War is NOT the Health of the State (Sometimes)

From my friend, the libertarian Timothy Sandefur (you can find the entire post here).

“Libertarian sloganeers are fond of saying that war “is the health of the state,” but this is just as much untrue as it is true. While war is a major threat to freedom—bringing with it surveillance, conscription, confiscation, destruction, curfews, etc.—“peace” is just as often an effective excuse for censorship, spying, arbitrary arrest, forcible disarmament, and, yes, even conscription. Being forced into civil service has been justified as a means to ensuring peace. In the years before 1861, it was those who sought to preserve “peace” who aided and abetted slavery, who censored or ignored the abolitionists, who demanded the return of fugitives, and devised complex compromises to allow the belligerent Slave Power to expand—all so as to have peace. Fugitives have very often been handed over to their persecutors on the excuse that it will ensure peace. And war is often the opposite of the health of the state. The American Revolution was not the health of the British state. The American Civil War was not the health of the Confederate state. World War II was not the health of the Nazi or Japanese Imperial states.”

On the Radio

I was on the Brian Thomas radio show this morning from Cinncinati, Ohio. I have no idea how he found out about my book, but he was a gracious host. It was a short interview. We talked for only a few minutes, but I was grateful for the opportunity.

One thing that we discussed was comparisons of 1776 as “secession from the British Empire” versus white southern secession in 1860-61. I made the point that they were not the same thing, as in 1776 the American revolutionaries were in part revolting against lack of representation in Parliament, or their lack of a voice in the Empire’s affairs, they knew that they were fomenting revolution and expected to be treated as such if captured, and, finally, there was at least some sense that slavery was a contradiction to their ideals. None of these conditions, it seems to me, applied in 1860-61.

So, a good morning and thanks to Brian Thomas for having me on.

Harry V. Jaffa, Rest in Peace

I was so sorry to hear of the death of Harry Jaffa, author of Crisis of the House Divided, one of the most important books on Lincoln ever written. Jaffa was one of the central figures in my book, of course, but more significantly I think he was the man responsible for re-articulating the idea that the Civil War may well have been unavoidable (there were real issues at stake, after all) and that conservatives should embrace rather than reject Lincoln. He waged a lonely war in the pages of National Review during the 1960s (largely with the libertarian writer Frank Meyer) and, I think, convinced conservatives to rethink their traditional hostility to Lincoln. I have little to add to what some others have said except to say that I think the best tribute to this man’s life is simply to read his great work, Crisis, on the Lincoln-Douglas debates.