Monarchy, Confederacy, and the Failed American Experiment

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I don’t frequent discussions of politics these days, although I used to be (or at least imagined myself to be) quite the politico when I was in high school and college. Still, people who didn’t know me then but know me now generally assume that I am a conservative, and for good reason. Indeed, I am to the right of Edmund Burke: I am a monarchist.

I believe that kingship is the best form of government. In this day and age, it is true (and ironic, and humorous) that to be a monarchist has all the trappings of the typical modernist pretense, especially if you’re an American. It’s put-on, and it can’t help but smack of existentialist self-fashioning. It’s kind of like when people use their private judgment to become Roman Catholics (seeing as how there’s no other way to do it), so that they can then turn on their heels and excoriate their erstwhile coreligionists for being beholden to private judgment. It’s a bit different, though: I am not a “practicing monarchist”, and the chances of me becoming one are slim. My monarchism is thus an admittedly philosophical position, in the sense of being a contemplation rather than a practical goal. Though the Demarest surname putatively originates with the nobleman Baldwin (Baudoin) I, Lord des Marets (b. 1070 AD; “Marets” evidently goes back to the sixth century), I am neither a monarch nor subject to one. I don’t see any way to remedy that lack at the present time (besides becoming a Canadian— Canuck friends, don’t get your hopes up/worry), nor do I feel a burning need to do so.

What, then, does an American monarchist do? Not much— that is, not much as a monarchist per se. As far as I know, there aren’t monarchist protests at the WTO in Seattle that I could participate in, nor were there any monarchist tents in the “occupied” park on K Street in Washington D.C. that I used to stroll through (it is, however, amusing to imagine what either such thing would look like). The one Renaissance Faire I somehow ended up at was the one of the most insipid things I’ve ever seen. I don’t watch “Game of Thrones”, and I probably never will.

So what do I do? I schlep it as an unenthusiastic republican and an even less enthusiastic democrat (though neither a Republican nor a Democrat) living in a former federal republic, now a godless mob-ruled “democracy.” I’d rather not be a citizen, but I was born one. [I vote (sometimes) because I think it’s my duty as one possessed of the franchise by the accident of birth. I don’t particularly want the franchise, but I have it, so I wield it to the best of my ability, unless I am reasonably convinced that my doing so in a particular instance would do no effectual good. [UPDATE: I no longer vote. Read Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, and you will perhaps infer my reasoning on this point. I do not accept any part of the Enlightenment’s first principles viz. government, as they are inimical to the order of creation. I plan on doing a series on Filmer here at some point in the coming months, so…stay tuned? keep a tab open? RSS? Up to you…] I don’t consider voting a sacred ritual, and I think pins that say “I voted” are comparable to pins that say “I pooped.” Would you wear the latter? If you would, then I guess you should wear the former. De gustibus.

Thomas Paine, godless liberal. “I know not whether any Man in the World has had more influence on its inhabitants or affairs for the last thirty years than Tom Paine. There can be no Severer Satyr on the Age. For Such a mongrel between Pigg and Puppy, begotten by a wild Boar on a Bitch Wolf, never before in any Age of the World was Suffered by the Poltroonery of mankind, to run through Such a Career of Mischief. Call it then the Age of Paine.” Such was the feeling of John Adams. His estimation of Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense? “[A] poor, ignorant, Malicious, short-sighted Crapulous Mass.”

True to monarchist form, I firmly believe that the American Revolution was a wicked rebellion against a rightful, God-ordained magistrate. There was no putting the toothpaste back into the tube after it happened, though (not that any attempts were made from the American side to do so). But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do the wrong thing in this world, and I think that the perpetuity of the confederacy of “free, sovereign, and independent states” that existed after the revolution was a better idea than a federal union. Sure, it would have been even better if the thirteen free and sovereign independent states, each on their own or all together, sought reconciliation with the Crown as commonwealths, ceteris paribus. This, I think, would have been not only desirable, but the right thing to do, i.e., the moral course of action to take, per what little the New Testament writers have to say about the relationship between magistrates and their subjects. Could have, should have— didn’t. Given the crescendo of English Whiggism and the milieu of Enlightenment liberalism (moderate to radical) which preceded and attended the American revolution, it’s hardly surprising that this option was never seriously entertained (although monarchy was— and by no less than Alexander Hamilton).

Pedantic Sidebar: Philosophy of History

So, yes, confederacy— better idea than federalism, in my opinion. The first, most frequent response such a statement elicits among “conservatives” (read: American right-wingers) is disgust, and then, if we can move past it to an actual conversation about ideas, cocksure declarations that “it wouldn’t have worked”, that, had the states continued under the Articles of Confederation, they “would have been wiped off the map.” (To one of my convictions, such a theoretical wiping would not necessarily be an objectionable thing.) The most absurd genus of objection have been the following sorts of statements: “But then we would never have become a superpower! We wouldn’t have invented airplanes or Wal-Mart or cured polio! There would still be Nazism, Communism, and Saddam Hussein! The world would be a worse place!” These statements are nonsensical. One word: contingency. Remember the storm that Deist Protestant God sent to crush the Spanish Armada Papist Yacht-Club so that one day Ronald Reagan would be the president of the United States? It was unforeseen, and not just because they lacked smartphones with meteorological satellite tracking. I’ve heard variations on all of those themes. Lots of them, usually from these types. Maybe you have, too. Then there are guys like Francis Fukuyama, who declared— I am not making this up— that American liberal democracy is the “end of history.” On second thought, I’m not sure why I said, “And then there are guys like Francis Fukuyama…” since he’s pretty much of a piece with the first group alluded to.

Such statements rely on a bizarre sort of pluperfect fortune-telling, inasmuch as they are definite pronouncements regarding alternate outcomes from among infinite and unknown possibilities of “what else could have happened.” It’s difficult to imagine a more hubristic form of intellectual projection. The relation of “what would have happened” to “what did happen” is that of a semicircle of infinite radius to a single geometric ray appearing somewhere on its spectrum. How can one represent the inscrutability and infinitude of past contingency but by an analogy to the infinite divisibility of space? I know of no other way. How about a hemisphere, rather than a semicircle? When you get the z-axis involved, the spatial analogies get— as the kids say— a little “cray-cray.” The kids really have a way with words.

In short, we not only do not know, but we cannot know “what would have happened.” It’s beyond simple abstraction; it’s postulation concerning an “unknown-unknown”— that is, a theoretical scenario in which the knower is not even aware of what kinds of things he doesn’t know.1.Echoes of Lewis’s “Bluspels and Flalansferes” here. In the discipline of history, there are unknown-unknowns that cannot ever become even known-unknowns; in truth, they are more like “unreal-unknowables.” They are non-events, having not even potential existence, and thus they cannot be objects of knowledge. There is no them thar. This is getting cray-cray, isn’t it?

An example might help. Let’s take the following imaginary sequence of events:

A. John steals a TV from a store.

B. A policeman apprehends John and arrests him. He doesn’t record the arrest right away. No information is taken. He puts John in the back of the cruiser and heads for the police station.

C. The police cruiser is hit by a cement truck. The police officer and the truck-driver die on the scene. John is unharmed. One of the back doors has been wrenched open by the impact, so he could flee, but he doesn’t. Instead, he poses as a witness.

Now we have some history. Great. Does it make any sense to ask, “What would have happened if the police cruiser hadn’t been hit by a bus?” How about, “What would have happened if the officer hadn’t died?” or “What would have happened if John had fled the scene?” Not only are these not questions that the historian can answer, these aren’t questions that can be answered. There was an infinite amount of contingency. In the study of history, even the simple preterite, “what happened?” is almost impossibly general— what is it even asking, really? The perfect subjunctive, “what would have happened?” is just plain impossible, as I tried to explain above.

Judging everyone

Morality, though, operates on a different mental and intellectual plane than history. “What should John have done?” “Should John have stolen the TV?” “Should John have posed as a witness?” Same thing. We can answer these questions in at least a limited way according to what we know— in this case, the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not steal”, and the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbor.” These are moral questions which can be answered (in however limited and theoretical a way), not fake perfect-subjunctive historical questions like “What would have happened if the truck hadn’t hit the cop car?”

Call me a simpleton, but this is my approach to the American Revolution. There is simply no such thing as a “right to revolution.” The American colonists rebelled against the Crown. It was wrong. What would have happened if they hadn’t done so? No idea— ask a real question. Should they have done so? No. Would it have been moral to give up on their insurrection and be subject once again to the Crown? Yes. Did they do that? No. Would it have been moral to be reconciled to the Crown after independence was won? Yes. Did they do that? No. Was George III a tyrant? I don’t think so, but it’s irrelevant— was Nero? Pretty hard to deny. Yet during his ignoble reign, St. Paul told the Christians to be subject unto the magistrate as unto God, disobeying only if and when to obey him would be to disobey God. St. Peter does one even better:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. (1 Peter 2:13-20)

Was George III unjust? Maybe. But it’s piquant to note that while many British subjects on both sides of the pond were upset by the injustices perpetrated by the Crown in the American colonies, the majority did not think that such injustices somehow invalidated or delegitimized the rule of the king. And they were right— it didn’t.2.I am not discounting the reality of what ethicists refer to as a case of conflicting absolutes, i.e., a case in which one must choose to do something, and even not choosing is effectively to choose, and the only options are immoral. On the contrary, I think we come to realize that such existentially-wrenching dilemmas constitute a huge proportion of our decisions, if we pause long enough to think about it. The inexorably tragic, melancholic Danish Lutheran philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, largely built his brand on “pausing long enough to think about it.”

“Everyone desires to be his own master and free from the emperor…”

The Lutheran Confessions, which I confess to be true expositions of the catholic and orthodox faith, do not purport to be works of political philosophy. Still and all, there is wisdom to be gleaned from them regarding the proper relationship between Christians and the magistrate. Blessed Martin Luther’s gloss on the topic in his Large Catechism is none too subtle. The following selection, which I have parsed for relevance, is a bit lengthy, but bear with me:

Now, what a child owes to father and mother, the same owe all who are embraced in the household. Therefore man-servants and maid-servants should be careful not only to be obedient to their masters and mistresses, but also to honor them as their own fathers and mothers, and to do everything which they know is expected of them, not from compulsion and with reluctance, but with pleasure and joy for the cause just mentioned, namely, that it is God’s command and is pleasing to Him above all other works … Whoever will not be influenced by this and inclined to godliness we hand over to the hangman and to the skeleton-man [“Death”, the “Grim Reaper”]. Therefore let every one who allows himself to be advised remember that God is not making sport, and know that it is God who speaks with you and demands obedience. If you obey Him, you are His dear child; but if you despise to do it, then take shame, misery, and grief for your reward.

The same also is to be said of obedience to civil government, which (as we have said) is all embraced in the estate of fatherhood and extends farthest of all relations. For here the father is not one of a single family, but of as many people as he has tenants, citizens, or subjects. For through them, as through our parents, God gives to us food, house and home, protection and security. Therefore, since they bear such name and title with all honor as their highest dignity, it is our duty to honor them and to esteem them great as the dearest treasure and the most precious jewel upon earth.

He, now, who … despises and resists authority or rebels, let him also know, on the other hand, that he shall have no favor nor blessing, and where he thinks to gain a florin thereby, he will elsewhere lose ten times as much, or become a victim to the hangman, perish by war, pestilence, and famine, or experience no good in his children, and be obliged to suffer injury, injustice, and violence at the hands of his servants, neighbors, or strangers and tyrants; so that what we seek and deserve is paid back and comes home to us. …

Why, think you, is the world now so full of unfaithfulness, disgrace, calamity, and murder, but because every one desires to be his own master and free from the emperor, to care nothing for any one, and do what pleases him? Therefore God punishes one knave by another, so that, when you defraud and despise your master, another comes and deals in like manner with you, yea, in your household you must suffer ten times more from wife, children, or servants. …

Thus we have two kinds of fathers presented in this commandment, fathers in blood and fathers in office, or those to whom belongs the care of the family, and those to whom belongs the care of the country. (LC I.143, 149-151, 154, 158a; boldface emphases mine)

According to Luther, the magistrate is the father and master of his country. You don’t get to pick your father. You don’t like your father? Tough. He’s still your father. He’s abusive? He’s still your father. If he disowns you, that’s his sin, but as you well know, two wrongs don’t make a right. In this latter case, reconciliation is always the hope and goal.3.Even after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the delegates of the first Continental Congress held out hope for redress of grievances and reconciliation with the Crown. Pauline Maier, in her monograph American Scripture, compellingly demonstrates that even the Declaration of Independence was construed far differently at the time of its ratification than it is now, after generations of civic-religious lacquering. My review, if you’re interested, which won me a size-XXL pleather Weta-Workshops jacket my senior year of college from my wonderful professor and friend, the brilliant and eccentric Dr. Brad Birzer. Insurrection and rebellion against the government is a sin; indeed, of all external transgressions, it is the cardinal one— Adam was the first rebel! It is impious Enlightened liberal fantasy (and post hoc justification) to say that the rule of a “bad” magistrate entitles one to a “separate and equal station”, and that “inalienable rights” trump vocational duties. And then to invoke God as the author of this whole hot mess of Babel? That is heathenish thinking at best, blasphemous at worst— again, read SS. Paul and Peter. One can civilly disobey without rebelling. Indeed, civil disobedience will be the Christian vocation in the era which is dawning in America, in which we will have to obey God rather than men and suffer the civil and criminal penalties for doing so. Christians are called to suffer for doing good; we are not called to strident assertions of our rights. Martyrdom is true liberty. As members of the Body of Christ, we have no life, no liberty, and no property other than a share and portion in the sufferings of our Head.

So what if the American colonies had been successful in obtaining redress of their grievances in the eighteenth century before the outbreak of war, or, as I hypothesized above, battled the British successfully only to reconcile shortly thereafter with the Crown as commonwealths, with chancellors or governors rather than a president, with representation in Parliament, etc.? What happens when Parliament abolishes slavery in the British Empire? As I said above, we don’t know. But let me put it this way: if it’s slaveholding commonwealths fighting a divinely ordained monarch’s decree that slavery is abolished in the realm, you can bet your aspartame and sucralose that I’ll be siding with the Crown in whatever military action follows. I’m not a fan of revolution, remember? Rebellion is a sin. We’ll come back to this this shortly.4.To the tut-tutting papists: it is in no way a double standard for me, a Lutheran, to hold this position. The bishop of Rome has no iure divino authority that is qualitatively different than that of any other bishop. As the Book of Concord demonstrates, if you bother to read it, the conservative Reformation (i.e., the Lutheran) was in no way a “rebellion”. Not a single early-church exegete of Rome’s favored Scriptural sedes in Matthew 16 and John 20 thought that these Scriptures had anything to do with papal supremacy, a fact easily ascertainable when one considers that virtually all of the writings of the Church fathers are in the public domain and can be read for free. (See also: “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.”) The one Church father whose statements and exegesis lend themselves to a pro-papal reading of these texts, St. Augustine, later retracted these very statements. Not that it matters, but even modern Roman Catholic church historians will admit that there is an utter paucity of historical data in support of papal supremacy.

Confederacy, Federalism, Confederacy

Rebellion against the Crown was bad, but, as I said, there was no putting the toothpaste back into the tube after the Federal Constitution was ratified in 1787. New boss, new rules. You may not like the new rules— personally, I don’t— but as the philosopher Jagger says, you can’t always get what you want. Fine. Let’s play by the new rules:

What sort of political arrangement existed after the American colonies rebuffed and threw off royal rule? Thirteen “free, sovereign, and independent states,” according to the Treaty of Paris, signed in 1783. Of course, that had been the case since 1781, when, with Maryland’s ratification of the Articles of Confederation, all thirteen embattled colonies-turned-states first were formally identified as “the United States.”

Article I. THE style of this confederacy shall be “The UNITED STATES of AMERICA.”

Art. II. Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.

So this was the status quo at the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787: thirteen sovereign, free, and independent states. If you want to split the difference between “state” and “nation” and say that they’re totally and intrinsically different, then the onus is on you to prove it. Keep that background in mind.

Modernity-badger don't care about the difference between states and nations, that's why he talks about "nation-states."

Modernity-badger don’t care about the difference between states and nations, that’s why he talks about “nation-states.”

It’s another studied opinion of mine that the Federalists (specifically as epitomized by “The Federalist Papers”) were great poets but poor— indeed, fanciful— political theorists. Their opponents, the Anti-Federalists, were much wiser. While kindly noting the nobility of the Federalists’ ideas and goals, the Anti-Federalists (men like Patrick Henry, George Mason, and, uh, Luther Martin and Melanchthon Smith?!— come on, Federalists— no contest with the names here) prophesied both the doom of American federalism and the reasons for it pretty much to a tee. It’s quite astounding— read the Anti-Federalist papers. Buy a copy, or read them for free online here. Ultimately, however, the Anti-Federalists were not successful, and the Federal Constitution was passed, although they were the lobbying contingent behind the inclusion of the Bill of Rights in the Federal Constitution.

So where did authority reside before, while, and after this federal union came into being? It resided with the state governments, which had first joined together as a confederacy in 1781 and then delegated powers to a central government. (It’s a quite telling euphemism, though a misnomer, that we call Washington D.C. “the federal government”: federal refers to the whole gradated arrangement, not just the hub of delegated powers.) For this reason, it is because of my obdurate authoritarianism, and not in spite of it, that I say that the southern states, and not the Union, were right in 1860. Being that I’m from Oregon, that means that I’m a “Southern sympathizer”, although “neo-Confederate” does not apply, since, again, I am a monarchist.

Is this not monstrous inconsistency on my part? Didn’t the southern states rebel? Not at all. Dr. Walter E. Williams— an economist at George Mason University whose combination of blackness and right-wing conviction would surely draw the ire of George Takei, if it hasn’t already— has got the goods:

maxresdefaultThe 1783 Treaty of Paris ended the war between the colonies and Great Britain. Its first article declared the thirteen colonies “to be free, sovereign and independent states.” These thirteen sovereign nations came together in 1787 as principals and created the federal government as their agent. Principals have always held the right to fire agents. In other words, states held a right to withdraw from the pact— secede.

During the 1787 Constitutional Convention, a proposal was made that would allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison rejected it, saying, “A union of the states containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a state would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”

Mark this well: James Madison— the genius behind the Federalist Papers and Constitution, fourth president of the United States, and really short guy— opposes the inclusion of language in the Constitution which would allow the federal government to suppress seceding states. None is included. This is a matter of historical record. But that’s not all. Williams continues:

The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution never would have been ratified if states thought they could not regain their sovereignty— in a word, secede.

On March 2, 1861, after seven states seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that read, “No state or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.”

Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here’s a question for the reader: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional? (Dr. Walter E. Williams, Ph.D, “Historical Ignorance”)

That’s a very good question, Dr. Williams. The answer is obviously “No.” Again, new rules, new boss. We don’t have a king, right? We vote on things. Well, the southern states, after having voted to join the Union, voted to secede from the Union.

Yet still, it seems that most modern American conservatives, their nerves steeled with a heady commixture of natural-rights theory (read: classical rationalism, Roman republicanism, and Enlightenment rationalism) and American civic-religious mythology, go on and on and on and on about how by joining the Union, the states gave up their sovereignty, how “the Union” was effected by “the people”, not the states, therefore it was not only illegal but impossible to secede. This is a colossal exercise in begging the question which has to (and does) utterly ignore the terms under which the legislatures of the several states ratified the Constitution, as Williams points out above.

There was no plebiscitary mandate from the masses which effected the Federal Union, especially since most of “the masses” didn’t vote, because (quite sensibly) they didn’t have the franchise! The argument that the Preamble to the Constitution attests the common exercise of “individual natural rights” (a lá the atheist John Locke’s “state of nature” fairy-tale5.In a fight not unlike carpenter-ant vs. wolf-spider, the skeptical empiricist philosopher David Hume illustrated the sheer idiocy of Locke’s “state of nature” in his brilliant essay, “Of the Original Contract”. ) by stating “We The People” rather than “We The States” is a cute, post hoc justification for war and the death of federal republicanism which quickly followed it. It relies upon a prior acceptance of Lincolnian civil-religious mystagogy and Lockean political philosophy in order to make sense. But, as Churchill says, “History is written by the victors.” So now it’s true.

Lincoln didn’t free the slaves

amerikansk-president-portratt-abraham-lincoln_91-2147487597“Well at least Lincoln freed the slaves!” No, friends, he did no such thing. That would have been more noble, that I’ll grant (howbeit rather kingly, absolutist, and unconstitutional at the time— things Americans aren’t big on unless it’s robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul). But Lincoln didn’t free a single slave, nor was the liberation of slaves his reason for going to war. Indeed, in his first inaugural address (March 4, 1861) Lincoln affirmed that he favored a proposed constitutional amendment which would have protected slavery in all fifteen states where it still existed. Here is Honest Abe, in his own words:

I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution— which amendment, however, I have not seen— has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

Yes, you read that correctly: at the time of the outbreak of hostilities, President Lincoln was on the exact same page as Jefferson Davis with respect to the constitutional protection of the “peculiar institution”; he even offered federal assistance in tracking down and apprehending runaway slaves. For more on just how thoroughly pretextual Lincoln’s concern for slavery was at the time of the outbreak of hostilities, see my piece, “President Lincoln vs. Your Hopes and Dreams,” and Walter E. Williams’s, “Historical Ignorance, Pt. II.”

“It doesn’t matter,” the righteous rejoinder runs, “— the South had slaves, and they wanted to have them forever. Therefore they deserved whatever was coming to them.” Implied in this statement is that if you think the North was wrong to make war upon the South, you are a racist who thinks that race-based chattel slavery was good, you wish it still existed, you wish you had a couple slaves, yourself, etc. This is as ridiculous as saying that if you find it morally indefensible for the United States to have snuffed out almost a quarter of a million civilians by dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, you must have wanted the Axis powers to be victorious in World War II.6.From “A Condensed Look at the Southern Side of the Civil War,” by Michael T. Griffith: “The Confederacy did not want war. One of the first things Jefferson Davis did after assuming office as president of the Confederacy was to send a peace delegation to Washington, D.C., in an effort to establish friendly ties with the federal government (Cooper, Jefferson Davis, American, pp. 360-362; Kenneth Davis, Don’t Know Much About the Civil War, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996, pp. 156-157). The Confederacy offered to pay the South’s share of the national debt and to pay compensation for all federal installations in the Southern states (Charles Roland, The Confederacy, University of Chicago Press, 1960, p. 28; Patrick, Jefferson Davis and His Cabinet, p. 77; William C. Davis, Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America, New York: The Free Press, 2002, p. 87). The Confederacy also announced that Northern ships would continue to enjoy free navigation of the Mississippi River (Hummel, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, p. 138; Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume 1, pp. 210-213). Yet, Lincoln rejected all Confederate peace offers and insisted that federal armies would invade if the Southern states didn’t renounce their independence and recognize federal authority. It should be pointed out that many Northern citizens opposed the war and believed the South should be allowed to leave in peace. Dozens of Northern newspapers expressed the view that the Southern states had the right to peacefully leave the Union and that it would be wrong to use force to compel them to stay. Even President James Buchanan told Congress in an official message shortly before Lincoln assumed office that the federal government had no right to use force against the seceded states. The standard textbook answer to this question is that the South obviously started the war because it “fired the first shot” by attacking Fort Sumter, which was located in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Most textbooks don’t mention several facts that put the attack in proper perspective. For example, after the Fort Sumter incident, the Confederacy continued to express its desire for peaceful relations with the North. Not a single federal soldier was killed in the attack. The Confederates allowed the federal troops at the fort to return to the North in peace after they surrendered. South Carolina and then the Confederacy offered to pay compensation for the fort. Lincoln later admitted he deliberately provoked the attack so he could use it as justification for an invasion. The Confederates only attacked the fort after they learned that Lincoln had sent an armed naval convoy to resupply the federal garrison at the fort. The sending of the convoy violated the repeated promises of Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, that the fort would be evacuated. Seward continued to promise the Confederacy that the fort would be evacuated even after he knew that Lincoln had decided to send the convoy. Major John Anderson, the Union officer who commanded the federal garrison at the fort, opposed the sending of the convoy, because he felt it would violate the assurances that the fort would be evacuated, because he knew it would be viewed as a hostile act, and because he did not want war. Several weeks before the Fort Sumter incident, Lincoln virtually declared war on the South in his inaugural address, even though he knew the Confederacy wanted peaceful relations.”

A black man who loved the South, killed by the children of political correctness. The Marxists no doubt see this as fitting punishment for his false consciousness.

A black man who loved the South, killed by the children of political correctness. The Marxists no doubt see this as fitting punishment for his false consciousness.

The North had slavery too, friends. There were even free blacks with slaves. We already talked about how Lincoln started out emphatically insisting that he would happily see slavery protected by law at the federal level where it existed, but what many people don’t know is that this included Union states such as Illinois, Kentucky, and Delaware. None of the slaves in these states were freed by Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.” Nor were any slaves freed in Union-controlled Southern territory. How principled is that? Estimates of the percentage of slaveholding families in the South range from about 8-15%— are we to believe that the 85-92% of non-slaveholding southerners were fighting for something so narrow as the protection of the institution of slavery? Of the almost 500,000 free blacks in the U.S. at the time of the outbreak of hostilities, over half of them lived in the South. Unsurprisingly, there were regiments of free blacks— even regiments of slaves— who fought for the South. Why on earth? Because for them, as for their white brothers, it was the only place on earth. It was their home. “Oh, but this phenomenon is played up.” Actually, I think it’s played down, but either way, it’s irrelevant: the fact that it happened at all is what should give one pause.

Big Bird Coming Home to Roost

We live in a modern post-federal state that is moving inexorably towards modern European-style socialism. Do you like it? I don’t. Are you upset about the recent SCOTUS decision which will force all fifty states to permit “gay marriage”? Well, tough beans— thanks to the utter dismantling of states’ rights, your state has no option but to bend over and whistle Dixie: “Old times there are not forgotten”— yes, but they soon will be if the centralizers finally get their way. And Lincoln was one of them, folks— not only was he one of them, he is their veritable patron saint. He was a centralizer before it was even cool. The words of Dr. Walter E. Williams are again quite apposite:

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. We Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech: “It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination— that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”

The War of 1861 brutally established that states could not secede. We are still living with its effects. Because states cannot secede, the federal government can run roughshod over the U.S. Constitution’s limitations of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. States have little or no response. (Dr. Walter E. Williams, Ph.D, “Historical Ignorance”)

That’s about the size of it.

But the Queen decreed gay marriage in the UK in 2013! Her Majesty’s Northern Dominion was way ahead of us, as well— they legalized gay marriage in 2005. The monarchists are not better than us! Yes, that’s true. So what? Japan has a monarch and no gay marriage. Ditto the Arab states. These aren’t arguments either way. The purpose of the foregoing discursus was not the vindication of monarchy as a form of government immune to corruption; it was merely to explain the consistency of my position, which, in English, is as follows:

  • Monarchy = purest, most Christian form of magistracy
  • American revolution = rebellion against the magistrate
  • Confederacy = least bad option
  • Federalism = very idealistic
  • Anti-Federalists = pretty darn prescient, in that everything bad that they predicted would happen has happened
  • States = even under the terms of the ill-advised Federal Constitution, totally within their rights as sovereigns to secede from and no longer participate in the Federal Union
  • Lincoln = first, biggest, baddest, most successful anti-vice crusader, social Gospeller, and grand-mac-daddy of progressivism

Putrid, blasphemous laws have come and gone since the dawn of time. They’ve been decreed by emperors, voted for by enfranchised plebes, and conjured by black-robed areopagites in a swamp-temple near the Virginia/Maryland border. Personally, I’d rather deal with one tyrant ten thousand miles away than ten thousand tyrants one mile away, or ten thousand tyrants anywhere. Armed rebellion against a sovereign magistrate for the purpose of forming a “separate and equal station” of self-chosen rule is not a Christian concept, but an anti-Christian one. Armed resistance by subsidiary bodies? I can see that. In our current police-state, though, mustering militias even for a show of force in protest of unjust state actions isn’t exactly encouraged or smiled upon by Big Brother, to say nothing of actual armed resistance to unjust laws. Yes, I personally cannot imagine doing nothing to defend my family from the unjust depredations of the state. But, no, you’ll never catch me participating in an armed insurrection against the government, bathing the ground in blood for the vain purpose of trying to form another which is just as liable to corruption as the one from which it seeks to be separate. If one does form, and a strong, wise, and noble man sets himself up as king with the help of his thanes, and things look to be better in his faire realm, my clan just might emigrate. Sadly, though, we seem to have run out of un-claimed land, so he’d probably have to be king of a seastead.

Conclusion-ish

They constantly try to escape
From the darkness outside and within
By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.
But the man that is shall shadow
The man that pretends to be.

~ T. S. Eliot, “Choruses from ‘The Rock'”

“Are you a monarchist?” a friend asked me recently. “Yes,” I replied. “Are you?” “No,” he said. “I like the idea. Don’t think its possible in a sin filled world.”

Well, it’d definitely possible, as there are some forty-four nations in the world which are under some form of monarch. I think what my friend meant was “I don’t think it’s possible that it would work well in a sin-filled world.” I didn’t ask him, but I’ll do so now: do you see anything that’s working well right now? I’m sorry, but can we snap out of the hypnotic trance which compels us to say, “…well, she ain’t what she used to be, but she’s still the best place on God’s green earth to— ” Just stop, please. You don’t know that; besides, that’s largely a matter of taste. (If you don’t like gay marriage, even Germany is a better bet than America.) Love your country because she is your home; better yet, love the place in which you truly live, on the scale in which you live, because that’s what’s really “home.” Don’t love America “because she’s America.” The only entity you are to love in its His simplicity is God.

There is no system out there in which “no one will need to be good.” With that said, for Christians part of being good (the earthly part) is being obedient to and living in God’s good and gracious will, otherwise known as the Law. This means honoring father, king, and bishop, so that His name is not slandered among the heathen, so that Caesar’s accusations of sedition ring hollow; being long-suffering under trials, because this broken world is full of them; being prudent and avoiding rash actions with uncertain, abstract goals, because the devil you know is better than the one pandering for your vote. Live in your vocations, and do not expect perfection in his vale of tears. Make do with the imperfect things; do not expect permanence in this life.

All the same, as Christians we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven.

…it’s always good to end these rants by plagiarizing a bit of St. Paul.

 

+VDMA

References   [ + ]

1. Echoes of Lewis’s “Bluspels and Flalansferes” here.
2. I am not discounting the reality of what ethicists refer to as a case of conflicting absolutes, i.e., a case in which one must choose to do something, and even not choosing is effectively to choose, and the only options are immoral. On the contrary, I think we come to realize that such existentially-wrenching dilemmas constitute a huge proportion of our decisions, if we pause long enough to think about it. The inexorably tragic, melancholic Danish Lutheran philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, largely built his brand on “pausing long enough to think about it.”
3. Even after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the delegates of the first Continental Congress held out hope for redress of grievances and reconciliation with the Crown. Pauline Maier, in her monograph American Scripture, compellingly demonstrates that even the Declaration of Independence was construed far differently at the time of its ratification than it is now, after generations of civic-religious lacquering. My review, if you’re interested, which won me a size-XXL pleather Weta-Workshops jacket my senior year of college from my wonderful professor and friend, the brilliant and eccentric Dr. Brad Birzer.
4. To the tut-tutting papists: it is in no way a double standard for me, a Lutheran, to hold this position. The bishop of Rome has no iure divino authority that is qualitatively different than that of any other bishop. As the Book of Concord demonstrates, if you bother to read it, the conservative Reformation (i.e., the Lutheran) was in no way a “rebellion”. Not a single early-church exegete of Rome’s favored Scriptural sedes in Matthew 16 and John 20 thought that these Scriptures had anything to do with papal supremacy, a fact easily ascertainable when one considers that virtually all of the writings of the Church fathers are in the public domain and can be read for free. (See also: “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope.”) The one Church father whose statements and exegesis lend themselves to a pro-papal reading of these texts, St. Augustine, later retracted these very statements. Not that it matters, but even modern Roman Catholic church historians will admit that there is an utter paucity of historical data in support of papal supremacy.
5. In a fight not unlike carpenter-ant vs. wolf-spider, the skeptical empiricist philosopher David Hume illustrated the sheer idiocy of Locke’s “state of nature” in his brilliant essay, “Of the Original Contract”.
6. From “A Condensed Look at the Southern Side of the Civil War,” by Michael T. Griffith: “The Confederacy did not want war. One of the first things Jefferson Davis did after assuming office as president of the Confederacy was to send a peace delegation to Washington, D.C., in an effort to establish friendly ties with the federal government (Cooper, Jefferson Davis, American, pp. 360-362; Kenneth Davis, Don’t Know Much About the Civil War, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996, pp. 156-157). The Confederacy offered to pay the South’s share of the national debt and to pay compensation for all federal installations in the Southern states (Charles Roland, The Confederacy, University of Chicago Press, 1960, p. 28; Patrick, Jefferson Davis and His Cabinet, p. 77; William C. Davis, Look Away! A History of the Confederate States of America, New York: The Free Press, 2002, p. 87). The Confederacy also announced that Northern ships would continue to enjoy free navigation of the Mississippi River (Hummel, Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men, p. 138; Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume 1, pp. 210-213). Yet, Lincoln rejected all Confederate peace offers and insisted that federal armies would invade if the Southern states didn’t renounce their independence and recognize federal authority. It should be pointed out that many Northern citizens opposed the war and believed the South should be allowed to leave in peace. Dozens of Northern newspapers expressed the view that the Southern states had the right to peacefully leave the Union and that it would be wrong to use force to compel them to stay. Even President James Buchanan told Congress in an official message shortly before Lincoln assumed office that the federal government had no right to use force against the seceded states. The standard textbook answer to this question is that the South obviously started the war because it “fired the first shot” by attacking Fort Sumter, which was located in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Most textbooks don’t mention several facts that put the attack in proper perspective. For example, after the Fort Sumter incident, the Confederacy continued to express its desire for peaceful relations with the North. Not a single federal soldier was killed in the attack. The Confederates allowed the federal troops at the fort to return to the North in peace after they surrendered. South Carolina and then the Confederacy offered to pay compensation for the fort. Lincoln later admitted he deliberately provoked the attack so he could use it as justification for an invasion. The Confederates only attacked the fort after they learned that Lincoln had sent an armed naval convoy to resupply the federal garrison at the fort. The sending of the convoy violated the repeated promises of Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, that the fort would be evacuated. Seward continued to promise the Confederacy that the fort would be evacuated even after he knew that Lincoln had decided to send the convoy. Major John Anderson, the Union officer who commanded the federal garrison at the fort, opposed the sending of the convoy, because he felt it would violate the assurances that the fort would be evacuated, because he knew it would be viewed as a hostile act, and because he did not want war. Several weeks before the Fort Sumter incident, Lincoln virtually declared war on the South in his inaugural address, even though he knew the Confederacy wanted peaceful relations.”

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