The Confederates are not our models!

A long-time reader sent me a comment ending with the point that what I say about counterrevolution is true today, but was also true as far back as 1861.

I wrote back to him:

As you should know, I’m not going to post a comment supporting the Southern secessionists, whose grounds for secession were: the lawful election to the presidency of a man they didn’t like, and the lawful act of the United States in maintaining control of a federal fort.

The Southern Secession was a bad cause, one of the worst that ever was, as Grant put it in his moving account of the surrender at Appomattox. Anyone who tries to advance or justify our opposition to a lawless federal government by linking it to that bad cause, is needlessly tainting and dragging down our just and righteous cause.

UPDATE, July 3:

A couple of readers have disagreed with my criticisms of the Southern Secession. This subject has been debated exhaustively at VFR in the past and there is no need to revisit it. Those who are interested can read those past discussions (linked below), in which I demonstrate conclusively the ridiculous falsity of various pro-secessionist arguments, such as that the reason for the secession was not the slavery issue but the tariff, or that the secessionists were behaving no differently than the American patriots of 1776. A cause which relies on such absurd and transparent falsehoods, including the myth of total Southern innocence and total Northern wickedness, is not worthy of intellectual respect. But the sad fact is that anyone who supports the secessionist side automatically ends up subscribing to and defending at all costs those falsehoods, a commitment that consigns the paleocon and neo-confederate right to perpetual idiocy, not to mention resentful victimology. Which is why I believe that any possible future move by conservatives to secede from Leftist America should not appeal to, or identify itself in any way with, the bad and doomed cause of the Confederacy.

My remarks should not be taken as hostility to the Old South. As I have said many times, the destruction of the unique civilization of the American South was a terrible tragedy. But the fact is that it was the Southerners who, through their fanatical wrongheadedness, brought that tragedy on themselves.

A year and a half ago I read Gone with the Wind for the first time, and I can’t resist pointing out that the novel’s two main male characters, the Southern gentleman and patriot Ashley Wilkes, and the scapegrace Rhett Butler, had the same view that I’ve just stated, that the war was a senseless tragedy that the South inflicted on itself.

Below are selected VFR entries on the Civil War:


My thoughts on Lincoln [Includes a long exchange between Jim Kalb and me on the legitimacy of secession.]

Must Southern partisans condemn the immorality of slavery?

The True Cause of the Civil War: Moral Libertarianism [This, as I remember, was VFR’s biggest thread on the Civil War.]

Washington on the meaning of the national union

Sobran joins the Rothbardians

McConnell and Buchanan versus the “War Party”[I connect the antiwar right and the neo-Confederates, showing how the same bad reasoning operates in both groups.]

Exchange with a friend on the anti-war right [My critique of a William Lind article. A paleocon accuses me of using neocon tactics and I reply. Followed by a great blog discussion.]

Spengler’s appalling ignorance, clunky historical analogies, and leftist assumptions [Exciting discussion on Civil War with Mencius Moldbug and others.]

- end of initial entry -

July 3

David B. writes:

As a Tennessean whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, I agree with Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler “that the war was a senseless tragedy that the South inflicted on itself.” Furthermore, I see the Southern slaveowners as similar to today’s big business cheap labor lobby.

Tennessee, by the way, was the last state to secede and the first to reenter the Union. Before 1861, Tennesseans were the most pro-Union people in the United States, and were again after 1865. This was from the Andrew Jackson influence, under whom my ancestors also fought. Tennessee’s nickname, “The Volunteer State,” appliedgoes back to 1812.

The last time I visited the Shiloh battlefield (my great-grandfather was there with the 23rd Confederate Infantry), I learned something I hadn’t known before. The Wisconsin regiments who made up a good part of Grant’s army were largely Germans, many of whom didn’t speak English. I wonder what the Tennesseans thought about fighting men in their home state who spoke German?

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 02, 2012 07:10 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):