History

Meanwhile over at Lew Rockwell, an Anti-Confederate Defense of Contemporary Secession…

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Over at lewrockwell.com, historian Jonathan Kolkey, who runs The World Wide War Project (which argues that leaders have started all wars for "purely cynical self-serving motives designed to enhance their own political fortunes"), makes a call for secession.

No surprise there, as one gathers that talk of disuniting the so-called nation has long been a favorite topic at the barber shops in and around Auburn. What is surprising, given the venue, are Kolkey's comments regarding the last great secession in U.S. history:

If you personally sport Dixie roots, don't hesitate to apologize for your slaveholding ancestors. Just because they were dead wrong on slavery doesn't morally compromise you today. Everybody is born with a clean slate – historically speaking. So make sure to distance yourself from the South's allegedly heroic "Lost Cause." And speaking of Calhoun and other Southern "statesman," stop pretending that their high-sounding constitutional doctrines were anything more than an opportunistic fig leaf designed to cover the abominable institution of slavery. Acknowledge that the Southern regimes were basically "illegitimate" and embrace the stark conclusion of Wendell Phillips, the North's foremost Abolitionist, that the Southern system resembled a "pirate ship."

Again, at the risk of repeating myself, the object is peaceful Secession, not a violent showdown like that engulfing Russian Chechnya or Eritrea today. And efforts directed to rehabilitating the South's slaveowning crew will only muck up the process.

Furthermore, stop claiming that by the 1850s the South was headed towards emancipation. For any society that could produce and embrace a writer like the Virginian George Fitzhugh – the man who seriously argued that slavery was such a fantastic institution that the poor Whites should also be enslaved, thus enjoying its evident benefits! – was hardly headed for speedy emancipation. And accept that all pre-Civil War talk of abolishing slavery was invariably coupled with ambitious plans to deport the newly freed Blacks back to Africa or wherever. Full citizenship was never deemed a viable option. And face the fact that as late as 1938, Mississippi Senator Theodore Bilbo introduced legislation designed to facilitate the colonization of American Blacks back to Africa.

Whole thing here.

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  1. Succession is lunacy. But at least this guy admits the obvious that the antebellum South was loathsome.

    1. Yeah, which is why Im proud to be a member of the United Kingdom.

        1. He means that the Colonies, in effect, seceded from English rule.

          1. And the UK never facilitated the slave trade.

            1. And if it wasn’t for those pesky teabaggers, we’d have universal health care by now.

            2. Nope, we invented slavery.

              1. “records show is that the modern slave trade flourished in the early middle ages, as early as 869”

                1. We did invent the credit card, so you could say we perfected slavery.

            3. And of course neither did the American North. Everyone facilitated the slave trade. The difference is that everyone but the South figured out it was evil and wrong by the middle of the 19th Century.

              The British Navy did more to stop the slave trade than any other institution, once it got on the right side.

              1. “The difference is that everyone but the South figured out it was evil and wrong by the middle of the 19th Century.”

                Brazil

          2. He means that the Colonies, in effect, seceded from English rule.

            In effect?

            No qualifiers were needed.

            1. Just meant that the break was from a less well-defined relationship than states taking a break from the union.

    2. Secession is the natural response to an overweening federal government. Decentralization and local power is essential to freedom. How do you get that in a country of 300 plus million people? A loose North American confederation of maybe 30 – 40 political entities all basically sharing the same values but free to experiment would be a great advance in human freedom, even if it’s only a pipe dream. We’re probably headed, in reality, for even more centralization.

      1. Or we could try a decentralized federation, of, say, 50 political entities…

    3. Re: John,

      S[e]ccession is lunacy.

      Which is why everybody has to shoot their way out of clubs and other organizations – secession is lunacy!

      Next, John will explain why it was lunacy for Tejas to secede from Mexico . . .

      1. Yes Old Mexican, lets have a civil war. What could possibly go wrong?

        1. 1.)Secession doesn’t equate to war.

          2.)A civil war is two entities fighting for control over a government; the American Civil War was not a civil war.

          3.)Our forefathers seceded from their mother country, should we not have fought the American Revolutionary War?

          4.)Don’t get me wrong, I’m a peacenik. I would avoid war at all costs, but there is nothing wrong with peaceful civil disobedience and secession.

        2. Re: John,

          Yes Old Mexican, lets have a civil war. What could possibly go wrong?

          Secession means having a war between two or more factions that want to overtake the government?

          Or, what did you think that Civil War meant? Because the War of Southern Independence was certainly not a civil war.

  2. “Raaaaacist!!”

  3. Oh, you wacky southerners with your crazy past. It’s been 145 years. Can we just drop it at this point? It’s a little tribal, frankly.

    1. THE SOUTH WILL RISE AGAIN!!!

      (This coming from a half juero in New Mexico like me doesn’t seem to ring right.)

    2. Sure, no problem. We are content to just take all your manufacturing jobs (Thanks UAW!) and watch your northern cities decay into hollowed-out husks.

      1. And there’s the tribalism. It’s kind of fucked up watching people who are otherwise individualist libertarians go into “south vs north” mode; can’t really get much more collectivist than that.

        Sure, take “our” (I don’t even know what that means) jobs and watch “our” northern cities decay.

        Lose the south vs north shit, people. It’s fucking obnoxious.

        1. Indeed. Join the pizza schism instead.

          1. SPLITTERS

          2. But pineapple is good on pizza! Really!

              1. Perhaps Pizza unity is possible as we who prefer something identifiable as pizza can destroy, well, California.

          3. HA ha ha ha ha ha ha. AH Hah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

            Heh… heh.

            1. Baked early today, BP?

        2. Fine words, coming from somebody who started a thread by saying “Oh you wacky southerners…”. Project much?

          1. Get the point much? I was able to instantly provoke you to tribalism with a simple sentence. Maybe you should analyze your immediate, hostile reaction instead of trying to pin this back on me.

            1. That was your deliberate intent? Sure it was. Keep digging.

  4. I’m occasionally surprised that the victorious side has had such success painting the war as a moral battle, while doing such an incomplete job of destroying evidence to the contrary. If the north truly cared to abolish slavery how could Lincoln have promised to introduce a constitutional ammendment protecting it if only southern states would remain in the union? If the primary goal of southern states was to preserve slavery, why not accept the deal? Shouldn’t all records pertaining to such inconsistencies have been eliminated? Is it laziness? apathy? Or is it really so easy to convince a population to believe whatever is convenient?

    Perhaps I expect too much.

    1. Why don’t you check out the secession speeches and declarations in the various state houses in 1860 and see for yourself how slavery was on the forefront of the mind of the Southern politician.

      1. Not saying it wasn’t an issue. Obviously the sudden abolition of slavery would be devastating to the southern economy at the very least. (not to mention potential social disruption) But how could it be THE issue, when the southern states ultimately chose to go to war rather than negotiate for it? If slavery was THE issue, both sides were acting against their own interests. If I’m willing to risk losing something I already have, then it means I’m after something else that I value even more.

      2. Then, read the Emancipation Proclamation and see what it meant to the quintessential northern politician. Anti-slavery posturing on the part of the north was clearly nothing more than a very cynical method for lending that useful moral tinge to the war, and a downright insult to the intelligence of true abolitionists. My personal take-away: there are very few philosophical heroes to be found in that story.

        Interestingly, when my state, Minnesota, joined the union in 1858, this was one of the comments of the NTY writer who reported on it:

        “New States slide into the Union unperceived, and become at once members of the Confederacy without causing the least excitement, but let one attempt to stop out and the whole Union would be convulsed from centre to circumference.”

      3. Have you ever read the Emancipation Proclamation? It pretty much only frees slaves in the Confederacy–in other words, only in states the federal government, at the time, had no power over.

    2. If the north truly cared to abolish slavery how could Lincoln have promised to introduce a constitutional ammendment protecting it if only southern states would remain in the union?

      Lincoln’s goal at the beginning was to preserve the Union. The war only became about slavery (from the North’s POV) after the North needed to galvanize public support for the war.

      If the primary goal of southern states was to preserve slavery, why not accept the deal?

      Southern states didn’t just want to keep their slaves, they wanted slavery expanded into the Western territories.

      1. So we agree that with respect to the north, the issue of slavery was not the ultimate end, but a means used towards another end, namely preserving the union?

        For the south, why worry about spreading one of your traits to new states? An obvious answer is political power. Whether slavery spread to new states or not would have no direct impact on the south if an ammendment already protected it. It would effect the south in other ways though. Slaveless states in the west would have more in common with northern states. So the spread of slavery is a means towards political power, but it isn’t the end itself.

        I’ll grant at least that if the southern states really DID believe slavery was morally more than just acceptable and should be spread, by force if necessary, it would explain going to war. Thanks for that. For some reason I rarely get a response that actually answers the questions I pose.

      2. The Southern states didn’t just want to keep their slaves and expand slavery into the Western territories, they also wanted to conquer Mexico and much of Latin America and impose slavery there.

        The fact is that even if there had been an Administration willing to compromise and permit secession, the South was so intransigent over slavery that it is quite likely that bloodshed on levels approaching the Civil War was going to happen anyway.

        1. Re: Isaac Bartram,

          The Southern states didn’t just want to keep their slaves and expand slavery into the Western territories, they also wanted to conquer Mexico and much of Latin America and impose slavery there.

          Which is why when immigrant Southeners migrated to Mexico after the war, conquered the country and set up a slavist nation in Mexico . . .

          No, wait . . .

    3. Most people know that it was a lot more complicated than simple pro- and anti- slavery. I think that most just don’t care that much about the politics of the time. The important thing is that the end result was the end of slavery.

  5. The Civil War-era South was about as illiberal as it gets. Still, secession would be the best thing to happen to liberty in this country since its founding.

  6. Libertymike, consider yourself called out.

  7. If you personally sport Dixie roots, don’t hesitate to apologize for your slaveholding ancestors.

    What about those of us with Dixie roots who don’t actually have any slaveholding ancestors?

  8. 1) “Pirate ship” is an insult to pirate ships. They were integrated and democratic.

    2) When Yeltsin was pushing for succession from the USSR, or Commonwealth of Independent States, or whatever, he came to Washington and made some pronouncements from the Lincoln Memorial. I wondered, does Yeltsin get the whole Lincoln-and-seccession thing?

    3) Billboard from south of the Mason Dixon, circa 1973: “Save your Dixie cups: the South shall rise again!”

    1. Re: ChrisH,

      I wondered, {“}does Yeltsin get the whole Lincoln-and-seccession thing?{“}

      He did. After all, Yeltsin was trying to deattach Russia from Marxism, and there was no greater admirer of Lincoln and his murderous rampage than Marx, who wrote a few very flattering letters to the then Tyrant in Chief of the USA.

  9. So Senator Bilbo wasn’t a Garveyite?

    Frodo lives!

  10. Wait- if we secede, how will we get those suckers in Connecticut and New Jersey to pay for our stuff?

    1. The WASPS in Conn./RI and the Guidos in Jersey are suddenly going to stop retiring in Arizona and Florida?

  11. I don’t think any of us can appreciate the extent of irrational behavior, nationalistic b.s., and fear-mongering that possessed Northerners and Southerners by 1860.

    They fired on Ft. Sumter; kill the traitors who have insulted our flag.

    Lincoln and the Black Republicans will turn the nigras loose to murder our men and rape our women.

    But I don’t own slaves (though I, like many other slave-less Southerners, rent them out to help me – sometimes for years at a time.)

  12. While OT, the article went out of its way to point this out:

    historian Jonathan Kolkey, who runs The World Wide War Project (which argues that leaders have started all wars for “purely cynical self-serving motives designed to enhance their own political fortunes”)

    He is being too simplistic; war is also a game. Peasants enjoy playing it when it is called ‘Risk’, where they move little plastic pieces around on a board. Rulers enjoy it on a slightly larger scale, where they move peasants around on the world.

  13. Bottom line:

    -The Deep South states were motivated by slavery when they seceded

    -Some other Southern states seceded once Lincoln’s militia call made clear that the states would have to choose between supporting the North or supporting the Confederacy.

    -Many Southerners – black and white – fought for the North, and many Southerners fought for the Confederacy, including some black people.

    -The North did not get into the war out of a disinterested desire to abolish slavery, although abolition was forced on the North as a war measure after the war turned out to be prolonged (thanks in part to the incompetence of Northern generals, to whom we therefore owe an unacknowledged debt for the end of slavery in the U.S.).

    -The U.S. Civil war was not the only war in which the victor abolished slavery in the conquered territory.

    1. Nuance, deal with it.

      I should add that I’m not in favor of splitting up the U.S. into separate countries. That would simply mean that instead of one country with a bunch of problems, we would be several countries with even more problems.

      1. Which, you know, could try several different solutions.

        Me, I favor splitting the US into 400 million* sovereign countries.

        * = approximate population of the US

        1. Oooh, anarcho-capitalism makes my nipples hard.

      2. Mo countries, mo problems.

  14. Assuming that supporting the South’s right to seceed means automatically condoning slavery is like assuming that the ACLU supports nazism because they believe nazis have the right to free speech.
    Frankly, the fact that unconditional political self determination* is unthinkable in most places suggests were are not nearly as advanced as we would like to think.

    * note for the trolls, I said SELF determination; as in your own self only, not might makes right at an individual level

    1. Its too bad the ACLU doesn’t extend that position to conservative Christians, who you must admit, regardless of your own religious beliefs, are far less threatening than the Illinois Nazis.

  15. This article is essentially a marketing analysis for would-be secessionists – don’t wave Confederate flags, be honest about the failings of the Old South and avoid appearing like you want to fight the Civil War all over again. That will freak people out and make them think “partitionists” are a bunch of wackos, just setting back your cause even further. At least he is up front about the hopelessness of the cause as well as the advice he is giving. (The Lost Cause, perhaps?)
    Unfortunately it ~is~ composed almost entirely of wackos and the thread pretty effectively demonstrates the futility of trying to talk people out of immediately thinking of the Civil War when this concept is discussed.

    1. So your saying the Czechs and Slovaks were acting like a bunch of racist rednecks from the South when they decided to partition Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia?

      1. Yes. That was precisely my point.

  16. “Acknowledge that the Southern regimes were basically “illegitimate” and embrace the stark conclusion of Wendell Phillips, the North’s foremost Abolitionist, that the Southern system resembled a “pirate ship.”

    Wishful thinking.

    The South was legitimate. Legitimacy isn’t all about elections, but you can’t go against a philosophy steeped in majority rule and turn around and call it illegitimate in the eyes of our white ancestors who supported it.

    Having to impose your will on a population that would rather go to war than go along with you–that’s the very definition of “illegitimate”.

    It makes me think of Adenauer’s famous speech at the end of his career, about how Germany wasn’t “defeated” in World War II–it was liberated. …that’s a really nice way to look it, and wouldn’t it be nice if Germans everywhere believed it?

    But it’s just a noble lie. Germany was defeated in World War II, and the Confederacy was quite legitimate among our white ancestors in the South. Really.

    Go tell your noble lies somewhere else. The South, like everyone else, does better when it confronts the truth.

    1. In what sense was the South “steeped in majority rule”? It’s not even clear that a majority of white men favored secession before the start of the war, much less that a majority of adults did.

      What would you call it when less than 60% of the population has to use constant and immediate force to keep the other 40% from leaving, much less voting? Southern governance was an occupation decades before the Civil War began.

      1. Re: Charles,

        In what sense was the South “steeped in majority rule”? It’s not even clear that a majority of white men favored secession before the start of the war, much less that a majority of adults did.

        Which perfectly explains why the South had so much difficulty raising armies and have men fight to the bitter end! Very few adult men and women favored secession!

        No, wait . . .

      2. When he’s talking about people embracing the separatism of their ancestors, he’s not talking about their black ancestors, for goodness’ sake!

        Does the term “Popular Sovereignty” mean anything to you?

        And, again, how do you say the Confederacy was illegitimate among whites, even as they’d rather go to war with the Union? …rather than go along with Union public policy on the issue? That’s just myth-making!

        If “illegitimacy” is defined as requiring force to enforce public policy, then the Union, not the Confederacy, was fundamentally illegitimate among Southern whites. They couldn’t get the South to comply with public policy in any other way except by force!

        I suppose there might be some argument if the Southern Army had only been made up of slave-owning Southerners, but it wasn’t. By 1860, only a small fraction of the white population in the South owned slaves. …and yet the Southern Army had no problem recruiting, at least not at the beginning of the war.

        I don’t think anyone’s suggesting here that blacks should get in touch with their antebellum secessionist roots. That would be ridiculous. If we’re going to talk to white southerners at all, we should be pointing to that fantastic piece Kerry Howley had up months ago, about how minorities might stop seeing the government as a protection against things like racism if there weren’t so many damn racists around?

        : )

  17. WTF? He’s arguing that the North wasn’t the ultimate evil and the South the epitome of the oppressed innocent? How did this crap slip by Lew?

    p.s. In other news, Tom Woods threw a temper tantrum last week because RLC president David Nalle didn’t like DiLorenzo’s book on Lincoln. I’m starting to understand why Auburn is called the Fever Swamp.

    1. Re: Brandybuck,

      In other news, Tom Woods threw a temper tantrum last week because RLC president David Nalle didn’t like DiLorenzo’s book on Lincoln.

      Did he? News to me.

    2. This was also in LewRockwell.com:

      Why not take a moment to reflect on how our presidents have always been men of dubious character? Consider this excerpt from Judge Napolitano’s new book:

      George Washington . . . was a Southern planter who owned and relied on slaves. Washington punished his slaves by whipping or selling them, divided their families so they would work more efficiently, and provided them with as little means as tolerable. He also raffled off the slaves of those bankrupt slaveholders who owed him money. Washington’s most gruesome act as a slave owner came in 1784, five years before he became President of the United States. In that year, Washington hired a dentist to extract nine teeth from the mouths of his slaves, and implant them into his own mouth.

      The book, by the way, is full of this kind of hard-hitting political myth-busting and idol-smashing. It’s a must-read for your friends who are good on some things but can’t quite let go of their statism and politician worship.

      I’m pretty sure more than one court historian will throw REAL fits over this, Brandybuck…

  18. Over at lewrockwell.com, historian Jonathan Kolkey, who runs The World Wide War Project (which argues that leaders have started all wars for “purely cynical self-serving motives designed to enhance their own political fortunes”)[…]

    You make it sound as if this was not true.

  19. I probably lack imagination, but I can’t envision outright secession happening in the U.S. The post-modern way of doing it would be for a region to become autonomous, de facto, while spinning a nice story about how it’s not autonomous at all. “There are those who say we are no longer part of the United States…”

    1. I probably lack imagination, but I can’t envision outright secession happening in the U.S.

      Imagine Great Britain without her empire . . .

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