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Thread: What Lincoln left us...

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    What Lincoln left us...

    The Politics of Lying About History

    by Thomas J. DiLorenzo

    In 1961 Life magazine invited the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren (author of All the King’s Men, and nineteen other novels) to record his thoughts on the meaning of the American “Civil War” on the centennial of that event. Warren responded with a long essay on the “symbolic value of the war” which was eventually published as a small book entitled The Legacy of the Civil War.

    If Robert Penn Warren were to write this book today, he would be loudly condemned as an Enemy of Society (and a “Neo-Confederate”) by all the usual defenders of the central state, from race-hustling “civil rights” activists to beltway “libertarians” and of course, the Lincoln Cult. For example, he wrote (p. 7) that in addition to slavery, there was a “tissue of causes” of the war, including the dispute over the constitutionality of secession, “the mounting Southern debt to the North, economic rivalry, Southern fear of encirclement, Northern ambitions, and cultural collisions . . .”

    There were also economic causes of the war apart from slavery, Robert Penn Warren believed. “The Morrill tariff of 1861 actually preceded the firing on [Fort] Sumter, but it was the mark of Republican victory and an omen of what was to come; and no session of Congress in the next four years failed to raise the tariff.”


    “Even more importantly,” Warren wrote, “came the establishment of a national banking system . . . and the issuing of national greenbacks . . . plus government subsidy [to corporations].” “Hamilton’s dream” of a large national debt was also realized, and “this debt meant a new tax relation of the citizen to the Federal government, including the new income tax” [introduced by the Lincoln administration for the first time].

    “Out of the Civil War came the concept of total war,” i.e., the bombing, plundering, and mass murdering of civilians. In this regard, Warren quotes an 1862 speech by Lincoln in which he said, “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present . . . . As our case is new, we must think anew, and act anew.” That is, “we” must abandon the law of nations with regard to the criminality of waging war on civilians, and “we” must abandon the U.S. Constitution as well, since it is one of the chief “dogmas of the quiet past.”


    A major theme of The Legacy of the Civil War is that the war left the North (which is to say, the U.S. government) with “a treasury of virtue” (p. 54). This is the “psychological heritage” left to the North, and it is an insidious heritage, wrote Robert Penn Warren. “The Northerner, with his Treasury of Virtue, feels redeemed by history . . . . He has in his pocket, not a Papal indulgence peddled by some wandering pardoner of the Middle Ages, but an indulgence, a plenary indulgence, for all sins past, present, and future . . .” (emphasis added).

    Thus, this “treasury of virtue” would become the excuse for why the U.S. government would commence a twenty-five year campaign of extermination against the Plains Indians just three months after Appomattox; shamelessly rob the treasury for the benefit of railroad corporations; plunder the South for a decade after the war under the laughable guise of “reconstruction”; murder more than 200,000 Filipinos who opposed being ruled by the American empire after having escaped from the imperialistic clutches of the Spanish empire; and enter a European war that was none of our business to supposedly “make the world safe for democracy.” It was all done in the name of virtue, freedom, and democracy, or so we are told.

    Robert Penn Warren called this “moral narcissism” (p. 72). It is “a poor basis for national policy,” he wrote, but is the “justification” for “our crusades of 1917–1918 and 1941–1945 and our diplomacy of righteousness, with the slogan of unconditional surrender and universal spiritual rehabilitation for others” (emphasis added).

    Posing as The Most Virtuous Humans to Ever Inhabit the Planet requires that many “facts get forgotten,” wrote Robert Penn Warren. For example:

    [I]t is forgotten that the Republican platform of 1860 pledged protection to the institution of slavery where it existed, and that the Republicans were ready, in 1861, to guarantee slavery in the South, as bait for a return to the Union. It is forgotten that in July, 1861, both houses of Congress, by an almost unanimous vote, affirmed that the War was waged not to interfere with the institutions of any state but only to maintain the Union. It is forgotten that the Emancipation Proclamation . . . was limited and provisional: slavery was to be abolished only in the seceded states and only if they did not return to the Union before the first of the next January (p. 61).

    It must also be forgotten, wrote Warren, that most Northern states “refused to adopt Negro suffrage” and that Lincoln was as much a white supremacist as any man of his time. “It is forgotten that Lincoln, at Charlestown, Illinois, in 1858, formally affirmed: I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.”


    Thus, after so much history is forgotten, and much of the rest of it rewritten as a string of fairy tales, “the War appears, according to this doctrine of the Treasury of Virtue, as a consciously undertaken crusade so full of righteousness that there is enough overplus stored in Heaven, like the deeds of the saints, to take care of all small failings and oversights of the descendants of the crusaders, certainly unto the present generation” (p. 64).


    Warren quotes the historian Samuel Eliot Morison as commenting that one effect of this Treasury of Virtue on his (Morison’s) native New England was that “In the generation to come that region would no longer furnish the nation with teachers and men of letters, but with a mongrel breed of politicians” obsessed with “profiteering” through their political connections.

    Among other effects are that “the man of righteousness tends to be so sure of his own motives that he does not need to inspect consequences.” And, “the effect of the conviction of virtue is to make us lie automatically and awkwardly . . . and then in trying to justify the lie, lie to ourselves and transmute the lie into a kind of superior truth.” This, I would argue, is a perfect definition of so-called “Lincoln scholarship,” especially the Straussian variety.

    Warren believed that most Americans are content with all of these lies about their own history, the results of “the manipulations of propaganda specialists, and their sometimes unhistorical history” (p. 79). For they “are prepared to see the Civil War as a fountainhead of our power and prestige among the nations” (p. 76). They have been good and brainwashed as obedient little nationalists, in other words, who place a very high value on the “prestige” of the American state as bully of the world.

    This is yet another dire consequence of the war: Americans came to believe in Alexander Hamilton’s notion that the “prestige” of the state through its pursuit of “imperial glory” was a legitimate function of government. Limiting the role of government to the protection of God-given natural rights to life, liberty, and property became one of Lincoln’s “dogmas of the quiet past.”

    Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America. His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.

  2. #2
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    The paper written was well thought out but not quite complete. For instance, total war had been around for centuries. Ghengis Khan would completely depopulate lands he over ran. Every man, woman, child, livestock and even pet would be slaughtered. Going farther back, Sun Tzu in his treatise "The Art of War" laid out the way to totally defeat the enemy. Japanese businessmen study it and follow it's tenets to compete in the market place. I have a copy myself and some of the procedures are quite chilling. General Tzu has been dead for 25 centuries, so total war is not new.

    Lincoln was a Republican and southerners are mostly Republicans. So, they complain about Lincoln but follow his party. Then again, when I was growing up in the 50's and 60's, a Republican would rather "be dead than red". Now the right brags about being a red state.

    Economic causes of the Civil War predated the tax refered to. The grounds for war date back to nearly the revolution to break away from Great Britain. Even when this was a young country, people wanted all sorts of things but didn't want to pay for them, just get freebies. Whiskey taxes were a major source of revenue for the country paying for defence and interstate facilitation. i.e. dredging rivers and such. The biggest rebels about the tax were the ones who benefited the most from it.

    I don't particularly like paying taxes. If I'm not sure I owe a tax, I pay it anyway. The I.R.S. sent me a letter about my tax return this year. It seems I made a mistake and they owe me money. Had I owed them money, I would have paid it.

    I get a lot from this nation. I am protected by one of the best militaries in the world. The police generally don't bother me. I drive on decent roads, not great but decent. I can travel anywhere in this nation without having to have my "papers" like Europe. If I want to start a business and ship across the country, I can. I love this country, warts and all and don't really want to live anywhere else. Vist possibly, but I'll always come home.
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  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    " For instance, total war had been around for centuries. Ghengis Khan would completely depopulate lands he over ran. Every man, woman, child, livestock and even pet would be slaughtered. Going farther back, Sun Tzu in his treatise "The Art of War" laid out the way to totally defeat the enemy. Japanese businessmen study it and follow it's tenets to compete in the market place. I have a copy myself and some of the procedures are quite chilling. General Tzu has been dead for 25 centuries, so total war is not new."


    Certainly. But it doesn't change the fact that Lincoln fought a war that deliberately targeted civilians - a war crime by definition.

    The South did not do this.

    Sherman was a psychotic butcher. See his "work" with the Indians, too - it was every bit as genocidal as what the Sonderkommando did in Russia during WWII. Yet we venerate Lincoln - and Sherman - as heroes.

    But both he and "Honest Abe" were war criminals. If they were not, then neither were any of the Nazi leaders convicted and hung after the war. The only difference is "victor's justice." Had Germany won, there would be statues of Der Fuhrer all over Germany and men like SS Obersturmfuhrer Jochen Peiper and SS Obergruppenfuhrer Sepp Dietrich, etc., would be national icons whose great deeds would be taught to every school kid. Just as we teach them about Sherman and Abe.

    "Lincoln was a Republican and southerners are mostly Republicans."

    The names are the same but the parties stand for totally different things today. In 1860, the Republican Party was essentially the Whig Party reconstituted; it favored (surprise) empire, vast public works at taxpayer expense and a powerful, essentially unlimited, federal government. The South was then more Jeffersonian Democrat, which meant it supported the kind of decentralized, limited government envisioned by Jefferson. To be a "liberal" in the early 1800s meant one favored small government and individual rights.

    "So, they complain about Lincoln but follow his party."

    Of course they can - for the reason just explained.

    "Economic causes of the Civil War predated the tax refered to. The grounds for war date back to nearly the revolution to break away from Great Britain. Even when this was a young country, people wanted all sorts of things but didn't want to pay for them, just get freebies. Whiskey taxes were a major source of revenue for the country paying for defence and interstate facilitation. i.e. dredging rivers and such. The biggest rebels about the tax were the ones who benefited the most from it."

    How many canals and railroads were built in the South? These were the major public works projects of the era - and more, the South opposed the idea of the federal government being involved in such, period. And the larger point is - the war was not some noble crusade to free blacks, much less give them social and political equality. Yet this ignorant dogma is precisely what most kids are taught about the war.

    "I don't particularly like paying taxes. If I'm not sure I owe a tax, I pay it anyway. The I.R.S. sent me a letter about my tax return this year. It seems I made a mistake and they owe me money. Had I owed them money, I would have paid it."

    Taxation is not the issue. It's unreasonable taxation - defined as the government taking money from Smith to provide a material benefit to Jones. Or worse, taxing Smith to provide a material benefit to Jones' company. What we have today is essentially unlimited taxation for literally any purpose conceivable. And that is tyranny.


    "I am protected by one of the best militaries in the world."

    Which is also killing thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people in faraway countries that never raised a hand against us. Which consumes more tax dollars than the entire economies of any other major Western power.

    "The police generally don't bother me."

    Yet.

    "I can travel anywhere in this nation without having to have my "papers" like Europe."

    Been to an airport lately?

    " If I want to start a business and ship across the country, I can. "

    Subject to massive regulation and monitoring, yes.

    "I love this country, warts and all..."

    So do I. But I don't equate the country with the government, especially not the monster in Washington.

  4. #4
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    {How many canals and railroads were built in the South? These were the major public works projects of the era - and more, the South opposed the idea of the federal government being involved in such, period. And the larger point is - the war was not some noble crusade to free blacks, much less give them social and political equality. Yet this ignorant dogma is precisely what most kids are taught about the war.}


    Rail roads and canals were privately funded. The Erie Canal and the later Wabash-Erie Canal, that runs near my house, were both built with investors funding. Rail roads were also private company products. Granted, there weren't many canals built in the south. However, many rail roads were built. I just watched "The General" with Buster Keaton the other day with my lady friends kids. It took a lot of liberties with the historical facts but is based on an actual raid during the civil war.

    Canals were a lot more expensive than rail roads so when the rails were going across the country, the canals mainly went belly up. The Wabash=Erie is mostly an overgrown ditch now and the old mule path is a rail line now.By the time of the Civil War, canals were rarely being built because of rail roads.
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