04 Oct 2014

McCarthy on Secession

Foreign Policy 17 Comments

Dan keeps surprising me. Here’s his article responding to libertarians who had hoped Scotland would secede. I have neither the time nor the knowledge of history to do anything more than drop my jaw at this line: “Successful Southern secession would have entailed results even more illiberal than the outbreak of the Civil War, which is saying a lot.”

17 Responses to “McCarthy on Secession”

  1. K.P. says:

    I wish he’d show the “liberal” yard stick comparing half a million dead with to the possible expansion of slavery. (To some countries that already had slavery no less)

  2. S.C. says:

    I’m really tempted to comment, but I should probably keep my trap shut.

    • Major.Freedom says:

      Say the argument you wanted to say, but do so like you would at the dinner table with your family and friends sitting there, and some of them brought young children.

  3. Corey A. Hendon says:

    First, Dr. Murphy, I hope that I correctly infer that you disagree with McCarthy.

    Second, he assumes hegemony as obviously necessary, stating the following:

    “Small states such as Monaco, San Marino, Belgium, and Switzerland have derived their security from a balance of power in Europe underwritten by Britain or the United States. None of them alone, or even in concert with one another, could prevail against a Revolutionary France or Nazi Germany.”

    From some graduate research into Switzerland, I learned that actually the Swiss appointed a military commander (a re-google quickly reminds this is General Guisan) who publicized a defense plan that involved decamping to the mountains. How did the USSR do against the Afghanis in the mountains? How’s Karzai’s fledgling democracy working? Hitler was faced with the prospect of sending the Wehrmacht to take heavy casualties fighting other ethnic Germans demonstrating homeland resolve, or let the Swiss continue being their banker and focus on the USSR & the U.K. It chose accordingly.

    Further, how did the Swiss remain independent for almost all of their history (excluding the interruptus Bonapartus), even before there was a U.S. to “underwrite” their freedom? England protected the early mountain cantons from a reasserted Imperial dictator? No.

  4. Major.Freedom says:

    That’s right folks, war, which is murder and destruction on the largest scale possible for mankind, is not the most illiberal thing possible.

    Violating the duty of romanticizing political collectivism is far more egregious.

  5. Josiah says:

    That sounds about right. The Confederacy did more to restrict civil liberties during the war than the Union even not counting the whole keeping millions in bondage thing. And given the course of the 20th Century, a Confederate nation could easily ended up as a horror show.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Josiah wroteL

      That sounds about right. The Confederacy did more to restrict civil liberties during the war than the Union

      No Josiah, you’re supposed to be showing how the Civil War *helped* civil liberties. You don’t do that by pointing out the awful things both sides did during the war.

      Could Japanese bloggers nowadays say, “Well, we can try to second-guess our grandparents, but if they hadn’t slowed the Americans down by attacking Pearl Harbor, can you imagine how much sooner the USG would have interred Japanese?”

      • Josiah says:

        No Josiah, you’re supposed to be showing how the Civil War *helped* civil liberties.

        Is that what McCarthy said? It seems to me he said just the opposite.

    • K.P. says:

      Is it right to measure a nation during wartime, wartime for it’s very existence, no less?

      What could have happened in the 20th century is hopeless speculation. Authors have gone so far to say that if the Confederacy was allowed to be, then they would have quickly intervened on Great Britain’s behalf in WWI and therefore have ended it quickly and decisively. That is, the course of the 20th century isn’t something that can be given.

      • dave s says:

        K.P. What is meant here by “existence”? It’s written almost as if you think we would have all died instantly if there had been a north and south as separate entities. I’ve never understood this argument.

        • K.P. says:

          Was the Confederacy not fighting for it’s existence?

    • dave s says:

      * suspension of habeas corpus
      * locking up 15,000 “dissenters”
      * upheld fugitive slave laws
      * Sherman’s march (with further implications for American Indians)
      * began acts of war without congressional approval
      * Military tribunals
      * Lincoln’s plans for colonization of slaves (there’s some liberty for you)
      * Lincoln’s plans for an amendment which would have constitutionally legalized slavery
      * Adding America to the list of one other country in the world who fought a war over slavery (if you buy that as being the reason for the war)

      Yea, both sides did some of these things. I’m just not sure how you arrive at “confederacy did more”.

      Even historians who are apparently pro-lincoln admit to the trends started by Lincoln:
      Historian Don E. Fehrenbacher “Although Lincoln, in a general sense, proved to be right, the history of the United States in the twentieth century suggests that he brushed aside too lightly the problem of the example that he might be setting for future presidents”

      As far as your “even not counting the whole keeping millions in bondage thing” don’t forget to thank Abe for aiding and abetting in that.

      Also, what is mean by “confederate nation”? Who was seceding and who was conquering here?

      Wait, your saying the 20th century wasn’t a horror show? How many millions would need to be killed by governments and war for you to classify that century as a horror show?

  6. Bob Roddis says:

    If the north hadn’t been swarming with virulent racists, it could have acted as a beacon of freedom to the runaway slaves and as an example for non-slaveholding southerners and the entire world. War was unnecessary.

    I suspect that the real reason for the continued support for the northern invasion is support for the 1857 Oregon constitution. What else could it be?


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