Libertarians and the Civil War

WaPo examines the different ways libertarians interpret the Civil War, from those who embrace neo-Confederate ideology to those who are embarrassed by it.

My main complaint with neo-Confederate libertarians who vent their rage on the Lincoln administration is their failure to follow through on their arguments.  Sure, the Union government became more centralized and invasive in order to fight the war, but so did the Confederate government.  Governments usually become more centralized and invasive in wartime as a matter of course, simply because a war requires nations to marshal their resources and suppress dissent more effectively than in peacetime.  That was the case for the Union, and it was certainly the case for the Confederacy.

And if you’ve got philosophical problems with the Union’s attempt to block secession, shouldn’t you support independence for Unionist majorities in East Tennessee who tried to stay out of the Confederacy?

I’m uncomfortable with any attempts to moralize history by trying to identify who was on its right side and wrong side, but if you’re going to go down that road, at least be consistent about it.



Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

4 responses to “Libertarians and the Civil War

  1. Michael, have you read Jason Kuznicki’s piece over at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen on Rand Paul and Jack Hunter?

    • Michael Lynch

      I hadn’t seen that piece. Thanks for passing it along. I had read a few other articles on the Rand Paul thing, though, and I have to wonder how in the world he thought any kind of professional association with that guy was a good idea. Anybody who worked in politics had to know there’d be fallout.

      • I think both Pauls, father and son, have surrounded themselves with folks who hold those views for a long time. One of Ron Paul’s longest close political affiliations, spanning four decades, is with Lew Rockwell.

  2. Jimmy Dick

    Libertarian like to place blame for massive change on four presidents: Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, and LBJ. They ignore the fact that these four were presidents during major wars which were the catalysts for the changes. The neo-confederates make the biggest error of them all because had it not been for the attempted secession of the southern states, Lincoln would not have made all the changes that were made because they would not have been necessary.
    In short, the real fault for the changes that took place lay with the secessionists, not Lincoln. I’m pretty sure you won’t see them placing the blame on those people because that doesn’t fit with the victimization of the South theory they keep trying to pass off.

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