Sunday, June 16, 2013

Jonathan Blanks - Why “Libertarian” Defenses of the Confederacy and “States’ Rights” are Incoherent

There is a strain of libertarian contrarianism that holds that the Confederate States of America were within their “rights” to secede from the Union. Such contrarianism on this particular topic is detrimental to the larger cause of liberty because the logic of this argument relies upon relinquishing individual rights to the whim of the state. Indeed, as there is no legal or moral justification for supporting the Confederacy in the Civil War, it is impossible that there could be a libertarian one.

 The legal argument against secession is straight-forward. Beyond the simple fact that most countries don’t provide for their own dissolution at the outset, the Constitution is not silent on the use of force by the federal government. Article I Section 8 clearly grants Congress the power to put down insurrections, as the South was well aware. As recently as 1859, that power had been used by then-Union colonel Robert E. Lee to put down John Brown’s mindless and bloody raid on Harpers Ferry.

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1 comment:

  1. Aside from the notion that the entire Southern Confederacy was built on the defense of involuntary servitude as an ongoing institution, I don't get this strain of Libertarianism.

    In all likelihood, it's a grudge that a lot of libertarians hold against Lincoln for expanding the size and scope of Federal Power to actually wage war against the South. The Federal Government's enumerated powers before the war were the same as those after, but citizens' and politicians' understanding of those powers had changed.

    What Lincoln wrought, though necessary to unchain the slaves and banish slavery, made it possible for FDR to unleash the New Deal three generations later. So you can see the resentment a lot of libertarian thinkers have towards Lincoln even though they trip up on the whole notion of the South's original sin against libertarianism by the maintenance of the "peculiar institution".

    Again and again, libertarians get tripped up by the Left on this one point. Stupid is as stupid does.