1. Thoughtcrime and punishment at a Canadian university Lindsay Shepherd, Quillette
  2. The prophet of envy Robert Pogue Harrison, New York Review of Books
  3. Ominous parallels? Stephen Cox, Liberty Unbound
  4. Georges Washington & Marshall: Two studies in virtue David Hein, Modern Age


  1. What do we mean by “meaning”? Scott Sumner, Money Illusion
  2. The Sōseki of Prague Duncan Stuart, 3:AM Magazine
  3. The Civic Sacred Cow Wayland Hunter, Liberty Unbound
  4. The (American) Civil War’s Most Infamous Atrocity Rick Brownell, Historiat

RCH: 10 libertarian thoughts on the (American) Civil War

I went there. I did it. I dropped a doo-doo right in the middle of August, for all the world to see. An excerpt:

5. Shout-outs to Alexis de Tocqueville and Joseph Smith. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote the best book on America, ever. Joseph Smith founded the “American religion” (to quote Leo Tolstoy). Both men also saw that the north-south divide in the United States was bound to lead to future calamity. It wouldn’t be accurate to call their thoughts on the American divide “predictions,” but both men were outsiders in one form or another, and both men have etched their names into history. The French, who had lost Tocqueville just two years prior to the beginning of the Civil War, approach to the American bloodbath was to remain neutral (after consulting with the United Kingdom), and instead invade Mexico. Napoleon III invaded Mexico, in the name of free trade, late in 1861 and established a puppet monarchy, which angered the United States as it violated the Monroe Doctrine. However, there was not much the U.S. could do and Napoleon III did not abandon his puppet until early 1866, when it became apparent which side was victorious in the American Civil War. The French preferred normalized relations with the American republic to a puppet monarch in the Mexican one. The Mormons, for their part, largely sat out the Civil War. Volunteers from Utah helped guard the mail routes from Indian attacks, but other than that, the Mormons, who had not yet been assimilated into American society (indeed, they had only fled from violence in Missouri to Utah a few decades prior to the Civil War), were content to let both sides bleed.

Please, read the rest.

RCH: Terrorism, libertarianism in the mountain west, global gold rushes, and more!

Woah, I’ve been busy.

Somehow, they haven’t canned me over at RealClearHistory yet, so I’mma keep going. Here’s the latest:

Two of those gold rushes are happening right now. Why aren’t they famous in the same way that 19th century gold rushes are? You’ll have to check out the link to find out!

RCH: the Cherokee Nation and the US Civil War

That’s the topic of my Tuesday column over at RealClearHistory. An excerpt:

Ross was critical of the success of the death warrants against the Treaty Party Men, but the most interesting aspect of the two mens’ rivalry was the fact that they used the rule of law to fight their battles. Now, the rule of law in the 19th century meant the use of violence between factions (think here about Tombstone, Ariz., where Wyatt Earp and his friends were U.S. Marshals and the friends of the Clantons were Sheriffs), but there was a belief held at the time that violence could only be used by civilized men if the law was on their side. Ross and Watie were both firm believers in this form of rule of law.

Please, read the rest and share it with your friends.

Confederate Flag Hysteria

So the Stars and Bars is coming down from the South Carolina statehouse to the accompaniment of whooping and hollering by breast-beating politicians. If you have the stomach, you can watch some of it here. Now, sure as clockwork, politicians are tripping all over each other to get on the bandwagon. Flags are coming down all throughout the South. You can no longer buy them on Amazon or at Walmart, although at this writing they’re still seen on eBay. Statues of Confederate heroes are in danger of being ground up for use as concrete aggregate.

What’s the meaning of the Confederate flag, anyway? It depends whom you ask. It means nothing to me. To some white Southerners, it’s a reminder of their brave forbears’ fight for their honor. To many blacks, perhaps most, it’s a symbol of hate. Who’s right? All of the above; none of the above—it’s whatever you want to make of it. What’s disturbing is the widespread ignorance of what the Civil War was about. It was about secession, first and foremost, and only secondarily about slavery. Lincoln freed the slaves as a tactical matter, and only in the re-conquered Southern states, and not until two years into the war. Before the war he made it quite clear that his goal was to preserve the union, and if freeing the slaves would further that goal, he would free them, and if not, not.

It is the height of oversimplification to cast the rebels as bad guys and the yankees as good guys. There were many acts of kindness between whites and blacks on both sides of the line and of course, many atrocities on both sides. This doesn’t justify slavery the least little bit. But the war was the wrong way to end it. If the South had been allowed to go its way, 600,000 lives plus uncounted misery and destruction would have been averted. Slavery would not have lasted much longer in the South for economic and moral reasons. One economic reason is that the best slaves would have escaped to the North where they would no longer fear being deported. The gradual mechanization of farms is another. On the moral front, although ideas moved more slowly in those days, thoughtful Southerners would gradually come to see slavery as abominable and indefensible. (Highly recommended: Jeff Hummel’s groundbreaking revisionist treatment of the war, “Freeing the Slaves, Enslaving Free Men.”)

I take their word for it that blacks see the flag as a symbol of oppression. Given that, I would have to agree with the action in South Carolina notwithstanding the insult to Southern pride. But I’m not so naïve as to believe race relations will improve as a result. In fact, I fear they’ll get worse. If the flag wasn’t a symbol of racial animosity before, it is now. Positions will be hardened. White Southern conservatives, having recently taken a beating on gay marriage, will be further marginalized and polarized. The “progressives,” having smelled blood, will be on the warpath (oops—is that word racially insensitive?). They’ll be out on search-and-destroy missions, hunting down vestiges of Southernism.

My humble suggestion: let’s not get so worked up about symbols, whether they’re flags, crosses, Mohammed cartoons, or even the dollar sign on the last page of Atlas Shrugged.

From the Comments: Red State Blue State Edition

Now that I have a trusty laptop again, I can answer questions and discuss comments a bit more efficiently. Hank Moore asked the following question in response to a link I provided on Left-wing secessionist sentiment:

That California piece was good. What’s your take on the whole red states mooching off the blue states thing? I keep hearing this whenever the secession question comes up. Those few libs who don’t want to confiscate Texas from the Texans say “good riddance, you’re a tax burden anyways!”

It doesn’t quite fit into my version of the conventional wisdom for some reason. [1] Are the blue states paying more than their “fair share” simply because they are underrepresented and thus the fault is the constitution, or [2] is it because they already have large populations they naturally attract big businesses in spite of the fact they aren’t as friendly to free enterprise, and because of this there is more tax revenue to be collected? [3] And then there’s the fact that some red states may in fact still be feeling the effects of being on the losing side of the Civil War (scorched earth warfare, unconditional surrender, reconstruction). These are the three possible explanations that fit with my way of thinking. Maybe its just that I’m cherry-picking “evidence” for a conclusion I’ve already arrived at.

Any thoughts?

All three of Hank’s reasons are good, but I’d like to zoom in on the last one about the Civil War. I think has the gist of why many red states are poorer than blue states, but with a couple of tweaks. Continue reading