When one grows old one tends to resent wasting time and there is nothing that wastes time quite so much as efforts to counter the claims and assertions surrounding the American “Civil War” Of course, the first of these is that the conflict was not a “civil war!” But those who insist upon that label continue to do so despite all demonstrable facts to the contrary. Alas, it is impossible to have reasoned debate when so few are prepared to be reasonable. Indeed, all arguments involving the causes for that war and the subsequent praise and blame devolving upon its participants inevitably lead to the same tiresome claims against the South even when inescapable and acknowledged facts disprove them.
In the past the motives and rationale of the Southern States in their efforts to leave the Union were treated with respect—but no more. Now, no good report is ever permitted regarding the efforts by thirteen sovereign States to secede from the compact to which they had voluntarily acceded. The whole thing has deteriorated into the use of the race card. I do not doubt that cultural Marxism in using the issue of race to sow discord in American society has directly led to the present war on the history, heroes and memorials of the South even though Lincoln himself stated unequivocally that slavery was not the reason for his treasonous (Article III, Section 3—United States Constitution) war.
But it is useless to counter—however correctly—the current historical orthodoxy simply because apparently no amount of demonstrable “proof” will overcome that deeply desired—and false—narrative. Instead, I call upon an individual whose viewpoint cannot be disparaged because he was a Southerner and owned slaves—because he wasn’t a Southerner, neither did he own slaves! He wasn’t even an American and therefore had “no dog in the fight” as they say. Rather, he was an intellectual giant who dealt with the great matters of the day unhampered by petty political, social or economic opinions. That man was John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton [1834-1902] more familiar to us today as Lord Acton whose comment, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is the supreme coherent warning against unbridled power.
Described as “the magistrate of history,” Lord Acton was one of the greatest minds of the nineteenth century and is universally considered one of the most learned Englishmen of his time. He made the history of liberty his life's work; indeed, he considered political liberty the essential condition and guardian of religious liberty. After the American war, Acton kept up a correspondence with Robert Edward Lee and it is in one of his letters to Lee that Acton sums up his view of the conflict putting to rest forever all of the petty social, political and economic issues that continue to be used to glorify the federal war and denigrate the South in its efforts to break free from what had become intolerable. In a letter dated November 4th, 1866, Action wrote:
“. . . I saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled me with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy. . . . I believed that the example of that great Reform would have blessed all the races of mankind by establishing true freedom purged of the native dangers and disorders of Republics. Therefore I deemed that you were fighting the battles of our liberty, our progress, and our civilization; and I mourn for the stake which was lost at Richmond more deeply than I rejoice over that which was saved at Waterloo.”
In this letter, Acton makes nothing of all the contentions and assertions as to why what was supposed to be a limited “federal” government had the right to wage war against thirteen sovereign States exercising their constitutional and God given right to leave a compact that had become onerous to them and their citizens. Everything else—every claim, every supposition, every accusation becomes irrelevant in the face of this brilliant man’s clear and concise judgment upon the matter. And for those who demand proof of Action’s conclusion, I suggest that they look at what our “limited” government is today. It is unlimited, corrupt and tyrannous, rejecting the will of the people and embracing “the absolutism of the sovereign will” spoken of by Acton. It is not an accident that the Lincoln Memorial is patterned on the great temples to Zeus erected by the ancient Greeks. Yes, we are still “paying for the Confederacy” but not in the way your article suggests! Because the Confederacy was defeated, today slavery once limited to a relative few in the hands of individual citizens—white and black!—now includes us all in the hands of the Deep State.
Many people today—especially those in my age group (I’m 77!)—wonder what has happened to simple commonsense and rationality in the behavior of mankind, especially in the United States and the West. We see what should be regarded as insanity becoming the norm, not just among those whose limited intellect predisposes them to such madness, but even supposedly “enlightened” and “intellectual” folk! Of course, the majority of this lunacy is found on the left, but the middle and the right are not immune either! For ordinary people who retain their sanity, none of this makes any sense. Daily (hourly!) we see behavior that in a better time would have resulted in incarceration for adults and a good hiding for children. Today, it is considered the epitome of civic activism!
Some of this can be attributed to the “low-IQ” population but their participation in the current madness cannot explain why it has gone so far beyond that segment of society. Ignorance is, of course, one reason but ignorance can be cured! However, the very segments of society intended to educate and illuminate have become darker in some cases than the “low-IQ” group—and that makes no sense . . . unless you add into the equation, the leftist concept of “utopianism.” This concept has been put forward by the left from its inception, that is, that it is possible for the State to create a utopia on earth, a place where everything is “fair,” and no one is “deprived” and that everyone has everything he or she needs to live a full and happy life. This concept works well in children’s books, but in “real life,” not so much.
In the past, the vast majority of the people were intelligent enough to reject the fairy tale but not so today. In the face of indisputable evidence of the failure of socialism and its tenets, people—especially the young—seem to believe that it can be done. All that is required is enough desire and sufficient courage to destroy those who oppose you, and voila’, Paradise Regained! For those who simply cannot understand—or accept—the present situation, there is a cautionary tale that should make all those who deny the truth rethink their faulty conclusions. This is a true story, by the way, though it has all the appearances of a joke! Sad to say, it is not:
There was once a minor functionary in the intelligence community (an oxymoron to begin with!) whose only duty consisted of sitting at his desk all day long reading papers that came across it and initialing those papers before sending them on to his superiors. One day, a document arrived at his desk that he knew immediately was far above his pay-grade as they say. However, he followed his instructions, reading and initialing the document and sending it on. Several hours later, his immediate superior arrived at his desk at a dead run exclaiming, “You should NOT have read this document!” He then went on to instruct his subordinate to “erase your signature”—but the instructions did not end there! Instead, his superior (in rank, if not intellect) went on to instruct the man to “signature your erasure!”
Now neither individual here was retarded but victims of a mental process ingrained in today’s people (and not just in the US) where there is a rejection of critical thinking! Obviously, the signature had to be erased to prevent “higher-ups” from learning that an ineligible person had read the document! However, when someone did something in the system, that “something” had to be “signed for!” As a result, action two invalidated action one—and neither man seemed to comprehend that point. This represents a sort of “mental constipation” that simply nullifies ordinary common sense! Furthermore, neither is this situation limited to the “low-IQ” population but is most prevalent among those with more elevated intellects! And this lack of simple, basic commonsense is why we are stumbling forward into the 21st century with little hope that our tomorrows will be better than our yesterdays.
Valerie Protopapas of New York is a prolific and unreconstructed defender of Southern history and the world authority on the great Confederate partisan John Singleton Mosby. She blogs at www.athousandpointsoftruth.com