Comment Of The Day: “Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019”

Presidential Thanksgiving Addresses, which used to be a big deal but which have fallen by the wayside. Winston Churchill had a memorable one too, on November 23, 1944:

We have come here tonight to add our celebration to those which are going forward all over the world, wherever allied troops are fighting in bivouacs and dugouts, on battlefields, on the high seas, and the highest air. Always this annual festival has been dear to the hearts of the American people. Always there has been that desire for thanksgiving, and never, I think, has there been more justification, more compulsive need than now.

It is your Day of Thanksgiving, and when we feel the truth of the facts which are before us, that in three or four years the peaceful, peace-loving people of the United States, with all the variety and freedom of their life in such contrast to the iron discipline which has governed many other communities – when we see that in three or four years the United Sates has in sober fact become the greatest military, naval, and air power in the world – that, I say to you in this time of war, is itself a subject for profound thanksgiving.

We are moving forward in this struggle which spreads over all the lands and all the oceans; we are moving forward surely steadily, irresistibly, and perhaps with God’s aid, swiftly towards victorious peace.

There again is a fitting reason for thanksgiving, but I have spoken of American thanksgiving. Tonight here, representatives of vaster audiences and greater forces moving outside this hall, it is British and American thanksgiving that we may celebrate today. And why is that? It is because under the compulsion of mysterious and all-powerful destiny we are together.

We are joined together, shedding our blood side by side, struggling for the same ideals, and joined together until the triumph of the great causes which we serve has been made manifest.

In her Comment of the Day, on “Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019,”Alizia points us to one of Abe Lincoln’s Thanksgiving speeches:

The Proto-Fascist Lincoln wrote:

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

The first assertion I would make is that we now live in outcomes of the Civil conflict of the mid-1800s. Some historian, I forget who, said that the Civil War or War Between the States was the ‘defining event’ that frames everything. When I heard it, I didn’t understand. Now I think I understand better.

There are many aspects to this, of course, but the one that most strongly comes to my mind is this imperious (that is how I see it) declaration made by President Lincoln which is a rhetorical marvel but, in fact, a group of powerful lies. Did the ‘glorious being’ desire that a civil war divide a people? Did the glorious being ‘give thanks’ that 700,000 men were killed as a result of an internal war that fractured the Republic? Was the ‘glorious creator’ standing behind the North in its imperious claim to define a ‘nation’ whose identity it would control? The questions could go on & on & on…

Given what I now know — and got from reading ‘contrary narratives’ — I would not sit down to share a meal of Thanksgiving if it is predicated on these terms. But you see? That is how the Liberal Mind frames things. And that is (at least some part of) the origin of the absurd, over-weening ‘progressive certainty’ about the Righteousness of their Cause. And this very clearly demonstrates how they even claim God to their side!

“We have decimated you. We invaded you. We destroyed your work and the civil structures on which your life had been built. We inculcated a violent, unremitting hate for you and we taught it to our young. But now, under the all-seeing eye of a Beneficent (and glorious) Being we invite you to sit at the table of Thanks with us.”

“Because what we did was at God’s behest, we enacted God’s will. Why then do you complain? Slurp your soup in gladness, you devil!”

Sorry, but I can’t go along with it. My view is that there needs to be — there must be and it is now being undertaken — a profound historical revisionism. Why? The roots of the problems which are coming to fruition in our present will continue on to some sort of civil conflict as *they* construct their inevitable Neo-Maoist State. Just a few short years more. But all of that and all of this has a causal history! It did not drop down out of the sky and from a cloud that blew in from somewhere else.

31 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Pre-Thanksgiving Day Ethics Wrap-Up, 11/27/2019”

  1. Alizia, please leave Lincoln alone! If you had focused on Wilson and his delusional viewpoint that he was endowed by God to make the world safe for Democracy and empowered to throw dissenters freely into prison, I would probably be on your side. Lincoln on the other hand, saw the true evil of Southern slavery and did everything in his power to ensure it was put at an end. He also unlike Wilson, saw the true horrors of the battlefield first hand and despite suffering deep depression about that, knew that the war had to be fought to the bitter end.

    • Lincoln’s reply to an editorial by Horace Greeley:

      “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

      • Thank you, Willem Reese, on two counts. I had heard about such an argument a long time ago (BC: Before Computers), and hunted for it without any luck. The idea that it existed was forgotten but something about Lincoln has rankled whenever the subject of That War came up. This resolved doubts about Lincoln and, to a certain extent, about the war itself. The other part of the “thank you” comes from forcing me to rethink. When doubts resolve – one way or the other – it clears my mental sinuses so I can breathe more easily.

        • On a besoin de nettoyer des voies nasales de temps en temps.

          You might be interested to read my essay L’hygiène nasale chez l’adulte.

          L’irrigation nasale d’une solution saline peut améliorer les symptômes dus à la rhinite (inflammation des voies nasales) et la qualité de vie en éliminant le mucus et les irritants. On peut effectuer ce nettoyage chez l’enfant plus vieux et chez l’adulte en position assise ou debout.

          Obviously — to those with ears — I am dealing in meta-political terms, not just in mental terms, but I assume you know this! 🙂

  2. Destroying the South, eliminating it as a rival, and keeping an ‘enemy nation’ from establishing itself right at the mouth of the Mississippi, so that the North could develop as an industrial power and carry forth its ‘manifest destiny’, seemed to me more of the *real reason* why such a costly war was put in motion. Clearly, America-as-Nation was born out of that, and American identity as a ‘national civic religion’ also was born out of that.

    I am certainly not saying this to *blame* anyone, but rather to try to clearly see and to state *how power functions*. And there is always a duality: there is a whole range of ‘good’ that resulted from the excessive sacrifice that war required. But there is also a terrible cost.

    And the real area of my interest is to try to see clearly how the civil war conflict — if indeed it ‘defines America’ as some historians say — is still playing out in our present, even if average people are unaware of the ‘causal chains’ that produce it.

    I do not think that intelligent people should believe their own national propaganda, or to put it another way I guess I think that understanding the world involves one in a kind of gnosticism. The more you know, the less you believe the ‘story’,

    • The North was already an industrial power prior to 1860 and the election of Lincoln. Manifest Destiny was embraced by both the North and South starting with the Louisiana Purchase and later the Mexican-American War of 1850 during which military leaders of both North and South fought. Your thesis is bogus.

      • It isn’t really because I would not contest those points. All I can suggest — if you wish to understand my perspective (and it is not *mine*) — is to devote some energy to the effort.

        I do agree with you that the South definitely had a sense of Manifest Destiny, and it was severely thwarted, leading to a certain hypocriticism of the North.

    • I think it’s fair to say that Lincoln would have blocked the South’s exit (just as Andrew Jackson threatened to do, when slavery was not the primary issue) whether slavery would be abolished or not. The establishment of a potentially hostile nation bordering on the US, all while weakening both halves, would have been an existential disaster. Lincoln knew he was on shaky Constitutional ground; to his credit, he did what was necessary to save the US anyway. It is an odd fact that the greatest American Presidents tend to know when to breach the Constitution, and the others do not.

  3. And there are some people — Jonathan Bowden for one (who would be considered Extreme Right) — who have proposed that Germany should have been left to destroy the Soviet Union, and possibly helped to bring that destruction about. Wouldn’t that have been a strange twist? The war fought by Britain resulted in the loss of its empire though everyone feels that the *cause* was worth the price. I am not sure that it really was, and certainly the British have had their doubts; that is when one looks speculatively at historical alternatives (there ‘madness lies’ as Jack recently quoted).

    But the result of that European war was a near-total gain for America, especially America as plutocracy. It set the stage for (what is recognized by some as) American Empire. You know, the empire America cannot and will not admit that it administers.

    Britain was destroyed — and Britain would have been a rival to American sea-power — and America, taken on the whole, was empowered and strengthened. At the end of that war it was a bristling, fully intact world power. What better result could be imagined? And from that there has been one American success after another. From the end of the WW2 up till recently the American story was one of success after success.

    So, we tend to ‘believe in’ those outcomes which have been the most advantageous to us, and in one way or the other, overtly or more subtly, we not only propose but we actually believe that God was on our side: that the Cosmos stands with us. That is the doctrine of Manifest Destiny of course (which is a national metaphysics and part of our civic religion).

    The part that I really, truly and honestly do not understand is how to look at America in the present. That is, should I *accept* and go along with its elaborate National Mythology? You know, I could do this as a conscious choice (and indeed many have done it who have been, in previous times, involved in contrary narrative views).

    I have been reading (as I said in another thread) America Now: An Inquiry Into Civilization In The United States (1938) and it provides a picture of where things stood then. Its perspectives are liberal, hyper-liberal and radical-liberal, and that was 1938.

    The present, the now, is a direct extension of that except so many different things have happened. Almost too much to hold in the mind. But it is the same trajectory really. There is no such thing as American Conservatism! There is only more or less Radical American Progressivism! I am not making this up or saying it for any devious reason: it is simply true. There is no reverse-current to Radical American Progressivism. Trump does not represent such a current.

    Now, I wish that someone would put together the same group of essays but dated 2019!

  4. Both British and American leaders agreed upon the Europe first strategy when America entered the war. Despite the British Navy which was first rate, Britain could not be the industrial powerhouse that the USA was. Britain was spent at the end of WW2 so the collapse of the British Empire was inevitable. As far as postwar, with the rapid recovery of the Soviet Union, the USA was forced to give up prewar isolationism, due to Soviet aggression in Eastern Europe, Korea, and eventually South East Asia.

    • Right, and that is why people like Bowden say that Britain should have come to terms with Germany. Under that scenario it might have conserved some of its empire and might not have been exhausted, as you say.

      With help Germany might have destroyed the Soviet Union: the cause of so many really serious problems.

      I have no idea what sort of world — European world — that would have resulted in. Certainly there would have been unending resistance to German occupation. But all of Europe would not have been reduced to piles of rubble, and Europe — the jewel of the world as Robinson Jeffers said — would not have been reduced to beggar-status. Was German power in Europe a greater threat than Soviet communism?

      What is the purpose of this speculation? I guess it is that historical choices are immutable.

      • There is no point to the speculation. But England did the right thing. Allying with Hitler would be the ultimate corruption. England a a concept would have been committing suicide. And in case you missed it, Hitler’s “allies” didn’t fare too well.

        • Allying with Hitler would be the ultimate corruption.

          It is to be noted that the US allied itself definitely with the Soviet Union and indeed turned one of the more corrupt figures — of that conflict and of history — into America’s beloved uncle.

          The Bowden premise is similar to some of the very Right-leaning French chauvinist nationalism: an ‘alliance’ would not have been the desired route, for obvious reasons, but some sort of entente.

          These speculations are only relevant as far as I am concerned to be able to see the machinations of our present in a more direct light. Both to see *how things have wound up as they have* and *why people are searching for other narratives and outlooks with which to confront (what they understand to be) corrupted liberalism.

        • So, you might ask — it would be a good question — why do I mess around and seem to play irreverently within *forbidden categories*? And why, now in our present, are many people looking around for levers and tools (intellectual, historical, revisionist) with which to confront the ‘liberal rot’ of the present?

          Why is it (though this question does not really need to be asked and is rhetorical) that with the slightest blush of *contrariness*, the slightest questioning of liberal categories, why is it that one immediately receives profound moral condemnation? Which means: to be cast out into the outer darkness.

          How has it come about that Liberal Progressive Ideology has penetrated so far, not only into our minds but it would seem into our souls? So that when we *look out* on the world we can only see in those ways pre-established by liberal doctrines? This is what I call *the metaphysics of the present*.

          If my memory is correct, I came onto this forum somewhere around the time that HRC had declared the Alt-Right as ‘the basket of deplorables’. The thing is, that if you take your definition of Bowden as being in the same category of condemnation, you too will broadly condemn a wide swath of people who take a critical view of aspects of liberalism and the *liberal enterprise’.

          Bowden’s influential writing on Counter-Currents.

          My theory is that the Liberal Order, which does in its unique and sometimes insidious ways lead to ‘moral rot’ — as is clearly evident in the overall decline of the Occident — calls forth an opposition, a corrective, and the only way that a corrective could correct is through a rigorous process of renovation. The moribund structures have to be renovated and this does point — on this matter I think I am clear — to a kind of innerly-directed violence. In a Thomist sense the battle is always an interior battle.

          The thing about Bowden — and certainly Greg Johnson (and I will add to this Red Ice Radio and a group of other ‘deplorable’ activists who are having an effect and are reaching people with their ideas, and this really alarms the *powers that be* and, as you know, they are working to shut them out) — the thing about Bowden is that though he was raised a Catholic he did not consider himself a Catholic, and he defined himself as a Pagan-Nietzschean.

          Myself, I guess I am far more timid in that I locate myself within a Traditional Catholicism. My metaphysics are Christian and I also think that the social doctrines of the Church (for example many of the Encyclicals of Leo Xlll) do the best job of defining what is needed in society for the better running of society. Therefore, I am actually forced to condemn Bowden and Johnson — and a huge swath of the Dissident Right — who have rejected, fundamentally, the Christian worldview.

          I have to admit that I did try to envision a militant, proto-fascist Christianity. I assume that you are aware, and some who read here are aware, that some powerful intellects of the Interwar Period (and the pre-Interwar Period prior to the 1930s) did try to envision a sort of Aryan Christ. Houston Chamberlain for example. But then CG Jung was deeply enmeshed in a kind of Aryan Pagan-Christianism. I think that Jung was a proficient shape-shifter though and despite his ‘real inclinations’ successfully ‘image-managed’ himself to be that slightly Mercurial, pipe-smoking, eccentric but lovable pater of his later years.

          What is the point here? My basic point is, and has been, and remains, that the present Liberal Order is now showing its true colors as it morphs into a vast and complex social control system. In no sense could it be said to be ‘Christian’. America has shown itself to be the leader in this, and these processes began about 100 years ago. The democratic form is upheld, but power subverts that form and has successfully subverted it for a long time. I write about this and I speak to this general condition, and it is that act that does not gain me many friends within this milieu. It is too radical. It makes too many demands on the individual who must — as I say — admit to his/her *complicity*.

          But, unless one can oppose the present, reigning Order — the basic liberal structure which is a Progressive structure and undergirded by a progressive metaphysics — one can only be and one will only be swept along by its tremendous force.

          So, my point has been, my *project* has been, to attempt almost as a kind of *entertainment* and definitely with some *entertainment value* to point out that every dissident posture, every truly conservative and right-leaning dissident idea, has links to what we are forced to call ‘fascist mechanism’. In our day even a rigorous socially-oriented, and rigorously self-denying Catholic praxis would be — is — defined as ‘fascistic’. My theory is that all rigorous spiritual disciplines are fascistic in this specific sense: that they become self-denying (again, my reference is a Thomist metaphysics and also psychology). In order to *take matters in hand* one has no choice but to take oneself in hand, and this means confronting, and correcting, the rebellious self, and this is non-different from confronting precisely what early Christians meant as they defined the ‘demonic’.

          How then does one deal with *the world*? The world is a vicious, mutable and mutating power-system, and presently (to all appearances) this world shows itself as beginning a radical mutation into extraordinary applications of control-technology. This shows how the mechanics of power supersede and fundamentally undermine any and possibly all notions of human freedom and liberty, and indeed the sovereignty of the individual in the Christian sense.

          An extraordinary battle begins. Or to put it another way it comes more fully, more obviously, into the open.

  5. For more context, the question of God’s will in regards to the Civil War was something that Lincoln personally wrestled with. He ultimately believed that saving the Union was, in the long-term, the best way to a peaceful future and therefore the right course. No one can know for sure whether he was right, but I wouldn’t bet on an alternate reality with two adjacent Americas (one with legal slavery) being peaceful neighbors.

    Lincoln did not see either saving the Union or abolishing slavery as possible without a bloody war between the States (neither did the founding generation, which is why they put a moratorium in their time on even discussing slavery.) He saw the Civil War as a consequence of the bloodshed and immorality of generations of slavery, and therefore God’s justice was in it. Since he made public addresses about this during the debate over succession, I assume that others shared, or cane to share, his opinion.

    For even more context, most of Lincoln’s address here is a paraphrase of Washington’s original Thanksgiving address (much of it is just repeated verbatim) with asides that relate to the Civil War. It’s not entirely Lincoln talking.

    • He saw the Civil War as a consequence of the bloodshed and immorality of generations of slavery, and therefore God’s justice was in it.

      In my view here, with what you just said, you have isolated in a chemically-pure form, just precisely God’s ‘justice’ in bringing about destruction in our present. If there was God’s ‘justice’ in the terrible conduct of that war that reveals, in my view, a still-operative ideological underpinning of American Progressivism that still moves radically forward:

      The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

      In my view this paragraph, this Terrible Paragraph, can and should be critically examined. For just as Mr Lincoln in that moment and at that time assumes himself to be the vehicle through which God’s woe will be visited upon the enemy he defines, so too will someone decide to blanket Vietnam with Agent Orange, for those people there, too, did offend and do offend ‘God’, and deserve the punishment they get: from God.

      Therefore, the metaphysics of American self-perception can here be clearly seen. You act in the world, and your actions are those of God Himself. Be it Lincoln or George Bush. Now, here is the amazing thing and it is truly Wonderful: you do not have to address nor do you have to pay for any of the consequences of your national actions. Why? Because it is God acting through you against those who ‘offenses reek to Heaven’.

      I hope that you can see how these ideas are manifestly corrupt. So let us take an example: Charles Blow has been defining for months and years just who are these who have gained and deserve God’s condemnation. It is not just the judgment of Charles Blow but that Charles Blow speaks and reveals God’s condemning will. And it can be directed, as he sees fit and as they see fit, to those who “by whom the offense cometh”.

      This is all farce. Wars are only fought when specific sectors have something to be gained from, and then the pretexts are sought.

      There is really a great deal more to be said on this theme.

      • You have several interesting comments along the page here. Thanks.

        And, like many these days, I often feel an urge for a nettoyage…but afraid it will take a mental bleach or acid; salt just won’t cut it, I fear.

      • “so too will someone decide to blanket Vietnam with Agent Orange, for those people there, too, did offend and do offend ‘God’, and deserve the punishment they get: from God.”

        You’d have to show me where a national leader said that it was God’s will to blanket Vietnam with Agent Orange. Otherwise, I have to assume that you’re trying to connect dots that really don’t connect.

          • I’m pretty sure I understand what you’re getting at, I just don’t believe there’s a connection.

            -Lincoln was not using God’s will as his justification for starting the war. The war was already going on, the casualties were piling up, and Lincoln was musing over God’s purposes in all of it. It’s a very passive, “this is how we might interpret the greater meaning behind what’s going on” and not an active, “I can justify anything by invoking God.” There is no mystery about Lincoln’s very pragmatic arguments for going to war.

            -If you mistakenly conflate “God’s will” with “the most reasonable thing to do in a situation” that would be because those generally would have been seen as the same thing, and someone like Lincoln would have been aiming at both. There’s a reason people generally pray to be given wisdom. God’s will is not arbitrary or without guiding principles.

            -By the time of The Vietnam War and after, no president could have made a statement like Lincoln’s. Civic and public life was (and is) almost entirely secular. If, say, George Bush had his own ideas about God’s will in regards to his foreign policy decisions, it wasn’t going to carry any weight in front of Congress.

            So instead of Lincoln quite vulnerablly hoping that the bloodshed of the Civil War might have been an inevitable judgement of God (rather than a complete mistake) revealing some kind of direct evidence of American fanaticism, we see a correlation between adventurist wars and increasing secularization. That may just be a coincidence, with the increasing foreign entanglements happening as the U.S. has gained more worldwide influence. It still correlates negatively with your theory. In fact, if you go back even further, to George Washington’s policy of outright isolationism, you’d find even greater levels of blatant, stuffy Protestantism in government. His inauguration would have been worthy of King David:

            “[O]n the morning of the day on which our illustrious President will be invested with his office, the bells will ring at nine o’clock, when the people may go up to the house of God and in a solemn manner commit the new government, with its important train of consequences, to the holy protection and blessing of the Most High. An early hour is prudently fixed for this peculiar act of devotion and . . . is designed wholly for prayer.”

            This is the President who said, “The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

            Doesn’t sound like a guy who thinks he can justify wars of aggression by invoking God.

            • Lincoln was not using God’s will as his justification for starting the war.

              It seems to me that you are not reasoning subtly enough. But first I think we have to establish that there arose a necessity to create the conditions for war. If I understand war, and the motivations that put it in motion, there are always — there must always be — solid and sound reasons for a war to be worth fighting. And those reasons were that the North was becoming a different sort of power than the South; the South was recognized as a dangerous rival; and therefore it became expedient to eliminate that enemy. The arguments about ‘holding the Union together’, while definitely not lies, but do not tell the whole story. It is presented as some sort of Mystic Union that could not be shattered. But in truth the larger and *this world* ambitions of the North required that it a) eliminate the rival and b) incorporate the conquered rival territory into its larger system.

              All of that requires all different manner of persuasive argument. And at the core of the persuasive argument employed by Lincoln is all his assertions, openly stated, implied or concealed, that this war was ordained by God. The reason that seeing this has importance is varied. One part is that such notions, such assertions, are ‘metaphysical’ to the notions that underpin America. But that is not a difficult point, nor is it contentious: American Puritans — ultra-evangelicals — put their stamp on America in the founding-period.

              It’s a very passive, “this is how we might interpret the greater meaning behind what’s going on”.

              What you say here certainly does not negate my general point and it also reinforces it. I think Lincoln’s argument or ‘ideological arrangement’, while not the reason in any sense why this war was concocted and instigated, is yet part of the structure of its justification.

              But what interests me more is how these justifications 1) remain and continue to function, even in open, overt terms, or 2) ‘go underground’ and become psychological or attitudinal notions. My concept is that the Progressive Left in America is continuing forward this ultra-progressive and semi-evangelical movement and that in order to understand this — that is American Progressivism — one has to understand how it derives from Protestant-Evangelicalism.

              If you mistakenly conflate “God’s will” with “the most reasonable thing to do in a situation” that would be because those generally would have been seen as the same thing, and someone like Lincoln would have been aiming at both. There’s a reason people generally pray to be given wisdom. God’s will is not arbitrary or without guiding principles.

              Here, if I am not mistaken, you reveal your similar configuration within Protestant-Evangelicalism. You imply here that ‘the right thing’ and thus ‘God’s will’ was an attack on the South, and that what was ‘reasonable’ is reasonable and also ‘good’ and therefore — since God is reasonable and good — the necessary thing to do. Jack says largely the same thing. The war was illegal, but it was necessary and ‘good’.

              What I am trying to point out to *you* (vosotros) is that even today, but invisibly and unbeknownst to you, *you* carry forward the same attitudes as operated back then.

              You can carry out any evil you decide you need to; you then justify it by asserting it is God’s will, or the ‘reasonable thing to do’, and ‘ultimately a good’, and in this way you ascribe to a larger, general Force what you yourselves are choosing to do.

              I am very interested in what you write about ‘praying to be given wisdom’. So let me ask the following: when the Iraq Wars were being planned, do you assume that George Bush (the younger, the one who claimed to be an Evangelical Christian) prayed over what he and his team were setting out to do, did God provide him with ‘wisdom’?

              Since “God’s will is not arbitrary or without guiding principles” I assume that at least George Bush and his Neoconservative friends, after straining themselves in genuflection before God, received the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in their receptive, pious ears?

              I assume that you are catching my drift here as the saying goes. I am not sure that in any sense of the word the destruction of the South — and it was a destruction — was ordained by God, nor do I think it was ‘reasonable’ nor ‘justifiable’.

              So instead of Lincoln quite vulnerably hoping that the bloodshed of the Civil War might have been an inevitable judgement of God (rather than a complete mistake) revealing some kind of direct evidence of American fanaticism, we see a correlation between adventurist wars and increasing secularization.

              I see it as more than merely expressing a ‘hope’ as you say, but I understand that you do not and I accept your opinion. That war — if any war can be understood to have been a ‘mistake’ — was beyond any doubt such a mistake. Many other alternatives to it have been proposed and other ways that all the conflicts associated with it could have been resolved or were being resolved.

              But they were not intended to be resolved, and so resolution in some other way was not sought. It was avoided. War was sought, with all the (apparent) advantages that such a war won would bring. This was achieved and in these events a sort of outline or form-guide was established:

              When necessary, identify the *enemy*. Provoke a conflict and get the *enemy* to a) attack first or b) set up a false-flag operation so that he seemed to attack first, c) lie throughout the whole endeavor and convince the masses who are needed to fight in the battles that the cause is *just* and *good* and *reasonable*, and d) trick them into giving their assent to projects that really do not benefit them and indeed often harm them. And do this, of course, With God On Your Side.

  6. I sat and argued Lincoln a bit to my significant other. Or at least all the things history kind of brushes aside.

    1) Laws determine what we can’t do, not what we can’t do. If there is no law saying that an act is illegal then it is by definition legal. This is the foundation of American law. The government just can’t make up rules and arrest you for things that aren’t illegal. By this universally true standard, the South’s secession was legal. There is no law prohibiting it and, historically, none of the early states entered the union with the understanding that it was an unbreakable agreement. Indeed the federal government was deliberately made to be a weak structure to preserve the autonomy of the states. To this day there is no law saying that the states can’t leave the union – in any case such a law would be deeply hypocritically and ethically bankrupt given America’s rebellious origin. Some Supreme Court cases have touched the issue but their constitutional basis is literally non existent – “Texas had become part of ‘an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible states’ ” uhhhhh where does the constitution say that?

    2) At the time secession was widely if not universally viewed as a legal option. So the a few Southern States peacefully succeeded and ordered all Northern troops out of their sovereign territory. The feds did not comply. They sat in Fort Sumter and did not leave. The Confederacy then blockaded the Fort to prevent it’s resupply that the unlawful occupiers of that land might be forced to leave. Again the Feds did not comply. Instead they ran the blockade and sent more men and material to the Fort. Sorry fam but when one nation sends troops into another nation to occupy their land… that’s an invasion no matter how bloodless it may be. The modern equivalent of a bloodless invasion like this would the Russian annexation of Crimea. Bloodless but inarguably illegal and an act of war. If Ukraine had gotten it’s shit together and actually had a functioning military or military alliances it very likely would have been the start of a big ol war. As it stands though, Ukraine lacks the power to fight back and so it took the invasion on the chin. The south did not. They opened fire on the Fort and eventually took it back – and they managed to do it without actually killing anyone. A bloodless invasion was met with a bloodless defeat and sovereign land was returned to it’s sovereign owner. In any case, the North’s soft invasion and the previously unheard of authority that it implied so alarmed the other states that four more states who had initially opposed secession then decided to secede. The North then blockaded the South’s ports and invaded Virginia. Even Maryland and Delaware, Northern states, considered withdrawing from the Union but were prevented from doing so by federal intervention. Which brings us to the next evil that Lincoln’s administration perpetrated.

    3) Lincoln stepped into full dictator mode and suspended various civil rights in the north. He went so far as to disregard the court cases he didn’t like (including the Supreme Court itself), straight up ignoring the balance of power ordered by the Constitution, and had his military arrest civilians and hold them in military jails against all the natural rights of man. Lincoln may even have written up and the shelved an arrest warrant for on of the Supreme Court justices – the truth of this is still debated.

    4) After the war, no Confederate was executed for treason, Hell the President of the confederacy wasn’t even tried. Why though? After a war that killed some 400,000+ Americans why was no one held accountable for their blatantly illegal (as the North argued) act of violent treason? It’s not like the US government didn’t believe in killing people for treason – Lincoln was president during the single largest mass execution in American history. They hung 38 Dakota Native Americans who fought back against what was very very likely a breach in treaty by the federal government. It’s not like they didn’t have the evidence – the dude was clearly the President of the Confederacy. They had him in a jail cell so it’s not like they couldn’t find the guy to try him. So why not pass righteous judgment on him? Because there were good odds that they wouldn’t be able to get a conviction in court. And if you can’t convict the leader of the rebellion of rebellion then your legal basis for claiming rebellion looks non existent.

    5) Slavery was already on the way out. The slave trade from Africa had all but dried up and the economics of using slave labor was becoming increasingly untenable. Lincoln started a war to end a practice that very likely might have ended naturally in his lifetime.

    6) For all this Lincoln, was a deeply deeply unpopular president at the time. John Wilkes Booth was a Northerner not some dastardly Southern agent bent on revenge. But like with JFK, a president who dies in service tends to have his wrongs forgotten by history and his goods magnified.

    I could go on on. I spent a few months living in the historical neighborhood of Charleston with a buddy of mine who happens to have his masters in History (and a BA in business). During our daily porch cigar (LFD Double Ligero Chiselito, if youre into cigars) we’d talk about all kind of things and, unsurprisingly given out surroundings, the civil war came up frequently. The above is what I recall and it mostly true and accurate but even if only half of it is correct it reflects very poorly on ol’ honest Abe.

    Then I posed a question to her. If you were the President and you believed, as we modern people do, that slavery is an abominable evil, even if the South’s secession was legally valid and the practice of slavery was dying, could you stomach letting those poor people toil under such an evil a day longer than you had to? Even if it meant spending a half million lives and ? She paused a minute, and said “No, I’d have started the war too. It’s just too evil.” And I agree. For all the evil that Lincoln did, he freed the slaves and it was worth it. The blood we spilt is clearly the price you pay for having allowed such an evil in the first place. I can’t find the comment but I recall getting attacked here for saying something to the effect of “tearing apart the country is worth it if it means righting our wrongs, Lincoln did it and would too”. At the end of the day I think Lincoln was a great and complex man. I admire him even – his statue in DC gives me chills. I don’t admire the historical airbrushing that goes on and the child-like ethical portrayal of the South by modern day leftist historians.

    • “The blood we spilt is clearly the price you pay for having allowed such an evil in the first place.”
      If you and your wife are correct then I shudder at the judgement this nation is due for allowing the gratuitous murder of countless unborn children.
      Your buddy was right in almost every respect. As a child I was taught the accepted Northern version of the War and its causes. Only in college did I learn that there was another version of events. The more deeply I read and studied the more I realized that I had been lied to about most things related to the War and , especially, Mr. Lincoln and the true motivations for the War. Every other western nation managed to end slavery without war. The Northern lie is “No slavery, no war.” The truth is “No Lincoln, no War.”

    • Comment of the Day. I know we’re doing a lot of Civil War debating for a current day, ethics blog, but this is one of the central ethics issues and controversies in our history. Well done.

    • Everything was excellent up to this point:

      Then I posed a question to her. If you were the President and you believed, as we modern people do, that slavery is an abominable evil, even if the South’s secession was legally valid and the practice of slavery was dying, could you stomach letting those poor people toil under such an evil a day longer than you had to? Even if it meant spending a half million lives and ? She paused a minute, and said “No, I’d have started the war too. It’s just too evil.”

      If you can so clearly see the truth, and yet act against what the truth proposes that you uphold, then you have violated the central ethical imperative. If you can do that then — I say this in a general way and not to you or to your wife — you are not ever to be trusted.

      And here, with this, you reveal an essential hypocrisy that resonates through so many different aspects and parts of America. You manage here — at least — to uncover the truth, and yet you deliberately hold to a lying conclusion and a perverted imperative that arises out of it.

      Who can truth you? And why should they trust you? I hope that you will not at some point imagine that you can give me an *ethics lecture* or chide me for a certain contempt I feel. (You must also remember that I am a Latina from the ‘Deepest South’ and we have a few *perceptions* about Yankee hypocrisy.

      That does not so much bother me. What bothers me is the core and essence of the Lie: you, as an American, and America generally, can carry out astoundingly evil acts that result in maiming, death, the breaking apart of cultures, the disruption of civilization, while you are free to chomp your hamburgers and slurp vats of sugar-drinks — and there is never any consequences for you! You never have to feel the pain, and you certainly do not have to assume responsibility for it.

      My contention, my ‘historical discovery’, came about when I did devote time to study of the Civil War. It was not hard for me to find out the truth (the truth that you so clearly outlined). But then I also noticed that the evil that you clearly named and revealed is definitely not the ‘national narrative’ and not the story taught to the young.

      If you can expose one *core lie* so eloquently and fluidly (and yet declare that you would still sacrifice people you have no right to sacrifice to a twisted sense of ‘righteousness’), what other core lies might you be capable of seeing and exposing? There are dozens.

      Lest you think I am being to hard on one liar and hypocrite, this is not really my point. My point really has to do with ‘Power and its machinations’ and the Power-Principle that ultimately seems to rule all men, especially in large conglomerations. Here I mention agains the ‘Thracymachus Problem’. It is also the Nietzschen problem’, the issue of Will to Power.

      What I hope for, or better said what I have hoped for in myself, is the capacity to embrace the sheer power-principle; to accept that justice is the free exercise of the will of the powerful. You see if I could embrace that then all I would need to do is to get on the winning side, the side that simply crushes & annihilates the opposition and *salts its fields* without even a mere blink of regret or pang of guilt.

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