Review of “The Abolition of Britain” by Peter Hitchens

January 25, 2010

Mencius Moldbug mentioned this book a couple times. It was worth a quick read, but I’m not precisely sure how to summarize it.

In the intro, Mr Hitchens states that the book is the history of the death of Britain between the deaths of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana. Perhaps the most interesting (and Moldbuggian) part of this thesis was that Britain had died largely due to the occupation of Britain by the US:

The unspeakable truth was that by 1941 we were a defeated nation [Britain], whose conquerors had neglected to invade us. Impoverished, beaten in battle in Flanders and Malaya, condemned as it seemed to grey years of sacrifice with no certain end, we were invaded by our allies instead. . . . [British traditions] simply could not compete with the vigorous, wealthy, well-fed, sheer success of the Americans . . .

Mr Hitchens then goes to compare pre-WWII Britain to current Britain. The comparisons are not favorable to modern Britain. He discusses the decline of the family (Mr Hitchens has some MRA – men’s rights – sympathies), the destruction of sexual morality, the rise of homosexuality (which he compares to smoking, in what was a bit of a stretch, to say the least), the loss of the empire, the effects of TV, the loss of standard English, the destruction of education, crime and more. Here he is discussing the rise of single-motherhood:

The older cruelty, which took the ugly form of workhouses, shame and stigma, was hard to bear because it required active harshness from the state and from individuals. The new cruelty, which leaves hundreds of thousands of children without a proper family, is imposed through many acts of generosity by the state and by the taxpayers, and through the broad-minded tolerance of individuals and opinion-formers. It is therefore easier to bear in a society which has nationalized its conscience.

(The writing really is excellent.)

Or on crime:

The Home Office had just revealed that 20,000 London homes had been broken into in 1964, compared with 5,500 in 1938. (The current total is something like 165,000 a year.)

Sometimes the discussions are persuasive and sometimes they seem a bit over-the-top. For example, is TV really making people stupid, or do stupid people just really like TV?

Anyway, a call to return to earlier (but still recent) days at times get pushed aside in favor of a much more reactionary vision:

The truth is far more complicated, and – given the circumstances of the time – far more creditable. They [our ancestors] were better than we think they were, and our blithe assumption of moral superiority is not justified. And since much of our condemnation of the past is designed to make current generations feel good about themselves and to prevent fair and serious consideration of older ways of behaving and thinking, this is no small thing.

. . .

The changes it [the book] records and tries to explain, while not directly political themselves, have made it possible for a long-buried radical strain to climb out of its tomb and finish a revolution which first threatened the country during the Civil War, was defeated by the Restoration and headed off by the historic compromise of 1688. It rose again in the aftermath of the French and American revolutions, but was defeated by Church, King, Law, patriotism and tradition . . .

This is a long stretch of almost losing (or losing, for the Jacobites out there). Mr Hitchens would have improved his work if he could have explained how this radical strain can be defeated for good.

Great HBD post

January 25, 2010

At beta revolution

Fed “independence” interpreted

January 25, 2010

Just so we’re clear, Fed "independence" means that us proles are not allowed to know what exactly the Fed is doing and we’re not allowed to change its leadership. So, like Greenspan, Bernanke will leave only when he’s good and ready. Who are we to say otherwise?

And, of course, this "independence" is vital. If the Fed wasn’t independent, it might print money like crazy and destroy the value of the dollar. It’s good to know those things will never happen.

A characteristic of The Remnant?

January 22, 2010

How can one identify the Nockian Remnant? This is a pretty good indication:

Will the average person only preach equality while secretly understanding reality? No, because the best liars are the ones that believe their own nonsense. Humans internalize their societal taboos and stick only to what is proper to say, act upon and yes, even think.

That’s at least true under normal circumstances. But now imagine you took an average liberal and told him that you had 100% irrefutable evidence about whether there were genetic racial differences in IQ. You put a gun to his head and ask him whether HBD is true and tell him if he guesses wrong you’re going to kill him. At that point our liberal might start dispassionately weighing the evidence. But until that point comes or his car breaks down in a black neighborhood he will lie to others and himself. An abstract interest in truth for its own sake is a rare eccentricity.

Review of “Democracy and France” by F.M. Mahony

January 21, 2010

The book can be found here. It goes nicely with this book, so I’ll keep the review brief.

Mr Mahony points to this article, which is short and worth a read in its own right.

This quote basically captures the best of the book:

If democ­ra­cy were aban­doned to its own in­stincts, its pro­gramme would lit­er­al­ly come to this, name­ly, to pre­vent the de­vel­op­ment of in­tel­lect through fear of the in­flu­ence it might ex­er­cise; not mere­ly to de­stroy ac­quired wealth, but to act in such a man­ner that wealth could nev­er more be ac­quired, ow­ing to the bur­den; at­tach­ing there­to; and to es­tab­lish a sys­tem of so­cial equal­ity for the ben­efit of the weak, the in­dif­fer­ent, or the vi­cious, and hence to the detri­ment of pow­er, in­tel­li­gence, and moral­ity.

But if democ­ra­cy were con­tent to be in­con­sis­tent with its prin­ci­ples and pas­sions, if it were to sub­mit its ab­stract no­tions, its blind in­stincts, and its en­vi­ous rage to the control of rea­son, it would solve the prob­lem in the fol­low­ing man­ner. It would nev­er think of en­rich­ing some by im­pov­er­ish­ing oth­ers; it would strive to aug­ment the num­ber of cap­ital­ists and pro­pri­etors, in­stead of hin­der­ing the lay­ing by of pri­vate for­tunes; it would draw from the bo­som of so­ci­ety all the great in­tel­lects there ly­ing for the ser­vice of the State, in­stead of low­er­ing pub­lic sit­ua­tions with­in the reach of in­com­pe­tent per­sons; in a word, it would make so­cial equal­ity con­sist, not in shel­ter­ing those who were naturally su­pe­ri­or from re­buke, nor in sav­ing them from sink­ing be­low the lev­el of the gen­er­al medi­ocrity, but in ex­tend­ing its favour to the man­ifes­ta­tion and de­vel­op­ment of all that in the mass­es is pow­er­ful enough to pass be­yond the com­mon lev­el. To this I see on­ly one dif­fi­cul­ty ; it would be, not the de­mo- crat­ical, but sim­ply the Lib­er­al so­lu­tion.

The rest of the highlights of the critique on democracy are below:

The new Re­pub­li­can school, which was more ful­ly de­vel­oped since the last elec­tions, has sub­li­mat­ed those no­tions to a sin­gu­lar ex­tent. Ac­cord­ing to it, uni­ver­sal suf­frage was not a po­lit­ical in­sti­tu­tion, but the foun­da­tion of all ra­tio­nal so­ci­ety; the pow­er of the peo­ple was not lim­it­ed to the choice of their own rep­re­sen­ta­tives; it em­braced ev­ery­thing; in fine, pop­ular sovereign­ty was not a la­tent right to be ex­er­cised by del­ega­tion, but a right which it was nec­es­sary to call in­to op­er­ation as of­ten and as di­rect­ly as the conditions of the na­tion­al life al­lowed. . . .

Uni­ver­sal suf­frage has such an ex­alt­ed opin­ion, of the favour It con­fers on its cho­sen ones, that it Scru­ples not to test their grat­itude in ev­ery way imag­in­able. An elec­tion is thus a mar­ket, in which the elec­tor be­lieves he has a right to name his own price, in the shape of favours, and the deputy be­comes the busi­ness man of his dis­trict, in fact I might say, the man of all work. . . .

Democ­ra­cy is the ex­er­cise of gov­ern­ment by the whole pop­ula­tion, and as the bulk of the pop­ula­tion is ev­ery­where com­posed of what are called the low­er or­ders, democ­ra­cy nec­es­sar­ily means the gov­ern­ment of a coun­try by those who earn their liveli­hood from day to day. I do not, how­ev­er, mean to con­vey that those hold­ers of na­tion­al sovereignty do not sub­sist on the in­flu­ence of more ed­ucat­ed men, as for ex­am­ple, or­ators and jour­nal­ists who ex­press their opin­ions very freely. The peo­ple are of­ten led, in fact we might say al­ways; but the lead­ers ob­tain the con­fi­dence of the mass­es on­ly by yield­ing to their in­stincts, and con­form­ing to their habit of thought and de­sires. They guide rather than fol­low the mob. They fos­ter the pas­sions which it is their in­ter­est to ex­cite; or if they ex­cite pas­sions, it is on­ly by fos­ter­ing them. . . .

Democ­ra­cy, which is the reign of the ar­ti­san, rep­re­sents the whims of the ar­ti­san, such as not rec­og­niz­ing as re­al labour any­thing but man­ual labour, and es­ti­mat­ing bod­ily effort and its con­se­quent pains by ser­vices ren­dered and re­wards de­served. . . .

Democ­ra­cy is pro­fess­ed­ly for the mid­dle class­es; it is an er­ror which has many oth­ers for cause or con­se­quence. One of the vices of democ­ra­cy, like all sys­tems of half education, is the pas­sion for sim­ple ideas, and con­se­quent­ly for ab­so­lute prin­ci­ples. Democ­ra­cy is sim­pliste, as they now say in French that is not the least among its sins, by which they mean that it is com­posed of ideas ex­pressed in gen­er­al terms, which re­quire nei­ther pre­cise knowl­edge nor in­tel­lec­tu­al ef­fort to be un­der­stood. Un­hap­pi­ly, simple ideas are bar­ren ideas, and gen­er­al opin­ions are more or less false opin­ions. . . .

Lib­er­ty pre­sup­pos­es in­equal­ity, for it con­sists in al­low­ing the nat­ural pow­ers to de­vel­op with the least pos­si­ble in­ter­fer­ence, in or­der that they may give forth all that is in them. The essence of democ­ra­cy, on the con­trary, is equal­ity, and con­se­quent­ly, the de­pres­sion of all that tends to pass the lev­el. . . .

I come to a point graver, per­haps, than the ab­sence of the spir­it of lib­er­al­ism. Democ­ra­cy tends to de­prive the ex­ec­utive of that pow­er of re­sis­tance which no gov­ern­ment can do with­out. A dy­nasty or an aris­toc­ra­cy un­der oth­er sys­tems coun­ter­bal­ance pop­ular pow­er; in the at­tributes with which they are in­vest­ed, in the priv­ileges with which they are surround­ed, is found an­oth­er sup­port be­sides, and if nec­es­sary, against the peo­ple. But in democ­ra­cy there is no pow­er but in the peo­ple them­selves, and when that pow­er becomes tur­bu­lent, dis­or­dered, an­ar­chi­cal, au­thor­ity is want­ing in or­der to re­sist it. Where in­deed is au­thor­ity to be found, when sovereign­ty is on the side of dis­or­der? . . .

Macaulay had the mer­it of con­vey­ing a pre­cise mean­ing in or­di­nary lan­guage. Democ­ra­cy, ac­cord­ing to him, tends to so­cial­ism, and so­cial­ism con­sists in tak­ing from those who have and giv­ing to those who have not; and, as is the case in democ­ra­cy, those who have not are at the same time those who take, so the pro­ceed­ings re­store a state of things prim­itive in the his­to­ry of so­ci­ety,—ex­pro­pri­ation and con­quest.

Review of “A Plea for the Constitution” by John Austin.

January 21, 2010

The art of states­man­ship, like oth­er high and dif­fi­cult arts, can on­ly be ac­quired by those who make it their prin­ci­pal busi­ness.

– John Austin

The book can be found here. I’m pretty sure this John Austin is the relevant one.

The first version of the book that I can find was written in 1850. Mr Austin is arguing against Parliamentary reform, which would (in general) have made Parliament more democratic. Reforms would also have given more power to the House of Commons, power which would have been taken away from the House of Lords and the Monarch. That’s the overview of the proposed reforms. Of course, Mr Austin’s side eventually lost but all of Mr Austin’s predictions about the consequences of reform were correct. (One notices a pattern in this type of historical reading, which I’ve called Mencius Moldbug’s First Law of History).

Here’s Mr Austin’s summary of his argument:

In the course of the fol­low­ing Es­say, I have ad­vanced opin­ions which are now un­pop­ular, and which may pos­si­bly ex­pose me to some oblo­quy; though I well re­mem­ber the time (for I was then a Rad­ical) when the so-called lib­er­al opin­ions which are now pre­dom­inant ex­posed the few who pro­fessed them to po­lit­ical and so­cial pro­scrip­tion. I have said that the bulk of the work­ing peo­ple are not yet qual­ified for po­lit­ical pow­er; that the low­er class­es of the mid­dle class ought not to pre­dom­inate in the House of Com­mons; that the aris­to­crat­ical in­flu­ences in the present com­po­si­tion of that As­sem­bly are a con­di­tion of the free gov­ern­ment un­der which we are hap­py enough to live. And I have said this, because I think it. I am no worshiper of the great and rich, and have no fan­cy for their style of liv­ing. I am by ori­gin and by my strongest sym­pa­thies, a man of the peo­ple; and I have nev­er de­sired, for a sin­gle mo­ment, to as­cend from the mod­est sta­tion which I have al­ways oc­cu­pied.

The advantages of "aristocratical influences" are as follows:

As the pow­er of the Crown and the Up­per House rests on the at­tach­ment of the na­tion to those in­sti­tu­tions, their ori­gin is re­al­ly as pop­ular as that of the House of Com­mons, though their of­fices are not de­rived from for­mal elec­tion by the peo­ple. If the Pres­ident of the Amer­ican Union is the pop­ular chief of the fed­er­al state, our own Queen is the popular chief of the British Par­lia­men­tary Gov­ern­ment. The dif­fer­ences, in­deed, be­tween the two are de­cid­ed­ly to the ad­van­tage of Eng­land; for the Queen oc­cu­pies the throne by virtue of an hered­itary ti­tle which gives sta­bil­ity to the in­sti­tu­tions of the coun­try; whilst the Pres­ident fills his chair by virtue of a pop­ular elec­tion which pe­ri­od­ical­ly con­vuls­es the coun­try and threat­ens its in­sti­tu­tions with ru­in. It ap­pears, there­fore, that the func­tions of the Crown and of the House of Lords are not un­sub­stan­tial for­mal­ities. Ex­er­cised discreet­ly, they are a high­ly use­ful curb up­on the House of Com­mons. They not on­ly check the temer­ity of the elect­ed branch of the Par­lia­ment, but they pre­vent it from erect­ing the tyran­ny over sub­ject bod­ies and in­di­vid­uals which it would im­pose up­on them if it were vir­tu­al­ly sovereign.

The disadvantages of democracy are as follows:

No man, look­ing at­ten­tive­ly at the re­al­ities around him, can doubt that a great ma­jor­ity of the work­ing class­es are im­bued with prin­ci­ples es­sen­tial­ly so­cial­ist; that their very natural opin­ions on po­lit­ical and eco­nom­ical sub­jects are par­tial ap­pli­ca­tions of the premis­es which are the ground­work of the so­cial­ist the­ories. They be­lieve, for ex­am­ple, very gen­er­al­ly, that the rate of wages de­pends up­on the will of the em­ploy­ers; that the prices of pro­vi­sions and oth­er ar­ti­cles of gen­er­al con­sump­tion, de­pend up­on the will of the sellers; that the wealth of the rich­er class­es is some­how sub­tract­ed from their own; and that cap­ital is not an ad­miri­cle, but an an­tag­onist of labour. We might, there­fore, ex­pect from a House of Com­mons rep­re­sent­ing the prej­udices of the non-​pro­pri­etary class, a min­imum rate of wages, a max­imum price of pro­vi­sions and oth­er nec­es­saries of life, with num­ber­less oth­er re­stric­tions on the ac­tu­al free­dom of con­tract­ing. We might al­so ex­pect from such an as­sem­bly, that they would sad­dle the rich­er class­es, and es­pe­cial­ly the own­ers of so-​called ‘re­al­ized’ prop­er­ty, with the en­tire bur­then of tax­ation; de­stroy­ing or di­min­ish­ing there­by the mo­tives to ac­cu­mu­la­tion, to­geth­er with the ef­fi­cient de­mand for the labour of their own con­stituents

This may sound familiar. The disadvantages continue:

The aris­toc­ra­cies of birth and so­cial po­si­tion, and still more the aris­toc­ra­cy of mind, would be gen­er­al­ly dis­taste­ful to the con­stituen­cies. On fi­nance and po­lit­ical econ­omy, on law and the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, on the ed­uca­tion of the low­er and su­pe­ri­or class­es, on the re­la­tions of the coun­try to oth­er in­de­pen­dent states, and on al­most all the subjects of our do­mes­tic and for­eign pol­icy, the con­stituen­cies would think like men who have not con­sid­ered such sub­jects, or have con­sid­ered them slight­ly, and through the medi­um of pop­ular prej­udices. Sound fi­nanciers and po­lit­ical economists, pro­found the­oret­ical and prac­ti­cal lawyers, men em­inent in sci­ence and let­ters, dis­tin­guished jour­nal­ists and philo­soph­ical states­men (such, for ex­am­ple, as Mr. Burke), would not be ap­pre­ci­at­ed by the re­formed con­stituen­cies, or would even be ob­jects of their pos­itive dis­like. Un­less they were skilled in elec­tion tac­tics, or were mas­ters of pop­ular elo­quence and pop­ular histri­on­ic fac­ul­ties, they would have but a poor chance of sit­ting in the House of Com­mons; and to men en­dowed with su­pe­ri­or rea­son and knowl­edge, the ac­qui­si­tion of those arts and fac­ul­ties would be next to im­pos­si­ble, though they were not with­held from ac­quir­ing them by self-​re­spect and taste.

I don’t see how anyone could not agree with this. In a mere 200 years, we’ve gone from this to this (and he was the better option!). At this rate, in 200 more years, we’ll be lucky to be governed by people who can read.

Mr Austin’s book is short, easy to read and insightful. His predictions stand up very well. It’s worth the short time it takes to read the book.

Review of “It didn’t Start with Watergate” by Victor Lasky

January 20, 2010

In reviewing this book, I’m going to make an argument that the only way to understand Watergate is to understand as part of a broader historical era that begins with what is called “McCarthyism” continues into “the Sixties” and end with Watergate.

Here’s my argument in brief:

Before, during and immediately after WWII, the United States Government (USG) expanded dramatically. During this period of expansion, the USG was transformed into an organization that is run by permanent employees of the federal bureaucracy, the media, and academia (readers of Mencius Moldbug will know this group as The Cathedral). This transformational process is The New Deal. Burnham will help you understand the infiltration and rise to power of these organizations. McCarthyism represents a backlash against this transform, but it was too late. McCarthy was correct but even the truth was not powerful enough to defeat this new power structure – Evans will show you what happens when you fight The Cathedral.

Then, the Sixties happened and it was fucked up. Nevertheless, the crazy actions of these people only become logical if they are understood as a further attempt to seize power. The Cathedral was taken, but major actors of the Sixties were looking for more efficient routes to power. I think the best way to understand the Sixties is to analogize it to McCarthy. The Cathedral co-opted the energy of the Sixties. For example, if you look at the members of the Weather Underground, they are no longer storming the barricades, but they are now in academia. Thus we see that enemies to the right get crushed and enemies to the left get co-opted.

Watergate provides the proof that the takeover of USG by The Cathedral is complete. The Cathedral can now oust a President at will and on a whim. I think there was some element of revenge as well, as Nixon was intimately involved in the McCarthy movement.

Mencius Molbug said, “So Watergate marks the transition between the Middle New Deal and the Late New Deal. Or perhaps the Early and the Middle. As a student of history, I am reluctant to commit to any such chronology while the era remains ongoing. I expect it to remain ongoing for a while.” If I am interpreting this correctly, the Middle New Deal marks the successful takeover – the victory of the Cathedral. The Late New Deal is then the period in which The Cathedral is firmly entrenched in power.

Now, here are my thoughts on Lasky’s book on Watergate:

The first two-thirds of the book chronicle the activities of the presidencies of FDR, JFK and LBJ. These presidents had the FBI investigate their enemies, had wiretaps on competitors, covered up serious crimes, took kickbacks, and used the IRS as a weapon against basically anyone they didn’t like. After the first two-thirds of the book you basically assume that they are capable of anything short of murder or rape. Lasky also makes clear that many of the reporters who went after Nixon knew of, or were directly involved in perpetrating these activities on behalf of these earlier presidents.

For example, Bill Moyers:

. . . As special assistant to the President [LBJ] he [Moyers] ordered the FBI to run a name check on numerous members of Goldwater’s campaign and Senate staffs in an effort to obtain derogatory information about their possible sexual aberrations.

What the President was looking for, Moyers told the FBI, was information about “fags” and other perverts on the Arizonan’s staff.

So, according to Moyers, it was bad when Nixon did this stuff but it was fine when he did it.

Lasky’s thesis is perhaps best found in a quote that he provides from the Chancellor of the University of Rochester at commencement during the Watergate era:

. . . The saddest think about Watergate is that in important respects it is far from unique, or even unusual. . . . One thing different about Watergate, however, is that the end is not acceptable to the academic-journalistic complex, as were the ends pursued by Daniel Ellsberg, the Berrigan brothers, the anti-war rioters, the Black Panthers and innumerable others stretching back to the sit-in strikers of the 1930s.

This quote also fits our thesis that Watergate marks the high-watermark of the New Deal. Frankly, so does this one from Richard Nixon, also provide by Lasky:

Hiss was clearly the symbol of a considerable number of perfectly loyal citizens whose theaters of operation are the nation’s mass media and universities, its scholarly foundations, and its government bureaucracies . . . They are not Communists (but) they are of a mind-set as doctrinaire as those on the extreme right. . . . As soon as the Hiss case broke and well before a full bill of particulars was even available, much less open to close critical analysis, they leaped to the defense of Alger Hiss—and to counter attack of unparalleled venom and irrational fury on his accusers.

The last third of the book deals with Watergate itself. Here, Lasky’s thesis is given best by another quote he finds from an anonymous Congressman:

We’re going to impeach his [Nixon’s] ass. We’re going to do it. . . . We’re going to do it, although nobody will quite know why. . . . Beyond all questions of guilt or innocence, he must be impeached because we, the Super-Bowl people, have been promised the show. We’re gearing up for it emotionally the way did when the ballyhoo built up for the Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs match.

And so they did. Despite the fact that “as it turned out, the one person who had absolutely no advance knowledge of the Watergate break-in was Richard M. Nixon.” Much of the common historical knowledge of Watergate is also incorrect. For example, the story was not uncovered by great investigative journalism, but was largely uncovered because of leaky federal bureaucracies – basically in open war with Nixon (also furthering the argument for our thesis on The New Deal).

But then, the whole thing wasn’t about Nixon’s crimes – if they really cared about those, they’d have to indict every President since FDR – it was about power. A new group finally had an unbreakable grip on it and they were having fun demonstrating just how unbreakable their grip was.

Why you should live and work in DC

January 20, 2010

Most conservatives and libertarians complain about DC. I’ve lived here for 6 years and worked in government almost the whole time. Let me tell you that you understand this stuff, there’s no better way to live:

As for the biggest winner, well, our readers won’t be surprised to learn that it was Washington, D.C. by a large margin. United Van Lines moved nearly seven families to the federal city last year for every three it moved out. As always when the feds gear up the income redistribution machine, the imperial city and its denizens get a big cut of the action.

As in ancient Rome, the provinces are being required to send tribute to subsidize those living in the capital, which produces few services save transfer payments. No wonder the provincials are starting to rebel—even in Massachusetts.

Best argument against democracy ever?

January 19, 2010

(HT: Spearhead)

More Civil War

January 19, 2010

I think this is absolutely correct, but if were a mainstream libertarian, I wouldn’t highlight it – I would shut up about it:

The contribution of abolitionist constitutionalism to the original public meaning of Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment was long obscured by a revisionist history that marginalized abolitionism, the “radical” Republicans, and their effort to establish democracy over Southern terrorism during Reconstruction.

As Shelby Foote said about Reconstruction (link may not be great due to transition from Blogger to WordPress):

The [Confederate] flag is a symbol my great grandfather fought under and in defense of. I am for flying it anywhere anybody wants to fly it. I do know perfectly well what pain it causes my black friends, but I think that pain is not necessary if they would read the confederate constitution and knew what the confederacy really stood for. This country has two grievous sins on its hands. One of them is slavery – whether we’ll ever be cured of it, I don’t know. The other one is emancipation – they told 4 million people, you’re free, hit the road, and they drifted back into a form of peonage that in some ways is worse than slavery. These things have got to be understood before they’re condemned. They’re condemned on the face of it because they take that flag to represent what those yahoos represent as – in their protest against civil rights things. But the people who knew what that flag really stood for should have stopped those yahoos from using it as a symbol of what they stood for. But we didn’t – and now you had this problem of the confederate flag being identified as sort of a roughneck thing, which it is not. . . .

I don’t object to any individual hiding from history, but I do object to their hiding history from me. And that’s what seems to me to be going on here. There are a lot of terrible things that happened in American history, but we don’t wipe ’em out of the history books; we don’t destroy their symbols; we don’t forget they ever happened; we don’t resent anybody bringing it up. The confederate flag has been placed in that position that’s unique with an American symbol. I’ve never known one to be so despised.

There’s more on reconstruction at that post and in this book.

Now, I think Professor Barnett is correct to suggest that today’s Constitution is the Constitution of the Radical Republicans. The reason it is so, is that they won the war – part of which was about the meaning of the Constitution – hence they get to say what it means. From a libertarian standpoint, it’s a bit more muddled. "Their effort to establish democracy" was very bloody. As Nordhoff documents (in the book linked to) it was also corrupt. For example, it entailed choosing who was allowed to be elected. It also involved financially and economically ruining the states upon which democracy was established for generations. Other than that though, it was super noble.

I, personally, will stand up for the Radical Republican interpretation because I’ve seen what happens when you disagree with it (you get killed and your descendants get ruined). So, long live the Radical Constitution!

As I’ve said before, I’m not pro-South on this issue. My point is only that from the perspective of a freedom-loving, good-government-loving person there is no good side in the Civil War. By way of example, England managed to free its slaves without causing the deaths of 600,000 people. It also managed to meaningfully free them – something that the Radical Republicans were unable to do.