The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Asking the right question

Regnery, longstanding provisioner of Republican Party prolefeed, has published a book addressing seven axiomata dear to old Southern Democrats - this is Edward H. Bonekemper III, The Myth of the Lost Cause. Here are his components of that "myth":

1. Slavery was a benevolent institution for all involved but was dying by 1861. There was therefore no need to abolish slavery suddenly, especially by war.
2. States rights, not slavery, was the cause of secession and the establishment of the Confederacy and thus of the Civil War.
3. The Confederacy had no chance of winning the Civil War and did the best it could with the limited resources it had.
4. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederacy to a near-victory was one of the greatest generals in history.
5. James Longstreet caused Lee to lose the Battle of Gettysburg and thus the Civil War.
6. Ulysses S. Grant was an incompetent 'butcher' who won the war only by brute force and superior numbers.
7. The Union won the war by waging unprecedented and precedent-setting 'total war'.

If all this looks like a listicle from Cracked-dot-com, with a mix of historical data and SJW virtue-signalling, well... that's not far off. I dealt with the book's structure, and specifically #3-7 (mostly #4), in the book thread. #2 I view as bullshit all around - of course the War Of Southern Pride And Yankee Conquest was an amoral power-struggle, like all wars. The point I denied myself there was #1.

The purest answer to #1 is, "I don't care". Maybe slavery was benevolent; maybe it was a temporary evil that would die out eventually. I agree that these are incompatible positions (surely a benevolent institution should not die out!). But either way, those men not affected by the Peculiar Institution should not care about a "need to abolish". The South was their land and their problem. As long as they're not raiding the coast of Maine plucking off villagers like the Barbary Pirates, then let the Southern States deal with it.

I would personally hold to the "relatively benevolent" side, based on man's natural need for hierarchy... which is Jim's side. I would reopen Nehemiah Adams' Southside View of Slavery and ask if that was really so much worse than, say, contemporary Haiti. Or than Baltimore today... but, again, I don't care.

Only once you get to that point of saying "I don't care", only then you can evaluate an historical case. Bonekemper doesn't care about Robert E. Lee or James Longstreet, and does well weighing up their respective cases. Where Bonekemper does care about an issue, like making the Democratic Party look bad; that's where he falls down as an historian. But then, those who publish through Regnery have rarely been interested in history for its own sake.

posted by Zimri on 19:15 | link | 0 comments

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