Via Brad DeLong, Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that the Civil War wasn’t tragic in the way it’s so often portrayed. The human losses were terrible — but the war marked the end of the far greater horror of slavery.What I find interesting here is that Krugman assumes that the only way slavery could have ended was through massive violence and the deaths of nearly 700,000 Americans. Other western nations ended slavery through nonviolent means, so is he saying that Americans are the kind of people who only can solve issues through mass killing, rape, and destruction?
I agree; the Civil War and World War II are the two great moral wars of our history, and they should be remembered with pride.
The winners generally are privileged to write history, be they winners through violence or through other means, but it often means the history itself is untrue. Furthermore, while slavery was a terrible thing and forever a blot on this country and any country where it is practiced, I do not think that whatever was the situation in American slavery pre-Civil War can compare to the carnage on the battlefield, men by the thousands dying horrible deaths, women raped by drunken soldiers, whole cities burned to the ground, war made and civilians that broke all established rules of warfare.
(Gen. William T. Sherman remarked to a friend after the war that had it been fought in Europe, he likely would have been tried as a war criminal. That Paul Krugman would endorse such a thing tells me volumes about the man.)
As for World War II, there is a body of literature out there that deals with war crimes fought by those who were supposedly on the side of justice and morality. Is Krugman going to call the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justifiable, or the massive bombing of Dresden. None of those places needed to have a single bomb dropped on them, yet even today we see Americans praise such mass murder as being justifiable.
Yes, Hitler gave us the Holocaust and the Japanese the Rape of Nanking and worse. Moreover, American policy strengthened history's greatest mass murderer, Josef Stalin, and the U.S. Government authorized the infamous Operation Keelhaul, which resulted in the deaths by execution and the slower execution of the gulag of at least a million Russians.
Tell me these things were not war crimes, and then tell me why they went unpunished. We know the answer.
I never have been particularly jingoistic when it comes to American wars, and as I learn more about our bloody history, I become even less enamored of them. American wars have brought death, destruction, loss of liberties at home, inflation, the strengthening of the worst aspects of the state, and an insatiable appetite here for more killing and carnage abroad. Watching crowds of people chanting "USA! USA!" after the news of Osama bin Laden's killing only brings that point home.
But for Krugman, the Civil War ended slavery, and in his mind, there could have been no alternative. In 1861, I doubt that most Americans -- North and South -- could have seen an end to this awful institution. But, Russians at the same time could not envision the end of serfdom or Brazilians the end of slavery there. Yet, they ended, and not with the wholesale slaughter that accompanied the Civil War. How much better would a peaceful ending to this moral quandary have been than what occurred between 1861 and 1865?
(My take on slavery as an economic institution has been that even taking aside the fact that slaveholders were using kidnapped labor, the very act of removing the labor of the slave from the outcomes of one's labor is a recipe for bad economic outcomes. Under socialism, government commandeers resources and moves them from higher-valued uses to lower-valued uses. How is chattel slavery any different? I don't see how it can be any different at all.)
No doubt, Krugman's supporters will claim that I must be a supporter of slavery or am a racist or maybe a "Neo-Confederate." Let them. They can ignore that for much of my adult life, I have moved closer and closer philosophically toward pacifism, and the aftermath of these destructive wars does nothing to change my mind.
Since Americans are so intellectually and emotionally unengaged that they cannot be shamed or outraged by the horrors of war (“I hate people, but I love animals!”), I’ve decided that we must focus our presentment of war crimes on those as experienced by dogs, cats and other pets. From page 145 of “War Crimes Against Southern Civilians” by Walter Brian Cisco:
One bizarre undercurrent of Sherman’s devastation came to be known as the “war on dogs.” Convincing themselves that Southerners used bloodhounds to track escaped Union prisoners of war, the invaders became obsessed with the notion that all dogs be destroyed. A Federal colonel said that “we were determined that no dogs should escape, be it cur, rat dog or blood hound; we exterminate all.” And he saw no need to waste ammunition on the creatures. “The dogs were easily killed. All we had to do was to bayonet them.”" Some animals, such as cats, “seemed to feel it in the air that something was approaching,” observed one woman in the path of Sherman’s army. “The watchdog had, in fear, crouched under the dining table,” she said, “when a soldier, spying him there, shot him.”12 Another lady living in Barnwell wrote that the first act of the invaders upon breaking into her home was to kill her pet dogs. They barked and growled at the intruders, “but in an instant both were hushed, two sharp pistol reports followed the last growl as the faithful dogs bounded forward only to fall in their tracks, dead.” Her terrified children stood by, “shedding silent tears.”13 Sometimes soldiers used the butts of their rifles to kill beloved pets in the presence of children.14
Lincoln heartily approved these tactics of Sherman's march to the sea.
Let's celebrate and rejoice in Lincoln's holy slaughter of 600,000+ (not counting the pets).
I just finished reading Raico's Great Wars and Great Leaders and I will never be able to look at American war history in the same way. To anyone on the fence on the issue of morality in American wars, a reading of Raico will remove any doubt.
Krugman's "liberalism" has always been highly jingoistic, which comes across, not so subtly, in his constant attacks on Chinese currency "manipulation," while finding that our own money printing (and thus dilution of China's dollar reserves) is simply part of trying to "rescue our economy." In fact, Krugman's entire approach to his public writing, from his ceaseless bragging to his juvenile cheering on of war, has always seemed puerile in the extreme. I enjoyed your comments in this post; it fills out the philosophical picture underlying your viewpoint.
Krugman is an intellectually dishonest ideologue - like all progressive ideologues.
Thank god for likes of prof. Anderson who take him to task.
Paul Krugman - apple polisher for the State.
And here I was thinking that the government's lovers (and Krugman's too) would be here in full force.
I mean why not defend them? They defend everything else they say and do. Especially when the greatest president ever was presiding over the war and help centralize power like no one else had before him!
Maybe it's because Lincoln wasn't a democrat that they are not here. You still have FDR (the ultimate favorite bestest president right?). Maybe they can defend his policies a little more.
Ks and MMTs! Where are you?
We will just have to learn to accept that statists get orgasmic about statism. All of their various schemes, including economic schemes, are just excuses to send the SWAT team to whack someone.
That's why they hate libertarians and Austrians. We insist that even the poorest of the poor and weakest of the weak be exempt from the statists' schemes.
@Bob and the funny thing is that they don't even like to follow their own rules! And they lie a lot.
@Mike Cheel - the depressing thing is that I [again] came to my conclusion last week based upon statements of Keynesian commenters but before Obama whacked Gaddafi's son, grandkids and Osama Bin Laden.
I had just listened to the ENTIRE "We Love Keynes" documentary promoted on the famous LK blog:
I had forgetten that Krugman had published my comment on "Sherman kills the puppies." It obviously had no positive effect on Krugman.
Firstly, I agree with your stand on the Civil War.
Secondly, I think you blew it somewhere around here: "That Paul Krugman would endorse such a thing tells me volumes about the man."
Paul Krugman's personal character does not matter.
Sorry, but geometry is not invalidated because Euclid was a pedophile. Paul Krugman's position on a 145+ year old war does nothing to invalidate his economics, gosh!
Trying to psychologically diagnose your opponents and focusing on their personal character on internet blogs is so...Krugman-esque.
just found your blog via an Internet-search on inflation/deflation. Thank you for writing these interesting and informative articles!
I don't see where William said "Krugman is a sicko and therefore his economic theories are wrong." He simply made the vague statement "tells me volumes about the man." I think it's safe to assume "the man" in this case has to do with his way of thinking, his general view of things... and not the legitimacy of his professional opinions.
To Anon 2:06, this blog IS a professional critique.
Bill Anderson said flat that this is pure business and has nothing to do with being against Krugman personally.
I can only assume that any personal critique of Krugman is meant as a professional critique by proxy.
After Krugman defamed Tom DiLorenzo with his "Johnny Reb Economics" post, the gloves are off with me. The issue isn't whether Krugman is right or wrong. He's wrong. The issue is why he wants to be wrong and refuses to listen to the opposition.
Analysis of Krugman*'s "character", such as it is, is very much in play.
*the guy who won't look at people on the elevator, but wants to sic the SWAT team on society
Hah, this entire blog post is based on the assumption that Krugman thinks that slavery could not have ended any other way but war. Obviously, this assumption is a logical fallacy and completely shows a real lack of critical thought by the author and his ilk. And why does Bob even bother weighing in? For some reason his intellectual views are unable to rise above articulated ad homs. No wonder the Austrian School never made it to the mainstream. Just sayin.
According to Mr. Anderson, Robert Murphy is a brilliant economist and the brightest of brightest intellects. And because this is what Mr. Anderson says, it must be true. Today, I could not agree more.
On his blog today, Mr. Murphy wrote:
"The older I get–from my wistful observation you would think I was in my 70s, wouldn’t you?–the more I agree that people criticize in others that which they (deep down) despise in themselves."
This is exactly what I have said about Mr. Anderson for months now, only not as eloquently.
Of course, anyone who doesn’t promote “The Economics of CONTROL” must be senile.
This from a group (the MMTers) who cannot grasp the most basic Austrian concepts and who push the most dim-witted* “demand management” form of Keynesianism. It’s like being called ugly by a frog.
*It's actually worse than that because they don't seem to realize that they don't know or what it might be that they don't know
"Furthermore, while slavery was a terrible thing and forever a blot on this country and any country where it is practiced, I do not think that whatever was the situation in American slavery pre-Civil War can compare to the carnage on the battlefield, men by the thousands dying horrible deaths, women raped by drunken soldiers, whole cities burned to the ground, war made and civilians that broke all established rules of warfare."
This is a really shallow sentence. The author is not considering the rape/pillage of African people/villages in bringing the slaves over. It is not considering the inhumane treatment of the slaves in enough detail. It is not considering that even "well treated" slaves had exactly zero personal freedom.
As for whether or not slavery could have ended peacefully, the fact that the South seceded over the issue should be proof enough that it was not possible at that time in America. The South was willing to go to war to protect slavery therefor a war was required to eliminate it.
I think someone's got us confused with AP "Hut Tax" Lerner and mad MMTers. Go to page 26 of this book by Warren Mosler, APLerner’s hero, and learn of the marvels of the hut tax inflicted by the imperialist British upon subjugated locals. It’s quite an example of the grisly, immoral nature of the Chartalist mind:
The following is not merely a theoretical concept. It’s exactly what happened in Africa in the 1800’s, when the British established colonies there to grow crops. The British offered jobs to the local population, but none of them were interested in earning British coins. So the British placed a “hut tax” on all of their dwellings, payable only in British coins. Suddenly, the area was “monetized,” as everyone now needed British coins, and the local population started offering things for sale, as well as their labor, to get the needed coins. The British could then hire them and pay them in British coins to work the fields and grow their crops.
The Keynesian Obama just conducted a mob hit and the MMTers love the Hut Tax on poor oppressed Africans.
And these guys accuse US of fascism?
"the fact that the South seceded over the issue"
The real fact is that the civil war was not about slavery and slavery didn't enter the game until later on. Lincoln said in the Emancipation Proclamation that the south could keep their slaves if they came back to the Union by a certain date.
Also, a lot of the slaves were sold by their own people to be slaves.
And, as others have pointed out, every other nation that had slaves at the time (except Haiti) ended the practice peacefully. Haiti ended it with a slave uprising.
My understanding is that there were four million slaves in the US in 1860. 600,000+ then died in the war, not counting the dogs slaughtered by Sherman.
The progressive socialist commies killed 100 million people. Clinton's embargo of Iraq killed 500 thousand.
It's not clear to me why our anti-war position is so controversial with "progressives" except that they just must like mass slaughter. Which, of course, is the theme of this post.
Raico's "Great Wars and Great Leaders" is available online:
@Bob Also the north had more slaves than the south.
Don't forget "slaughter" is 90% "laughter" : come on you Very Serious People, have a bit of fun!
BTW, you will have to check the details with R J Rummel but I believe the Chinese hold the world record for senseless statistics perpetrated against their own people.
I disagree that we can really ever know what other options were available in WWII, after all Hitler was told by Neville Chamberlain that he could not win, and was given ample opportunity to stop his expansion.
However, on the matter of slavery it is quite clear that many nations did peacefully bring the practice to an end. When you consider that slavery was thousands of years old, it ended almost simultaneously worldwide. Of course, the South are equally to blame for their own demise for not just calling Lincoln's bluff and setting their own slaves free in the lead up to the war.
FWIW, I quite agree that Socialism and chattel slavery are both economically inefficient for much the same reason -- the person actually at the coal face is most often the person in a position to improve efficiency of the system. If the person actually doing the work has no discretionary power to make changes in work practices then inefficient stagnation is inevitable.
The Japanese have well documented this situation and have worked hard to avoid it.
The real fact is that the civil war was not about slavery and slavery didn't enter the game until later on
Hmmm. Guess the Southerners were misinformed about their own reasons for secession, and need later revisionist "historians" to tell them what they really thought. The secession proclamations and innumerable statements of their leaders leave no doubt that the war was about slavery. Duh.
Lincoln offered to make slavery legal forever in the South via the Corwin amendment to the Constitution in exchange for the South's acceptance of the Morrill tariff.
Upon the outbreak of war, Lincoln did not free a single slave in the border states that stayed in the Union. The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed no one since it 'gave' freedom only to slaves in the Confederacy, not the North.
Had Lincoln had slavery as his main issue for war, he could have immediately pushed for the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Act and encouraged voluntary abolitionist groups to work the north side of the Mason-Dixon Line on behalf of the underground railway. Politicians' statements notwithstanding, most surviving letters from the Confederate ranks spoke of defending their land, while the Yankee letters spoke of preserving the Union.
Most Southerners did not own slaves, but many objected to the federalists' invasion of their land. Abolition candidates in the north rarely polled more than 5% in elections.
The war was about federalism, states' powers, and secession. Did the Confederate states have the right to secede? Did Lincoln have the right to violate the non-aggression principle? Did the northern slave states have the right to invade the Confederate slave states? Did the slave-owning 13 colonies have the right of secession from the slave-owning British empire?
While slavery was a related issue of the civil war (I never said it wasn't), the cause of the war itself though was the disunion itself and states rights.
I'm not a scholar of history, but if I remember correctly the couuntry tried to find peaceful solutions to the slavery issue for decades. The war itself started when Lincoln was elected, not when the North passed laws outlawing slavery. Southern leaders preemptively started the war on the assumption that Lincoln would restrict and diminish slavery. So it isn't really proper to say that war was the only way America could end slavery, it was that the South saw war as the only way to preserve slavery.
Also, saying socialism has similar characteristics to slavery is disgusting, but you probably knew that when you wrote it.
Please see: http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo206.html
@ Mike Cheel
Assuming what was written there was really Lincoln's official position rather than an empty campaign promise to the South, it only makes the South seem more foolish, since they were seceding to preserve slavery when in fact it was not necessary to do so. If you are arguing that this proves that the South did not secede due to slavery, I'll quote the Confederate constitution, which was identical to the US constitution in every way, except for this line: "No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed [by Congress]" If the secession wasn't about slavery, I don't see why they'd throw that line in.
As for whether secession itself should be allowed to stand, regardless of the causes, that's a tough call. I mean there are plenty of logical reasons for sections of the country to want to secede from the union. For example, if all the Northeastern states, which pay more in federal taxes than they take in, seceded from the Union, they wouldn't have to keep supporting all the Southern states, which take more in federal aid than they pay in federal taxes. However, arguing for the validity of secession is at the least anti-American and unpatriotic
"However, arguing for the validity of secession is at the least anti-American and unpatriotic."
This is blaming the mugging victim for his beating. Within the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, it is the State that is "anti-American and unpatriotic."
I'm not really clear how you can be patriotic and want to break up the united states of america at the same time. I mean, one of the classic patriotic slogans is "America, love it or leave it." by seceding, you would be leaving it.
"I mean, one of the classic patriotic slogans is "America, love it or leave it." by seceding, you would be leaving it."
The slogan is nationalistic, not patriotic. It is something a gangster would demand of a merchant who balked at paying protection money. But by seceding, isn't one abiding by the terms of the slogan?
The war was about secession. The union was supposed to be voluntary. This means you can leave when you have had enough. The South had had enough.
Your historical method is dismally anachronistic, while using the term pacifism to justify your view on morality is cowardly. What you have just wrote is a mismatch of uncoordinated ideas, with little historiography. I did not understand the purpose of your argument other than as slander. Perhaps you summed your point up most adequately before you attempted to argue the contrary
"is he saying that Americans are the kind of people who only can solve issues through mass killing, rape, and destruction?"
He did not say that, but you did!
Does anyone else find it odd that we're talking about slavery in terms of economic efficiency rather than justice? If a study came out tomorrow showing that slavery turns out to be much more efficient than previously thought, would anyone change his mind about the permissibility of slavery?
Also, saying socialism has similar characteristics to slavery is disgusting, but you probably knew that when you wrote it.
Given that no human institution that has ever existed (including slavery) has ever killed as many people as socialism (with or without help from national socialism, take your pick) you are quite right, such comparisons are disgusting.... but unfortunately necessary.
Wouldn't it be nice is we could move beyond such things?
Does anyone else find it odd that we're talking about slavery in terms of economic efficiency rather than justice?
You believe justice and economic efficiency are arbitrary and unrelated?
Justice and economic efficiency are sometimes related and sometimes aren't. I mean, the most economically efficient way to deal with the health care crisis would be to kill everyone when they turn 65, so that's one place where efficiency and justice aren't related.
At the same time, sometimes justice and efficiency are related, for example, having government provided health care is both more just (because everyone gets it)and more efficient (because its cheaper per person) than privately run insurance.
Eric, I love that you admit you are no scholar of history and then prattle away as if you are a scholar of history.
BTW, socialism, like communism and fascism, is akin to slavery, when the state owns or controls the means of production, and private property is either owned outright by the state, as in soc or com, or under complete state control, as in fas, what rights remain to the individual? What control may one exercise over ones own body when the state controls all economic activities?? How might you alter your fate when no amount of hard work can improve your position?? Socialism and communism are doomed philosophies, and, like slavery, are disgusting.
All of us are prattling away on some random blog, which is run by a guy who works at a second rate state college who critiques a nobel prize winning economist, so I don't think this blog is really the place to argue over qualifications.
Its reductionist to lump socialism and communism, communism is an absolute, whereas socialism involves shades of gray. Socialism just means certain sectors of the economy are overseen by the state. Right now, our policemen, firemen, roads maintenance, military, and retirement plans are overseen by the state. When the dems passed the ACA, they were bringing medical care more under the oversight of the state, making the country a little more socialist.
Fascism is the opposite of communism, its when nothing is controlled by the state, and instead everything is subcontracted to private businesses. So when the Bush administration started subcontracting military actions to Blackwater, they were making the country a little more Fascist.
Neither one is inherently good or bad, its just that some sectors, like insurance, are more efficient if they are run by the government and other sectors, like making computers, are better off being Fascist. Comparing either one to slavery is reductionist and disrespectful to people whose ancestors were actually slaves.
"Fascism is the opposite of communism, its when nothing is controlled by the state, and instead everything is subcontracted to private businesses."
You can't possibly believe this statement. If you were stupid enough to believe it, you could never have learned to operate a keyboard in the first place.
Your historical method is dismally anachronistic,
Yes, we have a new history now, better than the old history.
Fascism is the opposite of communism, its when nothing is controlled by the state, and instead everything is subcontracted to private businesses.
Ahhh excellent, I see that the new history is working, so much better than that out-dated old history.
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