Kudos to Jacob Levy on Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and Ilya (here and here) and Jonathan (here) for their trenchant critiques of the Neo-Confederate sympathies of some who call themselves libertarians. I agree with Jacob that this is an issue more important for libertarian activists and intellectuals to forthrightly address and forcefully reject than are other pathologies (e.g. birtherism) typically arising at the fringes of ideological movements:
Confederatistas aren’t ignoring libertarian principles or classical liberal arguments altogether. They’re (IMHO, of course– sprinkle imputed “IMHOs” as liberally through this post as you like, since I’m talking about my own priorities and not about the world) misusing them, abusing them, drawing the wrong lessons from them, prioritizing them badly. And they’re doing so in a way that runs deep in American political culture and history, not in an irrelevant fringy way.
In my view the Confederatistas perpetuate the white southerners’ two-century-long scam of dressing up the cause of racial dominance in classical liberal clothes, perverting the goal of liberty into the project of slavery. This has been a defining fact of American political life; it has served to discredit some of those classical liberal values and institutions, while also perpetuating a story in which the freedom of African-Americans (postbellum as well as antebellum) lies somehow outside the calculus of American liberty.
I recommend you read the whole thing — especially if you consider yourself to be a libertarian. I know from my own history in the libertarian movement that there are pockets of libertarians who accept this type of Southern revisionism. I have myself been criticized by these folks as a “nationalist” libertarian because I accept the Fourteenth Amendment as good law that ought to be followed (far more than it is) despite it being inimical to […]