10
Jul

I can’t understand how anyone might admire the Confederacy and also call themselves a libertarian. Any affinity for the Confederacy marks one very clearly as an enemy of liberty.

[…]

Anyone who cares about human liberty—to whatever degree—ought to despise the Confederacy, ought to mock and desecrate its symbols, and ought never to let Confederate apologists pass unchallenged.

-

Jason Kuznicki

This strongly-worded essay was written in response to this article about Jack Hunter, a close aide to Rand Paul who co-authored Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington. Hunter used to go by the moniker “Southern Avenger” and would don a mask with a Confederate flag on it while saying things like “John Wilkes Booth’s heart was in the right place.”

The mutual attraction between some libertarians and Confederate sympathizers has always baffled me. At the very least, one would expect libertarians to oppose slavery and the Confederacy while also opposing the Civil War and supporting the right of secession. (In my estimate, this view is still wrong because it allows slavery to continue unabated, indefinitely.)

Ron Paul’s assertion that slaves could have been purchased by the federal government and then set free is rather silly for a variety of reasons. For one thing, it renders the government and all taxpayers active participants in the slave trade. It also makes little business sense for a slave owner to sell a slave who would otherwise provide a lifetime of free labor. And what makes Dr. Paul think citizens would willingly allow their tax dollars to be spent on eradicating slavery? He seems to have no understanding of how most Americans felt about slavery prior to the Civil War (hint: they didn’t give a damn). Buying up all the slaves in the United States would certainly have been a long term project. It’s nearly impossible to believe that Dr. Paul’s strategy could have freed all the slaves in the same time it took Lincoln to win the Civil War and pass the 13th Amendment. One wonders if enslaved Africans would have approved of this excruciatingly slow process.

Hopefully Mr. Kuznicki’s essay expresses the consensus view of libertarians on slavery and the Civil War. Far from being a useless exercise, applying one’s ideology to historical events can reveal much about the strengths and weaknesses of that ideology.

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