is interesting to note that even in the "New Argentina" created after the 1976 coup, and particularly after the 1989/90 hyperinflations and subsequent passing over of the large state-owned public facilities to foreign hands, the (though not the owners, which are essentially a few American banks) are not American but European. Even in our current shameful shape, it seems that we Argentinians are a hard bone for American capitalists to bite: our sepoys still long for Paris not for New York, Miami is still seen as a kitsch uncouth place not at all like, say, Nice or even Guadeloupe!.

But back to American greed for Latin America, it actually seems to have been the deep desire of their bourgeoisie, even at its best moment. Witness Whitman:

"I remember now,
I resume the overstaid fraction,
The grave of rock multiplies what has been confided to it,
or to any graves,
Corpses rise, gashes heal, fastenings roll from me.

I troop forth replenished with supreme power, one of an
average unending procession,
We walk the roads of the six North Eastern States, and of
Virginia, Wisconsin, Manhattan Island, Philadelphia, New
Orleans, Texas, Charleston, Havana, Mexico"

[Song to Myself: 254, 255]

And, in "By blue Ontario's shore", 40:
"Its ample geography, the sierras, the prairies,
Mississippi, Huron, Colorado, Boston, Toronto [take it,
Canadian list members! NMG], Raleigh, Nashville, Havana,
are you and me,
Its settlements, wars, the organic compact, peace,
Washington, the Federal Constitution, are you and me"

Yes, as he goes on in "A song for occupations", 22:

"We thought our Union grand"

Grand indeed! In "Our old feuillage" he bursts in joy:

"America always!
Always me joined with you, whoever you are!
Always our own feuillage!
Always Florida's green peninsula! Always the priceless
delta of Louisiana! Always the cotton-fields of Alabama and
Texas!
Always California's golden hills and hollows -- and the
Silver mountains of New Mexico! Always
soft-breath'd Cuba!"

Doesn't all this give an unpleasantly greedy ring to his  "Great is the greatest Nation -- the nation of clusters of equal nations." in "Leaves of Grass", 2, 11?

Can Latin Americans disagree with his: "Now Lucifer was not dead -- or if he was, I am his
sorrowful terrible heir" in "Sleep chasings", 44?

And Whitman is the chanter of the common American, the labourer, the democratic. What to expect from the ones who came after him? Did anyone notice this beautiful string of expansionism lying within Walt's poems?

Nestor.